I Am a Chicago Marathoner

It’s been a week today since I completed my running bucket list item of running the Chicago Marathon.


Kevin and I drove from St. Louis to Chicago last Friday. It was a beautiful day for a drive. It was relaxed and carefree until we got into that busy city!

Not only was one of the greatest marathons going on but the President also decided to visit. And then, the Cubs had the nerve to win their pennant! The city was busy, beautiful and electric.


We checked into the Hyatt Regency Chicago for a 3 night stay and our room was on the 29th floor. It was comfortable, in the heart of everything, had a beautiful view and expensive!!

We met up later with my friend and fellow Chicago Marathon, Tammy (VeganRunnerNerd) and her family.

We had a couple of drinks and started off to the Abbott Center to the runner’s expo to pick up our packets. We were told it was a 2 mile walk but it ended up about 4 or so!


Kevin, David and Kayla were going to run the International Chicago 5k that Saturday morning so we had to pick up their packets as well as ours.

I could have spent a long time and a lot of $$ on a normal day at that expo but we needed to get back to our hotel and get some dinner and rest up!

After the expo, we caught the shuttle back to our hotel and had dinner in a restaurant in the Hyatt and we were off to bed for an early morning watching Kevin, David and Kayla run the 5k.

The next morning, we walked to Daley Plaza to watch them run. And the Picasso sculpture in the center is the model for the Chicago Marathon medal!


Due to tight security for the weekend, it was hard for us to find a place to watch them. We finally did find a place and watched them bring it home in Chicago’s first International 5k on Marathon weekend. They did it and we were proud of them. Tammy and I were also a bit envious of the cool knit cap that they got for their finish.


After their run, we explored the city a bit and I finally got to see the Giant Bean!


Chicago is a beautiful city. You hear so much of the ugly things about the crime, murder etc. that people maybe forget how magnificent it is. I totally fell in love with it.

After we went back to the room for everyone to shower up and change, we went to eat dinner at a Vegan restaurant call “Native Foods.” Kevin and Tammy are Vegan so we wanted to go to a place for them. But I will admit, I loved the food also. I also got to meet one of Tammy’s friends “Heather” who I can now call my friend. Hey, all us Marathoners are friends!

I had a Southwestern Vegan burger and it was incredible! I will definitely go back the next time we go to Chicago. And we will. We are already talking about “when.”


After lunch, we went to Field Museum. It was great and so big that you need a vacation just to see it. I’d love to visit again when I have more time. And I met T-Rex (Sue)!


We were supposed to be resting on Saturday but who can do that in Chicago on a beautiful day?

We made use of Uber cabs to take us back to our hotel. Kevin and I grabbed sandwiches in the hotel market and went to our room for a hot shower, leg rolling and rest.

I laid out my running gear (and after long deliberating, I went with the yellow Asics Nimbus shoes) and relaxed on the bed until lights out. “For Jimmy” on my shirt was for my brother Jimmy who died last year. He is never far from my mind no matter what I do and especially running this marathon. I deferred it last year because he was in the last days of his earthly life. When he found out that I canceled, he was upset that I did it because of him. So I had to do it “For Jimmy.”

 



Honestly, I barely slept. So many things were running through my mind. I think I fell asleep about 3:00am and I was awake before the alarm went off at 4:45am. So I knew Sunday was going to be a long day! I went to the 24-hour market in the hotel and grabbed a spinach and egg croissant, coffee and a banana.


We met up with Tammy and family in the lobby and headed off toward the Congress Hotel where Tammy’s charity was hosting a breakfast and kick off celebration.

Due to security, our family couldn’t go with us so we kissed them goodbye and headed to our corral.

It was both exciting and nerve wrecking waiting for our turn to start. The crowds were 44,000 strong and electric.


After about an hour of waiting, we started running.

The crowds, volunteers and spectators were incredible the entire way, even for us slower runners in corral K. The course was flat and the city looked beautiful as we ran through 29 neighborhoods. Each neighbor brought something different for our experience. I had read so many stories about the spectators in each neighborhood but there was nothing like experiencing it. One thing that brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face was dozens and dozens of the spectators yelling “Do This For Jimmy!!” that was on my shirt. I know he would have laughed at people calling his name so much. I felt he was with me. 

I felt good for the first half of the course. My speed and enthusiasm was nice. At mile 14 and 16, our families were there cheering us on. We grabbed hugs and kept running.


So then came mile 17 or 18. I’m not sure if it was because I was walking so much the couple of days leading up to the marathon or whatever but at first my right hamstring started feeling tight and then started pulling slightly. Then the left hip started hurting. And then, left foot cramps. As a runner, you understand that one thing going wrong causes a chain reaction and that’s what happened. It really got bad at about mile 22 or so. Had it not been for Tammy, I wonder if I would have finished. I’m sure I would have because I had a similar thing happen in my first marathon but she was encouraging and helped me muster up the stamina and drive to finish.

All of the neighborhoods were great such as Boys town, Little Italy, Greek town, Chinatown, Old Town but 18 street or the Pilsen neighborhood was my favorite of all the neighborhoods. It was the Mexican district of Chicago. My next trip to Chicago, I will make sure to go there and eat and drink and have a good time.

Near mile 26, the city of the Chicago played a “fuck you” game with us and put a hill there! After crawling up that hill, I turned to the left and saw that finish line.

Tammy and I charged toward that bitch! I felt so good running down that hill knowing I would be a Chicago marathoner that I had forgotten the hurting hip and cramping foot. I had forgotten how hard it was to get there. I felt immortal for a short while. But a few minutes later, I could barely walk!

We crossed together and I’m not sure about Tammy, but I burst into tears! The tears were so thick in my eyes, that I could barely see. I went toward the person with the medal and he placed it around my neck. He then said “let me give you a hug!” He gave me the biggest hug and told “You Own Chicago, now”!

Another volunteer handed me a bottle of water. Another wrapped the warming blanket around me.

I hobbled out of the runner’s village and found Kevin waiting for me near the exit. I could barely walk to him but I fell into him crying. We went to the Congress Hotel where Tammy’s charity hosts gave us food, beer and a massage!


To the volunteers, police, firemen, kids, senior citizens, regular citizens, drunk college kids, Elvis, drag queens, dancing dragons, mariachis, hello kitties, Mario brothers, Yoshi and anyone who gave me water, high fives, let me hit the power up button….thank you, thank you very much!!

After the massage, we went back to our hotel to shower and grab a few minutes of rest.


I have never hurt so good in my life!

Now Kevin had researched the best Chicago pizza in the city and he decided he wanted “Lou Malnati’s” and while I haven’t had all pizza in Chicago, this was incredible. I would go back to Chicago just for that! We took an Uber cab there. It was an hour wait to get in so it knew it was good. We went next door to grab a beer while we waited. It was also funny to see all the people hobbling in with their medals around their neck. Everyone earned that pizza!


Afterwards, we told Tammy, David and Kayla good night and goodbye until next time we see each other.

I lay there in that comfortable bed looking out the window at the city of Chicago. I was euphoric and felt accomplished.

I am so happy that I got to share this experience with Kevin, Tammy, David and Kayla.

I could write forever about this 3-day experience…. but I’ll spare you!


26.2 at the City By the Lake

It’s less than 6 days and I think I’m ready…

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Saturday was my last long run before the big one on this upcoming Sunday. I ran it through downtime St. Louis and I felt amazing during this run even with the St. Louis inclines!

I ran fast and strong the entire time. I even felt that elusive “runner’s high” that we all seek. When the run was over, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good it felt. At that moment, I felt I was ready for 26.2 miles.

It was cool and cloudy, my favorite kind of weather so I knew it would not suck too bad. Downtime St. Louis was very busy and they were having an event there “Sista Strut STL” ` Breast Cancer Awareness

So I felt like I was in a special event! Beautiful and friendly crowd that was colorfully dressed so that’s my kind of event!

I do love running in downtown St. Louis and Forest Park.

Afterwards, we went to watch Daniel play soccer for the first time. His team got demolished but I laughed so much. Kevin and I spend the rest of the Daniel and night with Daniel and Sadie.

We went to the hill to eat Italian….well, because I’m card loading! haha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend, Kevin and I went to Iowa so I could visit and run with my friend Tammy. It was wonderful to finally meet her even though I felt like we have been friends for years. She and I visited together on that Friday afternoon and met up with her husband (David) and her awesome daughter (Kayla) and her friend Riley. Kevin and David hit it off well. We went to “2 Dogs Pub” Friday night for beer and food.

Tammy and I ran 10 miles together the next morning in her hometown. We are running the Chicago marathon together and we are great running partners as we both discovered. I’m excited to cross that finish line with her.

After our run, we all went out to lunch together at “30 Hop.” It was a great visit and it felt like saying goodbye to an old friend.

See you in Chicago, Tammy!

After that, Kevin and I drove 3 hours northwest to visit the Iowa city of Clear Lake. It’s the famed place of the tragic plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. They performed that fated night for the last time in a club in that little town. Kevin is a music lover and historian of sorts. He is particularly a fan of Buddy Holly. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a great visit to Iowa and we’ll be back.

The Day the Music Died (Marathon Training and Such)

It’s less than 3 weeks until the Chicago Marathon.


Last weekend was my biggest and most important training run. It was scheduled for Saturday but I needed to see my Daniel and Sadie (grandkiddies) which I haven’t seen since Labor Day.

They usually spend the Saturday night with us when we are at the apartment in St. Louis. But I could only spend a day with them in St. Louis because I needed to be back in Columbia in order to rest up for my 22 mile run on the MKT trail.

I can never spend enough time with them but we tried to cram as much fun in with them as possible.


I will be glad when this is all over so I can spend quality time with them again. They need me and I need them more.

But, the time is very near and I can get back to enjoying my life and enjoying running again.

Training for a marathon is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, honestly. I could not even enjoy my Saturday night knowing that I would spend a big part of the daylight on Sunday running plus there’s football on Sunday.

I am now happily in the taper part of marathon training so my miles are going down significantly especially the long run on the weekend.


Now about my 22 mile run…..

It was about 70 degrees when I started but the temps would rise to about 85 or so which is too warm for me. It wasn’t as humid so that was good. I always do my over 10 mile runs on the MKT trail which is a beautiful trail that leads into the KATY trail. It stretches across the state of Missouri.

Kevin always rides his bike with me on these runs because it makes my run more comfortable with him carrying my water, food and other things that I may need. It also makes me feel safer if I get hurt or sick for him to be there. He usually doesn’t stay that close to me and gets to enjoy his ride. He keeps my hand held water bottle full and circles back to see if I need fuel.

But on this morning, I wanted him to spend some time with the Peyton and Eli (my dogs) and give them a nice long walk after their breakfast. Dogs get neglected because of marathon training also.

He dropped me off at the trail head and went back home to walk the dogs. He loaded up his bike and came back to the trail to catch up with me. By then, I had already gone almost 11 miles and was about to turn around to head back. I was getting a little worried that it took him so long but I had plenty of water and fuel. There are 3 water and potty stops on the way. I didn’t stop to potty but did stop to fill my bottle.

I had a respectable speed going (for me) until my toes starting hurting at about 18 miles or so. It seemed my toes were hitting the toe of my shoe causing pretty significant pain. And I had just bought these shoes a half size bigger than the others. I think my socks were too padded at the toe. I don’t want to buy more shoes. I still have some experimenting to do with socks/shoes maybe.

I hate headphone cords. They bother me and cause me to get agitated on long runs. So I decided to try out my Denon Exercise Freak wireless headphones. They fit perfect and work well for the most part. But it ran down my iPhone quickly so I ran out of music at mile 12 or 13. That’s not good. I need music when I run alone.


But I did bring my iPod Nano and headphones stuck in my sports bra! And I got it going and it screwed up. It kept skipping music and playing over and over even though I had it set on shuffle. At about mile 18 or so, I just held it in my hand to keep it from skipping.

So for 12 miles or so, it was easy peasy. It turned to crap after that!

At mile 20, I filled my water bottle, paused my Garmin and was going to decide if I might call it over at 20 and walk the other 2 miles. I saw it as a win/win or a lose/lose anyway because my run was supposed to be 20 miles anyway. But I quickly decided that I would run the last 2 miles. Honestly, with my toes hurting, it felt just as good to run as to walk.

I finished 22 miles!


I walked around a while afterwards while Kevin loaded his bike up. I always have a fear of getting in the car and having those very painful thigh cramps that I get sometimes.

But I did not cramp up the entire day or night.

When I got home, I took a long shower and Kevin made me a couple of bloody marys while I finished watching the Kansas City Chiefs get beat by the Texans!


Even the dogs pampered me.


Later, Kevin rolled my legs and made a delicious dinner. I slept well and work up with no real soreness the next morning and went to work.

I was supposed to run 5 miles last night after work but I came home so tired that I was asleep before 8pm. I forgot to set the alarm and woke up at 6:30am and was supposed to wake up at 4:30am. I also had a terrible headache so I just stayed home.

I started feeling better and got in my 8 mile run on the trail even though it was very warm. I came home and walked the dogs and mowed the yard.

Back to work again early in the morning. I have 5 miles on deck for tomorrow night.

Kevin and I are going to Iowa on Friday to meet and spend some time with my friend Tammy at VeganRunnerNerd. We are going to hang out Friday night and get up on Saturday morning and have a 13 mile run together. I’m excited to finally meet her. We are running the Chicago Marathon together.

Kevin and I will leave for Clear Lake, Iowa that afternoon because my hunny wants to visit the place where Buddy Holly’s plane crashed. He is a huge fan of Buddy Holly. We will head back to Columbia on Sunday afternoon.

~That’s All Folks~


Why a Less than Ordinary Runner Runs a Marathon

I’ve had many people lately, including runners, tell me how the marathon is not a healthy thing to do to my body. I agree.

I just finished up week 12 training yesterday and completed my 20 mile run. It was grueling. I could barely rest last night because my body ached so much. I am better this morning but it was hard to walk normally when I took the dogs on their morning walk.

I know to people who see me daily, they think I’m hurting myself. I am. They think I look injured. I am.

I even wonder why I do it to myself. I do believe this is my last marathon. I will stick to 5k, St. Pats 5 Mile and maybe an occasional half marathon. That is my comfort zone.

The good thing about the human body is that the injuries and pain now are not permanent. My body will recover.

And it’s because a marathon is out of my comfort zone that I do it.

I do not have a runner’s body. I am much older than the average runner. I run much slower than the average runner. I hate coming home from a long day at work and running until dark. I hate giving up my entire Saturdays to long runs and ache with pain afterwards. I hate spending more time to muscle and foot care than to fun things.

I read something once and maybe it sounds cliché but it’s exactly why I had to do the first marathon at 54 years old.

“A marathon takes an ordinary runner and turns them into something extraordinary.”

That’s why I did it once and attempting to do it again.

Maybe it’s vanity. Maybe it’s insecurity. Maybe it’s because I squandered most of my life as a fat, inactive person.

Yesterday, it was a beautiful, cool and sunny day on the MKT trail where I ran my long run. That trail is nature at its more beautiful here in our area of Missouri. My husband, Kevin, rode his bicycle and carried my water, fuel, glide and other things such as toilet wipes! (just in case HA!). He’s the reason I am able to do this, by the way. I fussed at him a little bit because he never puts the top on correctly on my hand-heal Nathan water bottle. Then it leaks on my hand causing weird friction. But other than that, I had a drama free run. He had a great time on his bicycle. He gave me encouragement. He always has. He told me numerous times he was proud of me. He pepped me up when it was getting hard at mile 15 or so.

The trail was beautiful and he rode at a leisure speed. He loves his bicycle and cycling. For about 13 or more miles, I was able to enjoy the beauty of the morning and the trail.

I wore my outfit that I plan on running the Chicago Marathon in. I have never worn a skirt before so that was a newbie for me. My outfit felt comfortable. The morning was cool (less than 65 degrees). The temps never got over 72 before my run was over. All things were perfect. Well as perfect as it could be for someone about to tackle 20 miles.


My training run was set for 18 miles. The good thing about an “out and back” run is if you go out 10 miles, you have to come back 10 miles. I thought if worse came to worse after 18 miles, I could just call my run complete and walk for 2 miles to get the soreness out. But I was determined this would be a 20 mile run. So it was.

After the run, while Kevin was putting his bike on the rack, I walked around about 15 minutes or so as to not cramp up by immediately sitting in the car. That was a good decision because nothing is worse than thigh cramps after a run. So I walked around the area drinking my water and tears in my eyes because I completed the 20 miler. It’s by far my longest run in almost 2 years and only a few months of colon surgery.

When I got home, I walked around a bit more and sit outside my beautiful back yard enjoying a beer. I was able to enjoy that beer like it was going to be my last one! I felt happy and relieved that I was able to do it. I really had in my head that I would not be able to.

I had a warm shower and got in my favorite pajamas. Kevin rolled and massaged my calves and hamstring muscles. That’s when the euphoria set in for me. I was in pain and high at the same time. A high that only runners know, maybe. I was aching, hungry and happy. I might have been the happiest person in Columbia, MO at that time. Kevin made me a delicious, hearty and healthy lunch except that I wanted about 3 servings of Lays potato chips!

I felt like I was extraordinary. I felt immortal if only for a while.

“Cause we could be immortals, immortals. Just not for long, for long” ~ Immortals by Fallout Boys (Favorite Running Song)