I didn’t think I would start the year off with a running analogy, especially since I have not run in a while; but the statement is true for most of what life throws at you. I think that trick is knowing when you are in training and knowing when you are in a race.
Any time you leave your house to go for a run it is go time, today when I make my dreadmill debut – it will be go time; but this is all a part of training. Every day when you face the many different aspects of your life you are in training the “races” are relatively rare but when they come, they matter. Going back to the analogy: Chicago offers the full array of weather between April and October which means that you get the opportunity to train in cold, heat, humidity, high winds, darkness, full sun, amongst the cyclists, tourists and dog walkers, with and without water stations – the benefit to all of these elements that can make a run less than ideal is that you have to deal with them. When you deal with them, in most cases on multiple occasions, you learn how to best deal with them, they are a part of your training so when your race day arrives you know how to handle these curveballs.
Well, this new year or our resolutions can be seen as “the race” and chances are we are going to encounter many of the same elements that were deemed as unfavorable last year. See all the things that keep you from achieving your resolution as training opportunities and acknowledge when you successfully meet them head on. If it is hard for you to get to the gym, be happy when you do instead of just beating yourself up for not having a great workout. If you are trying to eat healthy but have soft spot for artesian doughnuts . . . enjoy the balanced meals so that the doughnut is a true treat. Maybe shopping is your vice, try switching your gratification from now owning a “thing” to owning a bank account with a larger number. We all have an area of our lives that we would like to improve and as long as we will have a tomorrow that means that this is still a training exercise.
It is too cold for ME to run outside but I’d really like to go for a run, so I’m committing to at least one mile on the treadmill. It’s 1 degree Farenheit outside . . there’s no race in MY life that requires this training. However the mental stamina of dealing with the treadmill is of use.
that was my favorite marathon sign that was not made for me personally. I told one of my friends that I wanted to run the marathon because I wanted to do something that was not ordinary. Ordinary is a very subjective description: people who run marathons are said to be 1% of the population, on October 8th I was one of 40,000 runners. Those numbers don’t exactly sound like I’m doing anything thats so unique but it DID feel very extraordinary to me.
Unique or not I’m going to do it again next year: I’d love to help another great cause and I plan to train for a faster run. Making this personal commitment left me with a decision to make regarding which charity I would run for this time. It is difficult because there are so many charities that do so many great things, I however am nothing if not loyal and when I think about training (the process of going from not running through winter to crossing the finish line) I know what team I should run with: in 2018 I will run as on official member of Team World Vision. They say that they “go further together” I felt that to be true while training for the marathon and I see it still as we all adjust to our new normals.
RANDOM THOUGHT: You know what was really wild? My heart and my lungs got me through the marathon like a champ! I know, of course; but I used to think that running for that long would leave me winded. I was not a runner when I thought this, my only experience was sprinting for the train in the morning, and that STILL gets me winded, I just recover a lot faster.
I was congratulated yesterday on having finished the marathon, I told them that year ago I hadn’t even run a mile. It’s possible, get out there and do (more) epic shit!
This may end up being more of a rant . . . for Christmas I got the Garmin Forerunner 235 HR; but the heart rate monitor did not work. I wore it for a few days and while I enjoyed the other “smart” features I knew of a product that could do the same but better. So I changed to a series 2 Apple Watch using the NRC+ app to track my runs.
Initially everything was great, then my miles increased and I started having problems. The app would only include certain data (pace, elevation, heart rate). As the miles increased even more the watch would die or I would lose large chunks of data. Because I read all of the reviews and understand battery life I always have heart rate and music turned off for the longer runs (over 8 miles). This did not help. I tried initiating the run on my phone, I tried initiating the run on my watch – still incomplete data at the end of a run. I interacted with the apps tech support on multiple occasions and the information was just gone.
The marathon day arrived. I put my phone on do not disturb, turned off music and heart rate, initiated the run on my watch . . . it died and left NO RECORD WHAT SO EVER of my run. It was my first marathon but somewhere along the way I learned that my experience was more important than whatever data I would have collected. I was still upset but put it in perspective and could get over it.
Today I ran for the first time in 2 weeks, a local 10k (NO high rise buildings to block signals, moderate crowds vying for signal but an urban area with adequate signal none the less, and short distance). First problem: for some unknown reason the app would replay the same song over and over again so I had to go into the music and forward to the next song. There may be an easier way to do this and it is not impossible that I did something that made this happen but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to undo it and this is not something that should so easily be engaged (this happened throughout the summer, I just forgot about it during my brief hiatus). About mile 5 I saw the second major problem: the circular dots of the app loading . . . followed by the “START” screen, so now my watch and phone are NOT synched and as predicted I had two copies of the same run. UGH!!!!
So, I may have a deep appreciation for Nike’s aesthetic appeal but I do not love their app developers. Apple I’m also mad at you for allowing another company to brand your product without making sure that their stuff is up to par. I CANNOT recommend the Apple Watch/NRC+ combo for anyone training to run a marathon and question its usefulness for shorter distance training. Like a pair of dedicated shoes, it looks like I will have a dedicated watch for running.
I wrote out my “manifesto” and went to bed filled with thoughts of my best intentions, as much positive energy as I could muster and the knowledge that in the morning I would wake up and do something that I have never done: run a marathon.
RECAP: (this may be a long post)
It was a very early morning! To help myself I had my outfit laid out and my gear bag packed. After meeting up with a few fellow runners we headed to our starting corrals (ENERGY ON TEN).
I checked my gear, had a few pep talks, did a little stretching and then I just couldn’t take the waiting any longer so I headed in. . . I am inherently an introvert so I chose this time to walk alone and center my thoughts. Seeing runners and their support people gave (still gives) me goosebumps. I got to my gate and was part of a mob of people looking to make our way through security, and then I saw my corral. Only issue here is I was about an hour early, thankfully I was not alone and ran into a few of my training mates. Together we looked to find the World Vision gear check, thankfully they didn’t really need it because we never found it and instead just went back to our corral to wait and in no time a sea of orange began to arrive (World Vision wears orange and their team comprised of about 2,000 runners this year). Surrounded by my training team I felt the familiar energy of our group runs. In a length of time that only felt short of way too long: the national anthem was sung, the wheelchair racers began followed by the elite runners (those who have the ability to “Break 2”), the fast runners completed the first wave (normal runners who are fast but not professional-3 hour finishers). We were at the end of Wave 2 and things progressed quickly to get us within sight of the START line, and once you could see it there’s a steady progression of movement to it . . . . only thing left to do was to RUN THIS TOWN!
I can’t say that my heart started beating any faster once I crossed the start line because it was beating really hard when they sung the anthem and I don’t think it slowed down before I settled in to the race. As soon as you cross the start line in Chicago you need to make a decision to run to the left of right of the median, we stayed to the left and so it all began! About five members of our training group started the race together. Unfortunately one had to pull out before we were two miles in, I can’t imagine how much that SUCKED! I mentioned my heart racing, adrenaline is a powerful drug and reigning it in can be challenging but is necessary because too much too soon will leave you with nothing “in the tank” when you get to the later miles.
At almost the 5k mark we ran past my job and Diana, Lauren & JB were all there with signs for me, they even put signs in the windows. I was not expecting this so it was an awesome surprise. I found out on Tuesday that Diana also made a playlist for me. I cannot thank you guys enough, I really do appreciate you taking some of your Sunday morning to show me love!
Not too long after I saw them we approached the first World Vision Cheer Zone and mi hermano was there, when I saw him my face lit up “AWESOME SAUCE”!
More running, more great “Speck-thletes”, so many awesome little people to give high-fives to. Right about the time we hit North Avenue beach area someone was passing out doughnuts – those close to me know that artisan doughnuts have a special place in my heart; I did not indulge in them but their presence made me smile. ONWARD, Addison is coming up and I have someone to look for! Just after mile 7 Kristen was there with a super cute poster of Batali cheering me on :) thank you for not bringing him, I kinda felt bad for the dogs who were out and maybe experiencing sensory overload. And THANK YOU for making a poster and coming out to cheer me on :)
Then we hit Boystown where some of the world’s finest drag queens put on a concert, followed by Old Town – Elvis had this spot on lock. By now our group of five was down to just my Dad and me, the original “You & Me” club members (as far as my recollection knows). More TWV support and a turn somewhere near The Mart and I hear Lauren & JB – OMG you guys are gonna make me cry!
Heading west we left the Loop, ran through the West Loop and the United Center was in sight, and so were (3) armed members of the National Guard. This hit me in a bad way and I felt fear.
Thank you, not in a snarky way for making me fearful, thank you for protecting me. I know that there were more there undercover (my cousin has been this guy for the Detroit marathon) and I’m sure that there were a lot downtown on the building tops.
Another cheer zone, this time we past my Dad’s church where they treat him like royalty :) by now we are heading east and it is HOT! The buildings are much shorter, the sun is higher in the sky and shade was just not available. Then I heard my name from a familiar voice JANE!!! OMG another co-worker (my co-workers really are the absolute best)!
We hit Greek Town and start heading south. I heard, then saw someone throwing up a lot of liquid (gross). The sun did not stop for the remainder of the run. The spectators really went above and beyond and I didn’t really feel that there were any “dead zones”. Pilson was an absolute PARTY (tequila shots and all). Right before we hit Chinatown I saw the OPRF HS Swim Team passing out banana’s (mile 21-ish). O-A-K P-A-R-K * Oak Park * Oak Park WOOOOO!!!! I didn’t know they were going to be there but this is one of those moments I felt very emotional, I thought of my daughters. Afterwards my daughter told me that the father of the girl who committed suicide this summer was there, I’m kinda glad he didn’t see my shirt because she was in the center of my heart of those lost to suicide and I wouldn’t want to upset him. I’m glad she told me afterwards because I would have gotten upset seeing him.
The Chicago Fire Department had these giant fans hooked up to the hydrants blowing water, I learned what it felt like to run in the rain and I saw many rainbows. They passed out sponges, I carried mine from Boystown to mile 26, about 16 miles. I did not experience any rude runners. I was not inconvenienced by too many clueless spectators crossing the race. Many runners stopped to stretch, I did not need to. We ran and if need be we walked but I was with my Dad the whole way.
I forgot where I was when it happened but my watch died, this may become it’s own post but for now I’ll just say without a watch to tell me the time or our pace I almost found more patience for the experience. My dad had a leg cramp coming on so we probably walked more than I would have liked. I frequently missed the mile markers so I had no idea where we were most of the time I just knew that there were a lot of people in front of us and a lot of people behind us so we were clearly in the thick of it. I never had that “OMG how long is this” feeling. I recognized mile 26 from my days of spectating, so I knew that it was about to happen: as we ran up the hill I remember seeing a woman stretching, I can only imagine the pain she must have been in to stop there, we turned the corner and I could see it. I started running, not jogging, not sprinting, but running at my favorite pace. My dad told me to slow down but I told him I didn’t want to because it was “right there” and he must have felt something because he started running with me. We crossed the FINISH line with the same time 05:47:33 but I was a few “places” ahead of him.
I did not burst into tears. Instead I saw this woman with a friendly smile to whom I said “you have my medal” while smiling like the Cheshire Cat, she put it over my head, I thanked her. My dad and I took a couple of pictures, I got wrapped in a heat sheet and thankfully I felt the heat diminish a bit. We ran into one of our training mates, slammed a cold beer, had more photos taken and then got separated. I needed to find my daughters, they were close but my phone was about to die.
My daughters and I met up, my dad went to the TWV tent, I went to get my gear from the Erika’s Lighthouse Lounge and decided to let one of the Athletico volunteers help to stretch me out after I inhaled a turkey sandwich.
When we got back to the park they would not let us in. Admittedly I was walking very slowly, while my legs were in decent shape my feet had officially decided that they hated me. . . the ELH Lounge was at Randolph, TWV was at 11th, this is a long walk. When the volunteer told me “no” I was very disappointed because on the other side of that gate and a long walk down a winding path were the people that I trained with and I wanted to celebrate this milestone with them. But a little part of me (my FEET) was thankful that someone was putting a stop to the madness. I sat down on a park bench, tried to take a selfie and eventually started moving in the direction of my car with the intent of hailing a cab. We walked from Michigan to State before we got a cab then waited for a while to get let into the gate where my car was parked. I didn’t get to see my dad or any team mates that night.
We ordered Lou Malnati’s pizza, I ate it, showered, then passed out. Next morning, “Recovery Monday” we went to The Recovery Room for foam rolling, compression boots and the cold bath. Got our medals engraved at Fleet Feet, ran into training team members and did what we do best BRUNCH!
I haven’t run since the marathon, tomorrow is the Frank Lloyd Wright Race 10k; I’ll take it easy and enjoy the pretty houses. For a moment I considered a January Half-Marathon, the F3 Half, but I really don’t like cold weather running. I plan to run Chicago again next year, with a time goal in mind, and I am considering entering the lottery for the NYC marathon which takes place about a month after Chicago. It’s safe to say that I got bit by the bug :)