Friday, October 18, 2013

Done. And. Done.

Back in June, I signed up for a 70.3 triathlon in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I was right in the middle of training for Barb's, probably in my peak fitness for the year, hopped up on endorphins and post-workout recovery shakes. The organization was basically giving entries away, and I couldn't pass up a $75 entry fee. Plus it would be a good redemption race if Barb's didn't go well. My parents also live in Phoenix, so bada-bing, badda-boom - killing two birds with one stone (triathlon and visit).

Barb's went great! So, heading into marathon training, I kept up with at least one bike and at least one swim per week, mostly for my sanity, but also thinking I might do this late-season triathlon. It started to occur to me that this marathon might be my last serious event for the year.

After Chicago, it is clear. I'm done. My official "season" has ended, and there is no reason to do a half Ironman distance event in November. No. Freakin'. Way. So, I'm going to hang up my wet suit, allow my Garmin collect some dust, and use less laundry detergent over the next couple of months.


This is not to say I won't be training through the winter, I just won't focus my attention to any major events, milestones, etc. My dream of doing core workouts until I have rock hard abs this winter is probably not a reality either. It never is.

After the past two years of longer events, I decided that 2014 would be the Year of the Short Course Triathlon! I am still getting a little faster, so I might as well use this momentum to answer the question, "How fast can I get?" before my body begins to slow down. Part of this goal was also to qualify for USAT (USA Triathlon) Olympic Age Group National Championships in 2014. I actually qualified for 2013, but I dismissed it like one of those "Who's Who Among American... blah blah blah" books in which your name is listed so you'll buy a stupid overly-priced book with thousands of names printed in it. Turns out, USAT Nationals is kind of cool, it's a PR-worthy course, you get to see a bunch of pros, hang out in Milwaukee, drink beer after - and I missed it.

Since I age up on December 31st to the 35-39 age group, Nationals seemed like a good goal for 2014. Plus, 35-39 year old women are beasts, so I'd have to train smart and really bring my A game.

As it turns out, my 3rd place finish at Pacific Grove qualified me for 2014!


So, now what's my big goal for next year?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chicago in Pictures

Welcome to the Expo. It was like an Expo. Very large. Lots of people sampling Powerbar. Race Expos are like Ikea; I can never find my way out. I've given up and now just resort to asking directions to the closest exit.
Running with Kenyans. Because the real thing would never actually happen.
Running Buddy and me. Some friendly Wisconsin-ites took this picture for us.
We took an architectural boat tour of the city. The skyline has changed so much since I was last there.
See, totally different. (Circa 1998)
Here's the information my Nike app had for the marathon. Unfortunately it won't give me mile splits. It would be good to know where I totally lost it, but alas. I finished.
Post race in Grant Park

The next day our results were posted in the Chicago Sun Times, and we went to Lincoln Park for brunch. This is my running buddy with her flight of French toast. This Batter and Berries restaurant in Lincoln Park was the

Chicken and waffles made me late to the airport for my flight home.

I sat next to some more Wisconsin-ites and their yappy dogs at the airport. I was glad they were not on my flight. Seattle, beware of Nancy and Tom Johnson and their dogs Lady Bug and whatever the other one's name was.
A new pair of running shoes await my return to running in a week or so.
 I had a race day red pedicure for the marathon. Possibly the last picture of my toes with all of the nails. Goodbye long toe toenail! See you next spring!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chicago Fun Facts (Marathon Recap)

The Four "F"s
According to the architectural city boat tour guide, there are four stars on the Chicago flag, each of which represents an important event in Chicago history. 1) The building of Fort Dearborn (Which was built to fight Native Americans, and was burned down later by Native Americans), 2.) The Chicago Fire of 1871 (Which was wrongly blamed on a cow.), 3.) Worlds Fair 1893, 4.) Worlds Fair 1933.

Sears, ahem, Willis Tower
When I was growing up in Illinois, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world. The now Willis Tower is only the 11th tallest building in the world, and I can never seem to remember it's new name. The only thing I can think of is, "What you talkin' about Willis?" but my guess is that Gary Coleman has nothing to do with the renaming of this landmark.

In The Hipster Hood
Chicago has really awesome neighborhoods that need to be further explored. Wicker Park was lovely, and I hear Logan Square is where you can hang out with some hipsters. I thought hipsters were a San Francisco phenomenon, but I guess I was mistaken. Hipsters are everywhere, and they are still younger and cooler than me (apparently).

Oh Deer!
The night before the race, my running buddy and I ate at an Italian restaurant in Wicker Park for the pre-race carbo-load. We both ordered a polenta, which was poured onto a marble slab to harden, before it was smothered in yummy sauce. My sauce of choice - venison bolognese. That's right. When in the Midwest, eat something Midwestern! Bambi's mother was delicious. (Sorry veg friends.)

Going The (Extra) Mile
I forgot my Garmin for the race, and ended up using the Nike Running App on my iPhone. The app calculated my run to be 27.3 miles. Yes, almost a whole additional mile. Now, these apps are not perfect. I've known people who went for a little swim and their device recorded their swim to be 3x around the earth, but I have a feeling I could have cut a few more corners and saved myself a good 8 minutes. Also, it would be nice to know my mile splits, but it doesn't calculate those, so all I know is my best mile was 7:16 (wow!), and my slowest 10:14 (ouch!). I think I can guess which miles those were...

Chicago Playlist Regrets
My Chicago music mix was fine, but honestly I felt like I missed out on some of the experience. The great thing about this big city race is the excitement of the fans along the race course. It was/could have been more amazing. So many people cheering! I don't think I'll use my iPod again for a race.

Chicago Is More Gay Than San Francisco
I've now run races through Castro and Boystown (the gay neighborhoods of San Francisco and Chicago), and it is clear - Chicago totally out-gayed San Francisco. Their aid station was the best the best one on the course; it was themed "marriage" and they had a barrage of people in wedding attire, drag cheerleaders, and gay members of the marine corp performing a rifle routine. I expect better of you next time, San Francisco!

Best signs
"Don't pants the poop!"
"Don't poop (out)!"
"You run better than our Government"

Worst signs
"Hey Kenyan, you only beat my husband, because I let you." (Yep, doubt it.)
"The Kenyans are already drinking beer." (I doubt they drink much beer, which may be part of the reason they run so fast.)
"Smile if you aren't wearing any underwear." (Ok, it was funny at mile 1, but not so much the 10th time at mile 21.)

She Don't Use Jelly
I've never seen so much Vaseline on a race course. Granted, I've only run one other marathon. But, at the aid station you could readily get some lubricant as easily as a cup of Gatorade. These kind souls of volunteers held out cardboard with slabs, or sticks with gobs of Vaseline so it was easily accessible for those who "felt the burn" in those last 10 miles. Kind of gross. I was glad to be well lubricated. Oh, I'm sorry. TMI?

Negative Self Talk, Then Euphoria
At mile 22 I pretty much wanted to stop. I hated running. I think I started talking to myself out loud, berating myself, "How could you do this? You are not ready!" I probably had about 30 minutes of negative self talk after the race, and I almost passed out while waiting in the ridonkulously long gear check line. A nice guy helped me to put some ice on my neck, and the feeling passed. The next morning, although sore, I was like, "So, when is the next race?"

Post-Race Beer, etc.
They serve beer in the finishing shoot, like, right after you finish. The last thing I wanted 5 minutes after crossing the finish line was a beer. Maybe 45 minutes later. Also, they call the after-party the 27th Mile Post-Race Party for a reason. We must have walked a mile to Buckingham Fountain. So tired. (No, this is not the reason for the extra mile on the running app.)

Personal Record
I beat my marathon best by 10 minutes and 17 seconds.

8,544th place out of 40,230 runners? I'll take it.

Race Injury
For the first time in my running history, I may be losing a toe nail. Although ugly, I feel this is somewhat a badge of honor. Thank goodness it's close-toe shoe season.

Santa Clara in Chicago
I saw two people from my days at Santa Clara University. First, Chad Eschman, soon-to-be-famous playwright who just had a show performed on Broadway. Also, John Sabine, who happened to be performing in the Second City Show I was watching! Blast from the past.

Lincoln Park = Late
My running buddy and I traveled way out to Lincoln Park for brunch, and waited in line before devouring (my) chicken and waffle and (running buddy's) flight of french toast. This place was worth it. I missed my flight too. Yep, missed my flight for chicken and waffles. Can't say that has happened before.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Anxiety of slowing down.

Taper week, and I'm anxious. Again. This always happens right before, and right after a big event. What's more - after November I have very little on my calendar. There is an overwhelming, lingering sense of, "OMG! WTF am I going to do all winter??" which rapidly turns into the deeper question of, "WTF am I doing with my life?"

Yep, it's that strange. And I've been told that it is also normal. Here are some other questions that are making me anxious lately:

Chicago Marathon: Am I ready?
I damn well should be. I did the 20 mile training runs!

Will American Airlines make me late for the marathon?
This could happen. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned the specific airline. Now I am jinxed. Great.

What do people do when they are not training? I'm so bored.
This week's training plan is 8 miles. Total. Then what am I going to do? I guess I could read or something. I always have half-read books on my nightstand: Catching Fire, The Alcatraz Swimmer's ManualChi Running (always good to review), oh and Malcolm Gladwell's new book is out! Now if I could only sit long enough to read without falling asleep, we'd be in business! (How did I ever get through graduate school?)

Why am I so damned hungry?
I am doing less it seems, but eating more. Why is that? I ate an extra breakfast burrito this morning. (They are small, but still.)

Is my skin getting old and wrinkly? 
Trying out a new cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Does any of this stuff really work, or should I just wash my face with soap and call it a day?

How will I afford new running shoes when my car insurance premium just went up?
Remember to heed the 10-second rule, even in stop-and-go traffic, even when people get in front of you. Hope the person in front of you is doing it too. Rear-ending someone is not fun.

How much money did I spend on triathlon-related stuff this year?
I've been fighting off the urge to add it up, because it might make me crazy.

Why don't humans hibernate like other animals?
I think we are really missing out on something here.

No more daylight?
I wake up. It's dark. Soon, I will leave work after dark too. Sigh.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chicago Marathon Playlist

Loading my iPod with new "Chicago Inspired" tunes for the marathon next weekend! I have 4.1 hours of music to listen to, so let's hope I finish the marathon before my play list runs out.

I tried to find the most upbeat music, with different genres represented. You will not see anything by the popular Chicago band Fallout Boy because I think their music is terrible. And you will see that, despite my love for Kanye West's music (not Kanye himself), none of his new album made it on the play list either. Musicals are great, but again, not great for a running soundtrack, imho.

Enjoy this random sampling of tunes. If you have other ideas, lemme know!

1, 2, 3, 4 - Plain White T's

1979 - Smashing Pumpkins

25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago

Amazing - Kanye West

Battle Scars - Lupe Fiasco

Chicago - Sufjan Stevens

Chicago - Frank Sinatra

Don't Look Back - Boston
In the back of my mind, Boston is always there. In more ways than one.

Extraordinary - Liz Phair

Homecoming - Kanye West w/ Chris Martin

I believe I can fly - R. Kelly

In the Kitchen - Umphrey's McGee

Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters

My Kind of Town - Frank Sinatra

Never Know - Wilco

The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace

Renegade - Styx

Seether - Veruca Salt

September - Earth, Wind and Fire

Show Goes On - Lupe Fiasco

Superfly - Curtis Mayfield

Superbowl Shuffle - 1984 Superbowl Champion Chicago Bears

Surrender - Cheap Trick

Sweet Home Chicago - Eric Clapton

Sweet Home Chicago - from Blues Brothers

Today - Smashing Pumpkins