When I found out my bib race number was 9017, I was excited to have a little bit of luck going into the race! I was born on the 17th of December so of course #17 is one my lucky numbers! My bib race number for my first half marathon had #17 in the number, which was ironically in Chicago as well. I had a good feeling that this weekend was going to be pretty amazing!
Friends and family have been asking me, ‘What did you do to run the marathon so fast?” To hopefully answer everyone’s questions, here is what I did!
The weekend started with a quick stop at Starbucks to get a pumpkin spice latte and grabbing my moccasins out of my suitcase to warm my cold feet, as the temperature in STL dropped overnight and Chicago was only going to be colder. I had 5 hours (291 miles on one highway) to think about every that has happened in past 9 months since I was last in Chicago over Christmas vacation and a 26.2 mile race that I was going to run in 2 days. I also belted tunes from Pandora’s Spice Girl station…I won’t lie I sang for most of the way. I made it to Chicago with the thousands of other runners and I had only 45 minutes of beginning rush hour traffic. I checked into the Hilton Hotel and thought I had time to go for a short jog and take a nap before my parents were going to arrive, but sure enough they were already in my room! I was so excited to spend this memorable weekend with them and show them Chicago for the first time.
We knew all the local restaurants would be crazy packed with other 39,454 runners wanting to eat a carb filled dinner so we decided to take my Aunt Nancy’s recommendation and go to Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria in South City Chicago (seen on on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives)….it was a train and bus ride away, but it was well worth the journey and there was no wait at 5:30 pm. And they had the Cardinals game on! Perfect!
Friday night dinner! The best thin crust pizza and spaghetti with meatballs!
After dinner, we headed to our hotel and I unpacked.
Essentials I brought from home. Foam roller, water belt, GU gels, UCAN, NUUN electrolyte tablets, Ibuprofen, glide, and garmin watch.
And then I passed out on the earlier side to have enough energy to enjoy the expo and explore Chicago.
I started my day with stretching and a short 1.5 mile run. Not surprising, I wasn’t the only runner feeling out the cooler temperature and moving my legs after a day of traveling the day before the big race! I got sunshine, fresh air, and bit more confidence in myself that tomorrow will be good day, no matter how well I do, because I would be surrounding by great runners, great supporters, great weather, and simply great positive energy!
Stretching the IT Band with foam roller
I got back to the hotel and grabbed a granola bar and banana. Then we were off to the expo!
ready to own chicago!
with Kelley, friend from STL. She got a PR and boston cut this race as well! Woohoo!
Of course I can’t go to an expo and not make few purchases….I got this horrible habit from my Dad (he even brought a few things….I am not sure if he will wear/use any of his purchases, but maybe he will start walking or even running! A positive thought!)
My Expo Purchases
- iFitness Water Belt with 4 water bottles, pouch with key and credit card holder, bib ties, and gel holders: a multi-purpose water belt! This belt felt more secure and comfortable than my ironman belt. I decided I was going to wear this belt for the race even though I didn’t train with it. I had faith in it!
- GU gels with caffeine: I had a few GU gels, but decided I wanted to use ones with caffeine to give me an extra boost every 6 miles.
- Neon Green Chicago Marathon Hat: l love neon green! It also turned out being the best way for my parents to find me during the race!
- Sheddable Jacket: This is a great idea for cooler temperature races to keep warm and not expend extra energy that needs to be saved for the last few miles. Then you shed it when you get warmed up the first mile or two and you don’t lose a piece of clothing that might be valuable to you.
American flag made from water bottles signed by runners to give to soldiers. I signed a red one!
The electrolyte tables I used on all of my long runs and what I put in my water belt for the marathon. The best!
Being goofs….daughter like father?…
I met Desi Davila…fastest US female marathoner in 2010. She gave me tips on what to wear in the cooler morning temperature and she signed my bib…maybe it gave me some magical speed!
I found my name on the big big big banner!
Run through the finish line and receive an estimated marathon time. Didn’t believe this….but maybe it works.
I saw this and thought “yeah right can I get under 3:30″….little did I know. Predicted time wasn’t too far off after all. Hmmmm
It was time to leave the expo after 3.5 hours and get some fuel and rest!
We spend more time at the expo than we planned on! I was starving, which is not good the day before a marathon! A pit stop at Sprinkles Cupcakes was my answer since we were eating dinner in only 3 or so hours…..maybe a cupcake wasn’t the best answer, but I had never been to Sprinkles before and needed a quick sugar fix!
Sprinkles! If visiting Chicago, you must have one of their cupcakes..or two 🙂
I couldn’t resist! and I was carb loading anyways, right?
Red Velvet Cupcake 🙂 devoured in maybe 1-2 minutes!
Done! Enough Said
As we were sitting in Sprinkles and we saw snowflakes…no joke! We couldn’t believe it!
Thank god the snow was flake!
Actually it was a joke…we got fooled! The snowboarding store next store had a snow blower on top of its sign! Come on…how would we have known!
We headed to the hotel to get some rest. I read more of The Lola Papers until a pasta buffet that the Hilton Hotel was having for all the runners!
Salad, pasta, chicken, meatballs, and garlic bread! The best race eve dinner!
Cleaned my plate and maybe went back for a little more pasta and fruit salad. Tummy and glycogen stores were satisfied! I hope this meal stays with my during the race….maybe at least the first mile or two of the race!
We went back to our room and I got everything ready for the race…even updated my ipod with music and 6.0 iphone software.
all ready the night before!
I never have a great night sleep the before races. Even in my swimming days, I would get that nervous-excited feeling and only got a few hours of sleep, which is why I always make sure I get 3-4 good nights of sleep before races! I fell asleep quickly and got a few hours of solid sleep, but then I woke up multiple times in the early morning. I never let a bad nights sleep psych me out because I know the adrenaline and energy from the runners will wake me up and give me that extra boost!
Wake up call at 5:30am…two hours before the race! I got dressed and ate breakfast in the room (who said you can’t have a pre-race breakfast that doesn’t entail gourmet pancakes and waffles like the elite runners get).
The best peanut butter and banana sandwich. I purchased the ingredients at Trader Joes that night before just two blocks from the hotel.
1.5 hour before race: Peanut butter and banana sandwich & Oatmeal (I used the hot water from the coffee maker for my oatmeal)
0.5 hour before race: chocolate UCAN mixed with 12 fl oz of water in a blender bottle
0.25 hour before race: A stick of mint gum! I always run with gum! I even had a few extra pieces in my pouch for during the race!
Then I continued to do my pre-race preparation.
It can’t hurt to glide your feet and any areas that you might chafe your skin!
1/2 NUUN tablet in each bottle. Let them dissolve with the bottle caps off for a few minutes to decrease the carbonation that forms.
Stretching. In the zone.
At 6:20 am we walked about 1 mile to the entrance of my Corral where I had to say goodbye to my parents.
Pre-race photo wearing my sheddable jacket.
Since I had completed a half marathon under 1:51 in the past 3 years, I was fortunate to submit my time and get into the 7:30 am race start vs. the 8:00 am race start. If you are a faster runner, I would highly suggest submitting your time. My corral was not too crowded and I started the race with people close to my speed. I could see the 3:30 pacers in Corral B. Also, nobody started walking until 20+ miles, which prevents crashes, jams, and wanting to walk early on in the race.
I set up my garmin watch and iphone Run Keeper App to track my race (My garmin watch has been dying on my lately during my long runs so I just use it to track my pace for as long as it can last. Run Keeper is the main way I store my runs), turned on my running playlist, and jumped up and down a few times.
The gun went off and the race started at 7:30am! It took me a little over 3 minutes to reach the starting line! Then I was off….just ME and the FINISH LINE!
Fuel and Fluids During the Race
GU with a caffeine at 6, 12, 18, and 22 miles
My water belt had 4-8 fl oz bottles with half a NUUN tablet in each bottle
I drank water at almost every water station after mile 4 (I wanted to wait to drink grab water from the stations until I got into a groove).
NEON HAT..that’s me
For the first few miles I was going at a pace under 8 minute miles. I tried to slow down, but I felt comfortable. I am always good at not running with the crowd. I had a lot of practice swimming the mile in college when you had to go at the pace you trained and not go out too fast with the other swimmers, who may swim their races differently.
This was the biggest race I have ever ran in and I enjoyed every moment of it! I loved running with a lot of people during the entire race, who were running at my pace! People were cheering on the side literally the whole race! I was able to keep the 3:30 pacers in my sight for 26.2 miles! The pacers were a key part to my successful race. I was a bit worried to be running with them because I never thought I could run a marathon that fast, but I just felt too good to not try to push myself to run with them.
By mile 17ish, my right groin area started to feel a bit sore, but I pushed through it! I knew if I stopped to walk I was not going to be able to run at 3:30 pace again and was going to feel more tight and sore than I already was starting to feel. So I didn’t walk until I stepped over the finish line! My parents saw me at mile 2, 13,17,20, and 26! I knew I would see them at 13 and 17, as we planned, so got excited as I approached those miles to wave and smile at them!
Soon enough, mile 24 approached. The last 2 miles were pretty difficult, but again I didn’t want to let the 3:30 pacers out of my sight! The last mile was the longest mile of my life, as there was signs counting down 1600 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters, 300 meters, 200 meters, and 100 meters that I wanted to punch! Seeing those signs made the last mile seem super long! Also, the 300-100 meters stretch was up a slight hill…the biggest hill on the race (a small small hill, but it seemed so big after a long flat race)….my legs were reaching their pain threshold! The finish line needed to approach soon or I was going to be crawling to the finish line! And sure enough…it approached, the last 50 meters were indescribable, especially when I saw the clock time and realize I was going to be under 3:30! I raised my hands in the air and smiled! I got a little emotional, but held it together 🙂
I was so happy, but so glad to be done! My reachable goal going into the race was to beat my previous marathon time of 3:56 and my challenging goal was to get under 3:45. I finished in 3:29:00 (zero zero flat…isn’t that lucky too)!
I limped the pace of a snail (maybe slower than a snail) feeling pain in my right groin. The post-race food that the race provided was not appetizing, but I forced a banana, pretzels, and a bottle of water down because I knew I needed something in my system. I took a few post race photos, grabbed some ice, hugged my parents, and walked (snail pace) back to the hotel with the feeling of accomplishment!
Wet long sleeve was starting to make me cold! Glad to get the race blanket!
Post-race with the medal!
Immediately, I ate my leftover Peanut Butter Sprinkles Cupcake, took ibuprofen, and sat in a hot bath to loosen up. After about a half an hour I felt so much better! I wasn’t limping and was super hungry for YOLK brunch!
Yolk’s Nutella Crepes!
After a satisfying meal, we were ready to head back to STL. My parents were nice enough to fly out of STL Monday morning so they could drive my sore body back home!
The only and best picture of the 3 of us before I said goodbye at the airport! I will see them next for Thanksgiving!
When we got back Sunday night, I researched groin pain to figure out what was bothering me. There was no area of my groin that was painful to touch, but it was uncomfortable and painful to lift my right leg high enough to walk stairs, get in and out of the car and bed. I found out groin pain is usually associated with pulled or strained adductor muscles, which occurs when the adductor muscles (groin muscles) are stretched beyond their limits. The fan-like muscles in the upper thigh include the adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, pectineus, and gracilis. These muscles act to pull the legs together when they contract and stabilize the hip joint.
I was worried I had a severe strained or even tore one of the muscles, but I continued to follow R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) for 3 days. When I iced my foot at night, I cycled through having the ice on for 20 minutes and off for 20 minutes for 3 cycles. I also made sure I stretched out my groin every day. After Tuesday, I had no groin pain! Luckily, I didn’t injury my groin to prevent me from exercising for 2+weeks and running the 10K and half marathon I planned to run over the next 2 weeks. I must have had overstretched one of the groin muscles just enough to cause inflammation and pain (slight strain). However, I am still doing groin stretches on a daily basis to prevent injury during my next race (here are the groin stretching resources I used 1, 2).
Besides being sore, my metabolism was super fast and I was starving at odd hours until Wednesday. I woke up in the middle of the nights really hungry so I would grab a piece of fruit or piece of toast with peanut butter to get me through the night. By Wednesday, I was starting to recovery well and I even went to the gym to do 30 minutes of cardio, which entailed 20 minutes of jogging, 10 minutes on the elliptical, and a long stretch. On Thursday I went for an easy 2 mile run and then I rested until Sunday’s Halloween 10K… I was a cavewoman! I ran with my friends and enjoyed a Sunday 8:30-9:00 minute pace run. I couldn’t have run faster, but it didn’t feel bad at all. I am on my way to recovery and preparing for the half marathon on Sunday!
Cavewomen! We found our caveman on the way!
So the answer the question everyone has been asking me….are you going to run the Boston Marathon? I decided I am signing up for the Boston Marathon in 2014. If you made the cut after September 22nd 2012, you can sign up for 2013 (if it is not full, which it is not) or 2014, but I think I am ready for a half ironman at the end of this Spring and then I will do Boston next Spring. Also, I have no clue where I will be after December, in terms of jobs and my location, so it will be best to focus on the next step in my career, settling wherever I may be, and push my next marathon to the following year. This is the plan for now!
Don’t hesitate to ask me questions about half and/or full marathon fuel and training to help you have a successful first or next race coming up! I don’t bite!