Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shamrock Shuffle: Running with 40,000 of my closest friends...

Kidding, but honestly, what race (an 8k of all distances) gets 40,000 people signed up for it and sells out?! Only the crazy Shamrock Shuffle.

Before I get straight into the race, I'm going to kind of recap the week. Tuesday I had a 13miler since I didn't do a long run last weekend (5k on that Sunday). I ran it before teaching at 4am, so I figured I might be a little fatigued on Wednesday, but even during my morning run on Thursday, my legs were hating me. I was pretty nervous for my 400 repeats since my legs seemed to be sore from a measley 13miler two days earlier! However, when I finished coaching and all of the boys and girls had gone home, my warmup on the track felt pretty good. I will say I had some entertainment--a boy, maybe a student but I wasn't sure, was doing 100m repeats. This wouldn't have been strange to me in any way, except for the fact that he was doing them in jeans that were rolled up to just below his knees, yet was wearing spikes. If anyone understands this, can you please let me know? (although it did let my mind wonder the entire time). Anyway, the workout went a little faster than planned, so I knew I was ready to go on Sunday and the 30:30 time goal was easily doable--shoot, I wanted to crush 30 after that workout:)

Enter race day.

For Shamrock Shuffle, a lot of Ryan's dad's side of the family races as well. Ryan's dad and his little brothers were also all signed up, so we figured we would just all drive together. We planned on arriving to the Egg Bowl (our parking lot nickname--John and Ryan didn't believe me that there was such a thing as the Egg it and you'll see I'm serious) at 7:50 since Shamrock starts at 9. Well, there were a lot of cars on the road, so we didn't even make it to the Egg Bowl--instead, we were okay with parking 4 blocks further, but we didn't arrive there until 8:15. I kept my cool and reminded myself that I only needed to do a mile warmup and then drills and strides because it was so hot out anyway. We were all rushing over together.

And then we reached the Corrals.

Ryan's little brothers and dad were using a friend's bib (three separate ones) since they signed up but couldn't compete. They had to meet in Corral H. Apparently Alex (Ryan's littlest brother) didn't get the memo. He followed us until we got to Corral D. We looked around and Jason (other brother) and Ryan's dad were nowhere to be found. It was just about 8:35 at this point. Ryan told me he'd take care of Alex and for me to put my stuff in the Elite Team tent and warmup. I was very thankful for what was a great idea...except for the fact that the open gear check people were all crowding to get into the A/B/C/Elite Corrals. By the time I got to the Elite Team tent, it was 8:40. My teammates Jean Marinangeli and Shannon Ring could tell I was a little (or a lot) flustered and rushed to help me get ready. Jean even found a bathroom that I could use. How awesome are my teammates?:)

After quickly changing shoes, putting on my singlet (I was wearing a different shirt to warmup in as I didn't want my singlet to already be sweaty by the start of the race) and going to the bathroom, we rushed over to the start as the gates were closing in two minutes. Ryan's dad and Jason were stading over there, "Where's Alex? He's lost? Where did he and Ryan go?" I told him I had no idea, just that Ryan was with him and I had to get to the start line or I wouldn't be allowed. I broke down when he left. Thank goodness Jean was there with a water bottle to splahs on my face so no one knew, but that is NOT a good way to get ready for a race!

The five of us Saucony/Dick Pond/Fast Track ( runners all decided we'd go out in a 6:00 mile, which is what the Fleet Feet girls were thinking too. I decided I'd rather have the company, even if we went out in a 5:55.

That idea quickly faded as the girls pulled away--I slowed up and still went through the mile at 5:50. 5 seconds faster than the fastest Cari and I had agreed to go out in. Shoot.

I could see my teammates Suzanne Ryan and Jessica Langford, but decided I needed to stay a little further back since they were still probably going slightly under 6. I was right--hit 6flat at mile two. This is where I really started to feel my calf. It had flared up a bit right after the first mile (I'm thinking because I literally did NOTHING before starting the race). I told myself as long as I continued running sub 6:10 pace, I'd hit my goal, and that pace wouldn't be quite as hard on my calf. It worked out well. Mile 3 and 4 were both at 6:09.

Between 3 and 4, I really started feeling mentally fatigued (I was slightly upset that I had no warmup, drills or strides and knew it was affecting my performance), but saw Jessica stop to stretch, so knew I had to keep pushing myself. She did finish, but I wasn't able to talk with her after the race. I think she's okay though, just a hot day out there:(

The last almost mile was tough, but my DPFT teammates were 100% there for me. Two of the men passed me and yelled at me to stay with them. It worked for maybe 400m, but it was definitely a faster 400m because of them, so thank you! Also, Dave Schaefers really pushed me the last 800. I can't even explain what I was feeling--I felt like my calves were on fire and my legs were ready to collapse, but Dave slowed his race down so that he could cheer me on. He is such a wonderful person and I know everyone on DPFT would agree that we are so grateful for him and his leadership and encouragement.

I finally finished--30:27. Still under the 30:30 goal Cari had set for me, but of course I walked away disappointed. After talking with Cari, we know that I could have been down closer to 30flat (I still think I could have been sub30), but without that warmup that my body's used to, it just wasn't going to happen.

I had my thoughts of dedicating this race to my sister (see below), but am glad I didn't today. When I have an incredible all out effort that finally fully satisfies me (hopefully in a few weeks), THAT is the race that will have been run in Kristina's name.


Probably one of the worst days of my life besides my grandparents' deaths. I was at home, making soup when my mom comes in, visibly upset. I figured it was her last day with her trainer (Nic, Ryan and I bought her a personal training package to try to get her through the winter as that's SUCH a hard time to stay motivated during!), but asked her what was upset.

I have NEVER heard my mom say the f word in my life. Ever. The words that came out of her mouth, "the f---n steeplechase" immediately made me realize something was majorly wrong with Kristina (although her roommate Kelsey had posted something on facebook earlier about "praying for those hurt in my life" so I was going to text Kristina right before my mom walked in). I guess Kristina was doing 800m hurdle repeats as her first steeplechase workout of the year.

Let me pause here to say that Kristina ran a 16:55 5k, 9:45 (lower, but not sure exact time) 3k and a 4:55 mile (after doing the 16:55 5k the night before!) during indoor. Clearly, there is no reason for her to run the steeplechase. However, she claims that she told her coach that she was so in love with the 3k distance that she wanted to try it. As a coach, if someone as clutzy as my sister (Aubert's run because they are clutzes, okay?) were to ask me to run something that truly needs good coordination, I would say no. I'm not blaming her coach or Kristina; I know that in life, everything happens for a reason, but I do think it was silly for her to even TRY it.

Anyway, her first one was a 2:50 (I think that's pretty good for an 800 WITH hurdles). She did fall once and scraped her elblow, but got right back up to finish in the 2:50.

The next one wasn't so nice. Her trail leg clipped the hurdle and down she went. Initially, the thoughts were that she broke her fibula, another bone in her ankle, and some of her fingers. The final verdict was that she broke some bones in her ankle and her fibula (where it connects) and her ring and pinky fingers. To make matters worse, she couldn't use crutches because of the broken fingers. It gets even worse. Surgery was scheduled for Friday (this happened Tuesday), but the doctor doing surgery was expecting and his wife went into labor for twins on Friday. Thankfully, Kristina was able to have her surgery on Saturday.

She's going to be completely off from anything for the next 4 weeks, then she can start swimming. It will be 8 weeks on the crutches (or scooter) and a full 4-5months before she is fully healed. I can't even imagine something like this happening to anyone. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. Luckily, my mom, her family, friends, teammates and coach are being GREAT and truly helping her through this unfortunate event. I am very thankful myself that nothing worse happened (my sister is the tiniest thing ever, so I could imagine bones completely snapping).

Don't anyone worry. My next race is 100% dedicated for my sister and I plan on dominating it solely for her. The Palos 1/2 Marathon is next up (May 1st).

Back to the race

Overall, today was a success as my team placed 3rd (1st Illinois team!), earning each of us $300--CRAZY! Jean was the 2nd place female, Shannon was pretty close behind. Ryan placed 18th overall, which ironically was his bib number. He ran a 25:02 after hoping to break 25....oh and that was after biking 58 miles hard yesterday. Slight detail;)

Danielle (Ryan's cousin's wife and my friend) rocked the Shuffle despite the heat and my training plan for her worked:) I am SO proud of her! Kim, Danielle's friend, ran Shamrock as her FIRST RACE EVER...I think we gave her the racing bug:)

Wendy interviewed Suzanne and me after, and then had Ryan come in. She asked what the craziest or funniest thing about me would be and he told her of my sweets addiction. Well, mainly ice cream/froyo/gelato. He told her the story of when we went to Italy and averaged eating 7 or 8 gelatos each day. Who does that? Oh yeah, us.

So many of my friends and family ran today, and I am SO proud of every single one of you! Anyone who finished today's race in those conditions (if it was the marathon or a race in summer, I wouldn't be saying that, but Shamrock has had cold or snowstorm weather the past 4-5 years, so this was a SHOCKER) is AMAZING. Congrats to all and I look foward to seeing many of you toe the line with me in a few weeks!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Race That's Good For Life (April 3, 2011)

Oak Park Race That's Good For Life 5k: April 3, 2011

In my mind, the Race That's Good for Life is known for three things: (1) fast runners and fast times (2) being one or two weeks after a 1/2 marathon I've run in and (3) nice shirts.

All three of those things proved to be true yet again this year.

Ryan unfortunately didn't run this year, so his dad and little brothers and I hopped into the brand new Lexus and GPS'd our way to Oak Park River Forest HS (had to include the "riding in style" part as it was mentioned frequently throughout the day).

We didn't get there until about 8:20; with my race at 9am, I was really pushing myself to get my packet and do my warmup/drills/strides. Well, I got close to 2 miles in, one set of drills and one stride. (It's hard to tell people to get somewhere almost 2 hours before they have to be--the females race at 9am, the kids mile was at 9:35, and the men's race wasn't until 9:50, so we weren't super motivated to rush to get there!)

My Garmin wouldn't load, so with 30 seconds til the gun, I just switched it to be a watch and started with the gun. Unfortunately, it kept asking "are you indoors?" so I just turned it off. I honestly had NO idea what kind of pace we were running. I was right with Meg Sullivan, Suzanne Ryan and Jessica Langford (my Saucony/DPFT teammates) and Columba Montes. After we turned the first corner, Columba gapped us a bit, and went through the mile around 5:20something. Jessica, Suzanne and I went through at 5:37/8. Surprisingly, I felt really good.

I kept pushing myself and figured I might as well see if I could catch up to Columba and see if I could get the Lifeline prize (Ryan did that last year, so I thought it'd be really cool to do that too!). I could tell she was too far away as we turned a corner, so just tried to maintain.

Mile 2 came and went (11:25)--I qualified for State! (kidding, but I do use this as motivation for my athletes) I saw a fellow DPFT teammate and he yelled out to me, "she's fading, go get her" and, as nice as that was to hear, I just kept thinking, "do you know how big of a PR I'm already on track to get? I'm pushing as hard as I can!" It was really awesome to have that support though, so thank you:)

Mile 3 felt like THE LONGEST MILE EVER! Part of the reason for that is due to the mile being mostly the same direction the whole way (with the exception of two turns) and it just happened to be that it was into the 10-15mph wind. I just stayed mentally focused, telling myself that if I slow up now, there's no way I'll have a chance of breaking 18.

With less than a 1/2 mile to go, Dave Schaefers greets me with a huge smile and load of confidence in me. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have pushed as hard as I did at the end--I was exhausted! I went through mile 3 at 17:20 (5:55 mile) and knew I had to empty my tank if I wanted to break 18. I now know how Mary (one of my studs that I coach at WNHS) felt during her last 100m of the 3200 at Sectionals last year: it was as if I was running in slow motion. I knew I was giving everything I had, yet could not go any truly felt as if I had another mile or ten to go before the finish line!

As if the dragging last .1 wasn't bad enough, I crossed the first line right under 18, buuuuut shouldn't have stopped there. I guess the first mat was there so that they could announce you as you finish whereas the SECOND mat is the one you had to cross for your time. So, officially my results were 18:04. The curse of the "04's" continues (two years ago, everytime I tried to break 19, I'd run a 19:04, so it was a running joke with Ryan's family that I would always run an 04).

Columba ran an incredible 17:40 in the "cyclone" of wind that we had during what seemed like every part of the race! I placed second, my best by a lot at that race, and my teammates came in right after. SO cool to see all of that bright orange out there!!!

Jason won the Youth Mile and Alex barely got third (if the boy's dad wasn't there to yell at him to "kick it in, he's right on you", I think they would have pulled off a 1-2). Very fun race to see. Oh, and did I mention that Ryan won the Home Team Charity Race 10k? He won 4 tickets and a parking pass AND gets to throw out the first pitch with Jean Marinangeli (female winner) next Sunday after we race at Shamrock! He also will be getting Bulls and Hawks tickets with VIP treatment (we aren't quite sure what that means, it just sounds cool). Very fun day for us, especially since we went to the YoGo Station and Starbucks after--frozen yogurt is my weakness!

Regardless of my time, this was my favorite 5k I've ever run. I can't even describe how cool it felt to be running with my teammates, all of us leading 500some runners to the finish. It was just a mob of orange in the front! All of this was documented by Wendy Shulik (, so very cool way to preview hopefully next weekend. The above link takes you to Wendy's Miles and Trials film which documents a bunch of really great girls as they attempt to qualify for the Olympic Trials (sub 2:46 marathon). If you have a chance, check it out--donations are greatly appreciated as this is mostly on her own funding currently!

Speaking weekend is the Shamrock Shuffle! My teammates are all STUDS: Jean Marinangeli, Jessica Langford, Shannon Ring and Suzanne Ryan. I'm super pumped to race with these ladies and think we have a great shot at placing top three for the women's division team race.