Sunday, May 19, 2013

More random things I have to tell you

I should possibly stop writing all my posts in random, but I have lots of short little things to say.  I have a few ideas for actual blog posts beyond my rambles, but I only have so much time to sit at Panera and write.  Good news is I am sending my modem in to hopefully get fixed or replaced so I will be back on the blog train soon.

I've added another race to my 2013 season! I'm now an ambassador for the Iron Girl Lake Zurich race on Sunday, June 16.  The race course is very close to work for me and I drive by the park where the race site will be on my to and from work.  It is a very nice area and I'm excited to check out the scenery on the bike during the race.


If you would like to participate use the coupon code "DONTLOOKDOWN" when you register to save $10 on your registration fee.  

Disclosure: As a race ambassador, I am receiving a free entry into the Iron Girl Lake Zurich race. I'm not being compensated for my posts or any of my other work.

I have a funny story for you.  When I turned 25, my dad decided it was time for me to get my own auto insurance.  Yes, I have been sneaking by on my parent's auto insurance for the last few years and I never felt guilty about it.  Having my own insurance is really freaking expensive.  I pay a pretty comparable amount for only me to what my dad is paying for the 3 other members of my family.  Thanks a lot Chicago driving.  Anyways, I got my own insurance and when my new insurance card came in the mail I took it out to the car. I have this little black folder that holds both my registration and insurance so I can easily find it when needed. Well I searched my whole car and could not find that little folder anywhere.  It is normally kept in the center council but I looked in the glove box and under all the seats.  No luck.  After my deer collision last December it took awhile for my car to get repaired and then my dad drove my car for the next month before I was able to make it home again.  He swore up and down that he put that folder back in my car.

After searching and cleaning my apartment, I was convinced it was at my parent's house.  I told my mom that when I found that folder in her house she was going to pay me $20.  She replied that she better find it and burn it before then!

As of last weekend I am $20 richer.  Yup, I found my folder in a pile of papers.  I knew it!!!!

I bought and won a ton of things in April so I thought I would share with you.

I tried a Nuun sampler pack for the first time.  I don't use it much for running, but I really like it on the bike.  I'm not super crazy about the flavors I have but it is better than just drinking regular water all the time.
My all-time favorite gu-Clif Shot Blok gel in Citrus.  I used these for my marathon and I still think they taste like Mountain Dew.
My new shoes that I wore for the marathon.
A handheld water bottle.  I've only used this once but I love it.
A big wall map for a little craft project idea I have.
A few more pairs of my fav double layer socks in fun, bright colors.  And a pair of free Swiftkick socks I got at my local running store.  I love all of these.
The bright blue ball in the middle is a foam ball used for self myofascial release like a foam roller.  I won this from Kim!  It is awesome for targeting smaller areas like my glutes and calf muscles.  Speaking of, I need to make sure I use it tonight.
I won a NuNataturals giveaway from Carly.  I've been using the drops in my coffee and really like them.  The company sent me a booklet of recipes and I'm looking forward to trying out a few of them.
I was super lucky last month.  It always seems like my luck comes in streaks.  Does this happen to anyone else?  And darn, why didn't I buy a lotto ticket!?







Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday Things

1.  Gah! I still don't have internet at home.  I am pretty sure my modem is to blame but I keep forgetting  am too exhausted at the end of the night to remember to get it ready to send in and fixed.  I am all caught up on episodes of Chicago Fire and Hart of Dixie though.

2.  I always knew my friend Laura had my back, but I guess she has my front too.  She ripped this ad out from a magazine just for me.


You probably can't read that so here is what is says
Most bras only support the downward motion of breasts, uncomfortably compressing them into an unsightly "mono boob." This bra, however, features CW-X's patented 5-Point Support Web(tm) in each cup for 360 degrees of variable motion support, because when you run your breasts move in many different directions.Translation: Running is no longer off limits to big-breasted runners. 
If this isn't true friendship, I don't know what is.

3. A few weekends ago, I met Kelly for a run at Busse Woods. She just so happened to have won tickets to the Chicago Wine Riot and offered me one.  I'm not one to turn down wine so I took her up on this offer.  I had an absolute blast. 



4.  However, it turns out there is a reason I don't normally drink and then ride the train back to the suburbs. I decided it would be a great idea to take a nap on the train.  You might already see where this is going.   I woke up right as we were leaving the Arlington Heights station.  Oh crap!  It must have been my lucky day because when I got off at the next station, Arlington Park, the next inbound train was only 5 minutes away.  Score! I figured I would just need to walk back to downtown Arlington Heights which is about a 1.5 mile trip. 

5.  Last Friday, my grandpa celebrated his 93rd birthday.  I feel incredibly blessed to still have him in my life.

6.  Matt and I went to a concert in Iowa City last weekend with some of his college friends.  This was our second time seeing Casey Donahew Band and I thought this time was just as good as the first.  But we missed getting our picture taken with Casey this time and I am very disappointed.  Hanging out with Matt's friends was a blast like always though. 

7.  Speaking of Matt, he is growing a "planting 'stache'".  You don't know what that is? Don't worry, I am confused too.  He claims he is not shaving his mustache until all of his work's planting is done.  I am praying for nice, cooperating weather.  Because have you ever tried to kiss someone with a 'stache? It's really gross.  And it looks really creepy.


8.  I finally used up my Starbucks free birthday drink offer on the last day before it expired.  When I get something for free, I have to get the largest size.  Hence this huge frappuchino.


9.  My coworkers and I have been eating lunch outside since the weather has been so beautiful.  The lilacs and other mystery flowers smelled so good that I picked some for my desk yesterday.  Unfortunately, they were already very droopy by this morning.
 


After I took this picture, I realized how messy my desk was and cleaned it.

10.  I was home last weekend to celebrate Mother's Day with my mom (and for other reasons mentioned above).  Instead of hanging out with me, my parent's had to drive to Ames to move my brother out of his apartment for the summer.  How rude!

Matt and I did spend Saturday night with them at a trivia night.  Surprisingly, Matt and I were both fairly knowledgeable about random facts especially in the categories famous Iowans, Name that Vegetarian, and Bill Nye the Science Guy (general science questions).  I don't know anything about labor history laws though and neither did anyone else in our group. 



Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013 Race Schedule

My home internet is broken and I don't know how to fix it. That means no blog reading and no blogging from the comfort of my own home.  Last night, I tried stealing internet from one of my neighbors and that worked for about 10 minutes.  But it was gruelingly slow.  #fwp

I could just walk over to the rental office and use the wifi there.  But let's be real, I'm lazy at night and that would require me getting up off the couch. So instead I got into work 10 minutes early to finish this post this morning.

Here is what I have planned so far for 2013!

5/19/13 -- Arlington 500 Bike Ride Barrington, IL
6/8-6/9/13 -- Ragnar Relay Madison to Chicago
7/27/13 -- BTN 10k Chicago
7/28/13 -- Venus de Miles 61 mile bike ride Lake County, IL
8/4/13 -- Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon Monticello, IA
8/18/13 -- Pigman Long Course Triathlon (70.3 distance) Palo, IA

Races I'm still looking for:

  • A fall half marathon - I want to go sub 2:00 this year!
  • Another Muddy Monk trail race
  • An Olympic distance triathlon - to prepare for the 70.3 distance

Missing: Ironman Racine 70.3.  Although I had a great experience at Racine last year, I decided to go with a different long distance triathlon this summer.  Ironman branded events come with a hefty price tag and this year the race landed on the same weekend as the Great Jones County Fair which I just cannot allow myself to miss.  The Pigman race I chose instead is much closer to my parent's house so I am hopeful they will be able to spectate.  

That's the plan for now!

Friday, May 3, 2013

May Goals

It's May 2nd.  Yesterday it was 80 degrees.  Today, my Iowa facebook friends posted photos of snow.  4 inches of snow in parts of north central Iowa in fact.  I think these words said it best.

Go home winter, you're  drunk.  

It is hilarious to me.  Actually I just make myself laugh because if I don't, I will cry.  I just want warm weather!

Let's recap April goals.

Goal 1. Nail the rest of marathon training.  CHECK!

I might not have always wanted to, but I got out there for each the runs.  I think I only cut one run short and it was only a mile.  It feels like all my hard work paid off in the marathon too.  Now onto the next training plan.



Goal 2.  Plan 2013 race calendar.  CHECK!

I hope to have my post about this up in the next few days, but I have my big goal race on the calendar for August.

Goal 3. Spring cleaning.  CHECK!

For the most part, I did well.  I cleaned some long neglected corners, but I still haven't gone through my closet.  Also I think it is time to throw away my old magazine collection.  I don't know why I hold onto this stuff!

Now May goals.

Goal 1.  Get into the habit of triathlon training.

I've  been giving myself the week off to recover from the marathon, but starting next week I'm going to pick up with triathlon training.  I don't necessarily need to get every session in to the full duration and intensity right away (I'm jumping in a little late), but I want to get into the groove of 3 sessions of each sport every week.

Goal 2.  Try 3 new recipes.

I've been in a bit of a food rut again and hopefully this will spark some more creativity in the kitchen.

Goal 3. Read 3 books.  

Confession: I have a library problem.  There are 9 books sitting on my kitchen table waiting to be read.  And I haven't even picked up my book club book yet.  Instead of hanging out on the computer all night, I am going to read more before going to bed.  And I will return all those books on time because I am not paying any more library fines.  No more!

That's all.  I need to go to bed.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Illinois Marathon Race Recap

Can I really do this? Can I really run a marathon?

Those were the first thoughts that popped into my head when I woke up before my alarm at 5:15 am on Saturday.  After a rough night's sleep, I was anxious.  All week my thoughts had wavered back and forth between I trained for this, I totally got this and OMG, I'm not ready.  But it isn't like a had a choice because on Saturday, I was running a marathon.

But first, let's rewind a bit.

I took Friday off from work so I could pack for the weekend and run a few errands before heading to Champaign. Since I had Jimmy John's for lunch before my last big race, I decided it would be a good idea to have it again.  In reality, I just wanted one of their pickles and Jimmy John's is delicious.

My friend Laura and I headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and shirts.  The expo wasn't especially large, but we did spent some time walking around and looking at different vendors.  I didn't end up buying anything because I've spent way too much money this month, but it hindsight, I wish I would have bought something to commemorate my first marathon.

Once we got back to Laura's apartment, we headed out for a nice, easy, two-mile run.  After so many long runs in this training cycle, 2 miles flew by.  Laura was my go-to running partner in college and we haven't been able to run together in awhile so it was nice to put some miles in together.

For dinner, Laura prepared a delicious turkey pasta dish along with salad and cheesy bread.  And, as is my tradition, I had one good beer.  Most people probably don't drink any alcohol the night before the race, but I figure one won't hurt and it is mostly carbs anyways.  So why not?  It was a great carbo-loading meal.  We went to bed around 10 and I tried to get a good night's rest before the big day, but as usual, I didn't sleep very well.  I woke up several times and finally called it quits on sleeping 5 minutes prior to my alarm going off.

I got up, got dressed, braided my hair, and pinned on my bib.  I'd been debating most of the week on what to wear for race day.  It's been so chilly this month that I figured I would need to wear long sleeves, but the forecast ended up being a high in the 60s on race day and a temperature of about 48 degrees at the start.  I ended up choosing a tank top with capris and brand-spankin' new arm warmers purchased on Thursday (thanks to the suggestion from Kim).  That whole "nothing new on race day" saying...yeah, I'm really bad at following that advice.  I actually could have done without the arm warmers because I was plenty warm during the race.


Breakfast was a small cup of coffee, two slices of toast, peanut butter, banana and honey.  That's my standard and it works great.  Since Laura lives so close to the race, we didn't leave until 6:15 for a 7 am race.  We still had plenty of time once we got there to hit up the bathrooms, do a little warm-up jog, and drop our bags in gear check.  At about 6:50, I gave a good luck hug to Laura as she headed to corral C and I headed to corral E.  We observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and listened to the national anthem.  I enjoyed the last few minutes of calmness before the start of the race.

Now, a little about time expectations.  Going into the race, I wasn't really sure what to expect from myself as far as finish time goes.  According to the McMillan running calculator, my half marathon PR of 2:00:10 should get me a marathon time of 4:12:54.  That seemed a bit too ambitious for me.  Being my first marathon, I didn't want to be disappointed with any finishing time.  So when people started asking what my goal time was, I just started answering 4:15, even though I didn't think that was going to happen.  I was pretty sure 4:15 would only happen if everything went right on race day and I had an excellent running day.

I had planned to start out with the 4:15 pacer, but come race morning, I couldn't find the group so I just decided to start by myself and see if I could find them later.  My plan was to go out nice and easy and have a conservative first half.  I typically time my runs with my phone, but decided to run without it and without a watch.  I think running without any time would give some people a panic attack, but I actually prefer it this way.  I check my watch way too much and then get disgruntled because time is moving so slowly.

I felt excellent at the start and made sure to focus on keeping it easy.  I found some other runners running at about my pace and just tried to run right behind them.  The crowd on the first half of the course was awesome and I didn't listen to my music at all.  I just took in the energy from all the cheers.  I made sure to grab a cup of water at each aid station.  I realize 60 degrees isn't all that warm, but when 98% of your training runs are in sub-40 degree temperatures, 60 is quite the shock.

I dedicated each 5-mile segment to different people in my life-my mom, dad, brother, grandparents, and Matt.  But decided to run the last 1.2 miles for nobody but myself.  At the beginning of each block, I took a few moments to think about how these people have influenced my life.  Of course, there are many more people I could have dedicated miles to, but I wanted to keep it simple.

My fueling plan was to take half a gel approximately every 2.5 miles starting at mile 7.   I always take gels with water so I just took a gel whenever I hit the closest aid station.  I took gatorade at the stations when I wasn't taking gels, but that ended up like only being 2 or 3 times throughout the race.  Although they provided Gu on the course, I brought my own Clif Shot Gels in Citrus flavor along in my fuel belt.  I didn't train with these (seriously do as I say, not as I do), but did use them in training for my half-Iron last summer.  The flavor reminds me of Mountain Dew and that is why I like them so much.  Please keep in mind that I haven't had any pop in 2013, so if you try these and think they taste nothing like Mtn. Dew, you can blame my lack of Mtn. Dew consumption.

The first half of the race flew by and the spectators were awesome.  I remember the course being a little crowded last year through the park and it was crowded again this year, but I didn't think it was quite as congested.  I did have to take a quick bathroom break before mile 12 due to a crampy stomach, but it didn't give me any problems after that.  I was a little irritated that I had to wait in line, but I probably only lost 90 seconds there.

Right before the split off from the half marathon near mile 12.5-ish, I got passed by the 4:10 pace group.  I was slightly worried I had gone out too fast, but I still felt great.  I don't have splits for each mile, but there were 3 timing mats on the course so I figured out my average pace between each of those mats.

10k: 9:41 avg pace
10k-13.1: 9:56 avg pace

The spectator scene was a lot more sparse on the second half of the course, so I ended up putting my music in to keep me distracted/pumped up.  Around mile 16 or 17, I started running with another woman about my age.  She was keeping a great pace so I decided to run next to her.  Her name was Leaha and this was her second marathon.  She was aiming for 4:15 as well and was trying to beat her time of 4:19 from a few weeks ago at the St. Louis marathon.  I told her I also had my eye on 4:15 but I didn't quite know where I was on my time goal and I hadn't yet seen the 4:15 pace group.  Turns out she had been running with the 4:15 group, but the pacer had to drop out at mile 13.  Leaha also told me that a few weeks before she ran her first marathon, she found out she was pregnant.  I was and still am so impressed.  It was nice to run and chat with  her for a few miles.  She definitely kept me going strong through those miles and they flew by.  I ended up losing her around the mile 21 aid station when I took a walk break to eat an orange.

13.1-20 mile: 9:51 avg pace

I kept her in my sights for the next 2 miles and tried to make up the difference between us but she was running strong and I never caught back up.  At mile 23, I really started to hit the wall.  This kind of mileage was all new territory for me and I was worn down.  My pace slowed and I had to take a few more walk breaks.  Up until that point, I had only been walking through water/aid stations a bit to drink.

Mile 24 seemed like a never-ending hill.  Granted, Champaign is very flat and I did some long runs in Cascade so I am trained on hills.  This hill was not very steep, but it went on forever.  My legs were tired and I was not having it.

I knew there would come a point in the race where I really just wanted to quit.  This was that point.  My whole body hurt.  My feet were tired and my legs were tired.  When I started walking, I knew that 4:15 slipped away.  I thought 4:20 was still in my reach and pushed myself to run again.  I continued to run/walk most of mile 24.  At an aid station at mile 25, I took a short break to grab a drink of water.  Another runner was right beside me and he encouraged me to start running with him again.  We slowly started making our way to the next mile and I told him how bad my feet hurt.  After about 5 minutes, he dropped back but told me to stay strong.

At this point, I told myself I wasn't walking again.  I could run all the way to the finish.  I was passing a lot of people and I drew my strength from that.  It wasn't a fast pace run but I would guess that I was running about 10 min/mile at this point.  

The faster I run, the sooner I can be done.  I powered on.  I saw Laura's boyfriend along the sidelines and waved at him and I realized she might still be on the course.

The stadium (with the finish line) was in my sights now.  It looked so close and so far away at the same time. Keep running.  The spectators really kept me going at this point.  They were cheering and calling my name.  One spectator looked at me and said, "Alyssa, you got this. Keep going. Stay strong." I can only imagine how my face looked at this point.  I wanted to cry.

I hit mile 26 and new the finish line was just around the corner.  We went around a corner and down a small hill and turned into the stadium.  I passed another group of people and was giving it everything I had left.  The finish line was at the 50-yard line and I "sprinted" to it.

Last 10k: 10:40 avg pace

There is nothing like that feeling of crossing the finish line.  All the hard work you've put in over the last months, the pain of the race, the hurt--for a few moments you can forget about all that.  I had just run a marathon.  It's hard to not get emotional and I shed a few tears.


Illinois Marathon
April 27, 2013, 7 am
Champaign, IL
Time: 4:22:33
Pace: 10:01

I made my way to get my medal and pick up a bottle of water.  I was so thirsty.  I wanted to sit down, but I knew if I did I would not be able to get back up so I kept walking.  Laura and I had agreed to meet on the field so I wanted around and about 5 minutes later I saw her.  We did it! She, however, did not take my advice and sat down.


I spotted Erin in the crowd and hobbled over to talk to her.  This was her 4th marathon! It wasn't an easy race for her either, but she did awesome!

We eventually made our way up the stairs to get our post-race food and our free beer! It usually takes a while for me to be hungry again after a tough run, but within a half hour I needed food.  The bread rolls they had were absolutely amazing.

How do I feel now?

I'm starting to feel a lot better.  The first few days this week, I was exhausted every day and kind of emotional.  My legs were super tight and walking down stairs took a lot of concentration.  Another weird effect, swollen feet and legs.  Check out my cankles.


Yesterday, I wore compression socks to work and that seemed to help a bit.  Even though I thought I Body Glided every part of my normal chafe zones, I still have some spots.  Including on my back from my sports bra--that was a new one for me.  My feet look pretty good save for a blister on each of my big toes, but I think all my toe nails will stay on.  

Final thoughts:

Even though I didn't hit my "goal" time, I am still very pleased with my time.  I ran a very smart race.  I didn't push too hard at the beginning and felt great for a lot of the race.  I do wish I would have walked less in miles 23-25 but I feel like I gave it my all.

Would I run a marathon again? At this point, I can't say.  I always want to run more races to improve my time, but training for a marathon takes a lot of time and I had to make sacrifices along the way.  I guess we will see.

The Illinois Marathon is an excellently executed race.  The spectators were a little thin on the second half of the race, but the ones I did see were awesome.  And as always, the volunteers were amazing.  I will be back next year for one race or another.

You can check out some of my race photos here!

I am a marathoner!
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