Sunday, December 11, 2011

Final 2011 Thoughts

I spent this past week in Canada for work, which meant to cell phone use and really no Internet unless there was free wifi. It gave me a lot of time to reflect on the year. I really hadn't had much time to think about it on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday since I had to hurry home, work, and pack for my work week in Canada.

It hit me pretty hard after reading an email Ryan sent to his grandma about my race:

"Race day was on Sunday. It didn't go well at all for Jacqui. She ran the Milwaukee marathon in October and had some hamstring problems but still finished 2nd overall. When she finished, she went to the physical therapist and he said there is most likely a small tear in the in muscle. Jacqui kept training and thought it was ok, but still could feel the pain every now and then. So during the race, I saw her at the 10 mile mark and she wasn't feeling very good. I told her to stop if she thinks there could be serious injury. She kept running until I saw her at the half way mark (13 miles). She stopped there and was very upset and crying. It was really sad. She had worked extremely hard for that day and it just didn't work out. I've never seen someone so dedicated for such a long time to achieve there goal..only to come up short. Jacqui was waking up at 3am on her travel days for work so that she could go outside and run. On weekends, she would get up and go run anywhere form 16-20 miles. It was A LOT of work. So just in that, it is something to be proud of. So overall, her race ended at the half way mark and she did not finish. "

This sounds pretty silly, but I didn't even think of the hard work I put in to get to this point. In my mind, I was just following my training plan set for me by Coach Cari. I'm the kind of person that if you write a plan, I stick to it. If you tell me it's going to work, I believe you. I had total faith in Cari's plan so followed it to a T. Waking up at 3am to get my run or workout in before my 6am flight never once seemed like a big deal to me. So when I got Ryan's email (he copied me on his response to an email his grandma had sent, asking how the race went since we were discussing California at Thanksgiving), I just broke down. I'm so extremely lucky to have the friends and family that I do in my life that are proud of my accomplishments, despite falling very short of the end goal.

Some of my running friends even reached out to plan with me on training for 2016, which I am GOING to qualify for. I think what I learned from this whole year is just how much fitness you can truly gain. I shaved 40seconds off of my 5k time and over 2 minutes off of both my 1/2 and full marathon times. IN ONE YEAR. I think that CIM would have definitely gone in my favor had I had two years under my belt. That being said, duathlons are my main focus this year (yay!), so I plan on really focusing on the bike, maintaining the run, and doing a lot of "prehab" with the hamstring.

Thank you, friends and family, for the incredible support you've given me...not just throughout this training year cycle, but after the race as well. I never would have gotten through this week without you. Time to go train...:)

Monday, December 5, 2011

CIM/the end of the year

California International Marathon would be my final attempt at qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Here's a little recap...

Friday, 12/2: Christina Overbeck and I both arrived around 1pm and headed to her friend's house in Sacramento to stay there for the day/night. We went to the expo, drove the course (good thing-- those "rollers" were a little more rolling than I thought) and grabbed a delicious salad for dinner.

Saturday, 12/3: Christina and I ran to the Capitol Building where she did strides and such in the park and I ran back to do strides by her friend's house. We were going 7:15ish pace and it felt SLOW to me. My strides also felt amazing. I took this as a sign that good things were to come tomorrow. We both had our interviews with Wendy Shulik (Miles&Trials film producer) and it was so cool to meet some of the other Elite women going after the 2:46. I went and picked up Ryan at the airport (!!!!) and then came back to hang out with Suzanne Ryan for a bit and grab a quick bagel and banana from the Hospitality Suite (appropriately enough in Room 2622!). Wendy had given me an awesome necklace that said "Believe" on one side and had a cross on the other -- she received them from a Trials qualifier and they are seriously so cool. I obviously put mine on for the race:) Ryan and I explored the Capitol Building and finish line and then went to church. We went to The Flaming Grill for dinner -- AMAZING. I had a buffalo burger (no surprise as per my night before routine) and Ryan had wild boar. Strange set up for the burger joint but WOW was it good. Coach Cari called at this time but it was a little loud in the "restaurant," so I planned to call her when we got back to our quiet hotel...before realizing it was almost 11pm at home:( I had a few Tootsie Rolls just like before Milwaukee (I go on a "healthy food only" diet before my races) and went to bed around 9pm.

Sunday, 12/4: Well, the day was here. After catching the 5am bus to the start, I started feeling my hamstring cramping. The guy in the bus seat with me was pretty much squishing me and I barely had any room. I kept scooting over and so did he. Really annoying. I got off the bus and made it to the Elite Tent where I was greeted by Erin Moffett and Kate DeProsperis! Very nice to see familiar faces. We ran a little warmup together and then it was time for bathroom break, drills and strides. After my last stride, I saw Ryan and gave him a quick good luck kiss.

Mile 1: the first mile is downhill until you get to Oak Street where you make a right turn and go into a HUGE hill where mile 1 is at the top of. I distanced myself from the 2:46 pacer and was pleased to see my watch ring in a 6:29. Perfect.

Mile 2: well, that HUGE hill had a pretty HUGE downhill too. And another and another. This was a super fast mile, although my distance from the 2:46 group never changed. 6:07 and I knew it was time to back off.

Mile 3: This one was a little rolling--everything that went up came right back down. I thought a 6:19 was justifiable for this type of mile and didn't feel bad at all.

Mile 4: I caught up to the back end of Christina Overbeck's group (just a tad off of the pacer that was a little too fast) and was happy with myself. 6:22 or 6:23 for that mile, which was just off of my desired 6:25. I took a gel and some Ultima (sports drink) and continued to stay focused in this group.

Mile 5: my hamstring started to tighten a bit on one of the downhills, but I didn't think too much of it as I had just done a 20mile with the last 8miles at Marathon Pace with the same tightness successfully, so it must just be a muscle memory thing. 6:17, time to slow down anyway.

Mile 6: here I saw Ryan. He told me after the race that I started to look tense, like I was in pain (ironic, huh?). But, at this point I had also picked up another OTQ hopeful, Kristina Pham, and we started working together.

Mile 7: we fell to a 6:28 here, but I was still under a 6:20 average (Kristina had paces down!) so felt okay. It was SO nice having her to run with as she really kept me calm and my mind focused.

Mile 8: another off-pace mile at 6:27. At this point, I was still okay with this as we were now at a 6:20 average and the course is more downhill at the end, so negative splitting was still very much a possibility.

Mile 9: don't even remember the split here. I just finished a gel and was starting to almost feel better. Mentally, I was still in it and just kept telling myself to be under 1:24 at the half and I was still in contention.

Mile 10: upon seeing Ryan, I updated him that my hamstring was bothering me and actually causing my stride to shorten a bit which caused my opposite hip to then get tight like he had noticed in Milwaukee (I just told him my hamstring was making my hip tight--he understood though). He told me to stop running if I could be risking injury. Then I saw Wendy with her camera -- I'm sure I look wonderful after just being told to stop!

Mile 11: holy cow. If I was feeling good, I bet I could have run a 5:30 mile in this marathon with the downhill that this mile brought. Unfortunately though, the downhill was what was hurting my hamstring. From where it connects in the butt area to where it connects in the foot area, it just felt like I was pulling a rubber band and snapping it back. Every stride I took, no matter how much I lengthened or shortened it, brought a strange sensation up and down my right leg. The site at which I "tore" (tiny tear--nothing to be concerned about at the time) my hamstring originally felt like it was being cut at with a knife. I kept wondering if I should drop out--it was the shortest 13minutes of my life.

Mile 12: I told myself that if I saw Ryan, I would stop. CIM is a point-to-point course so if I dropped, I'd have to wait to be picked up by course volunteers unless I dropped where Ryan was. Kristina had stopped to go to the bathroom, so I didn't feel bad about leaving her as we had already separated.

Mile 13.1: I went through the half at 1:25. I still think I would have PRd if I had finished the course. Ryan later told me he almost missed me, which makes sense because it was probably 13.3 that I saw him at. I just pulled myself over to him and immediately my hamstring tightened. I collapsed into his arms and just started crying. Another Saucony Hurricane runner was kind enough to stop and see if I was okay. I told her I didn't know if continuing would make it worse but I didn't want to be a quitter. She told me that she was a 3-time Olympic Trials qualifier and SHE was thinking of dropping out (at this point, we would have finished in 2:50/2:51 and qualifying is 2:46). She told me I'm young and it's not worth it to risk injury. That was really all I needed to convince me. Kristina passed by and made sure I was okay before she continued. The ladies I have met throughout this process are just so incredibly nice and unbelievably humble.

Driving back to the finish line was really hard. I just kept thinking of how much of a disappointment I was to everyone who had just been wishing me luck and believed in me throughout this whole process. I felt like such failure for not even being able to complete one marathon healthy.

It was INCREDIBLE watching Christina Overbeck (2:44:xx) and Kate DeProsperis (2:45:15) qualify. I couldn't help myself from crying (and actually am having that problem while typing this right now) because I so badly had wanted to be there with them. However, I do keep hearing from friends and family that had I trained like most of the girls that qualified, I probably could have too. The fact is, I was too stubborn back in 2009 to really believe my now coach (Cari Setzler) that I could qualify. After I ran a 2:56:58 at Chicago 2009, I didn't really care about anything else. I broke 3 hours and crushed my dad's PR, so I was happy and fine just running marathons now to break 3. And I did do that, just because. Maybe if I had focused and started having Cari coach me back then, I would be heading to Houston in January. But, everything happens for a reason. I know that I'll start training now for at least TWO FULL YEARS like most of the other OTQs I've talked to and really be able to give it a go for 2016.

Janeth Salazar-Ohst had asked for updates on the race. I told her about Christina and Kate and about my hamstring. It is UNREAL to me how many incredibly supportive people I have in my life. Her comment (on Facebook of course:)) now has over 15 other comments on it, all in support of my decision. I've received messages and texts and emails from so many other runners that commended me on my decision and are proud that I had the courage to drop. I agree with everyone who has commented -- I am NOT a quitter. I am still not giving up this dream. I have it in me to qualify for the Olympic Trials and now know that I truly need to devote more than 14 months to making that goal a reality.

So, now it's time to relax a bit and get back into BIKING!! I'm ready to focus more on Duathlons in 2012 and getting some speed back into me. Cari is going to help me get a better running base so that when I start running marathons for OTQ times in 2014, I'm in better shape. Thank you everyone for the incredible support and encouragement you have given me throughout this entire process. I wouldn't be where I am without you:)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's been awhile...but only 11 days til CIM!

It's been awhile since I posted on here... not because I didn't want to, but just because it's been getting a little busy. Sure, I have free time after getting off of work at night, but trying to type a blog on an iPad is not my idea of fun. So, I finally sucked it up and went to the hotel business center and decided I'd recap the past few weeks of training as I head to California in 9 days for the California International Marathon in Sacramento.

I decided after Milwaukee that I was going to clean up my eating (no cookies, crackers, fruit snacks, alcohol, candy, etc.) until CIM. While it is tough, I really see benefits in my workouts and energy level. Plus, I'm totally splurging after CIM so that gives me motivation to stick to it:)

Once Milwaukee was done, Coach Cari had me take some time off. I went and saw Earl Gunther ( who really nursed my hamstring back to health. The last time I did Physical Therapy was in college for my many stress fractures (2 full-on stress fractures--one that almost turned into a broken bone--and 4 stress reactions, which is basically the precursor to a stress fracture). Earl knew my goal was for the Trials, so he really worked with me to get back fast....I was only able to bike Monday-Friday, but when I ran on Saturday all I felt was soreness! NO pain in my hamstring whatsoever. Earl is a PHENOMENAL Physical Therapist and everyone at RMS Physical Therapy is so friendly and welcoming. Earl also came up with a strengthening program for me that really works on my weaknesses (which he of course ran by Coach Cari first!) and I honestly feel like my body is a lot stronger than it was before going into Milwaukee.

My first real week back was the week of the Chicago Marathon. Ryan, along with many of my running friends and my brother, was running it without doing any long runs or real training. I was very nervous for him, especially with the potential heat factor. But, not surprisingly, he rocked it. I mean ROCKED it. He ran a 2:29:11! On no training! It was such a great race to watch and just cheer on my friends, but it was hard just spectating.

The rest of October was just getting my mileage back up to the 50-60 range again and throwing in some tempos to make sure my hamstring felt okay even at marathon pace. It was so nice to finally be back "in shape" and ready to get after another marathon!

NOVEMBER thus far:
My long runs and workouts started to pick up more in November:
-11/6: 18miles
-11/9: 30min @MarathonPace, 20min@MP, 10mn@MP with 5min between. WOW.
-11/13: 20miles with last 8 at Marathon Pace...this was that 22mph wind day....let's just say the treadmill and I became pretty good frenemies that day
-11/16: 45min tempo

...and I'll stop right there. I had a flight to Kansas on Tuesday the 15th for work. I was pretty disgusted with all of the coughing and sniffling on the plane, but made sure to grab a green tea (as I had been drinking the rest of the month) right as I got off the plane. Unfortunately, I was probably already getting sick. The morning of 11/16, I woke up to cough up some green mucus. I decided that I would do my workout in the afternoon then since that just didn't seem good. I took some Mucinex to hopefully clear that mucus out. Well, on the warmup, the wind wasn't very nice (12-15mph), but I told myself it could be windy at CIM so I might as well just do what I can and go on feel for the 45minute tempo. After probably 10 times of spitting out green mucus, I decided that running in 40degrees and 12-15mph winds probably wasn't helping my cause, so 2.5miles into the tempo, I switched to the treadmill. It was still pretty difficult to breathe on the treadmill, so I slowed my pace down a few times from the 6:18/6:22 (marathon goal pace is 6:20 but that option isn't available on the treadmill, so I alternate between the two) to a 6:31/6;35. It definitely helped and I was able to cruise the last 1.5miles in at 6:15/6:18 pace, but WOW was it hard.

I finally caved on Saturday and went to see the doctor. After 1.5 hours of waiting, his diagnosis was "the beginning stages of bronchitis." Perfect. I have a marathon in 15 days and I am getting bronchitis. Thanks, Doc. He couldn't give me any Sudafed either as I would probably test positive for steroids if I was to get drug tested. So, I'm on the zPack and MucinexD.

I definitely feel a lot better than I did a week ago, but my breathing is very labored and if I really take a deep breath, I start coughing hard.

SO. The game plan has changed. I was supposed to do a 40minute tempo today, and 10minutes in, I was already breathing pretty hard. I adjusted the 6:18 pace to 6:31 and was able to keep going for another 10 minutes, but again I was breathing pretty hard. I knew in my head that the right decision would be to stop the workout. Why risk prolonging my sickness? I was pretty much in tears as I texted Coach Cari the news. She called me and reassured me that my fitness is still there, but we really need to work on getting me healthy. I just felt so defeated. She also brought up that, by the time I have completed this marathon, I will have been training for a RUNNING event for 14 months. I hadn't done that in three years. My body is probably tired. That plus the bronchitis probably brought on the almost breakdown.

Now, I'm just going to California for FUN. Ryan just booked his flight, so instead of caring about hitting a specific time, I'm going out there to have fun and PR. I know that I could have run a 2:48 at Milwaukee (yes, I realize that wouldn't have qualified me for the Trials, but I know I was capable of at least that, and if everything had gone right, maybe even a 2:45xx). My sickness set me back a bit, so instead of going for a number, I'm going to get the finisher's medal. I'm going so that Ryan and I can have a nice vacation, just the two of us, in a place we've both always wanted to visit.

I have to give a TON of credit to the runners out there. How runners solely train for running is now beyond me (which is strange since that's all I used to do until 3 years ago). This stuff is hard!

11 days until California International Marathon. I am VERY excited to see a lot of ladies qualify and can't wait to see that finish line!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Well. I did it. I kept running the Milwaukee Marathon a secret from everyone (well, except my family, Ryan's family and of course Coach Cari). It's not that I did it to be sneaky. I didn't tell anyone because (1) I wasn't sure I'd run it as everything depended on the weather and how my body was feeling after 8 days in Spain and (2) I didn't want any pressure going into the race.

I think it's safe to say that anyone who knows me knows of my goal to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. To do this, I need to run a sub-2:46 marathon, or 26.2miles at a 6:20 pace. Up until Sunday, 10/2, my PR was a 2:56, which is a 6:45 pace. Yes, I realize I really have my work cut out for me, but I also know that Cari is THE most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to running, so for her to believe that I can do it really means a lot.

After seeing the 10-day forecast for Chicago (53 low/73high), Cari and I decided that Milwaukee (42low/63high) would be the best way to go. Milwaukee does have a few "hills" compared to Chicago, but generally those work in my favor anyway so we figured I'd be okay. Plus, with a slight hamstring issue, waiting a week could slightly elevate the problem and with my go-to masseuse in Ireland, I decided that running a week early might be my best bet.

Going to the start line, I felt awesome. I felt calm, cool and collected and just ready to bust out this huge PR. Granted, I truly didn't believe I'd qualify unless EVERYTHING went right, but I knew I'd bust out a 2:48 at least. Or that's what I thought until mile 10...

Mile 1- 6:24. Amber Druien ran with the pacer and I made it my goal to stay behind them, but within striking distance, for the first 3-4 miles as I like to start off slower and gradually pick things up. That felt easy. Bring it on.

Mile 2- 6:18. Oops. Little excited. Stay back, let the guys go ahead of you. You'll pick them off.

Mile 3- 6:32. Nice. Way to make up the average and keep the 6:25 pace going.

Mile 4- 6:18. Slight downhill, regroup and focus on staying around 6:19-6:21.

Mile 5-6:15. Holy cow. What is going on. Yeah this feels easy, but let's not get carried away. Took a gel here as well.

Mile 6- 6:28. A few rollers, but back on pace. Nice focus. I CAN do this.

Mile 7- 6:17. A total of 5 seconds off 6:20 pace, this is going well!

Mile 8- 6:20. PERFECT. Sweet.

Mile 9- 6:21. Dang. I should be a pacer.

Mile 10- 6:36. Holy hip lock up. I've never experienced this before. I called out to Mom and Nic, "My hips are locked, what do I do?!" Yeah, probably not the best idea (what were they really going to say in response?!), but I had no idea what was going on. Time for a gel.

Mile 11- 6:38. Your best time so far was run on negative splits--you CAN still do this. Hips are feeling a little better, right hamstring is KILLING, but you knew it had the possibility of limiting you in this race from the beginning.

Mile 12- 6:34. See, getting closer. 2:47 is the predicted finish time based on the split-caller-outer, so a 2:48 is still attainable.

Mile 13- 6:40. There were a few rollers in there. Compose yourself and focus on getting through these next 10 miles. Mile 23 is a huge downhill and can account for a drop of at least 30 seconds.

13.1-- 1:24:18. Again, Miss Negative Split, you CAN still run a 2:48. Stop focusing on the stupid hammy and start working!

Mile 14- 6:36. See?! Still doable. One more mile til you get to take a gel.

Mile 15- 6:44. This right hamstring seriously needs to just fall off. I don't need it. All it's doing is hurting me. Gel time. Ryan's here. Should I drop out? I'm too far off pace and am on pace for a 2:49 now. What do I do?!?!

Mile 16- 6:59. I seriously want to die. When did running a marathon become this hard? I only have single digits left (okay, 10.2 for all you technical people, but in my mind single digit mileage remaining is a lot easier to mentally handle). If I drop out now, I can maybe be okay in time for Monumental Marathon on November 5th. Ugh. What do I do?!

Mile 17- 6:50. Ryan, Dad, Mom and Nic all came here to watch me FINISH a marathon. I need to just suck it up and finish. If I maintain 6:50s, I'll still break 2:55 which is what is needed to gain free entry into most marathons as a female. Just stick it out.

Mile 18- 6:50. See, you can run 6:50s. Just stay focused. [Two guys passed me at this point saying that third place is 45-60 seconds back...ugh]

Mile 19- 6:46. And a downhill in 4 miles. Get through this. Almost left with a single 10k. Stop wimping out.

Mile 20- 6:49. Gel time. Thank God.

Mile 21- 6:45. Blazin'. 5miles to go. On pace for 2:53, I'll take that.

Mile 22- 7:09. Okay I seriously want to drop out now. For the past 12 miles, I haven't been able to get a full stride in and just feel like I'm shuffling (and yes, when I thought this, the LMFAO song came in my head). I literally wanted to call out to Ryan to help me...but somehow realized that there was no way he could help me.

Mile 23- 7:01. Some downhill that was. [looking back, it was a pretty nice downhill, but I just couldn't respond how I had wanted to] Time for another gel. Maybe that will get these legs up and running again.

Mile 24- 6:53. Maybe that was the effect of the 23rd mile downhill. All I have to do is run sub-7:10s for the last two miles and I'll be under 2:55. I honestly don't know if I can do this though.

Mile 25- 7:10. Okay, just one more of these. STOP WIMPING OUT.

Mile 26- 6:58. Woo hoo, finish is near!

.2- 1:20. THANK GOD. HOLY CRAP. I need medical attention. I'm numb in my hands and feet.

2:54:45. 2nd place female finisher. 2minute 12 second PR. Huge hug from the race director:)

I FINISHED! I hadn't finished a marathon since the 2010 Boston Marathon, so I didn't realize what a huge accomplishment this really was for me until I reflected on it today, the day after the race. Honestly, if my family and Ryan weren't there cheering for me, I would have dropped out. I don't like quitting things, but the amount of pain I was feeling in my hamstrings was unlike anything I've ever experienced, even running on stress fractures.

While I could reflect and ask myself why I went to Spain for 8 days acting like a tourist and walking around averaging 5+ miles a day 4 days before the marathon, or why I decided to run despite a slightly sore hamstring, I have just decided to leave it at the simple fact that everything happens for a reason. Milwaukee just wasn't the day for me. It doesn't mean I won't qualify, because I truly believe that I will. It just means that I need a little bit more time to train and really focus on my marathon.

I won't keep this one a secret: I'm signed up and ready to run a 2:45 at the California International Marathon on Saturday, December 5th. I already know a ton of fast females signed up, so I can't wait to get in on a sweaty "we qualified for the Trials" group hug!

The "calm" before the storm... September 25-October 1

Sunday, September 25: 4miles, fly to and spend one day in Barcelona
Monday, September 26: flight to Granada from Barcelona, sight-seeing (5000000 stairs), tempo
Tuesday, September 27: 9miles semi-unplanned
Wednesday, September 28: 4.5miles easy, 9hours of flying
Thursday, September 29: 3miles at Marathon Pace
Friday, September 30: 7miles easy
Saturday, October 1: 5miles + strides with LifeTime Run Club

Well. I kept the secret long enough.

Coach Cari and I had talked a little after the Batavia 1/2 marathon (Aug 28) about how my fitness levels really indicated that I was ready and could go run a 2:48 no problem the next weekend, so we thought if the conditions were perfect (i.e., low temps, little wind), the sub-2:46 was definitely attainable.

So we emailed the race director at Milwaukee (Lakefront Marathon) and she was incredibly accommodating and excited that I was hoping to qualify at her race. Another local runner, Amber Druien, was planning to make her OQT attempt there as well.

Every day that we had Internet in Spain, I was looking at the weather. The weather was the deciding factor in if I would run Milwaukee or Chicago. For those of you that don't know, in the past four years (2007-current), the Chicago Marathon has been HOT every year except 2009, which, go figure, is when I set my prior PR. In fact, in 2007, they shut the race down and a participant even passed away. I tend to bleed through my shoes from blisters when it's too hot, so I try to stay away from those kind of races!

Anyway, back to the training.....

Sunday was a bit rough. Ryan and his USA teammates (we were in Spain for the Duathlon World Championships) all went out for some vino y tapas and got back late as that's apparently how people do it in Spain. They did a really good job of trying to be quiet, but the darn apartment we were in was creaking like crazy and I just kept waking up. I only got about 4 hours of combined sleep at best...which resulted in a cold for the rest of the week. Thankfully, it was gone by Saturday.

Sunday we flew into Barcelona, spent 23 hours there just exploring (I HIGHLY recommend going here if you have a choice of where to go in Spain...more touristy, but lots to see--we totally ran out of time), and hopped on a plane again Monday morning to head to Granada. My aunt is a HUGE art nut, so when we heard about Antoni Gaudi's work in the area, we just had to explore it. Unfortunately, this meant climbing literally hundreds of stairs. My calves were PRETTY fired up, so I rocked the Zensah calf sleeves for most of Granada.

MONDAY: we arrived in Granada around 12noon, dropped our bags off at our hotel (which was right by the University of Granada--super cool!) and headed out to explore. The main tourist attraction here is the Alhambra. It is HIGHLY recommended to purchase tickets in advance as they sell 7,800 total each day and of that 7,800, only 1,000 are available for purchase the day of. Well, we didn't purchase ours in advance so we checked on Monday to see what time we needed to arrive--7:00am would ensure we'd receive tickets even though the ticket office doesn't open until 8am.

So, we had walked ALL the way up the SUPER steep incline that takes you to the Alhambra and had also been told to see the Mirador de San Nicolas as it's pretty much across from the Alhambra, has an awesome view of the city and has fun bars to just hang out and eat tapas at. After what seemed like an hour of climbing cobblestone streets, we reached our destination. Worth it at the time, but looking back it was probably pretty stupid of me to walk that whole time in flip flops knowing I'd be running a marathon soon. Oh well, life's all about learning from mistakes, right?:)

Since the area of Barcelona that we woke up in on Monday morning didn't seem too safe, Ryan and I opted to do my 20minute Tempo run in Granada on Monday night. You know, after walking around all day being a tourist. Surprisingly, the workout went even better than it was supposed to go, but WOW did my calves burn the next day.

TUESDAY: after our tempo at 9pm, we spent a little time looking for this cute bar that was recommended by a friend, just to find out it was closed on Mondays. Bummer. So, we got to sleep around 12:30am and had to wake up at 6:30am to run to the Alhambra (2miles away) to stand in line for tickets. Ryan nicely stood in line while I went to finish the rest of my run:) Other tourists definitely thought we were crazy, but hey, we got tickets to visit the Alhambra, so what do we care! We spent the rest of Tuesday exploring the Alhambra and then taking a 5hour train to Madrid so we could catch our 11:30am flights in the morning.

WEDNESDAY: Ryan and I woke up and dragged ourselves out of bed to manage a 4.5mile run just to get something in before 9 hours of traveling. We tried to stay awake the entire flight so we'd be on the normal time schedule. Thankfully, it worked and we both felt good in the morning. We even went out to dinner with my parents upon our return home:)

THURSDAY: last workout-- 3miles at Marathon Pace. Ryan and I woke up at 6:30am to do this without any problems...kind of crazy since our bodies should have still been 7 hours ahead! The workout went well and I was constantly holding myself back, surprising considering our crazy travel yesterday!

FRIDAY: 7miles nice and easy to relax the legs. Ironically, I worked in Milwaukee today.

SATURDAY: nice, easy 5miles with the LifeTime Run Club and 3 strides after. I'm READY.

And the race recap begins....

Friday, September 23, 2011

TRIP TO SPAIN!!! Training week Sept 18-24

worked locally all week
Ryan's BIG RACE (Duathlon World Championships) in Spain

Sunday, September 18: 20miles as a pace group leader with Jill for the CARA 20miler
Monday, September 19: 3miles easy, KRISTINA's 20th birthday!
Tuesday, September 20: 6x2000 workout
Wednesday, September 21: 6miles easy in MADRID, Spain!
Thursday, September 22: 2x4mile at Marathon Pace in GIJON, Spain!
Friday, September 23: easy 6miles in Gijon
Saturday, September 24: planned 10-15mile run during Ryan's race

Well, this week was a little crazy to say the least.

For the CARA/Newton Ready to Run 20miler, I had signed up to be a pace group leader. Long story short, I got to the race with only 8 minutes to spare...and without wearing my pace group leader shirt (Nic had to pick up my packet since I was in Milwaukee all week for work and asked the worker if there was anything he needed to tell me; he was told no, so when he showed me the shirt (front side only) I said, "Aw, it's purple, Grandma's favorite color" and forgot about it... yeah, it said Pace Group Leader on the back and I was supposed to wear it). Oh well, at least I showed up and did my job.

Jill and I (Rickster too, but he blew past us at like mile 14) totally rocked our pace group and finished just under the 7:30 pace (7:28 to be exact). It's amazing how easy that felt! It was nice to run with Jill as we had only ever really talked via Facebook and random races we'd see each other at. My only "problem" was my hamstring feeling a little fatigued at mile 15 for just a bit. I did take mental note though, as you'll see this week...

After the 20 and showering, Nic and I went to church where the priest ironically was talking about remembering the anniversary of those who passed (um, Grandma Swift passed away a year ago on Monday the 19th, so that REALLY hit home and brought the tears). I definitely felt Grandma looking down on me and Nic and the rest of the many lives she had touched through her time spent on Earth.

While I was pacing, Ryan was racing (kind of) the Malibu triathlon on his Nestle Powerbar team. He was the runner, the team ahead had a mile long lead for Ryan to make up and he actually got to run past the Goo Goo Dolls' drummer to win the race! I told him he should have asked for tickets since he beat's only fair, right?;) And then, he got to meet pretty much the entire cast of The Office and even talked with Oscar for awhile. So jealous.

Unfortunately, his flight ended up getting SUPER delayed. I was staying up so that I would go get him at 10:35pm and then still get my 8-9hours of sleep after a long run.... and then his plane got in at 1am instead. So let's just say I knew Monday and Tuesday would be rough.

Again, I pleasantly surprised myself. Tuesdays 6x2000 with 2min recovery went really well. These were supposed to be at 10k pace which I believe is right around 6flat (I haven't run a 10k since my triathlon days!).

Cari had told me after my long run on Sunday to be smart as that is what prevents people from getting their PRs at their big race, so I knew I'd be monitoring my hamstring all week (despite having Dave Davis rub the crap out of it on Sunday).

5:55/1:30 (7:25)
5:58/1:28 (7:26)
5:58/1:28 (7:26)
6:00, hamstring

I did this on a 1.85mile loop with a few inclines just to get my body used to it in case. I did the first three one direction and was planning on doing the next three in the opposite direction. It was a good plan, until my hamstring started actually feeling a little tight (not just fatigued like Sunday). Knowing a few friends with injuries lately, I decided to call it. Right now, it HAS to be quality over quantity and I need to be smart.


Wednesday, Ryan and I arrived in Madrid, Spain! We got to our hotel, really just wanted to sleep, but decided to run 6miles easy together instead. Weird thing is, in Spain, drivers don't stop. If they have a stop/yield sign and pedestrians are walking across the street, it's almost like they speed up. And, pedestrians don't move out of your way. At all. We were literally zigging and zagging throughout town until we finally got onto a little path that we could run on. SO different.

Our run felt awful. Like, "OMG, that marathon I did yesterday took a lot out of my legs" awful. Except we didn't do a marathon the day before. So I guess that's the whole "jet-lagged" thing. We didn't let it bother us and went into town and explored downtown Madrid: the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor and of course, a recommended ice cream shop:)

Thursday morning, we woke up and went to get Ryan's dad from the airport. He arrived ahead of schedule, but we opted to take a (more expensive) taxi than the subway to ensure we would get to the train station (to take us to Gijon, Ryan's race site) on time. GOOD THING. We stood in line for what seemed like an hour and finally got tickets. If we wouldn't have gotten tickets, the next train was sold out and we'd have to wait around for 7 hours. We were also VERY lucky as duathletes who had bike cases were not allowed on the train. Ryan uses his own custom box that is decorated in Toy Story wrapping paper, so it's a lot smaller, he doesn't get charged for it on airplanes, and got on the train just fine. On the train, I did eat a ham sandwich....but the ham was more like bacon/prosciutto than ham--not bad!

We got to Gijon and started walking toward the apartment that Ryan and the Team USA Pros were sharing. We were super lucky as the guy who arranged it all was literally coming out of it as we were heading into it! We relaxed for a bit and the I decided I needed to get my run done.

2x4miles seems a lot easier when you're in a familiar area. I knew there was a track at the race site so tried to find my way there. In Europe, street signs are on the corners of buildings as opposed to having actual signs on the corners, so that made things a little more difficult. I shocked myself when I found it! I did some drills and strides and then started my run on the track....until I got yelled at 1.54miles in ("You can't be on here! You got an email about it last week!" Um, yeah, I'm not competing in Worlds this year so would have no idea what you're talking about). So, I rushed off and continued on this crushed limestone/sand path. I figured I'd probably slow upon hitting the path, so just told myself to stay under 6:30s. I think I did a little better than that:

6:22, 6:21 (on the track, not even really looking at Garmin!), 6:17, 6:23.

6:15, 6:12, 6:10, 6;06.

I wasn't even trying to run fast for the last four, but honestly thought I was going between 6:20-6:30 pace. It's nice that I can run those splits despite feeling like I'm going a lot slower. I'm hoping this is a sign of good things to come..... :)

Ryan's race is tomorrow. I truly believe he could be a top 10 finisher (yes, in the WORLD). If you get a chance, please say a prayer that he mentally stays tough, physically gets proper nutrition, and mechanically has no problems on the bike. Thanks in advance, and I'll post on Facebook ASAP!

1/2 marathon disaster: September 11-17, 2011

13.1 race
62mile week
Weds-Sat in Milwaukee

Sunday, September 11: Crystal Lake 1/2 marathon
Monday, September 12: 7miles easy
Tuesday, September 13: 5mile doubles (run with mom:))
Wednesday, September 14: 6x800
Thursday, September 15: 6miles easy
Friday, September 16: 8miles
Saturday, September 17: 5miles, drills and strides

Well, a win's a win, right?

That's what people kept telling me after my performance in the Crystal Lake 1/2 marathon on Sunday. I was supposed to run it as a 26.2km simulator....yeah, that wasn't quite how it worked.

I truly felt awesome going into it and had the plan all ready to execute: 2miles at 6:30, 2miles at 6:25, 2miles at 6:20 and then GO. The first two miles of this course are on the crushed limestone path in Lippold Park. Dad told me that it started there, but I was thinking something different in my head, so running on loose limestone for the first two miles definitely fatigued my legs a little (it isn't something I'm used to unfortunately). I went 6:27/6:30. The next two were right on as well in 6:24/6:25 and I still felt okay. Then the hills came in.

My dad had told me the night before that there was just the Ballard/Haligus hill and then the one on Haligus before where you turn for Turnberry. In my head that was four hills total. Apparently they changed the course from when my dad did it, because he was even surprised at the hills. GREAT. I definitely would have had a different strategy going into the race had I known, but oh well.

I just couldn't get into a rhythm. I went 6:31, 6:41 (Ballard hill), 6:28, 6:41 (Haligus hill), 6:51 (slowed down at mile 6 to rest for a bit and told myself that I'd treat it like Batavia and just run a great second half--major fail), 6:43 (asked dad how close the next girl was, because coming in 1st was now the only goal), 6:37 (thank GOD the race is almost over), 6:16 (made it!).

On the bright side, Cari told me that another of her athlete's Garmins showed the course as 13.29 miles, so my 1:25:17 was really a 1:24/high 1:23. My Garmin lost signal in Lippold for some reason, annoying. What I did take away from this race is that I really need to know the course. Know if it's hilly, know if it has inclines, know where fuel stops are, etc.

The best part of the race was for sure Nic's performance. He ran a 1:15, shattering his former (debut) PR of 1:17ish, so I have to give him a shout-out. I'm so excited for him to run Chicago this year and crush that 2:40 barrier!

This week I was also fortunate enough to be able to split my 10mile run on Tuesday into two 5s and run with Mom:) It was so nice to catch up with her since I don't see her very often these days!

On Wednesday, I had to run my 6x800s in the morning as I was leaving for Milwaukee for an install (usually 9a-9p type days Weds-Sat) and didn't want to do it after being in a dealership for 12 hours. Unfortunately, we stayed out until almost midnight hanging out with Jerry, Katie and Carter (Ryan's brother, sister-in-law and nephew). Oh well, I've done plenty of workouts tired before, I can handle 6 800s.

I ran these on the Alexandria-Woodscreek school street.


My last 800 workout went better, but I also had sleep the night before and did them on the track. The only thing that I don't like about this course is the inclines at the end. I'm usually on sub-2:40 pace, but going either direction, I end with a slight incline that just always gets me a little tired and slows my overall average. But, I still averaged total under goal marathon pace:) :) :)

A pretty good "down" week of 62 miles. The install went really well and the manager asked me to be their Rep (give monthly visits and such), so I'm pretty happy with life professionally as well right now.

Life. Is. Good:)

Longest Long Run EVER: Sept 4-10 weekly recap

Sunday, September 4: 22miles
Monday, September 5: easy 7
Tuesday, September 6: AM 4, 30tempo
Wednesday, September 7: 4miles easy (travel day)
Thursday, September 8: 9miles
Friday, September 9: 8miles
Saturday, September 10: 6miles with LTF group

I did it!!! A long run over 20 miles!!! Sunday, September 4th was the Buffalo Grove Stampede 5k/10k race that I've done since high school (on and off). This year, it was a Saucony Dick Pond Fast Track team race, so I knew a lot of my teammates would be there. I convinced Ryan (who was taking some time off of running as his legs were super sore) that we should go and support our team and personally planned to be running on the course literally encouraging them. Part of the plan worked.

I read on the website that the race started at 8am, so I planned to do one full 10k loop before the race started. Success. Everyone was ready to start and at the line when I got back....too bad it was for the 5k and I didn't know it. Turns out, they now do the 5k and 10k with separate starts. So, I got to run some with the 5kers until they turned left and I turned right about 1.5miles in. Oops. Game plan changed as I saw the first few male 10k runners and I decided to make it my goal (hey, when you're running 22 miles, you need something to think about) to not let them pass me. It worked. Even though I knew I had one 10k loop and one 5k loop waiting for me when I finished, mentally I was set to go.

A lot of the volunteers and police out on the course thought it was funny that I was running the course so many times and were amused that I had a smile on my face every time they saw me... well, duh, it's something I love to do:) Anyway, finished with an overall 2:35 for a 7:05 pace. Pretty darn happy with it and felt good throughout.

The tempo on Tuesday I anticipated would be a little rough since I didn't see Dave Davis after the 22. I wanted to, but also wanted my legs to be okay for the tempo. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I felt AMAZING. I went 6:14 (oops, too fast), 6:15 (I thought I slowed down?), 6:12 (how is this feeling so easy?!), 6:09 (whooooa) and 6:12. I just did a full 5miles instead of 30 minutes since I was at like 4.88 anyway. 31minutes total for the 5... super happy!

The rest of the week was pretty easy. Wednesday morning's run was a little exhausting at 4am, but those type of runs usually are. I was off to Rochester, NY for Wednesday and Thursday for work. Just holding back and getting ready for the Crystal Lake 1/2 on Sunday!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Training week (almost 2) in review: August 22-Sept 3

Sorry for the delay in recap! I traveled all week for work so forgot!

Sun 8/21: 2x4mile simulator (next Sunday is Batavia 1/2 2x6mile simulator)
Mon 8/22: easy 4
Tues 8/23: 10miles (supposed to be my long run of 15)
Weds 8/24: 6x800 track workout
Thurs 8/25: 9miles--5in AM and 4in PM with the LTF Run Club
Fri 8/26: 9miles easy
Sat 8/27: 5miles super easy with LTF Run Club, 4strides after

SUN 8/28: BATAVIA 1/2 MARATHON (see recap on previous post), 20miles total
Mon 8/29: 4mile easy run
Tues 8/30: 8miles easy
Weds 8/31: 6x1600 with 1:30 rest
Thurs 9/1: 9miles on MN River Trail that I finally found!
Fri 9/2: 10miles
Sat 9/3: 5miles planned with LTF Run Club

Well, the week of August 22-August 27 wasn't what I had planned going into a half marathon, but everything went well. My 2x4mile run was AWFUL. I slept in with Ryan because we hadn't seen each other in such a long time again. I felt great for the first three miles (6:10, 6:10, 6:15) and then had a long stretch of uphill on Weathersfield Way that killed my split in 6:28. I took a gel but felt like I needed water too so stopped at Deerfield's Bakery on Roselle Road to ask for a cup of water....the cashier said, "Take the biggest one in the frig" Um, what? I don't have any money. "yeah, it's on me, take the biggest one in the frig." I couldn't even believe it. SO appreciated! The second set I slowed down on the first mile and finished with 6:28, 6:23, 6:23 6:25, so more consistent like I was supposed to be, but just frustrated and I ended the workout just hoping that it taught me the "don't go out too fast" lesson (which it did).

On Wednesday, I was NOT expecting the 6x800s to go well as my legs were pretty fatigued still from the 2x4mile then 10miler. I was wrong. The last time I did this workout, I went 2:52, 2:48, 2:46, 2:49, 2:46, 2:46 (around a mall in Jersey). This time I went 2:41, 2:41, 2:44, 2:45, 2:44, 2:42. When I did the first two in 2:41, I almost had a heart attack--it was 88degrees and very humid! VERY pleased with the workout.

The half marathon is recapped in the post below. So happy!

THIS past Wednesday, I had 6x1600. This workout has progressed from 4x1600 in March (5:58, 6:01, 6:03, 6:08), to 5x1600 in May (5:57, 5:56, 5:59, 6:02, 6:03) to the 6x1600s this week.

WOW. I chose to do this workout after work as I woke up very stuffed up (Wednesday after the Sunday 1/2). It was over 90degrees out in MN, so I decided to do the repeats on the treadmill instead. I went 5:56, 5:55, 5:53, 5:52, 5:48, 5:46. I was very happy with this workout considering the TERRIBLE calluses I have on the outsides of my big toes (could possibly be bunions is the verdict). I decided to start off the workout a little easier so that the pain would slowly decrease, and my theory worked! Overall a great workout and I'm getting anxious for the marathon!!

The rest of this week is easy as I have a 22miler on Sunday. This will be my longest run EVER (well, of course besides the marathon) so wish me luck!

Batavia 1/2 Marathon Results

When Coach Cari told me that "when you PR, you'll PR big," she wasn't joking.

The purpose of this half marathon was for it to be used as a simulator workout: 2x6miles at Marathon Pace (6:22) with 5 minute recovery between sets.

I felt AMAZING from the beginning. Splits and recap below:

6:29 even though they changed the course, we still went up a big hill. eh, relaxed first mile.
6:18 (12:48) much better. averaging 6:24 now, good.
6:24 (19:12) well, still on target for the 6:22 goal pace, just a few measly seconds off.
6:19 (25:31) YES! back on track here. Gel time!
6:19 (31:51) only one more mile for the first half here!
6:25 (38:16) tried sticking with the pack around me too long. time for a rest!

6:34 (44:51) this was my 5 minute rest plus the rest of the mile. caught back up to the group! can't slow down too much as there is a lady right behind me, but it's okay because I feel good!

6:22 (51:13) perfect start
6:12 (57:26) woah, gaining some speed here, let's have a gel
6:29 (1:03:56) much better controlling the pace
6:12 (1:10:08) well, there was a little bit of a downhill-ish
5:59 (1:16:07) no excuse, I just was feeling really good! another gel to get through the 20 total
6:14 (1:22:22) did the volunteers really not tell me to turn on the bridge? that could cost time!
:25 for a 1:22:46

2:10 PR... holy cow!

1st place female!

I honestly can't believe how this turned out considering the 2x4mile I did last Monday was AWFUL. I guess it is true that we learn from our mistakes: I started off too fast in the first 4miler and that killed me for the second one (that and not hydrating properly I believe).

I truly felt that I could hold that pace for another 13.1, which is great to feel at the end of a 2:10 PR! I ended today's race by running with one of the guys in the group I was with for the first 6 miles and Jen, another real good female Chicago-area runner. We all had 20-milers, so it was PERFECT.

Thanks to all of my friends and family for their constant support and belief in me. HUGE thanks to my wonderful mother who spent the night at the hotel (that Ryan won a gift card for--thanks!) with me and took me to a GREAT dinner the night before. See the picture of my OSTRICH BURGER at the top of this post!

I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by two newspapers:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Training Recap: August 14-21,2011

I knew going into this week that it would be tough. Last week, I ran my furthest ever (68miles) with an 18mile Fast Finish (last 4 miles sub race pace) and a 3-turned-4x2400 workout.

Sunday, August 14: 21miler at 7:37 average on the Steelhead 70.3 course (hilly)

Monday, August 15: 5miles AM, 4miles PM after massage

Tuesday, August 16: 4miles before flight to Boston

Wednesday, August 17: 60min Tempo at 6:22 pace

Thursday, August 18: 8miles easy on hotel treadmill

Friday, August 19: 6miles easy in hotel/shopping center parking lot

Saturday, August 20: 9miles with the LifeTime Run Club

Sunday, August 14th was Ryan's 70.3Steelhead so I chose to run my 20-miler then (see prior post for recap). I felt amazing and still made sure to get a massage in on Monday. After traveling for the past two weeks (Jersey 8/1-6 and Georgia 8/15-19), I figured how to always fit my foam roller in so that I can make sure my ITs aren't getting too tight in between massages.

Tuesday morning I flew out to Boston after my 4mile 2:45am run. I knew I had a 60minute tempo on Wednesday, so was a little nervous since the day after flying is usually a little rough. I checked out the fitness find out that it smelled of rotten rubber. I figured, despite the hilly area we were in, running outside would be better for me than running on a treadmill inhaling those fumes.

I was sort of right. While I know I would have maintained a faster pace and faster overall average running on the treadmill, I'm glad I ran outside on the hills as it made me tougher mentally. I went 6:28, 6:37, 6:22, 6:40, 6:12 (finally a flat mile!!!!!!!!), 6:15, 6:03, 6:23, 6:26, and 2:30 to get a total of 9.45miles in an hour. This is a 6:22 average, which is the EXACT pace I need to break 2:46 in the marathon.

The best part of this workout was that I wanted to stop and wait to do it until Friday at only 2.5miles in BUT toughed it out. I told myself that they were slow because of the hills and to stop being a baby and just get it in. I took a gel at 3.2 miles and again at 7 and I honestly can say that they gave me a HUGE boost of energy. PowerBar gels (which, ironically I bought as I forgot to bring some--go figure, I get them for free from Ryan yet I paid $2 for them ha!) truly work!

The rest of the week was all just easy runs, which was nice to have. I was supposed to run a 10k (DeKalb Cornfest) BUT the date originally listed (8/20) turned out to be wrong and it is on 8/27, which conflicts with a HUGE long run workout. Oh well.

The week concluded with a 9mile group run at LifeTime Fitness to put me at 70miles!! Biggest mileage week ever! I am definitely noticing the fatigue, but am staying healthy, so know that Cari is training me to rock this marathon:)

GREAT NEWS: Ryan bought these things called "Recovery Boots" that are supposed to be as good as getting massages, SO I'm testing them out and will recap them next week. Check 'em out:

Less racing = Key to success?

Since the Viking Sunset 5k (previous post), I have yet to race and it is currently August 21st, almost a month after the 5k. If you know me, this is NOT normal.

Am I getting the "itch" to race? Every time I go and support one, which is pretty much every weekend...

The Saturday after the Viking Sunset 5k was the Hoffman 1/2 Marathon in which members of the DPFT team ran it as pace group leaders. I ran with Joe for the 1:40 (7:41) pace group. It was GREAT--with a mile to go, Joe took the front of our 10-person group and I took the back. The VERY last person in our group finished in 1:40:02! It was SO fun motivating fellow runners to push to PRs and I am so happy to have been a part of it!

The few weekends that followed were not nearly as hard to not want to race; I had AWESOME friends to run my long runs with in Barrington and ended each run feeling more confident than the previous week. I have also been ice bathing a lot and going to Dave Davis for weekly/10day massages as this definitely helps my recovery.

Travel for work has increased greatly so I've done a LOT of runs on treadmills lately, which is actually better for my body than the harder pavement of roads, but definitely more boring to me! I've been lucky enough to stay at hotels that have TVs connected to the treadmills AND Ryan got me a pair of wireless headphones for when this isn't the case and I use my iPhone to listen to Pandora instead.

Last weekend was Ryan's 70.3 Steelhead. Well, not quite 70.3; the swim was canceled due to 6-8 foot waves, so they did a time trial start for the bike. Ryan raced as a Pro like he has the past two years, for US Pro Tri Team. Right after he took off, I started my 20miler. Ryan's dad biked the first loop with me--we did the 2-loop 13.1 mile course for the run. It felt SO easy and the volunteers were AMAZING. They kept offering me drinks, and even though I told them every time that I was just doing a 20mile run and not actually in the race, they ran alongside with me to give me the drink! These 70.3 volunteers seriously rock!

Because I was doing my 20-miler, I didn't actually see Ryan on the bike. After the race, he told me that he was riding close to a pack of riders and with 5 miles to go, his water bottle cage started bouncing around and hitting his calves so he was forced to take it off. Next, he went to grab a gel and they ALL fell off. He got close enough to the pack to ask for fuel, but no one offered him any (I'm not sure they heard him though since people bike so fast on the last portion of this bike!). The last 5 miles he said he kept feeling like he was going to pass out and that he was "seeing those black stars" (you know, what happens right before passing out). He later told us that he saw a cup and full gel on the ground within the first mile of the run and downed both right away. This probably saved his race...

I continued to do my loops on the 5.5 mile loop (1mile out to the loop, 1 mile back to equal the 13.1) and got a little nervous when I started to see runners with numbers 20ish on as Ryan was #15 so should have been close to them. When I finally did see him, he gave me the same look that I give when I'm struggling. He wasn't very far back though, so I continued to encourage him. Something must have clicked because his overall 13.1 was 1:17, which isn't bad for not having fuel.

I ended up finishing my 20-turned-21-miler with a 7:37 pace (the first four miles were all over 8minutes, so I was pretty happy) and was so excited to see Ryan. He told me the news and I was even more impressed with how well he did. He finished 15th out of 38, and had he been able to run the 1:12 he would have (provided he had been fueling properly), he would have been in contention for the prize money. Just another one of those "lessons learned the hard way." NEVER tape all of your Gels together as if they all fall off, your race will suffer!

I guess I should have mentioned too that Ryan didn't go to sleep as early as he would have.... because I surprised him. I drove up to Benton Harbor on Saturday and arrived right as the expo was ending. I snuck up to his car and asked, "Do you need any help loading things?" and it took him a second to realize it was me, but I can't tell you how AMAZING it was to be reunited after 12 days. We for sure stayed up too late talking about our past 12 days, but both did well:)

I definitely need some motivation to continue with this "just running" training as it gets more difficult every time I go to a tri/du. For the first time in my life, I ran a 70-mile week. I used to think that was CRAZY in college, but now it's enjoyable! I do truly enjoy the running, but think I am much more of a duathlon kind of girl. I can't wait to get this marathon over so I can get back on the bike:)

"Flat and fast" does not mean "hard and hilly"--Viking Sunset 5k recap

You know how you sign up (and encourage others to sign up) for races that advertise that their course is "flat and fast" in hopes of PRing?? The Viking Sunset 5k was one of those races for me. I did it in 2008 and PRd by like 20 seconds (doing it as a workout!), so I of course signed up and encouraged others to do the same.

I knew the course had changed from my 2008 PR, BUT the website and email both still noted it as "fast and flat" with a track finish, so I figured it'd be pretty similar.


I ran a warmup with a DPFT teammate and noticed a slight incline in the beginning 1/2 mile, not really thinking much of it because finding a 100% flat course isn't an easy task! We both figured it'd be flat the rest of the time.

After changing my race time goal due to the heat (85-90degrees and super humid), I was ready to run. In 5ks, I tend to start the first mile off faster and then try to maintain for as long as possible since that's how I've had success this year. The first mile was 5:39, perfect.

Then the hills began. Around mile 1.5 is when Ryan caught up to me as he was doing a workout himself. He could see I was struggling (and knows I have a history of passing out from the heat) so was great and decided to run with me. The second mile was 6:10, which again was fine with the heat, but I told Ryan I was dying with the heat. He told me that the last 1.1 was going to be just based on effort, so I agreed and just ran what I could.

I will say I dislike the finish of this race as it is almost a full lap on the track, which kills me because we are SO close to the finish it's like a tease! But, I still broke 19 (18:58) which was the changed goal and again something I could barely do last year.

A LOT of people were frustrated that this race was listed as flat and fast when it wasn't. After being a race director, I know how hard it is to please everyone and no longer complain about things that are hard to control from the director standpoint. However, advertising as flat and fast on a hilly course just really frustrated me and others, so I did respond to that on the survey. I heard the reason that the course changed was due to the old course's track being under construction. I sure hope that next year it is moved back to the original course.

On the bright side, I got to run with my DPFT teammates which always makes for a great day:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

8k Redemption

Remember my story about Shamrock Shuffle? You know, the 8k in which I was crying at the start line during the National Anthem? The one that I didn't get to warmup for and got a calf cramp at the first mile in? Yeah, me too.

So, when I saw that the Rockford MELD race was a 2mile or an 8k, I immediately told Ryan we had to sign up. The fact that there was prize money didn't make it too hard to convince him;)

Well, if there's one thing to know about (female) Rockford runners, it's that Shannon Ring and Jessica Langford are AMAZING runners. The few Rockford races that Ryan and I have done (MELD 2mile/8k and On the Waterfront 5k), these two ladies just CRUSH the competition. I have always looked up to them, and this past Monday gave me even more of a reason to.

This 8k, Ryan and I arrived with plenty of time to spare. One of my athletes was also running the 2mile, so it was good to see her there (and it was nice that she rocked her race too:)).

After warming up and doing some drills and strides, my legs felt ready to go. The rest of my body, however, was another story. Crystal Lake's 4th of July fireworks were the night before, and Ryan and I didn't get to sleep until 11/11:30ish. We had a wake-up call at 4:30am so that we could meet his dad and littlest brother before heading over to the 7am start. Normally, one day of waking up early wouldn't really exhaust me as much as it did, but I think getting in the routine of waking up early and working long days really kind of tired me out. I would bet that this happens to most people when they start a new job, so just prepared myself mentally that I might be a little tired going into the race on Monday.

Toeing the start line with Jessica and Shannon by my side was pretty cool. The last time I did this, I had tears streaming down my face, so to be excited and ready to race felt great! Jessica and I talked before the race and said we'd just try to maintain 6:00 pace. It was already mid/high 70s and was not cooling off anytime soon.

5:59 first mile. Perfect. Felt super easy. Probably should have gone out a little harder (which Cari agreed with as well).

6:00 second mile. Still felt pretty good and we had passed all of the other females, so were sitting 2-3 behind Shannon.

At about 2.25miles, my left calf got what felt like a charlie horse. This was the SAME pain that I got in Shamrock. I didn't really understand, considering we went out at a 5:59. At Shamrock, we went out in 5:45. Jessica started to lose me a bit as I couldn't shake the pain.

At the turnaround, I saw that I had enough room so that I would still place 3rd even if I averaged 6:10s for the rest of the way. I told myself that no mile would be over 6:10.

Mile 3 was 6:02. I was surprised because I truly felt like I was going 10minute pace once that charlie horse hit my calf.

Right before mile 4, Ryan picked me up. He started running with me right when I was really dying. What a guy;) We went through in 6:07. Again, not bad, but just frustrating because I couldn't shake my stinkin' calf!

I told myself that Mile 5 would be faster than the 6:07. Then I remembered that .5 of the last mile is a LONG, LONG straightaway. Gross. So, I just started focusing and really looking ahead. Ryan kept reminding me to use my arms. He later told me that I swing my arms across my body (very inefficient) when I get tired, so that is definitely something that I will focus on in my workouts and even my easy runs. 6:02 for that final stretch.

Overall, 30:11, which is 16 seconds faster than my time at Shamrock, which was over a minute PR. Definitely pleased, but had to sit in a chair right away as my calf was on FIRE.

I saw the chiropractor that was there and he used some trigger point therapy thing and it immediately felt better. On my 3 mile cooldown with my athlete, I didn't even notice my calf.

Still wondering what could have caused it--the heat? I guess as long as it only bothers me in 8ks, I'll take it, but would LOVE to solve this mystery!

The day gets better. Ryan ran the 2mile and won. My athlete had a great race. Ryan's littlest brother, Alex, ran a 13:39 for the 2mile and then won the kids 1/4mile race barefoot, and Ryan's dad ran a good time for himself too! Did I mention that we had a Fast Track Sweep? Shannon won, Jessica was 2nd and I was 3rd. Definitely cool to see all of us in our Fast Track gear claiming the top three awards. Check it out:

Before I end this blog, I want to thank everyone who has been praying for me and supporting me in my quest to work for Saucony. Unfortunately, I heard back from them last week (right before heading to a team workout unfortunately) and they chose to move forward with other candidates. After some tears and a bad workout, I had a wonderful cooldown with some great teammates who really helped me get back up and realize that it is their loss. I still think highly of the company and will always want to be an employee with Saucony, but right now is just not the right time in life. When the time comes though, I know that I will be the best employee ever as I am so passionate about the sport and truly believe that Saucony is a great company, not just for shoes but for all running attire. In the meantime, I have this SWEET job that allows me to continue to educate others (car salespeople, who sometimes are just as challenging as middle schoolers!) and travel all around the US doing so. My boss is AMAZING (duh, he's a runner) and the product that we sell and educate people on truly speaks for itself. I'm a pretty lucky girl:)

Athlete of the Month?!?!?

If you're a Chicago area runner, you probably tend to thumb through the Chicago Athlete magazine every once in a while (or read every article...some people just can't get enough of the running and biking stuff:)). The very first thing I ALWAYS do when I see a new Chicago Athlete magazine is flip to the CLIF Athletes of the Month page. I love when athletes are recognized for their outstanding performances and really enjoy learning about runners (even if they are competitors!) this way.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from the editor of the magazine asking for an interview. With me. To be the July Chicago Athlete of the Month.

*Jaw drops*

Oh, and should I mention that I received this email during our "15minute break" during my first official day of the new job? All I kept thinking about was telling Ryan because this is something that I have DREAMED of being good enough to receive!! Even Ryan, being the incredible athlete he is, has dreamed of this, so for it to become a reality for me was truly shocking.

The first thing I did was ask my friend, who also works for Chicago Athlete magazine, if he had anything to do with this. His response? All I did was give him your contact info.

Can you believe it?! I couldn't either!

About a week later, one of my Fast Track teammates posted a Congratulatory message on my wall on facebook and the comments started coming. I have such an incredible support system through the Fast Track racing team.

One last note... my dad ALWAYS reads the Chicago Athlete magazine as soon as he picks one up from whatever run/bike store he's at when a new issue comes out. So, I figure that I would just wait for him to see it. It took him THREE days from getting the magazine to notice it!! The rest of my family and I got a pretty good laugh out of that. I guess that's what happens when you get older;)

Lastly, I have to say that I honestly woudln't be where I'm at today without the wonderful people I have in my life. God has really given me everything I could ever ask for and more. Thank you, friends and family, for your continued support in my journey. I will never be able to tell you how much it means to me:)

(a better version can be found at and by looking at the July issue)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Finally breaking 18!!!

Ever have a goal that you were just DYING to reach no matter how hard it would be?

That was me with the 5k this year. Let me start by recalling prior years of my 5k goals....

In 2008, I was running 19s. In fact, THREE races in a row I posted a 19:01-19:04. Frustrating to be 5 seconds away from breaking 19? you bet. Motivational? Absolutely. Unfortunately, 2008 never saw that sub 19.

2009 rolls around and I start focusing more on duathlons. Well, luckily for me duathlons generally have shorter distances, so I did more speed work. I didn't do too many 5ks, but when I did, I was cursed with the 19:04. I finally broke it unexpectedly.

My workout, while just using the same plan as my coach, for the marathon was 3miles/2miles/1mile. Well, there was a 5k that night in Geneva (the Viking Sunset 5k), so I figured, "Why not run my first 3 miles as the 5k?" Guess what... I BROKE 19!!!!! 18:40. CRAZY. I was so excited I didn't even care about the rest of the workout! Of course, I finished it, but man, breaking 19 was so unreal that I was just so excited (and may have went a little too quickly for the 2mile and 1 mile, oops).

So, 2010 comes along and I'm again just focusing on duathlon and triathlon. Yeah, the marathon is a goal, but I don't start training for it until July after most of my dus/tris are done. So no real stellar 5ks this year, but I do finish the year off with an 18:39.

2011. The year of PRs (for post-hs/college). I make it my goal to break 18. I mean, if my goal is to run sub-2:50 (hopefully even a 2:45!), I need to be breaking 18.

In the Race That's Good For Life 5k in April, Cari had told me to go out hard that first mile. This is the race that the males and females run separately, so it's super competitive. Well, Columba went out in a 5:30 and Jessica, Suzanne and I were just a tad behind in 5:38. Cari told me just to hang on for as long as I could. I ran a 5:50 and 6:00 to finish in an 18:04. 36 second PR from my previous best, yet so close to breaking 18 that I was wanting to do another 5k!

So, I used that experience to help me run the LaGrange Rocks for Youth 5k last night. It's a fast, flat course, so I knew we'd be going out hard. Fortunately for me, my wonderful boyfriend decided to run it with me as he knew it could be a PR day at the least. Little did he know that my confidence levels were high (rare for me prior to finally getting a job last week!) and I KNEW I'd be breaking 18.

We started off and I was almost leading the race. Yes, you read that correctly. I, a female, was almost leading the race. We went through the first mile in 5:29. Ryan told me after that he was FREAKING out that I was setting myself up for a disaster. He told me to slow it down the second mile and got in front of me to help me do so. I kept telling him to speed up as I knew what my race plan was. We went through the second mile in 5:55. I knew all I had to do was run that same mile time for mile 3 and breaking 18 would be done. However, probably at 2.25 there is a slight incline. I used the "downhill" part of that to just really focus on my leg turnover and catching up to the person in front of me.

I had run mile 3 to mile 2 and back as my warmup, so I knew there were 5 blocks before we turned to go back in to the finish area. I started counting and it really took my mind off things. As we turned, one of the DJs (younger kids, probably 14?) said "Go Party Rock!" as we had requested that LMFAO "Party Rock" song (whatever the name of it is) as it's just such a pump-up type of song. That silly little phrase just motivated me and I kicked it into a higher gear.

We went through mile 3 at 17:25. Crap. I have to run .1 in less than 35 seconds if I want to break 18. How is the finish so far away? Ryan is just SCREAMING at me at this point. He KNOWS I can do this and I'm not one to disappoint. I keep thinking back to Sunday and how I didn't allow myself any ice cream because I didn't break 18. That was NOT happening again.


PR by 6 seconds from April, PR by 49 seconds from last years race. YES! Finally! I collapse at the finish as I truly gave it my all.

Funny thing is, even though he was only running it with me, Ryan still got 2nd place in his age group!!! His 13-year-old brother Jason was 2nd in his age group as well with just over 20minutes. His 10-year-old brother Alex was 2nd in his age group with another sub-22 and his dad, right behind Alex, was 2nd in his age group as well! How often can you say your family went to a race and everyone brought home awards? My family, for one, has not been able to say this for years. Those Giuliano genes, I tell ya...

This week has taught me a lot...

1. Always listen to your coach. Cari and I talked on Monday, and we decided based on my 5k/10k on Sunday's Zoo run that I had reached my plateau. My body was just done with this cycle of training and ready for a break. Now if Ryan had told me that, I probably would have argued. Not because he doesn't know what he's talking about (Cari is a GENIUS when it comes to running and the science and everything that goes into it), but because I'd be mad that he didn't "believe in me." Well, after we had that conversation, I told myself that I'm going to break 18. I just have to now. And I did. My coach definitely knows how to motivate me! :)

2. PowerBar Recover + PowerBar Vanilla Protein Powder = best recovery drink ever. After my first workout with the Saucony Dick Pond Fast Track team ( in years, Ryan had his mixed drink for us to take. We did 4 progressive 800s (they had done 4 progressive 400s and a previous set of 4 progressive 800s before I hopped in) and 4 200s, so having this drink after definitely helped in recovery.

3. Ice Baths totally work. Ryan and I took an ice bath after the workout and I felt SO good the next day.

4. Dave Davis is the best person to go to for a massage if you are a runner. He worked on both Ryan and I on Tuesday morning. Yes, I was SO SORE the next day. But I still hit my workout splits for the 800s/200s and PRd in my 5k three days later. This guy knows what he's doing:)

5. Saucony AMP PRO2 tights ROCK. ( I wore these after my workout on Wednesday (after the ice bath) and I felt awesome on Thursday.

Something else worth noting: As a part of being on the Saucony Hurricane Team, Ryan and I (well everyone on the team, we just do things together when we are able to) have to help out at some events. Being that I'm pretty much obsessed with running, this really isn't asking much at all. So, one of these events was to run with the running group at The Runner's Edge in Chicago as part of Saucony month. We did this on Thursday night and kind of split up to run with the runners. I ran with a lady named Angelique (spelling?) and it is just SO inspirational and fun to learn about other runners and their backgrounds and goals.

I haven't really told too many people this, but I applied for the Saucony Tech Rep position awhile ago. It would basically be a dream job for me. I LOVE Saucony products--I have yet to have any sort of injury from the shoes (which is rare for me considering I've had 4 stress fractures throughout my college years while running in three different brands of shoes) and their clothing is top of the line. After we worked the event on Thursday, I left feeling like, "I could do this every day and truly have the best job in the world." So, if you read this, I'm going to selfishly ask that you pray with me that things work out. I'm sure that there are hundreds of applicants, many who have repped with other companies before so have more experience, but I truly believe I'd be an excellent fit for this position. Thanks friends and family:)

Finally, next race: Batavia Triathlon on June 12th. Ryan's racing, I'm encouraging.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend: Ridge Run 5k

Last year, Ryan and I ran both the 5k and the 10k as there was money in both. I won the 10k and was third in the 5k; Ryan won and got second. This year, Ryan had the same goal and I just wanted to run a good tempo.

Yep, I said it. My plan was to use this race as a tempo. Was it tough knowing that money was involved? You betcha. Especially since I was jobless at the time, I was seriously contemplating just racing. However, I know that I have big goals ahead, so racing this one wouldn't really do much for me in the long run.

Unfortunately, the 10k goes first, and it was already 80 degrees when they went off. I knew it'd be a hot one, so only did 1.25mile warmup (and drills). My plan was to run 6:10, 6:00, 5:50 to keep it at a 6:00 tempo pace but also negative split it just so I know that I can actually do that (I rarely negative split)!

Well, Columba Montes (phenomenal runner; had already won the 10k earlier this day) and another female started off at what seemed like a slower pace, so I stayed with them. We went through the mile at 6:01. Well, I figured, I'll just run 6:10 for the next mile and still plan on the 5:50. The pace slowed when we encountered a slight incline and we went through the 2mile at 6:27. I decided I would push the pace just a little, especially after seeing that there was one female in front of us.

Top three make money in this race, and I figured I might as well push a bit now and see if anyone drops. Worst case, I still finish my tempo under goal time. Best case, I get 3rd place and am $50 richer. Well, Columba did come with me when I pushed a bit and I told her that there was another girl ahead and to go get her. To me, again, it was about the tempo and not the money, so I knew I had secured third, but wanted to make Columba aware that she could catch the girls ahead of us (last year's winner as well). She didn't understand or hear me (I'm not sure which), so we finished just with each other--5:51 final mile:)

18:57. Do you have any idea how happy I would have been with that time last year, and here I just ran it as a TEMPO?! It's unreal what a difference having a coach and concentrating on solely running makes.

Hopefully, my next 5k will be under 18. Based on workouts, it should happen, but it's been pretty hot and humid lately. I guess we'll see where my training takes me!

Back at E.I.U

Eastern Illinois University has always stood for one thing in my mind: State track meet.

This year, EIU had an even bigger impact on me than in years past. After going to state Freshman year, I had just assumed that it's what you do to end the season. I never realized how difficult it was to qualify for State until I started coaching.

Last year, my distance stud missed qualifying by 3 seconds. It was the most devastating race I have ever watched in my life: 300m to go, on pace; 200m to go, 45 seconds to finish; 100m to go, 22 seconds to finish. Those 22 seconds turned into 25 and was the most agonizing 25seconds of my life. It was as if my runner had hit a gust of wind that was just holding her back. She had no idea how close she was to qualifying. She literally gave EVERYTHING she had; collapsing at the finish line, she grabbed the watch from my neck and saw the time. She burst into tears and we had to carry her off the track. I promised her that if she worked hard this summer, she would qualify for State in Cross Country and Track (although I was not the XC coach, I did trust that he could keep her in the shape she was in--he did and she qualified for State in XC).

This year, she had many setbacks and obstacles in her way: her knee cap randomly doubled in size over Spring Break, causing her to miss 10 days of running and she got Laryngitus the week of Conference. However, this year there was another distance stud as well.

My Junior used to be a soccer player, but decided to go out for track this year. In her first meet, she actually ran against Ryan's freshman cousin in the pouring rain. They were neck and neck and literally ran the same overall 5:54, but I knew that I had a lot of talent that I was working with. She continually improved her times throughout the season: when I finally put her into a meet completely fresh, she ran a 5:40 (on Monday). The next time she was put into a meet fresh (Thursday of the same week) was Conference, where she ran a 5:32. After Conference, I told her dad how close she was for qualifying for State (time standard is 5:25). This runner has a "whatever" kind of attitude, in a good way. She never puts pressure on herself and just listens to you-- the most coachable athlete I've ever had. I could tell her "get up with the girl in green" and she'd be up there in less than 5 seconds. She is just incredible.

Up next: Sectionals. My Junior tells me she has a game plan: 1:24, 2:37, 4:02, 5:24. Her first lap was a 1:24, second was 2:38 ("you need to get up with the girl in green" and she does), 4:01 ("you have to get around x, x, and x if you want to go to State, GO, GO, GO!!")... 5:23. Incredible. 10 second PR. Who does that in a 1600m race?!

In addition to our 1600m runner that qualified for State, we also qualified a Discus girl. I remember last year when I started coaching track at Woodstock North, her dad called me to tell me that his daughter is state-qualifier material and will be there, if not this year, next for sure. Unfortunately, throwing isn't my specialty, but we did have a throwing coach on the boys side. He worked hard with this girl and she did end up qualifying for State this year. She just continuously improved this year and always had a good attitude; she was fun to watch when I was actually able to!

So, at the State meet.... After driving the 4.5 hours to EIU from Woodstock, we warmed up on the track/disc area. The girls seemed pretty pumped to be there. When we went to check in at the hotel, I ran out to get my license and the female receptionist says to the male, "Make sure it shows she's 21." Why being 21 was relevant, I am still unsure, but the girls got a kick out of the fact that, despite JUST turning 25 the week before, I was being questioned as to if I was old enough to drink?

The hotel that we were staying at was THE SAME ONE I STAYED AT MY FRESHMAN YEAR. Definitely had tears in my eyes when making that realization. I told the girls that there was a Dollar General behind our hotel (there still was) and that we used to decorate our rooms with streamers and such in celebration of being at State. Well, my assistant coach wasn't there yet, so they asked if we could decorate his we went to Dollar General and had a good time putting streamers up in his room.

We then went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, the girls' choice. A sign on the table said something about a Buffet, I thought it was "Birthday Buffet" and it actually said "Sunday Buffet".... I apparently can't read. But next thing I know, the freshman that we brought along for experience had told the waitor that it was my 21st birthday and they are bringing me a sombrero, shot of tequila and singing! CRAZY! We poured the tequila into the salsa (I hate looking like I don't appreciate things, but I was NOT going to drink any sort of alcohol on a school related function, despite how much crap my family and friends gave me!).

I really enjoyed spending time with the girls in a different setting than as a coach. We ended our night verifying that my assistant would be taking down our wonderful streamers (he thought it was funny and appreciated the hard work). The only reason I even mention this is because we actually got charged a "repainting the ceiling" fee from the staff taking down the streamers and paint being pulled off. None of us believe this but when it's their word against yours, what can you do.

Back to State. Well, as usual, it was a HOT one. My 1600 girl was not used to the heat, or starting out fast (I told her they'd go out in a 1:14/15 since she was in Heat 1; they went in 1:14) and it really hurt her in the final lap. She was still on pace to make Finals in the third lap, but the fast start (or the 80some degree weather!) really hurt her final lap. The disc girl did qualify for Finals--she hadn't really expected to I don't think, and wasn't prepared for it as she was Valedictorian and graduation was Saturday at 7pm!

That night (Friday night), there was a coach's race (open to any non-competing athlete or coach)that the girls had wanted to wach me do. The meet was supposed to start at 8pm. Order of events: girls 100, boys 100, girls 400, boys 400, girls 800, boys 800, combined 1600, girls 300hurdles, boys 300hurdles. Well, the first (of four) head of the girls 100 didn't start until 8:15, so I was already all warmed up for my 1600. I tried staying loose but it was hard. The 1600 was going to start at 9:15....the FIRST heat started then. Figured that I was NOT one of the 20 in that heat. Oh well. I tried my best to be patient and not get mad. Afterall, this was for fun (but I just kept thinking that the girls needed to get dinner and I was holding them back!). I finally ran close to 9:30. I ran a 5:24, which for all things considered (being outside coaching and watching the meet all day, warming up an hour prior) wasn't bad. hey, at least I still qualified for the 2A state track meet!

Saturday, my disc girl threw placed at her seed place for the finals (11th) and made it back just in time to give her Valedictorian speech. Also on Saturday, Kayla Beattie (one of the best female high school distance runners EVER) dominated in the 3200 (9:56) and 1600 (4:46 or 4:43-- I can't remember now after the crazy weekend).

Overall, what a difference being a coach versus athlete makes. I really enjoyed myself and am so glad that my girls had a good time as well. Hopefully, they'll be making the trip again next year too!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Palos 1/2 marathon

I have never appreciated my teammates as much as I did after the Palos 1/2 marathon.

Ryan's big race (Elite Duatlon Nationals) was the Saturday before my Sunday 1/2. I was so excited/nervous for him but had to control my nerves as we were at Kristi's bridal shower. I can't even explain how sad I was for Ryan when I got his message. He had no power on the bike and was just exhausted. Putting on the race just last weekend really took a toll on him he said.

My running the week after putting on our Egg Shell Shuffle race wasn't the best. I thought I'd be fine though since mine was just running whereas Ryan's was running and biking.

I got to the race 45minutes before. I found my teammate Meg Sullivan right away and she graciously offered me a place to put my bag during the race (parking was somewhat far away). After getting my bib and packet, I went for a mile warmup, did a few drills and strides and found Meg again at the start line.

Looking around, I saw Erin Moffett (incredible), Columba Montes (the nicest person ever, and very fast too) and one other girl that I thought I had seen before. Turns out these three would be the lead pack for a good portion of the race.

I started the race conservatively like Cari had asked and ran two 6:25s. She wanted me to wait until mile 6 to really start cutting down, which was perfect since the wind was coming at us for the first portion of the race. By mile 3, I was up with Meg and her pack. I tucked in and ran with was really fun to run with two teammates!

Right around mile 6, I remembered that I didn't have my gel (I put it in my back pocket..... of my pants, not shorts, ugh) so I better start taking some Powerade. I also started having a real upset stomach. I saw a bathroom and thought about stopping, but didn't want to get out of the pack of four I was in.

Right around mile 8, I really started feeling my stomach hurting. I knew I had to find a bathroom. I was on pace to run a low 1:23, possibly high 1:22, and my stomach was getting me. So frustrating. I saw another bathroom just before mile 9 and just had to stop. To make things worse, a lady was in there...and took five hours to come out. I stopped my watch--it took me :52 seconds to wait for her and then go myself. Great.

The last 3.5 miles were not great. I went 6:21, 6:22, 6:26 after previously going 6:21, 6:26, 6:26, 6:23, 6:17, 6:31, 6:15, 6:12, 6:20, 6:17 and 6:21. Definitely a disappointment to be running the slower pace that I had at the start of the race, but I don't think I would have been able to complete the race if I didn't stop when I did.

To my surprise, I still ran a 1:24:55 official time despite my bathroom break. Even more shocking was the fact that I was the 5th overall female!

The best part of this day was running with Meg, Shannon and the guys. They were SO supportive of me and proud of me, despite not having the best day. It is unreal how supportive teammates can be and how just a simple cooldown with them can totally change your day around. I am very blessed to have the great teammates I do in my life. Thanks, friends!

Egg Shell Shuffle: Race Director Perspective

Why don't we put on an Easter themed race?

Ryan and I had this idea in December, right before we left for the Cruise. We started planning things a little bit during the cruise (during the ship days of course:)) and figured with me not having a full-time teaching job, we could plan things out easily.

Boy were we wrong.

I finished one long-term job the second Friday in January and started planning things right away. We got our Permit, started making postcard ads (thank you and started creating a website ( Luckily for us, with my dad being the President of the Hillstriders Running Club, we had quite a few resources at our disposal.

We had the logistics all down on paper and were busy planning....and then I obtained another long-term sub job, 7th grade Science. Let's just say it's a little more difficult to teach than Math, Language Arts or Social Studies, all of which I've taught before. Ryan had to do a lot more work to pick up for my throwing myself into school work.

We also ran into a problem with our egg hunt. Eggs didn't start appearing at stores until the beginning of April, so we really had to work hard in stuffing all of the eggs with candy. Luckily, Ryan's little brother was incredible and filled them every day after school for two weeks prior to the race. We had over 1,000 eggs out there! Next year, we are planning an "egg stuffing party," which we had wanted to do this year but just got too busy to do!

Shorts were our main cost and what caused a lot of people to sign up:) We had a local company (Think Ink) in Crystal Lake create them for us. The design that we used (thank you Tim Schocke!) was screen printed on 500some pairs of dri-fit shorts. We had a lot of people sign up on race day, so a reorder is in the works.

After waking up at 4:30am, we proceeded to drive with the big truck (full of water jugs, bottled water, PowerBar products, mile markers, etc) and the PowerBar car to Busse Woods. There was a cop waiting for us... turns out, we could have come at 3am (as we had planned), so we'll plan for that next year!

While Ryan and his dad put out all of the mile markers and water/Perform stations on the course, I prepared our registration table and Ken and John put the finish/start lines together. Right around 6:30, people started arriving in packs... it was crazy! We had a lot of people sign up race day, which I was better prepared for (side note: I put on a "Run for Hope" race for a student of mine with an inoperable brain tumor two years ago and did NOT staff the registration table well enough, so I made sure we were fully staffed this time around!).

I was busy literally until the gun went off for 5k....which started 15 minutes after the 1/2 marathon. While everyone was running, we started putting out PowerBar product for post-race and setting up the awards (PowerBar waterbottles stuffed with product! Easter Baskets with PowerBar product for overall male and female winners).

We got so many comments about how cool and unique the awards were too! Ryan did a GREAT job. The weather even cooperated--for the rainy two weeks we had leading up to it, the ground wasn't nearly as wet as it could have been. The sun came out right before we did the Egg Hunt too....Mother Nature sure was looking out for us!

JDRF will be getting a nice check from us thanks to all of the great participants we had. Our initial goal was to donate $1,000 and we'll easily be close to $5,000 when all is said and done. Incredible!

After emailing all of our participants, we found out that there were only a few major glitches for a first time race.

1. we started the egg hunt too early. In Ryan's defense, people were getting a little antsy (heck, I was getting antsy), as we had started the kids 7&under hunt at 11:30 with the intention of starting the regular hunt at 12. We'll have to better monitor that next year, OR have one egg hunt after the 5k and one after the 1/2 marathon.

the prizes for the egg hunt were outrageous: Cubs tickets for Memorial Day weekend, a signed Kane picture, a signed Cutler helmet, PowerBar product;), Alter-G treadmill passes, sunglasses, Timex package and a Starbucks basket.

2. we need to do a better job clarifying things on our website. We have never created one before, so definitely something we'll better research next year!

We had SO many compliments on our water stop workers (thanks WNHS girls track team, Ricky & Danielle, NHS volunteers, Starbucks volunteers, participants' family members, Grandma Larson/Carolyn and Ryan family) and other volunteers. We couldn't have done it without the incredible volunteers we had!

Thank you for all of the support and especially for coming out for the race! We are SO excited for next year and are already starting to plan!

Please feel free to email us ( or leave a comment on here about the race. We are planning on making this race much bigger and better next year!