Monday, December 31, 2012


As 2012 comes to an end, I cannot help but think how hard it will be to top this year.

 I married my best friend.

I found an incredible teaching job.

I moved into an adorable little house with the love of my life.

Our race that we put on ( sold out in only it's SECOND year!!!!!

Oh, and running wasn't too bad either;).

Truth be told, going into this year, I had been telling everyone that there is NO way that 2013 (or any other year for that matter) could ever beat 2012.  However, as 2012 comes to a close, I am starting to think that 2013 could be just as good, if not better.  

Obviously I won't be getting married or buying a house again, but I'll still be living in that house with the man that I married, so that's pretty cool.  I am hoping budget cuts stay away from my incredible school and that I'll be "safe" this year as well.  And, naturally, I am hoping that our 1/2 marathon and 5k, Egg Shell Shuffle, will sell out again and be another success in 2013 as well.

That being said, my goals have shifted a bit for 2013.  

The 2016 Olympic Trials for the Marathon are still a big goal and will be until I qualify.  However, Ryan and I have something unique that we want to do.

We got married on October 13, 2012.  Guess what happens on the weekend of October 13, 2013?  Yeah, it's our one year anniversary.  Yeah, it's the Chicago Marathon.  BUT, it's also the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS WEEKEND FOR THE IRONMAN.

Yep, we are trying to qualify for KONA!!!

Coach Cari and I talked about this as it obviously means a small shift in priorities (sarcasm is hard to convey in text, but that was a sarcastic comment).  For me, my weakness is swimming.  Most people would see that as the area that I would need to focus on.  But, the cool thing about an Ironman is that really it is a LOT about the bike.  My swimming and running basically cancel each other out.  This means that if I want to qualify for Kona, I need to bust my butt and get my bike speed up there with all of the other fast girls.  

Ryan and I did a power test before we left for our cruise.  The last time I did a power test, my average was 200 watts, and this was while training for the World Duathlon Championships (before I got my teaching job).  When I did my power test 10 days ago, my average was also 200 watts.  This tells me that I have not lost too much on the bike, which is really good since I only have a good 5-6 months of training in me before I need to start tapering a bit.

Ryan and I have a workout room in our basement.  We painted the walls with a chalkboard paint so that we could write our goals and such on it.  The power test is written right next to the tv, so we know how we do every single time.  We also have our goals written down so that every time we go down to either bike or run, we see "QUALIFY FOR KONA" on both of our goals.  I really believe that having someone close to you having the same goal as you is SO helpful, motivating, and inspiring.  

I am hoping that we qualify in our first attempt.  That definitely sounds (and looks) crazy as I'm typing it, but we both have other goals that we are putting aside until we qualify for Kona, so this first attempt is extra important.  

Training for the 2016 Trials is still happening as well.  My body thrives when I incorporate cross training as I had SO many stress fractures and stress reactions thoughout college, that cross training is a welcoming break from running.   I really believe that it is possible to continue to improve my tempo runs (critical parts of marathon training) while also training to qualify for the Ironman World Championships.  

BUT...every little thing will matter.  Sleep.  Diet.  Vitamins.  Stretching.  Strength.  My future posts will detail some of those things that many of us take for granted and don't think twice about.  

I'll still be updating my blog, but now it will just include more biking and swimming stuff too.  Plus, I have my secret motivation that I'll probably be posting soon too.  Everytime I think of this, it fires me up and I just want to go out and prove this person wrong! 

Here's to hoping for an incredible 2013--congratulations, running and triathlon friends, on all of your accomplishments in 2012 and let's bring on 2013!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Getting healthy

I'm not going to sugarcoat this.....after my second marathon in a month (Indy), I got really lazy.  I had just almost tied my marathon PR, got married, ran a marathon PR...I deserved a break.

However, I told myself that one too many times.  I completely believe in taking a week of recovery after a marathon.  That's totally normally and definitely deserved.  Except when it then becomes abused.  The Saturday after the marathon, I ran what would have been a 5k PR, so figured that I could just keep training since it was obviously working for me.

I started biking more so that I would relieve my legs a little, but I still kept up the intensity and scheduled workouts every so often.  Cari is currently not coaching me as my goals are different for 2013....she'll be my coach again as soon as my goal is met, which will hopefully be October 2013 (more on that to come in my next post).

As great as it was that I was now cross training, I was still NOT doing some very important things: strength training, massage, extra stretching.  These things were the staples that have kept me injury free for so long.

Last week, my shins began feeling really sore.  I only ran three days (one of them on Thanksgiving, of course) to attempt to heal my shins.  It worked, but apparently I compensated a bit while running on either Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.

This past Tuesday, I went to do a workout on the treadmill and my plantar fascia on my left foot was just killing me.  I did two of my mile repeats because the pain was barely noticeable when I would go harder.  Well, it worked until I had to get off the treadmill....once I got back on, my plantar fascia just screamed at me.  I knew I had to call it a day and just bike.  I immediately texted Dave Davis, massage therapist expert, and set up an appointment with him.


I would get massages religiously throughout my training for the Trials.  Dave was one of the critical people that were keeping me injury free...and just because the marathons were over, I could cut him off? I am one of those people that believe everything happens for a reason.  My plantar flared up to remind me of the importance of stretching, strength training, and massage.  Ironically, I was at LifeTime (running my workout on the treadmill) for the sole reason of lifting after my run, so it worked out, just a little more painfully than what had to be.

SO, to recap: while running a marathon is a HUGE accomplishment, don't let it be an excuse to take too much time off of things you should continue doing.  This will only set you back, after you've worked SO hard.

I've also decided that not only will I focus more on my stretching, strength training and massage, but I will also be watching more of what I eat.  When I was training for the Trials, I had an unreal amount of self control: I only ate healthy foods (barely anything processed, good portions) and truly saw a difference in how I felt on my runs.  All runs just felt SO easy and smooth....yes, it's the holiday season, but if I have these big goals I want to accomplish in 2013, I need to start working my way towards them right now.

I am going to try to post more frequently on here, in hopes that people who read this DO hold me accountable.  I know next time Ryan (who chooses to read this, I'm always surprised when he tells me something about it as I never tell him when I post) sees me eyeing a cookie or some ice cream, he'll call me out on it and remind me that I have BIG GOALS for 2013.  Do the same--hold those you care about accountable.  Motivation is extremely hard to hang onto near the end of the year.  If we can help each other, we will all be so much more successful (and, in turn, happy!).

GOOD LUCK as we approach the holidays.  Hopefully some motivation to follow in my next post.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How is this even possible?

Remember how I ran a marathon last Saturday?  Well, my legs definitely didn't.

After a lot of debating with the husband last night, I decided to go to Melrose Park today and race the Prodigy Run 5k.  Last year, it was won in a 17:18, second was 17:32 and third was 17:58.  Last year, first place won $1,000 and second and third got like $500 and $200 or something.  So I knew there would be a likelihood that fast girls would show up.

I was right.  The winner and second place from last year were there, plus my teammate Columba, who had just rocked a 2:51 in the Chicago Marathon five weeks ago.  I pretty much wanted to just go home as soon as I saw the three of them there.  But, I had already driven all the way to Melrose Park, the least I could do is see what kind of shape I was in.

This race was, um, unique.  I parked in a parking lot by the village hall and a track and was then shuttled over (with Columba!) to the start line on a trolley.  The packet pickup/registration was in a Best Buy parking lot area that was roped off.  My name and city was just written down and I was assigned a bib number.  No age or gender (though the second was hopefully obvious).  There were literally three tents with registration, registration and massage.  Oh, and a stage that was later used for some aerobics-style stretching.

Did I mention there were no bathrooms?  Yep, not one single porta potty.  Luckily, there was a Dunkin Donuts pretty close so me (and about 15 other runners) chose to use that.  I then continued my warmup and ran into (and with) my teammates Dave, Matt, Jesus, Columba and Emma.  We did some drills and strides and headed over to where the race was potentially taking place.  We didn't know what direction the race would start or anything as nothing was marked, so we just kind of hung around.

We got all lined up...and luckily my teammate Mark yelled out that the gator (the golf cart like vehicle, not a real gator) was in the way....turns out the driver was just hanging out waiting for the race to start.  The gun was in the air (to start the race), though, so I'm glad Mark pointed it out as I am pretty sure a lot of us would have run right into the gator!

Off we went....20 minutes past the original start time.  I immediately situated myself with Kathryn (2nd place last year), and my teammates Emma and Columba.  I told myself to just stay with them as long as I could and I might surprise myself.  I looked at my watch at 3:35, as my legs were telling me to stop.  Yep, just over 1/2 mile into the race and I'm ready to drop....didn't seem like it would be a good race.  BUT, I hung in there....if I felt tired on Mile 2 of my 26.2 last weekend and finished the rest, I could finish this stinkin' 5k.

Mile 1--5:42.  Not marked, but my watch beeped and the group looked at their watches.  Not bad.  Emma and Kathryn kept the even pace for the next mile.  At 1.55 (halfway for a 5k), I saw my watch say 8:48 and about screamed with excitement--if I could hold onto this pace, I could run a PR!!!

Mile 2--5:43.  How am I doing this right now??

I started realizing where we were now pretty close to finishing and the course could potentially be short.  I made my game plan and decided to "go" at 2.80.

This would have been great....had the course been accurate.  At 2.80, we made a quick zig zag type turn, during which Columba had to yell out "which way?!?!?" So needless to say, we were all a bit out of it and I didn't take off at 2.80 as planned.  Columba and Kathryn did and I tried to stay with them, but fell just a little short.

Columba and Kathryn finished in what seemed to me (from behind) a photo finish in 17:12/17:13.  I finished just behind in 17:15.  I couldn't believe it.

Photo finish!

...and then I looked at my watch.

3.03miles.  No wonder.  Teammates Matt and Jesus talked with me (and a few other runners that came up to us) about the course...and Matt and I both decided that even with it being short, we PR'd.

I later came home and went to that website and tried to calculate my 5k time.

Turns out 3.03 miles in 17:15 is 5:41 pace... 3.1miles at 5:41 pace is a 17:40.

Previous PR--17:46 set while training for 10ks and 5ks
Current PR--17:40 set one week after a marathon.

Can anyone explain this?  I know I got VERY lucky, but I still just don't get how that's even possible.  I just ran a marathon a week ago....ALL research shows that your body takes 20ish days to fully recover from a marathon.  It had been SEVEN and I PR'd in a 5k.  I am still trying to wrap my head around this, but am elated that something like this could happen.  If anyone has an explanation on how this is possible, I would love to hear it.

SO, overall--GREAT day.  Although, really, anytime you can run with teammates, it's a great day.  I'm very lucky to be part of such an amazing team--these people are just incredible (both at running and in general).  Thanks, teammates, for a great day!!  Here's to many more :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why 2012 really was(is) the best year ever.

Okay, maybe my title isn't meant for everyone.  But for me, 2012 was for sure (and still is!) the best year of my life.  Running wise, I had PR'd in every distance (except the marathon, more on that below), was honored as the Clif Athlete of the Year and even won a marathon.  I married my best friend, moved into an incredible house, and started working in an unbelievable school district.

Well, after the Milwaukee Marathon, I wasn't satisfied.  Yes, I was ELATED to WIN a marathon.  BUT, some people made comments (I never heard them, I was just told about them) that I won with diluted competition.  Okay, true, many of the elite athletes WERE racing Chicago. However, I still had to choose which race to run and got lucky with my decision.  And really, a sub 3-hour marathon isn't anything to poke fun at.  I ran from mile 10 on all by myself, and if you've ever run a marathon solo, you know it's no easy task.

You see, I didn't break my PR, knowing that I was fully capable.  You see, last year when I ran Milwaukee, I tore my hamstring and ran a 2:54:46....this year, I knew I was in better shape so figured I'd just break my PR no problem.

Unfortunately, my IT flared up at mile 17 and I decided to be smart and slow down the pace a bit in hopes of not injuring myself.  It worked, but my goal of setting a PR didn't work.  If I had run a 2:54:45 (yes, just one second faster than my PR), I would have been happy.

So, a few days after our wedding, I signed up for the Indy Monumental Marathon.  I had run the first 13 miles of the marathon course back in 2008 while training for the Memphis Marathon (in December), and REALLY had regretted not finishing it ever since.

Choosing to race Indy was an easy decision, writing out my training wasn't as much.  I just ran when I could after Milwaukee (Sun 10/7) as getting things ready for our wedding (Sat 10/13) was much more important.

I looked at what Coach Cari had me do in between Milwaukee and CIM last year and kind of pieced my own training together.

It worked.

I ended up running a personal best by 1 minute 24 seconds with a 2:53:22 (6:32 pace).  This is how the race unfolded...

Mile 1: 6:04 on my garmin, 6:20 on the race clock... YIKES. SLOW DOWN!!!
Mile 2: 6:39...MUCH better. I've got this.
Mile 3: 6:42...Hmm, why is 6:40 pace feeling like a struggle? Did I try to come back too soon?  Nope. there's my husband cheering for me like crazy and making me smile so big. I've got this.

Mile 4: 6:24... okay, this one felt easy, I can totally do this thing
Mile 5: goal pace. sweet.  I kept telling myself that Ryan devoted 5 hours of his Friday to drive out here (4 hours, plus one for eating) with me to watch me run a marathon. The least I can do in return is not drop out, and hopefully win us some $$.  Dropping out, regardless of how much I hurt, was no longer an option.
Mile 6: 6:31...heck yes, this is perfect and feeling great.
Mile 7: 6:33...I can bust these out all day. AND I'm gaining on the girl in front of me.  what? I'm 5th place girl?  That's $100. I like the sounds of this.
Mile 8: 6:44....umm, woah. I know there was an "incline" in this mile, but a 6:44? I need to focus.  **the 1/2 marathoners left us just before this point, so the race thinned out quite a bit. It was hard for me to get back up with a group. This guy in a blue singlet with arm warmers talked to me a little so I decided he was the guy I'd fall back on if things got tough (so I'd have someone to run with)
Mile 9: 6:31...back on track! Stay focused like Chicago 2009 (in Chicago 2009, I had some guy running with me from 3 through 21, which helped me PR HUGE, so I liked having the guy in the blue singlet with arm warmers nearby...I figured the same situation was about to occur)
Mile 10: 6:28...went through at 1:05 on the clock, 6:30 pace, YES YES YES! Ryan took an AWESOME picture here of me with the clock, but told me he wouldn't see me again until Mile 20... there was no way I could drop out at this point, even if I started feeling bad/fatigued from Milwaukee.

Mile 11: 6:33...just passed the 4th pace girl, 3rd place is in sight, this could be a very good day
Mile 12:'re catching her, just stay calm and relaxed, the race isn't won in the first half. Started to feel a little fatigued, knew it was from Milwaukee, decided not to care.
Mile 13: that Dave Schaefers?! OMG. Dave, why am I running another marathon 4 weeks after I just ran Milwaukee?  Jacqui, go get that girl in front of you, she's fading, c'mon Jac, PUSH.
Mile 14: 6:26...thanks for that little push, Dave:)
Mile 15: 6:33...alright, back into the groove. Blue singlet guy is up with me again, made some comment about my pink arm warmers (something good), so I figured we'd stay together again.  He commented to me, "The race doesn't begin until Mile 20.. you can see this girl in front of you is dying...focus on timing now"  (I had been about 10-20 seconds behind her for the past 5 miles at this point)
Mile 16: 6:40...this is not when the race is won or lost. Stay focused and you'll still PR and still get 3rd place. Time for a gel soon and then Ryan will be at mile 20...get through this.  Blue singlet and arm warmer guy and I pass the girl in front of me at right as 16 turned to 17.
Mile 17: 6:30...back in the 6:30s and feelin' good. YES.  Plus, I'm now in 3rd place which is $500... gotta keep this up.  Almost missed a turn at this point as we hit a water stop and then have to quickly turn....and the volunteer almost didn't tell us!  It was me, blue singlet guy, his friend (white singlet, arm warmer guy) and the girl I had just passed (she was about 3 seconds behind as i had just passed her).  I apologized to my group, who nicely said it was the volunteer that didn't tell us where to go.
Mile 18: 6:34....still feelin' pretty darn good.  Blue singlet guy told me I'm now 5 seconds ahead of the girl.  AND I SAW RYAN AT 18.5!!!!!!!!!! He had Alex (little brother) on speaker phone so I yelled out some nonsense and started to break away a bit more.  We were 7 seconds ahead of the girl going into mile 19.

Mile 19:  6:25....okay, um, this is way off.  (we basically went down an exit ramp, but my watch AND the two guys' watches beeped for the mile split at the top of the exit ramp...and then we still had to curve around to get to the this is where the course became long)  UM, as we hit the off 19mile mark, this girl is now attempting to not only repass me, but also have a conversation with me ("are you from around here?" "No, Illinois, you?" "Oh, Ohio."). Whaaaat??? And then white singlet arm warmer guy asked me if I had raced Huntsville (ironically enough, one of my teammates from college whose blog I follow is actually doing that race!!) as multiple people had cheered "Go Jacqui" for me...I'm sure he was thinking of the phenomenal Jackie Pirtle-Hall, but I was flattered that he thought I was that good :)
Mile 20: 6:34...this is where the race begins.  Get away from this girl now.  You've GOT this.  This is YOUR day.  You dragged your husband out here to watch you ROCK a race, not get beat in the last 10k.  Let's GO.  Blue singlet arm warmer guy and I broke away.
Mile 21: about consistent.  If I can keep this pace, I'm looking at a 2:51...SWEET!
Mile 22: 6:34...well, not bad, but probably a 2:52 at this pace.  Which is still a HUGE PR so YES!!!
Mile 23: 6:34...OMG, Ryan!!!! How happy am I to see the love of my life?! Best "almost done with your marathon" surprise ever!! Ryan told me the girl was fading a bit but to keep up my pace, so I tried my hardest to do so.

Mile 24: 6:33...YES! Ry, I'm SO close to being able to give you a huge hug, I can't even wait!!! A guy in a blue long-sleeve passed me at this point and I went with him for a bit...until we met up with the 1/2 marathoners and had to weave in and out of them (well, technically one lane was for us and one was for them, but they apparently didn't get that memo).
Mile 25:, whaaaaat??? FOCUS, girl. Now is NOT the time to blow up! At this point, a bicycle (race official) came up and brought me in, which was nice because then all of the 1/2 marathoners that were on the wrong part of the course moved over so I could get through.  I also passed a 1/2 marathoner with "this is my first half marathon" on her back, and congratulated her.  The look on her face just about made me break down...she was SO happy to get that encouragement, I wanted to just stop and run her in!!!
Mile 26: 6:32....a little too late, but at least back in the 6:30s.  You are SO close to finishing this thing. And PRing BIG!  Kind of cool that my last mile was what my overall average pace was!
Mile 26.2:  1:38 (6:32 pace)/1:33 (6:04 pace)....YES, YES, YES!!!!!  The reason I have two .2 splits listed is because I split my watch at where the 26.2 actual mileage is.  I knew at 19, when my watch showed 19.3 that it might be a little long.  I finished the course with a 26.51 on my Garmin and a few other people reported similar distances to me...there were a lot of turns, and with the 1/2 marathoners I know it was hard to run the tangents, but I did just want to see what I ran for an exact 26.2 so decided to split my watch.  It would have been a 2:51:51, so that's kinda cool:)

Thanking my blue singlet arm warmer friend (he ran like 8-23 with me!)

I think after having a race like this, my biggest words of wisdom would have to be that running with others truly makes SUCH a difference in a race.  I know there are a lot of times when this isn't possible, but when it is, I will always take advantage of it.  Even if it's the person you're competing against, having SOMEONE there with you really helps you mentally and physically.  For me, when I was running with blue singlet arm warmer guy, the miles just FLEW by!  I'd look up and see the next mile without even realizing it until my watch beeped.

I also am weird (according to Ryan) and "play" certain songs in my head to make time go by faster.  My playlist went like this (and some were randomly thrown in because spectators would be playing them, and the song sounded good enough for me to get it stuck in my head):

Mile 1--let's get it started, black eyed peas
Mile 2, 3--kesha's new one, die young
Mile 4, 5--california girls, katy perry
Mile 6--ghetto superstar (yeah, bringing back the 90s, thanks mister spectator!!!)
Mile 7,8--we found love, rihanna
Mile 9, 10--without you, david guetta/pitbull
Mile 11, 12--california girls, katy perry (they were wide awake, but that's too slow to run to)
Mile 13, 14--we found love, rihanna (got back in my head again)
Mile 15, 16--blend of TSwift as someone was playing her songs
Mile 17,18,19--live while we're young, one direction (hey, it's catchy)
Mile 20,21--train song...hey soul sister, was playing...that's a hard one to get out of your head
Mile 22,23--can't remember these two for the life of me!!!
Mile 24,25,26--locked out of heaven, bruno mars (LOVE the beat!)

On another note, I did frequently think about those unable to run the New York City Marathon this weekend.  Ryan was actually supposed to be out there (PowerBar convention followed by racing); his trip got canceled on Thursday, so he was able to work all day Friday and then come with me to Indy because of it thankfully.  Hopefully all who were supposed to run NYC realize that there are much bigger things happening in that city right now and the people in that city need to recover before being able to host a marathon.  I know that the race being canceled less than 48 hours in advance was a very poor decision (whether political or not), but it was without a doubt the right one.  I sincerely hope that the funds that the marathon received will be used toward relief efforts of those affected by Sandy.  Please keep all of those people in your prayers as the recovery process will be long and they can use all of the help they can get.  Finally, hope all who ran the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k today enjoyed it and got some yummy chocolate at the end.

Hopefully I'll be updating my blog within the next week or so with an exciting announcement for next year... :)

Monday, October 22, 2012


I'm a few weeks late on updating this.  I got a little busy.  After the Milwaukee Marathon on Sunday, October 7th, Ryan and I decided to get married on Saturday, October 13th.  Okay, it might have been planned that way, but regardless, I've been slacking quite a bit on blogging.

This update will just consist of Milwaukee recap, and hopefully I can update on "life after Milwaukee" within the next few days.

I've been trying to think how I wanted to recap this race, but all I could really come up with is my typical "let me take you through the race" that's what I'm going to do.

Ryan was working the Milwaukee Marathon expo, so had been in Milwaukee since Friday.  Mom, Dad, Nic, Lauren (his gf) and I drove up together Saturday morning...after doing wedding stuff, naturally.  We actually wrote out our song list (our wedding invites had lines for guests to write requested songs in on) on the way there and created a list for our band, Modern Day Romeos, to play.  It was a pretty fun drive, minus the construction delay on 12.

There was an Elite Athlete meeting at 12:30....and we arrived at 12:28.  Nice.  In any case, it was good to be at this meeting because they did say the NEW USATF rules allowed Garmin watches.  Too bad I had already decided not to use mine (they weren't allowed last year).  We hung around at the expo to chat with Andres and Mary (Andres was running).  We all said our good-byes to Ryan and left to go to our hotel in Port Washington.  Mom, Dad, Nic, Lauren, Ryan, Andres, Mary and I then ended up going to dinner with some of dad's Hillstriders friends at a cute little pasta place "downtown" Port Washington.  The food was good, the Spotted Cow was delicious, but the company was even better.  We came back and put "Ryan and Jacqui Giuliano 10-13-12" wrappers on our mini-candy bars and went to bed a little after.

Sunday morning just seemed to come too soon.  None of us wanted to be up so early....especially when we checked the weather to see that it was only 35degrees out.  Regardless, we sucked it up, layered up and went on our drive to Grafton High School, where the Milwaukee Marathon begins.  We got there way too early, so decided to go to the bathroom and run a little warmup.  It was finally time to line up and I was anxious to start running.  Mom and Lauren grabbed our sweats and off we went a few short minutes later.

I found myself in a pretty good group for the first 7-8miles.  The first mile was too fast, as I figured, 6:14.  I knew I needed to slow down to 6:30s if I wanted to have a good last 10 miles.

Mile 1--6:14, yikes.
Mile 2--6:19, thought I slowed down more than that.
Mile 3--6:34, that's what I'm talking about.
Mile 4--6:28, let's keep this groove.
Mile 5--6:21, getting anxious, gotta stop.
Mile 6--6:33, good job bringing it back.
Mile 7--6:28, perfect.
Mile 8--6:29, sweet.
Mile 9--6:24, well maybe there was a little downhill...
**it was also at this point that my hamstring tear occurred last year.  It took all I had to focus on NOT thinking about that moment.  Images of last year kept flashing in my mind, but I just told myself I HAD to stay with the guy in front of me.

Mile 10--6:35, the guy in front of me slowed down a little, so I did too.
Mile 11--6:39, that was not a good choice.  He picked it up a lot and I couldn't. Shoot.
Mile 12--6:28, the guy in the orange singlet is gone, but this new two-person pack isn't too bad.
Mile 13--6:36, I remembered this mile just as if I was running it again last year. This is where our pacer dropped and I could see that she and Amber were way off pace--not that I could pick my pace up as my hamstring was torn, but it still made me feel good that I could SEE them ahead of me.
HALF WAY--1:24:55...yep, I'm just gonna run what I did last year. No other girl in site, so I'm okay with that.
Mile 14--6:37--just gotta maintain at this point.
Mile 15--6:39...6:40s is my goal pace, still hanging on
Mile had a lot of sub 6:40s, you can still get this
Mile 17--6:42...good...this is also when I found out RYAN WAS WINNING!!!
Mile 18--6:45...still there, but left IT band is hurting a bit on the downhills. dang.
Mile 19--6:48...okay can't get much slower right now...
Mile 20--6:59...Ryan is no longer winning...but I'm winning by almost a mile...not sure what to think
Mile 21--6:48...well, let's just stay sub-7:00 pace
Mile 22--7:13...I'm told I'm 5 minutes ahead. Goal re-evaluated
Mile 23--7:03...yep, not trying to PR. left IT band feeling as if it's popping
Mile I went down the big hill, I could really feel my left IT band. smart re-evaluated goal
Mile 25--7:09...another confirmation that I just need to maintain this pace
Mile 26--7:06...wooohoooo soooooo close! feeling MUCH better than last year at this point!

TOTAL TIME--2:55:06

At Mile 22, I figured out that if I ran sub 7-minute pace for the last 4.2 miles, I'd still PR from last year (2:54:46).

Did I want to PR?  who doesn't YES
Would I risk injuring my IT bands to PR?  you bet YES
Would it be worth it? NO

So as heartbreaking as it was to see the clock hit 2:54:47, I knew I had made the right decision.

Ryan and I signed up for Milwaukee last year for me to redeem myself from last year.  My training got sidetracked with not finding a teaching job...I had found out I made the Duathlon Worlds team (competing in Nancy, France on 9/22/12), so my goals shifted from running a sub 2:50 marathon to getting speed for the 10k run/40k bike/5k run for Duathlon Worlds.

Near the beginning of August, I found out some PHENOMENAL news: I got a job teaching 7th grade math at Aptakisic Junior High in Buffalo Grove.  This incredible news meant my new focus would be on the marathon again.  Unfortunately, I hadn't been running nearly as much as I should have at this point, so Cari and I decided my goal would be to try to win Milwaukee instead as a 2:55 would do just that these past few years.

If you've read my blog, you probably noticed that I have done exactly one 20 mile run.  Last year, I had at least three 20s and a 22 miler, so I knew this whole marathon thing would be tough.  However, I had signed up as Jacqui Giuliano and wanted to make my almost-husband proud.

I think I did.

Breaking the Lakefront Marathon 2012 tape!

Ryan ended up finishing in third... he had to make a few stops and didn't train at all for this thing.  And he finished third.  I'd say that's pretty good.

Here are a few pictures from during the race...and after...

 Just me and my bike lead person.
The bright orange singlet guy I hung with for awhile... I'm even smiling here!!:)
Taking a pic with Nick big deal. OMG!!!

 Last race together as fiancĂ©'s!!!
 Finisher medal and award winner medal
 Female Open First Place
Check out that sweet last name...:)

Thank you, friends and family, for supporting me in my dreams for, well, forever.  While many people have pointed out that Chicago was "stacked" this year, so I ran with a "weaker" field in Milwaukee, I still find it such an honor to be called a marathon champion.  I cannot believe how lucky I am to have started out our "new life" with such an incredible race.  Thank you again for all of the support and congrats--I truly appreciate it and hope that your season has ended (or will end) well, too!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ready to redeem myself... Milwaukee Marathon 2012

Today was my last workout of this season.  It was bittersweet as I really started enjoying all of the 4:30am workouts (not that I have to stop that, but I just won't be training for a marathon anymore).

This week I had a 20min tempo on Tuesday and a 3miles at Marathon Pace today.  I ran them about the same.  Since they were both early in the morning, I only had my Garmin splitting at every mile to let me know what pace I was running at.  I just went on feel, since Milwaukee doesn't allow GPS watches.  I have to know what pace feels like if I want to have a good race, so I've really been making sure to only look at my Garmin when it splits my mile so I can gauge how close I was to my target pace.

Tuesday I went 6:09 (oops), 6:14, 6:13, xx for 3.25miles total
Thursday I went 6:20, 6:13, 6:14 for the 3miles

I ran the same course both times, but Thursday was after a late afternoon massage by Dave Davis, so I knew I'd be a tad sore.  I was okay with the soreness as it slowed me down and kept the pace a little more honest.

I haven't really told many people that I'm racing Milwaukee.  I used that approach last year as well to kind of keep it low key and pressure free.  I figure now that people are picking up their packets and posting their Chicago bib numbers on Facebook, I could answer the "you're not racing Chicago?" question on my blog.

It's not that I don't like Chicago.  While it is crowded, it sure is nice to run with someone.  I just have some unfinished business at Milwaukee.  After tearing the hamstring at mile 10 and just pushing through it, I want to go and RACE this year.  I want to be SMILING at the finish line because I completed a marathon pain free.

In the end, that's every marathon runner's goal anyway.  So GOOD LUCK to all of my friends and family racing this weekend.  Remember how lucky we all are to have made it healthily to the start line and use that to keep the negative thoughts and pain away.  Sunday is YOUR DAY!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Everyone loves redeeming themselves.  This morning was my chance to redeem myself after cutting my 6x1mile to 5x1mile.  And, boy, did I redeem myself.

Today's workout was 3x3miles at Marathon Pace (6:20ish).  I felt a little sore still last night, even in my arms.  I had been planning on getting my massage from Dave Davis at 2pm, but some wedding stuff came up and I lost that opportunity.  I was pretty upset as those mile repeats destroyed my quads and hamstrings....and lifting demolished my arms/upper body.  Heck, even my CORE was sore!!  This 4:30am wakeup to run thing was NOT sounding appealing.

And then I remembered I had a soccer game after school (PS we won in a shoot out:)), had to buy my dress for my bachelorette party this weekend, had to finish the wedding ceremony programs and had to do some school work all before heading to bed tonight.  Those things made getting out of bed at 4:20 seem logical again.

After a mile warmup, I figured it was go time.  I always do the same loop by Ryan's house (the Target loop, which I'm sure I've referenced before).  Basically it's a 2.88mile loop, so for 3x3miles, it was a pretty good choice.  Coach Cari said to run without my Garmin, but since it was still dark out, I used it and just looked at it when it would split for the mile (since it was dark, I felt kind of disoriented and couldn't remember where the mile splits were since the course is just shy of 3 miles).

I always make the first mile be the "downhill" section, which I, of course, pay for during the last mile, but I at least get a good start!  To recap, this is what I sent to Cari and Earl...

Anyway, I wore my Garmin but only looked at it when it would split a mile since I knew I'd make the route too long (I just needed to add 0.12 each time, but it's 4:30am, I don't know what 0.12 miles is!).  WOW.  Check out my splits.  I am still shocked writing this because I felt DEAD after my 5x1mile the other day.

6:19, 6:09, 6:11
6:06, 6:13, 6:14
6:13, 6:14, 6:11

The great thing was that I didn't even have any hamstring tightness like I did on the treadmill when I did this workout a few weeks ago.  I think I do a good job of maintaining good form when I run so early in the morning because it's just me and no real distractions.  As much as it stinks that I'm ready for bed at 9pm, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my 4:30am runs--just super peaceful and relaxed.  Plus, when I do well on a morning workout, I treat myself to some Dunkin coffee on the way to work;)

I'm still feeling that "high" and think that I really am ready to tackle this marathon thing again.

I do plan on seeing Dave before the marathon as I believe massage is SUCH a good component that aides in recovery.  I think that every runner should experience a TRUE massage (not from one of those foo-foo places/spas) as I really believe I can recover faster when I have massage as part of my running regimen.  Hey, if the elites do it and it helps them out, we might as well try to gain from it too:)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Post Hard Race (semi-failed) Workout

Being a math teacher, I'm pretty good with numbers.  So why this didn't make sense to me earlier when I was getting mad at myself is still a mystery to me.

Today was my first real workout back after my half marathon 10 days ago.  Yeah, I did a fartlek and a "fast finish" 16miler (basically the last 4 miles are faster, like marathon pace), but no real "make me sore and hurt real bad during" kind of workouts.

Today's workout consisted of 6x1mile at 10k pace with 90sec jog recovery.  Based on my 1:20 half, my 10k pace is now 5:57....yeah, that freaked me out a bit too when I read Cari's training.

I knew this would be hard.  I had planned to run it in the morning before school, but was just too tired... plus, we don't have school today (thus this early morning post) as it's Yom Kippur, so soccer was canceled last night which meant I could actually do a workout AFTER school and still be home at a decent hour.  [For those of you who don't know, I live anywhere from 30-75 minutes from my school depending on if I stay with Ryan's parents or my parents and how bad traffic is, so doing my workout at 5:30 when soccer is over has me getting home no earlier than 8pm]

So here I am at LifeTime Athletic in Vernon Hills, which is SUPER nice.  As I'm heading up to my treadmill, I see one of my students, who of course says, "Hi Ms Aubert!" because I teach the best and nicest kids ever:).  Anyway, I find my treadmill, do my warmup 2 miles and drills and turn on some Pandora.  My left earbud dies.  This normally would not be a problem; however, the two guys on the treadmills on my left side are talking politics.

Yeah, you read that right.  Talking politics.  I am not into politics at all so didn't necessarily disagree with them, but OH MY GOSH find something else better to talk about.  I would have rather had them talking about the Packers' bad ref call for the whole time. Ugh.

So I get done with my first mile repeat and immediately switch to a treadmill furthest away from them.  MUCH BETTER.  The guys on either side of me are looking at me like I'm crazy, which is probably true at this point.  The treadmill was set on 10.1 (5:56 pace) the entire time, but by the third repeat, I started feeling fatigued.

I told myself what Earl always tells me, "focus on your form," and the fourth one was better.  The fifth one felt extra long and I could tell my hamstring was really more fatigued than the last two so decided to call it.

It's not smart to get that "last one in" when it could jeopardize my marathon.  Just not worth it.  I looked up the last time I did this workout...and I cut it short by 1 mile again then, too.  The pace wasn't as fast, but it was the hamstring that limited me then as well.  I'd rather err on the side of caution than tear it again, but it is pretty frustrating pulling the plug on a workout early.

I can only hope that all of this is getting me ready to be smart and rock my marathon.  Only time will tell!

Monday, September 17, 2012

(un)Jolly Jacqui = perfect PR? (and lots of unreal pictures)

Saturday, I did not feel like racing.  I semi-tapered and everything.  And by semi-tapered, I mean that I didn't lift quite as much this week.  Instead of doing two days full load, I lifted two days but only 2 sets of 10 for my second day.

I planned all week on waking up ready to go PR big in the 1/2 marathon Saturday morning.  Instead, I woke up feeling sore all over, even in my arms (which generally only stay sore for a day after my lifting sessions).  Picture McKayla Maroney's face, because that's about how I looked walking out to the PowerBar mobile at 5:30am Saturday morning.

We arrived at the race and I helped Ryan set up before doing a simple 5 minute jog warmup with some drills and a single stride.  By then, it was time to race.  We all toed the line and took off.  I told myself I'd start conservatively and work my way down to my goal pace.

By the time we hit mile 1, I was second place overall (one guy, I believe a fellow Saucony Hurricane) with a 6:20 first mile.

I told myself I'd go completely on feel and only look at my watch when the mile split occurred.  As tempting as it was to just glance down, I only allowed myself to look at the time elapsed for each lap (each lap on my watch is one mile).  Most of the time, I looked down to see 4:xx, which was great as I knew it meant I had less than 2 minutes until my next mile split.

Mile 2 was a 6:03, mile 3 a 6:08.  Mile 4 was primarily on crushed limestone, which would normally excite me....except that we were zig-zagging on the path, making what I thought would for sure be a 6:30 mile.  At this point, I told myself a new goal...

"You just ran 6:11 pace in the HyVee triathlon two weeks ago after swimming almost a mile and biking 21.2miles for 25miles.  Just DOUBLE the 10k you did at 6:11 pace and you'll get a huge PR."

I surprised myself with a 6:06.  Mile 5 was looping throughout a neighborhood in a 6:02, which about gave me a hear attack.  Mile 6 was right before the overpass that we went up (and then down) at mile 3.  6:05.  I knew mile 7 would be a bit rough with the overpass, but was excited to glance down and see a 6:17 split.

My legs felt a bit tired from the overpass, so I told myself at mile 8 I could have my gel...6:18.  Yes, I need that gel.  Like now.  I decided to drink half of it at mile 8, go through with a faster mile 9 (which I did, 6:16) and "treat myself" to the rest at mile 10.

Those mental thoughts helped me get my groove back for mile 10...6:11.  At this point, we were mixed in with the 10k runners, so there was a bit of weaving in and out of people (and cars), but a 6:16 was still close to what I wanted, and a time I knew I needed to break 1:22.

Mile 12 was a 6:19, so I KNEW I needed to pick it up if I wanted to be on pace to PR still.  I kept looking and looking for the 6 mile mark for the 10k runners (it was 0.1miles before the 13 mile mark for me), but never found it.  Instead, I saw the clock...

1:20.  I SPRINTED.  I mean all out sprinted.  Ryan said he never saw me run so fast.  My Garmin showed I did the last 0.1 at 4:59 pace!

1:20:58.  6:11 pace.  1:48 PR.  Guess negativity works for me...but only because I turn it into positive energy in my run!

On a semi-related note, Ryan and I had a photo shoot the next day.  While running and biking Ryan's pace probably made me more sore than the 1/2 the day before, it was 100% worth it as the pictures are PHENOMENAL.  Check them out on my/Ryan's profile (and some below):

Both feet off the ground!

Check out this stud. 

This is how our Sunday morning began.

This is what our Sunday morning produced.

Almost keeping up with Ryan!

And finally, CONGRATS to all those who PR'd this weekend.  I know a lot of people rocked their 1/2 or full marathon at the Fox Valley Marathon.  THIS is the time of year I live for--fall marathon season.  GOOD LUCK and STAY POSITIVE :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Importance of Listening to Your Body...even if you're stubborn...

I've learned this lesson too many times.  So many times, in fact, that I was smart this morning and went back to bed.

I've been waking up around 4:30/4:45 most mornings since school started so that I could get my workouts in before school since standing on my feet all day can make for some tired legs (as I'm sure most of you can relate).

This week I've had a lot of students come in to retake their quizzes (they have to have their parent sign it, do the corrections, then come in for a retake), so instead of arriving at school around 7:05/7:10, I've been having to get there before 7 every morning.  Doesn't seem like 5-10minutes is that big of a difference, but Lake Cook Road gets full of delays at specific times.  Why, I'm not sure, but am thinking because of the lights spaced about 5 feet apart from one another.

Anyway, my workout was 3x3miles at marathon pace (which is 6:18-22, or 9.5-9.6 on the treadmill for those treadmill folks).  I woke up at 4:10am and was out the door, starting my warmup at 4:25.  Generally, the first mile of my run is an 8:15-8:20.  Today it was an 8:48.  I knew I was tired going into this, but I just figured it was the 30minutes earlier wakeup that caused it.  I started my workout to see if my legs would respond.  At 1/2 a mile, I was running slower than 6:30 pace.

I threw in the towel and went back to bed.

And guess what???

After teaching, coaching, and a new teacher meeting, I went and did this workout on the treadmill at my school gym (I'm surrounded by busy roads so wouldn't be able to get in a full 3 mile stretch without stopping for at least 5 stoplights).  Even better--the workout ROCKED.

Part of the reason I did the workout on the treadmill is because I will not be using my Garmin for the marathon (USATF rules).  I really wanted to make my body feel the 6:18 pace.  My hamstring did flare up for a few minutes during the second set, but I focused on my form like Earl told me to do when this happens and I felt better than ever on the third and final set.

Funny how the little things like FORM can make such a difference and have such an impact on running.  There are a lot of things we as runners can control, so we really need to take advantage of those things so that when the uncontrollable ones (weather, for example) come up, we are ready and prepared.

As my dad would say

"Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance"
(in case you are wondering how this ties in to the title, if I had gone to bed 30-60minutes earlier as I had planned, my morning attempt might not have suffered. BUT I'm still glad I stuck with my decision to listen to my body)

Speaking of, time for bed to promote recovery....although I don't think I'll need an alarm to wake me up tomorrow:  tomorrow is the ONE MONTH TIL I MARRY RYAN day :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gels are like drugs...let me explain

Alright, I'll be honest here... I've never actually done any drugs before, so the title statement probably isn't accurate.  However, I do know people who have and I have heard what they "experience" and I'm pretty sure I had a similar experience on today's 18miler.

My bff

So I decided to go to church before heading out on this lovely little 18mile adventure.  I figured I'd eat my Cookies'n'Cream PowerBar, go to church, and then go run as to simulate the amount of time I'll be eating my PowerBar before a real race.  Boy, did that work perfectly.

I tried out my *new* Saucony Fastwitch...I know, pretty bold. But, the pink and black that match my uniform were sold out and purple was my grandmother's favorite color, so these are close to my heart now.  Anyway, WOW, were they awesome.  I also wore what I plan to wear for the marathon to truly test out every aspect.

I wasn't expecting to set any records on this run, but I'm pretty sure I finished in my fastest long-run speed ever (besides in a tempo or a race) just based on feel.  The first 5 miles just FLEW by and I left thinking, "I'm almost 1/3 of the way done with this thing!"  I decided to take a gel at mile 10 or 11 because that's where I knew I'd be able to find a garbage can to dispose of the wrapper.  This also happened to be right before my "lake loop" (a 4.4 mile loop around Main Beach/Crystal dad's Hillstriders running club does this loop every Tuesday night in the summer, so I grew up LOVING it).

The next four miles got faster and faster.  Every time I'd look at my watch, I did a reality check as I truly did not think I had just split that time.  The gel was making me run so fast that I felt like how people do when they describe being on drugs.  That was the only relatable thing I could come up with then and even now.

My last seven mile splits (after taking the gel) were 7:07, 7:01, 7:01, 6:58, 6:55, 6:48, 6:45.

I'm just going to throw it out there...PowerBar Gels work.  If you need further proof, look below at my splits.

7:34, 7:19, 7:25, 7:22, 7:12, 7:14, 7:24, 7:14, 7:13, 7:09, 7:06, 7:07, 7:01, 7:01, 6:58, 6:55, 6:48, 6:45.

On another note, as I was finishing my "lake loop," I passed by a runner doing the CL 1/2... HUGE shout out to Megan Hode, who ROCKED her 25th birthday by PRing by 6 freaking minutes. What a STUD!:)

Monday, September 3, 2012

UNreal race--HyVee Triathlon Recap

The past few posts, I've been debating about racing HyVee or not (mainly due to transportation issues).

Let's just say I'm pretty glad I decided to suck it up, ride the Megabus and race.

This weekend was pretty unreal.  I raced out of my mind, truly.  

Race Results. Age Group Hy Vee Triathlon.

The HyVee Triathlon had a bunch of races going on.  First, there was the IronKids race on Saturday.  One of the kids I was lucky enough to "train with" this summer (as in me swimming in the same pool as the kids) got SECOND place!  Hearing that made me pretty excited to do well myself, despite claiming all day that I didn't care how the race went.

Truth be told, I didn't care too much about this race going into it.  Back when I was swimming 3-5times a week in the summer, I cared a lot about this race and really wanted to win it.  Like overall (for the Age Group category).  Then school started and I stopped swimming, and started biking less and running more.  My focus shifted to the marathon and HyVee was just a fun excuse to race on my bike.

Ryan was working the expo (thus my Megabus transportation), so I was on my own without a car and stuck at the expo.  I did some school work until a PowerBar Team Elite member (working the PowerBar booth with Ryan) told me there was a Farmer's Market going on.  Um, you can guess what took priority.  I sampled a bit of wine, ate some local food and fresh produce.  Then I walked the 0.6miles back to the expo.  A few hours later (and after watching the Professional Panels interviews!), I realized I needed the off to Amici's coffee shop I went, another 0.6mile walk.  All in all, I walked about 3 miles, sooooo decided not to workout.  COMPLETELY unlike me, but like I said, I didn't have many expectations coming into this race.

After a PHENOMENAL steak dinner with above mentioned second place kid (and her parents), I came up with a few goals:

1. swim under 30 minutes (yes, I realize that is a joke to a lot of people, but that's HARD for me!!!)
2. bike average 20mph (at the Batavia Du, I averaged 21.2, so even though this race was longer, I felt stronger on the bike now and wanted to prove it)
3. run sub-40, maybe even sub-39minutes, for the 10k
4. break 2:30 for my overall time (a goal that Ryan told me would be hard....but that just gave me MORE motivation)

Race morning, we woke up wondering why we do these thing as per usual.  I put on my tri-tats, packed my stuff and off we went.  The great thing about HyVee is that you get to leave your bike there hassle with it in the morning.  Ryan helped me switch out my wheels and there I sat for about 1.5 hours until my race.

HyVee has four separate races:
-US 5150 Championship race for Elites (requires qualification at prior 5150 race)
-US 5150 Championship race for Age Groupers (requires qualification at prior 5150 race)
-Elite Age Group (must submit proof of a sub-2:30 Olympic distance triathlon for women, 2:15 men)
-Age Group (the category I fell into as I did not meet any above requirements)

I'm not going to lie....I looked up last year's results and was a little upset I couldn't be in the Elite Age Group race.  I was signed up to do the Kansas City 5150 in May, but that was when I banged my knee against the metal door frame and was out of running for 3 weeks.  My own fault, but I was still frustrated.

It was finally my turn to go off in the swim.  This is my new bff that I made--I asked her to help zip my wetsuit and we talked until we went in the water!

It was frustrating swimming.  The Relay teams were the group to go right before us (females 15-34) and I passed a LOT of people.  Yeah, you read that right.  ME, Jacqui Aubert, a NONswimmer, PASSED A LOT OF PEOPLE.  Usually I catch a few of the slower ones from the previous wave, but I easily passed 20 people, even getting kicked by a few and losing my goggles at one point.  There was also a part in the swim where the water was so shallow that my hand scraped the ground, so I had to stand and run through it.  

30:12.  Dang.  SO close to my goal.

Time for the bike.....I was READY for this.  I immediately started passing people and told myself that I would GO with anyone that could pass me.  This held true for quite a few bikers.  In the beginning, one girl and I kept passing each other, but I was getting so annoyed with the constant back and forth that I made a real strong go for it and just surged ahead.  It was the exact motivation I needed.

Off to bike!

I made sure to look at my Garmin at the half way point.  36minutes.  Even if I took 40 minutes to do the second half, 2 minute transition (which would be slow), and ran a 40minute 10k, I would STILL break 2:30.  I was a pretty happy girl upon this discovery.

With about a mile remaining, one girl passed me and yelled something to me (not sure what).  All I could think about was keeping her in my sight and just blowing by her on the run.  Who has the energy to yell something at another competitor during a race?? I was not impressed.  After a quick transition, I was off on the run.

The first two miles were out and back on a split lane bike path.  Aka a crowded bike path.  So, I just weaved in and out of people and was AMAZED to see my Garmin split a 6:12 at the first mile!  Mile two was even better with a 6:02.  At this point Ryan was practically running next to me screaming at me that there was just one girl ahead of me, about 95 seconds.  I knew I had to catch her.  Mile 3 was a 6:03.  I HAD to be gaining!  Sure enough, right before mile 4 (6:07), I caught her and Ryan and his dad's friend Ken thought I had 1st overall Age Group female locked in.  Mile 5 was a 6:08 and mile 6 ended with a 6:20....thanks to a fun (*sarcasm*) giant uphill.  

My 10k overall was a 38:30, which placed me 2nd fastest 10k out of EVERY SINGLE FEMALE (5150 Championships, 5150 Elites, and Age Group Elites).  UNREAL.  

Ryan and me at the finish!

Unfortunately, the race did end with me in the medical tent as a giant rock found its way into one of the "holes" in my shoe (triathlon shoes sometimes have holes in them to drain the water).  Yeah, from mile 3 on, that rock was scraping my foot and I have now popped that lovely blister 4 times since yesterday. But, small price to pay for one of my best races ever!

The scoring for overall finishers included the elites, so I ended up placing 4th overall.  Two Elite females beat me (2:14 and 2:16) and another lady in a later wave beat me just by a minute.  Ryan and Ken obviously weren't able to see these three ladies, so in their minds (and mine), I had won.  

While hearing that was disappointing, it was incredible to see that my bike split was only 2 minutes off the 2nd place girl and 5 minutes off most 5150 Elites.  My bike used to be what held me back BIG TIME and now it's just my swim!  My swim of 30minutes was anywhere from 6-9 minutes off of the 3 ahead of me and also the 5150 Elites.

Guess who's starting Masters Swimming after her wedding?  This girl.  

BUT, until's MARATHON TRAINING TIME!!!!! Woo hoo, my kind of training!  I'll still be incorporating the biking and strength stuff as that's what keeps me (and many others) injury free, but MAN am I excited to be back to 60mile weeks:)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Being busy = success??

Two weeks ago, I had a workout that I did not want to do.  Like at all.  20minute tempo run, 20minute bike at race pace, 20 minute tempo run.  Let me be clear that it wasn't because I didn't think I could do it.  It was moreso because I wasn't sure if I could hold the second run at tempo pace since I was a bit sore from my long run which included intervals three days prior.

Imagine my (lack of) desire to do this same workout now just TWO days after a long run which included intervals.  Yeah, let's just say I didn't jump out of bed ready to workout today.  Instead, I slept in.

In my defense, my heart has been beating really fast lately.  Last Thursday, I was doing my upper body strength and I was as out of breath as I would have been after running a super fast 5k or something.  That's not normal, so I talked with Earl and Ryan and we all think it's due to lack of normal sleep.  I'm used to getting 7-8 hours, and had been getting 6-6.5 with school starting, so I've been in bed before 10 now on school nights.  I'd say it definitely made my workout ROCK tonight...

2mile warmup
20minute run tempo (6:18-22 pace)
20minute bike at race pace
20minute run tempo (6:18-22 pace)
2mile cooldown

Last week, my runs went 6:18/6:13/6:18 (3.2miles) and 6:11/6:15/6:15 (3.25miles)
This week, my runs went 6:11/6:14/6:16 (3.2miles) and 6:11/6:08/6:07 (3.47miles)

I'm going to attribute my much faster workout to three things:

1) my strength training. My body is taking SO well to the exercises and I'm MUCH stronger.
2) my nutrition. I've cut out ALL the crap and feel like I even have more energy. I'm only using GOOD food to fuel myself, and I truly think it's making a difference.
3) Ryan ran the second set with me.  I always get WAY too excited to run with Ryan and I know that comes out in my run.  However, the second set actually felt easier than the first.

While I really think being busy has been helping me get my mind off of hitting certain times/paces for my workouts, a lot of my success in these workouts has been getting proper sleep, eating well and staying on top of injury prevention.  That being said, it's time for bed.

Oh, and HyVee is totally happening.  Just booked the MegaBus ticket.  Say a few prayers (slightly sarcastic, slightly serious).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Importance of Strength Training for Runners (and everyone, really)

This week has been crazy.  In a good way, but crazy.

I started teaching this week, so I knew I'd have to switch up some of my runs so that I could get everything in.  Here's kind of an update on how things looked.

Saturday: ran my 60min tempo that I was supposed to do Tuesday
Sunday: 2hour bike...didn't do the 5 mile run after as we did wine tasting. Yeah, I realize that doesn't make sense at all, but we needed to decide on our wine for our wedding.
Monday: 8miles in the morning, 3miles in the evening + strength, tried on my WEDDING DRESS!
Tuesday: 10miles in the morning before New Teacher Orientation
Wednesday: 2x3miles at Marathon Pace before Institute Day
Thursday: 8miles before the First Day of School, 2miles and strength after
Friday: planned 6miles, 4x200 barefoot strides

My surprise breakfast, Orchid, sweets and incredible card from Ryan for my 1st day of school:)

I still was able to get in my two quality marathon based workouts, but honestly teaching is just SO much more important to me.  I've been wanting a job like what I have for my whole life (well, since I was in 3rd grade, when I decided I wanted to be a teacher).  It is seriously the best job ever.  The school is a junior high and has 7th and 8th graders.  The students are divided into core teams (Language Arts, Science and Social Studies) AND there's a Math team only.  Yeah.  Can you imagine the expression on my face writing this?  A team devoted just to Math.  With teachers that love writing math lessons just as much (if not more) than I do.  I'm in Heaven.  AND, my teammates are awesome.  Well, really everyone that I've met is awesome.  I'm the luckiest girl ever.

So training has kind of taken a bit of a backseat.

My mentor brags about my running (she just started running too!!!), so that's even more motivation for me to get my butt up at 4am to get my run in.  Wednesday's workout was done in the morning primarily because I wanted to get it in as I had no idea how long our Institute Day might be.  I did NOT want to wake up, but decided I'd be more likely to hit good times in the morning than after being in meetings all day, so out I went.

2x3miles at MP recap.
Goal: MP, so 6:18-6:22 pace for 3 miles
Actual: 627, 613, 613/613, 614, 614.  Yikes!
Let's just say I was even happier when I ran this morning with NO soreness.  Yep, none at all.  Crazy, right?

I've been keeping on top of my strength training too as I know (from Earl's guidance) that if I stray just a bit, injury could easily creep up on me.

Strength training is one of the first things, if not the first, that most people drop when they get really busy.  I wish I could stress how important it is to just plan your day better or skip something else rather than skipping strength.  Running uses SO many muscles that having a good strength strength training routine really does prevent injuries.  I don't mean doing squats with a bar of 50lbs on each end.  Just body weight stuff (although if you can do more, do!).  Two or three times a week.  Squats, lunges, calf raises, lateral lunges, hamstring curls and hip lifts.  It literally takes 20-30minutes tops (depending on how many sets you do).

Alright, I'll get off of my soap box.  I'm very lucky that I have people like Earl in my life that make me aware of things (i.e.: do your strength training!!), so I try to pass on the good advice I get via this blog.  Hopefully this opens some eyes and can help prevent some injuries.

I'm still looking into ways to get to Des Moines to race HyVee, so hopefully I'll have a real race recap soon.  Megabus is an option, but if you've been on one before, you are probably scrunching your nose just as much as I am writing this.  Stay tuned...

Friday, August 17, 2012

What happens when you have a really good workout?

...generally, I'd say you'd be sore (to answer my blog title question).

However, today that is not the case.  I thought I'd for sure be sore as my hamstring and calf tightened during my last repeat of my workout yesterday.  While I am extremely happy that I'm not sure, I used all 6 of my miles this morning to ponder why that was the case.

Yesterday I had a 5x1mile workout at 10k pace (I think that's probably 6-6:05 pace) with 90 seconds recovery.  I did it on my typical Target loop that I run on whenever I stay at Ryan's parent's house. It's almost 3 miles, so I figured I'd run the loop twice.

Only read this part if you know Schaumburg, know directions, or care to know my route...
The loop starts off flat at Plum Grove Road and Schaumburg Road for all you people that know directions.  I run on the bike path down Plum Grove Road towards Schaumburg Road and turn right at the stoplight in front of Conant High School.  That part is about 0.7 of a mile.  The next part is kind of fun as it's pretty much all downhill.  By the time I have to cross the street to turn left onto the bike path (this part takes me to Higgins Road before I turn right to follow the bike path), I'm at about 1.4miles.  I follow the bike path around Target and onto Meacham Road until it intersects with Schaumburg Road (at this point, 2.25miles) and then take that all the way back up to the Plum Grove Road intersection.  This part is a LONNNNG uphill.....the same one I got to go down when I hit Conant HS.

So anyway, I knew the first mile would be fast so I focused on form and good downhill running.


Success.  It felt easy the whole time and I kept having to slow myself down.  Just what I wanted.

Second mile starts with a bit of an incline going towards Target.  I always hate this part.


Success again.  By this point, I'm almost heading back up the hill. Boo:(


Still successful as I made sure to focus on my form.  I knew I wouldn't be sub 6 on this one, so chose to focus on something I COULD control, such as my form.


Going back down the hill again.  But, also going up the Target incline.  I call it a flat mile to be fair.


That stupid uphill on Schaumburg Road gets me every time.  Like I said before, I knew this uphill would cause issues for me, so the first time around I made sure to focus on my form.  This time, I panicked.

Wanna know what happens when you panic???

Your form goes to (fill-in-the-blank).

Yeah. It's true.  I freaked out that I wasn't going to hit my time, panicked and my form got sloppy.  This also happened to cause my hamstring and calf (on my right leg, the hamstring that I tore last October running the Milwaukee Marathon) to tighten.

Nothing good ever comes from panicking.  Trust me.

While this workout was successful in terms of hitting my goal pace, it was even more successful in terms of lessons learned and quite honestly, those are the best types of workouts.

I'm still looking for a way to get out to West Des Moines, Iowa for the Hy-Vee Triathlon (Ryan has to work it now so won't be able to wait for me to leave after school on Friday, August 31).  If anyone knows someone or is doing it and wants someone to split gas with and entertain with stories, let me know.   Worst case, I don't do Hy-Vee and instead do one of the thousand races offered in the suburbs that weekend.

I'm not panicking :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brick workout recap: turns out I'm ready!

2mile warmup
20min tempo run
20min bike at race pace
20min hard run
2mile cooldown

2mile warmup
20min tempo run-- 6:18, 6:13, 6:18
20min bike at race pace -- on trainer in hard gear pedaling as if in race
20min hard run -- 6:11, 6:15, 6:15
2mile cooldown

In case you haven't read my other blog posts, it's safe to say tempos are NOT my favorite.  I think a big part of that is because I really have to focus for them and honestly, sometimes when I run I just want to look at the scenery and let my mind go.  When I saw this workout, I moaned.  Okay, I full out freaked out. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

My tempo was faster than what it was supposed to be (oops), so I just told myself that my second run would just have to go on feel.  The bike was on the trainer, but I kept picturing myself racing Powerman Alabama the whole time so that I could really keep focus and go "race pace."

The hard run was surprisingly easy.  The Target loop that I do when I'm at Ryan's has a long decline in that beginning mile, so I knew that'd be fast.  It then goes up a longer incline, so I figured this mile would suffer a bit.  Only 4 seconds, so that was nice....considering I looked down at one point and my watch was at 7:04 pace.  My final mile had the back side of the incline, so again I knew it'd be a tad slow, but another 6:15 made me happy!

Overall, Coach Cari was very happy with this workout as well.  I think it shows how ready I am for Hy-Vee.  I told Cari I can't WAIT to do more marathon specific stuff since I am actually seeing that I'm in decent shape again.

After my workout, I lifted with my arms and legs--another key factor in keeping me injury free thus far (minus my own fault of banging my knee on my door frame in April).  Earl (RMS Physical Therapy) has a basic runner strength program and we added a few specific things for me.  Honestly, if you aren't doing strength stuff, GO SEE EARL!!!!! Especially if you are injury prone or even just having some soreness issues.  He's a runner and a triathlete--he knows his stuff.  I can't tell you how many teammates/friends have told me, "Jacqui, I went to see Earl and am running again! Thank you so much for recommending him."  Whether you are an elite athlete or a recreational jogger, if you have ANY type of issue (or just want to better your running!!), Earl will help you get there.

On another note, yesterday (8/14) was a great day-- two of my friends (a cousin and college friend) got engaged! I've been taking notes on good advice I've either received or have found out on my own throughout these past 6 months, so might blog about that soon. We'll see.

Happy hump day everyone!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Normally, a blog post like "2 MORE MONTHS" might indicate to a reader that there are only two measly months that stand between the blogger and their "big" race.

Not me.

While running is still high on the list, marrying the man of my dreams will always beat it for the top spot on the list.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I've been getting more excited every day to go work on wedding stuff instead of run.  I didn't ever think this would happen, but I am pretty sure of the reason:

I am an overachiever.

When I see that "To Do" list on The Knot (, I can't help but want to put a check mark in the box and watch it disappear, smiling with satisfaction.

So, that being said, this week my running did not suffer.  My biking did, but that's a whole other story.  In fact, my workouts went really well this week.

Monday: 8miles, lift, swam
Tuesday:bike workout followed by an easy 4mile run
Wednesday: easy 6, lift, and classes at school!
Thursday: 6x3min run@5k, 5min bike @race pace, 5min recovery spin. brick workout.
Friday: 6miles, barefoot strides
Saturday: 15miles with Matt, Carter (Ryan's nephew)'s first birthday!!!!!!!!! big party!!!!!!!!
Sunday: supposed to be 3hour ride followed by 5miles....ran 7miles.

Ryan and me at Carter's birthday party!

Since Ryan and I are SO close to being able to finally move into our house, we figured we needed to make our house look presentable as Carter's first birthday party was going to be on Saturday night.  Yes, Ryan and I are next door neighbors to his brother and sister-in-law. So, I realistically should have done a double or two this week to hit my mileage goal of 60miles, but making the house look presentable was about 100 times more important.  This is just the kitchen view as we will show off the WHOLE house once it's complete, but here's a sneak peek at our work...

 Baking cabinets....these will most definitely be getting the most use from me:)
 Our beautiful dinnerwear, glasses, roaster and crock pot. Oh and the signs are adorable:)
Not surprising that this was the first thing we hung up!

It's been a lot of hard work, especially by Ryan, but when we move in, it'll all be worth it.  Our friends and family were very excited to have tours of the house and just couldn't believe how much work we got done, so that made all of the stressing and worrying over smaller details worth it.

This week is the last full week that I'll have off before school starts next week.  I am SO very excited to meet my students and the rest of the staff.  I can't help but "light up the room" when I talk about (or even just think about) my new job.  This year has truly been incredible and I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family to share it with.

I promise my next post will be more entertaining with's crazy not to have a race at all in August, so this blog seems to have turned a bit into teaching/wedding/house related content!  Good luck to all of my fellow teachers starting school this week--let's make this year the best one yet!