Naperville Half Marathon Recap

Time is running away from me! I’m behind on writing up this race recap for my most recent half marathon!

I talked some about it here, mostly just the day and night before the race.  I have now learned that you should not go wedding dress shopping the night before a big race… when you try to sleep your mind is thinking about pretty white dresses rather than letting you to go to bed!

start

I did manage to get some sleep, but morning still came to early. I piled on a bunch of clothes, grabbed my gear and my overnight oats and climbed into the car. I got dropped off near the race and went to finding my running group. One by one we found each other as we hung out in the nearby high school gym AKA warming room for the runners. After one last trip through the port-a-potty line, we got into a start corral.

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After the national anthem, we were off! There was music playing around the start area, and the song was Fireball by Pitbull. Love. That. Song. And all other Pitbull.  It caused me to run-dance for quite a while in the beginning, and then random moments throughout the rest of the race. #noshame

After about a mile or so, I shed my outer layer.  During my first half I learned the wonder of throw away clothes.  Prior to that I thought it was silly, and then I was stuck running the last 8 miles with a zip up tied around my waist. Live and learn.  Before long, we passed the first water stop… two miles down!  We decided against stopping; we weren’t thirsty yet.  By mile three I decided that the first two miles went faster than the third.  It must have been the inital dancing session to Pitbull that distracted me. 😉

race

We started winding through some neighborhoods, and there were people everywhere!  It was a lot of fun to see all the support.  We were checking off miles at a pretty good pace!  Before I knew it, we were almost to mile 7.  I was excited for mile seven because I knew I had some spectators there 🙂 After a quick hug, I continued on.

Then mile 8 happened.  Yikes.  The tired began to happen just before mile 8.  Just enough to know it was there, and that feeling of dread knowing that more tired is coming. Ha!  We had been walking through water stops, but this was the first one where my legs were giving a little resistance to starting again.  About half a mile or so after the water stop we ran on the road that runs next to the prairie path where we had been training!  It felt good to be on home turf (well, next to it), and I got a a burst of energy.

However then there was a hill.  And it just kept going up! And my happiness was going down.  Then someone shouted my name! A fellow runner I know!  Spirits lifted!  If it it isn’t apparent, just before mile 8 to just after mile 10 was a bit of an emotional roller coaster!

We slurpped up some water at the mile 10 water stop and got back to running.  “Just a 5K to go!”  If this makes you feel better, I am happy for you.  This makes me want to go all interrupting starfish on the speaker of this sentence.  5Ks can be hard, too! And generally I don’t do 10 miles as my warm up!

However it was right around here I realized just how fast we were going.  As a side note, if you ever see me running with a scrunched up thinking face, I’m probably trying to do pace math. This was probably happening at this point.

Our group of 4 runners ended up splitting into 2 groups of 2.  The two fasties split off as I continued to try to focus on math and not hwo much my knees and hips were hurting.

Everything after mile 10 blends together a little.  Somewhere in there was a man grilling on the side of the road.  Grilling bacon for runners.  Heck yes I had some bacon!  Was greasy bacon the most effective mid-race fuel?  Um… perhaps not.  But mental fuel? Heck, yes!  It’s bacon!  I think I nibbled on it for at least half a mile, making sure I wasn’t totally going to ruin my stomach with it.

I do remember a glorious downhill.  I was so very excited to run down.  Around said downhill, I realized that a 2:10 MAY be in my grasp and I tried to push it.  I ditched my water belt when I saw my family in an attempted to lighten my load.  (I ruined all of the pictures my mom tried to take – I felt SO BAD.  I’m taking off my belt in all of them!)

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I caught up to my two fasties that took off earlier as we were nearing the finish line.  Then there was an uphill. From maybe 12.8 miles to about 13.0 we had to run up.  Evil.  But I made it up the hill!  And could see the finish!  And I ran as fast as I could, which wasn’t very fast at this point! Haha! I flew across the finish line! YAY I’m done!
finish
Then my legs nearly collapsed.  That’s the sign of a good race, right? I got my medal, and found my family who saw me finish.  And who were all standing there thouroughly impressed that I managed to cut off SIXTEEN MINUTES from my time!  Craziness.
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I found my running mates, we all gloated together, took some pictures and found some food.  I won’t plaster their faces all over the internet though 🙂
At this point, it got pretty cold!  The wind picked up a lot, and I was shivering as I was drinking my post race beer.  But I earned that beer! It was from a local brewery and I knew it was going to be good.
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I still cannot believe I managed to finish this race in 2:11:36.  My previous time was 2:27 and change!  I went from an 11:14/mile pace to a 10:02!  If I wasn’t so excited about that pace, I might be upset I missed 10 minutes by OH TWO!  Guess I’ll have to find another race and try again! 🙂
I’m going to link up with Becky for Treat Yourself Tuesday (racing is always a treat!) as well as Jessica Joy and Jill for the Fit Dish.  The Fit Dish topic for the week is fitness accomplishments, and this PR was a HUGE accomplishment!
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Dresses and a Race

This weekend was PACKED with fun times.
Unfortunately… there is very little photographic evidence of it. Whoops…
However, I was had so much fun, I’m not even that upset there are very few pictures.

Friday the first stop was packet pick up for the race on Sunday, followed by a Chipotle dinner. Yum! Once our bellies were full, we wandered around the mall a little, dreaming about things we want to put on our registry. Eventually we will actually have to pick things instead of just walking around the store pointing at pretty grown up objects like crock pots and silverware.

packet

Saturday morning I went out to breakfast with a friend. We have opposite work schedules, so it’s always a treat to see her. And the two pots of coffee we polished off at the restaurant were a pretty good treat, too 🙂

I headed home after breakfast to wait for my parents to get into town. My mom and I went wedding dress shopping! There are pictures of this, but as the fiancé occasionally makes a stop by the blog, I can’t post them! I didn’t buy one, but I found one that I like A LOT. But this was the first time I tried on dresses, so I want to check out a few other places. I have a feeling I’ll come back to this one though 🙂 Instead of a dress picture, how about this picture of me showing off my ring (like a cheese-ball)?

ring

After dress shopping was pasta for a pre-race dinner! I had shrimp and scallop linguini. It was fantastic. And I only had one sip of my mom’s margarita. Water only otherwise!

I attempted to go to bed at a reasonable hour Saturday night, so I could get up and, ya know, run a half marathon. But all-the-thoughts were running (get it?) through my brain. Laying in bed went something like this.

Go to sleep, self. You need to get up early!
Ugh, so early! It will be dark still!
I bet it will be cold in the dark.
I don’t want to run in the cold.
Why did I sign up for this race again?
Oooo that one dress was really pretty… except for that weird ass bow on it.
I’m cold now! It will be so much worse in the morning… outside.
Gloves! Don’t forget gloves! (I got up… and gave flat Kat gloves)
Do I want white or ivory?
Ivory… but a light ivory?
GARMIN! Don’t forget your Garmin! (I got up… gave flat Kat her Garmin and road ID)
Whew, fiancé would have been annoyed if he had to go home and get the Garmin (again… like last time)
Why can’t I SLEEP?
I reeeeeeally liked that one dress…
I want to tell fiancé about it.
CAN’T! Must. Keep. Secrets!

Clearly it was a long while before I managed to fall asleep.  But I did and morning came, way too early and way too cold.

I put on all my layers, ate my oatmeal, and climbed in the car.  I got dropped off at the race.  I found my running buddies, and before too long, we were off!  I’ll save all the details until later and an actual recap, but I ROCKED IT.   I had vague dreams of a 2:15 race, but I didn’t really put it out into the universe because I wasn’t sure it would happen and didn’t want to be disappointed.  Well IT DID happen… 2:11:36!

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I’m linking up with Becky for Treat Yourself Tuesday as well as Jessica Joy and Jill for the Fit Dish.  The Fit Dish topic for the week is wandering minds during work outs.  My mind was certainly wandering about running… it’s close!

Does your mind take over when you’re trying to sleep?  Mine was out of control!

Friday Five: Inspiration

Happy weekend eve!

This week’s Friday Five hosted by the DC ladies is all about inspiration. Where does your fitness inspiration come from? To be honest, it was a little hard to come up with five! A lot of the items on the list are really related to each other.

1) I’m inspired by goals. Goals to run new distances, or to get a PR. Goals to try something new, which leads to…

2) I’m inspired by new activities and progress. I’m inspired to try new things. Maybe a new class at my gym and to see improvements.  When I can run farther, run faster, lift heavier weights and do more reps, I’m inspired to keep going. To keep pushing myself to run even farther, even faster, lift even heavier weights and do even more reps!

Yoga

3) I am inspired by being outside.  The weather lately has been perfect for running outside.  I love getting to spend time outside soaking in the fresh air, finding new trails and being in the sunshine (or rain, it happens).

4) I’m inspired by people. I joined a group to train for my current half marathon, and it has become a little circle of inspiration. I was inspired to join the group to meet some new like-minded folks, and now I’m inspired by these hard-working people I’ve met. It just goes round and round.

5) Lastly, I’m inspired by chocolate! I know you cannot out train a bad diet, and a few pounds have snuck up on me in the past when I have forgotten and my food has gotten off track. But that can be inspiring in itself to get back on track when you feel blah. But that certainly doesn’t meant that I haven’t earned dessert after 10 mile long runs!

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See what I mean? The goals, new activities and progress are all pretty much related. Setting goals, and seeing progress while working on the goals. Making progress on the new activities/events/classes, setting goals to make improvements. All wrapped up into one!

Thanks to Eat Pray Run, DC, You Signed Up For What and Mar on the Run for hosting! Go on and check out what inspires others and fine some new motivation!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

What inspires you to keep fit?

Friday Five: Race Rituals

It’s Friday!  You know what that means.  Yes, the weekend starts at 5:00pm, but more importantly, the Friday Five link up!  Thanks to the ladies of Eat Pray Run, DC, You Signed Up For What and Mar on the Run for hosting!

This week’s theme…Race Day Rituals. Now I know that some folks are super dedicated to their night before and morning of prep.  I am, too… sometimes.

1)   I always make up some overnight oats in a mason jar the night before a race.  Oats, almond milk, chia seeds and strawberries.   Yum!  When boyfriend runs a race with me, he has even started asking for oats pre-race!

2) I *try* to lay out my outfit the night before a race.  But I’m not always very good at it; sometimes I just can’t be bothered the night before.  Ha!  For my last half we stayed in a hotel, so I laid out my outfit the morning before the race, plugged in my Garmin, and then packed everything.  At the hotel, I laid it out again and… no Garmin.  Shout out to the boyfriend who drove the 45 minutes back to my apartment, grabbed my Garmin and came back to the hotel! However, somehow it took him quite a bit less time to drive there and back than it did when I was in the car with him…

3) The next morning, after getting dressed and grabbing my oats for the road, I do another gear check.  After I ran a race without headphones (boooo…..) and a friend ran a race without a bib (super booooo!!), I stand in the doorway and run through everything I need.  Shoes? Check. Shades? Check. Flipbelt?  Race bib? Phone? Headphones? Check, check, check, check … out the door!

Bib

4)  Arrive at race… Porta-potty.  ‘Nuf said.  If there is a “Race Day Ritual” list without porta potty on it… they’re lying. 🙂 Only once did I have a still-in-line-for-the-loo problem when my corral started.  Stressful!

5) After the race, find water, and then obsessively check race results.  Why aren’t you instant, results?  I crossed the finish line 3 minutes ago, I want to see my time online! Some races this works out for me (like… the gigantic Shamrock Shuffle) others… not so much (every small town race ever).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

What are your race-day essentials?

Friday Five: 5 Things to Love About…

Once again, I’m joining the Friday Five link up with the ladies of Eat Pray Run, DC, You Signed Up For What and Mar on the Run.  This weeks theme… Five Things to Love About *Blank.*  My choice?

Five Things to Love About Running!

1) Fun race locations. Last year there was a new runway opening at Chicago’s O’Hare airport with a race to celebrate. I LOVE all things air travel… planes, air ports and my traditional in-flight tomato juice. I love seeing planes taking off and landing. Dorky? Maybe. But I just had to run that race. Other awesome places I’ve run… Lambeau Field (GO GREEN BAY PACKERS) and US Cellular Field (the Chicago White Sox). There is a race a Miller Park (The Milwaukee Brewers) that is on my future list of races.

This disaster of a picture was taken while running through the player's tunnel at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

This disaster of a picture was taken while running through the player’s tunnel at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

2) New distances = automatic PR. On the 4th of July, they boyfriend and I met up with a friend to run a 4 mile race, “4 on the 4th.” Totally new distance, so anything is a PR! Boyfriend says, “wouldn’t that make it more of a base time?” Hush, you. It’s a PR. No goal going in, but after a while I noticed I was pretty much on pace for 40 minutes. 10:00/mile is pretty good for me, but I knew I’d have to keep at it during the last mile to make it. No slow last mile like I normally end up with. I went around the last corner and… hill. Ha! I had forgotten about the downhill in the beginning. I had to haul a$$ up that mountain, but I made it! 39:47.

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3) Pretty scenery and adventures. New running routes put some new adventure in training, and they can be so pretty! Running on the trails behind my office and I found this adorable little spot.

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4) New friends. In preparation for half number two, I joined a training group! Last time I did most of the training by myself. 12 miles solo? Long! Last night was the first night and my new running buddies and I pounded out just over four miles while chatting and getting to know each other. It’s so fun to know that I get to hang with these lovely ladies for the next three months leading up to our big day.

Running Group #1 

5) Satisfaction and accomplishment. It’s a great feeling watching yourself (and all your running buddies!) improve, finish races, succeed at goals. You get out of running what you put into it and a little hard work can go a long way in making progress. You can do ANYTHING with the right mind set.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

What’s your favorite thing about running?