Let the Rain Fall

4.04 miles in 37:46

I’m nearing the end of my taper. There are only two more miles to log in the books before race day. And wow, is it getting gritty.

10.8.14 splits
What’s funny is that this run felt so tight and slow, so imagine my surprise when all of my mile splits were UNDER 10 minutes. What?!

I think this is just a classic case of psyching myself out. I’m really letting it get to me that I wasn’t great at my training plan after the 20 miler, and I feel like I shouldn’t be doing well because of it.
Even though those are pretty great split times for feeling like I was completely dragging.

Also, I am psyched out because of the weather forecast. I know it’s too soon to be certain, but isn’t worrying and overpreparing all part of the marathon day buildup??

With a projected 55 degree high and a 60% chance of rain, I’m pretty frazzled.

I am prepared for heat. I am prepared for cold. But am I prepared for rain??

I did some research on the best things to do for a rainy/cold marathon day (wear a trash bag to the start, slather exposed skin in vaseline, plant a spectator on the course with fresh socks/shirt around mile 16) and still felt a little off… until, as the theme of this week is going, I sent myself to back in the day.

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Back to the State Finals race of my 7th grade year. It was cold and it poured. The picture above is me BEFORE I left the “safety” of my parents’ umbrella, which the officials allowed to remain with me and aloft at the start line, if that’s any indication of how intense the rain really was (as if the look on my face wasn’t enough proof). We were soaked before the starting gun even went off.

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me with my junior high track and cross country coach, who taught me all I know about endurance

But did that stop 13 year old me from shaking off the conditions and dominating?

Of course it didn’t.

In the State Finals, only the top 25 finishers medal (I earned the 23rd spot, hot dog!). But in the marathon, all finishers medal.

I was about as prepared for rain in that race as I am for this marathon now. Physically, I was strong. Mentally, I was tough. I came across hills of mud I had never anticipated having to scale in their slippery state. I leaped over giant puddles and slopped through small pools that reached halfway up my shins. I wiped the rain (and tears) out of my eyes as I rounded the final straightaway sprint, sure I would come out victorious.

Overall, I endured.

Because that is what this great sport is all about. Enduring.

It’s about facing the unknown, tackling obstacles, and, win or lose, knowing that you gave it your all and came out the other end a victor in your own right.

So, let the rain fall on Sunday if it must. Because I beat the rain once, and I am here to prove that I can (and will!) beat it again!

Do you enjoy running in the rain? Or do you dread it like I do?

What’s a huge obstacle you faced and overcame? What inspired you to get through it??

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Sunday Runday

Sunday 6/15- 5 miles in 53:00
This run was doubly disappointing for me.
First- I was scheduled to run 6 miles per my Hal Higdon Novice Supreme training plan. But I could only eek out 5 because of my abysmal conditioning last week. Bummer.
Second- Not only was this run characteristically slower than what I’m used to, but it felt pretty awful, too.
I know I brought on BOTH of this disappointments myself, not just picking my sore self up by my New Balance straps and forcing myself to do a few miles, BUT it was a valuable learning experience. Now when I’m sore, I know it will most likely pay off to at least do SOMETHING so I don’t completely crash and burn on my long runs. AND I doubt we’ll have another Monday soccer event that will leave me quite so unable to, you know, walk in a straight line.

Monday 6/16- Soccer, two 25 minute halves
WHAT HAPPENED?!
Literally a minute into the game, my right quad started hurting. I’m not talking about a FEEL THE BURN kind of pain… more like the entire muscle was flexing and so every time I started to run faster than a quick jog, it HURT. About halfway through the first half, my left quad caught it.
WHAT DID I DO?!
Either way, we had no subs again, so I toughed it out to the best of my ability. After the game I was in a world of pain and walked all straight-legged until a hot shower soothed me back into the ability to bend my legs.
I literally can’t tell you what happened or what I think could have caused this because I am dumbfounded.

Tuesday 6/17- Rest. Not only planned, but it turns out that in the excruciating pain of my quads, I neglected to ice the outside of my knee which is slightly bruised and pretty tender. Yikes!

Wednesday 6/18- 3.01 miles in 30:41
Hot (80 degrees), humid (70%), and my knee was bugging me, but I went out and got it done.
I spent a little extra time stretching my quads pre-run (they’re still SO tight, but not sore THANKGOD) and made sure my pace was nice and do-able given the humidity and my bum knee. Thankfully I have a naturally (or learn-ed after my years of competetive racing) even, low-impact stride, so I ran with relatively little pain. My post-run included heavy hydration and a trip to ice city.

Thursday 6/19- 3.02 miles in 30:03
The knee is feeling better! Only a touch of pain when I run or knock it on something (I am clumsy) so this run went a bit more quickly. The humidity/fog/apocolypse is still dense in Chicago, though, so that was still a slowdown factor, though it did make for a pleasant running temperature and off-the-lake breezes…

Friday 6/20- 3.01 miles in 28:41
It’s been foggy as heck in Chicago, and this day was no different. I think, despite the intense humidity, the cooler temperature was a huge factor in my quick time. Awesome!

Saturday 6/21- Rest!

Rock n Roll San Diego

If you’ve been following along with my training recaps, you probably noticed that I was in San Diego this weekend visiting a friend. I don’t want to bore you with the details of my amazing weekend getaway, but I will say that I:

-revisited the hilarity of my college days with one of the best friends I met at Illinois

-saw some amazing bands live, and am most excited about Kongos and Panic! at the Disco (both of which were PHENOMENAL in person – who knew Brendon Urie had such raw talent?)

-spent some time meeting my friend’s co-workers at a typical SoCal cookout and pool party overlooking the Pacific

-soaked up some sun while inspecting tidal pools and playing in the surf at the oceanfront in La Jolla

-had fresh clam chowder on an authentic boardwalk greasy spoon at Ocean Beach

-managed to get in two runs that totally followed my training plan (snaps for me!)

-witnessed history at the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon!

That’s right! Completely unplanned to me (and even a shock to my friend, who got a road closures notice the Thursday of my arrival) was that the Rock n’ Roll Marathon fell the exact Sunday I was in the San Diego area. What was even better? The marathon course literally went within a block of my friend’s place! I hadn’t cheered for marathoners since last year’s Chicago Marathon, so I requested a CVS run to pick up poster-making materials and went to town.

I had been waking up pretty early California time because, yeah, my body remained on Central time for the entirety of my trip, so waking in time to see the elites pass us on mile 15 was a breeze (for me, my friend met me about a half hour after I got myself up and out – no shame, it was EARLY). In fact, as I was researching to see about what time I could expect the runners to hit my cheer spot, I recognized a name on the half marathon’s recent winner’s list and, after some digging found that, um, MEB KEFLEZIGHI IS FROM SAN DIEGO?!

You know, Meb? Meb who finished 2nd and 4th in the past two Olympic Marathons and WON the 2009 NYC and 2014 Boston?! Okay, and while medaling at the Olympics is huge (heck, GETTING to the Olympics is huge…), this guy was the first AMERICAN to win the NYC and Boston Marathons since 1982 and 1983, respectfully. AND PLUS HE WON THE BOSTON MARATHON!! AND HE LIVES IN SAN DIEGO!

SO OF COURSE MEB WAS THERE!!1!

However, Meb’s San Diego Rock n’ Roll thang is the half marathon, so while he WAS present at the start/finish before and after the race, he was a pacer for the half and I did NOT see him. Bummer, but still SO cool!

So that takes us to the race itself, of which I have exactly zero pictures of. You know why? I was way too busy cheering! Like I said, I watched the Chicago Marathon before, but there I was at mile 7 and, compounded with the fact that I suspect the Chicago Marathon is a bigger (participant-wise) race than the San Diego Rock n’ Roll, it was a completely different experience.

In Chicago: my vantage point was completely filled with spectators AND runners. As in, it was lucky John and I got down to the course early and secured a spot on the curb, because sooner than we knew it, the crowd to watch was at least 3 people deep. And once the elite running groups passed, the runners were so dense that you couldn’t cross the street if you tried. Cheering to individuals was almost futile and I really was more of a spectator than a cheerer.

In San Diego: I was one of maybe a dozen people within the block I was cheering at for the entire race. The elite passed in drifts. There was literally about one person every 20-30 seconds for the first few minutes, and then a few clumps of 3s, and then 5s, until a steady(ish) pack finally rounded, with the most dense group being around the 3:30-4:10 paces, and even then you could dart across the street between packs if need be.

The result? San Diego was SO MUCH more personal. My friend and I made two sides to our sign, one funny and one motivational. The funny side got rarely any use because, while I could understand it giving a chuckle to someone in a huge, Chicago-type setting (note: I keeled over after I first saw it!), it was really hard to look someone completing such a feat in the eye holding a sign that read “WORST PARADE EVER” in block-face bold letters. Although, truth be told, we had it up for the more serious/quicker runners and got some good-natured feedback!

Then we got to the people who you could tell needed a little more than a laugh and flip went our sign.

Go the Distance
#RUNSTRONG

Coupled with shouts of “Stay strong!” “You’ve GOT this!” “Meb is proud of you!” “Oh, the endurance!” “Just keep moving!”, I fell into a whirlwind of happy encouragement that the hot sun on my already-burnt shoulders and my completely parched throat couldn’t pry me away from. The amount of kind smiles, of grins, of thumbs up, of “Thank you”s both easily cried and burdensomely muttered was phenomenal. We stood at mile 15; physically more than halfway to the finish, mentally just about to hit the wall, these runners not only appreciated the encouragement, but took precious energy they no doubt needed to let us know.

Wow.

I teared up quite a few times, let me tell you, knowing that it might be our words that, reflected on later, got these runners to their final destination, and realizing that sooner than I know it, I will be in their position, struggling on in my 15th mile, looking for a kind encouragement to keep me moving, remembering a stranger’s face and words to keep me going.

Wow again.

If that wasn’t enough, upon waking up the day after my trip’s end, the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon was ALL over the news- for GOOD reasons! Turns out, I witnessed a world record. Yep, Harriette Thompson broke the world record for her age group on this, her 15th marathon. This phenomenal woman ran 26.2 miles in 7 hours and 7 minutes at NINETY-ONE years old! That means, holy cow, that this two-time cancer survivor started running a marathon a year at age SEVENTY-SIX. And not only did she break the world record, she SMASHED the previously held record by TWO HOURS AND FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. And, the kicker, get this, HER FARTHEST RUN IN TRAINING WAS ONLY 6 MILES. And, if you read the link above, she seems like the coolest, most down-to-earth chick between the ages of 19 and 91.

GTY 495182257 E ACE ENT USA CAHarriette and Meb- my two ChiMarathon inspirations

Guys, guys, guys…. this woman is an inspiration. If she can get herself across the finish line at her age, in that time…. well, shoot, WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!

 

 

**My apologies for the GRATUITOUS AMOUNTS OF CAPSLOCK. This kind of thing just really gets me going and, since you can’t see me jumping or hear my squeals over it, internet yelling is my last and most annoying resort.
THANKS.

Tunesday: Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)

I started doing Music Mondays at the very start of this blog because alliteration. And then I wanted to start recapping my weekly workouts, and Sunday Runday was born. But I felt like a blast of posts on Sunday, then on Monday, with possibly nothing until the following Sunday? Well, that’s lame. Enter Tunesday: Music Monday on Tuesday. Works for me, and I hope you like it, too.

On the playlist this week is Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), which was the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup which took place in South Africa.

That’s soccer, baby.

The other sport that I enjoy doing more than watching. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing most sports (exceptions so far are basketball and volleyball… woof), but there are some that I hold close as a part of my past and hope to keep close in my future.

Running and soccer.

This song… it got me excited for the World Cup in a way I hadn’t been since I actually played soccer. The infectious rhythm! The cultural dancing! The encouraging words! And, of course, I love me some Shakira.

Soccer, like so many things in my life, is something I let go of for a while due to induced inactivity, college consuming most of my time, and just… I couldn’t tell you. But this song? It gets me wanting to go out and kick a ball around like nothing else does.

The reason why I have this one on my running playlist is simple: it’s a good song with great words set to a good beat. What else do you need??

Today’s your day; I feel it
You paved the way; Believe it
If you get down, get up oh oh
When you get down, get up eh eh
Tsamina mina zangalewa 
This time for Africa
Tsaminamina eh eh (Come)
Waka waka eh eh (Do it)
Tsamina mina zangalewa (Where do you come from?)
Wana wa ah ah (It is mine)

Please don’t take my translation (in parentheses) as gospel, as I speak absolutely zero languages based in the African continent. Even if what I have here isn’t perfect: WOW! What a message to push you along if you’re already feeling good (confirmation!) or if you’re needing a little extra push to get you to your goal (inspiration!).

Hurry! Put it on your running list if you haven’t already!

….after you watch the video and master the ah-maze-ing dance during the chorus, that is.

Y vamos por todo (we go all out)

Music Monday: Chelsea Dagger

The story behind this song starts back in 2009. And no, I’m not talking about the start of the season when the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961 (that’s almost 40 years, people!). But we will get there. Oh, we will get there.

A good friend of mine decided to study abroad in Ireland for the spring semester of 2009. And so I did what any college student would do when free lodging, a jovial tour-guide, and air fair under $600 was all available to her: I booked myself a spring break in the land of Eire.

DSC01361I was told to bring three things: a straightening iron (as the days are constantly “soft” and full of moisture), tights to wear under dresses for when we went out (as all the girls there wore dresses out no matter the weather), and the song Chelsea Dagger  fully memorized (as Ireland is one giant pub singalong, and this was a new song of choice).

And so for a week in the spring of 2010, I drank Guinness….

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I kissed the Blarney Stone…

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I did other Irishy things…

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and much craic was had, often with chants of “Chelsea, Chelsea, I belieeeeve” in the background.

But we all know what this song means in Chicago….

HAWKS

A year after my stint in Ireland and my first memories with Chelsea Dagger were formed, I decided to spend my summer in Champaign to take a class and earn some money working at the mall. The bars on campus were less crowded during summer break, and there was a lot more time to fill than during the regular semester, so me and a group of friends were always able to snag the best seats at Murphy’s Pub to watch the Hawks win their way to a Stanley Cup.

The celebration in Champaign was understated, to say the least.

And then came last year, 2013. After a brutal year for my favorite Chicago team, the Bears, and with the Cubs in no better condition to win a title than they were 100 years ago, I put my focus on the Hawks’ regular season games.

And then, bless us all, me and a group of friends watched every single playoff game (to the wee hours of the morning. triple overtimes on the West coast = 1:30am end time here in the Midwest) and, let me tell you, it was worth it to be on Clark Street to celebrate.


Hawks Wrigley Cup 13The Cubs are so proud
Hawks Clark 13John and me in the chaos of Clark Street
and the chaos of bangs in high humidity

And now, a year later, successfully taking out the St. Louis Blues and heading undefeated into game 3 against the Minnesota Wild, this song, while it usually reminds me of happy times in Ireland, seems to always be cause for celebration in Chicago. And maybe going a liiiiittle faster on that tough run….

“I was good she was hot
Stealin’ everything she got
I was bold
She was over the worst of it”

It’s not a particularly inspiring song as far as meaning and lyrics go. I mean, I’ve heard it’s a creative take on Britney Spears (Spears? Dagger? Okay…) My best guess is that it’s about a hooker of some kind. Not that there’s anything wrong with turning tricks to make a living, but nowhere in the song is there any kind of inspiring message to apply to running.

Just the good feeling of knowing your team is one goal closer to the (next) championship.

And I guess that’s good enough for me!

Do dododo, dododo, do dodo dodo dodo….