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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Half Marathon Training: Weeks 13 and 14

Two weeks left!  I’m excited for the race to get here, and excited to sleep in on a Saturday once training is over.  Oops… did I just say that out loud?

Tuesday of week 13 I used the Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout app to get in a quick sweat session.  It may be only 7 minutes, but it sure gets your heart pumping!

7Minutes

Wednesday was the usual group run, but it was a little tough this week.  It had rained all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so it was pretty humid.  My lungs were feeling it, and my legs were pretty tired too.  We got through six miles though, and it wasn’t a too awful pace.

Thursday after work before dinner, I decided to go for a walk.  No destination, just around a few blocks.  It was full of pretty fall leaves! Love it.

leaves

Saturday morning I was prepared to run 12 miles, but when I got there it had been changed to 11.  Woo hoo!  We were on track to run 13 miles for our longest run before the taper, which seemed a bit much to me, so I was fine with the drop to do 11 two weeks in a row and then 12 as the longest.  The weather was a little nuts.  I had eventually decided on a t-shirt, which I ended up regretting when it started raining.  Blech.  The last few miles were ROUGH.  Which was later explained by final pace: 10:03! WHAT?! I do NOT run that fast, especially for that far! Except for the fact that I did!  I got a little teary at the accomplishment, but sssshhhhh.

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I then rewarded myself with this kind of afternoon:

fb11Sunday evening I did a little at home arm work out.  I did this Sexy Shoulder Workout from Erin over at The Almond Eater.  The squat / overhead press?  Love.  Fits in with my squat challenge slash operation-fix-the-knee-pain.  It adds some new variety to squats, and works shoulders.  Excellent.

Going into week 14, we’re getting down to crunch time.  There’s been a few weeks where I’ve only gotten in two runs, rather than the three I would prefer.  This is due to a combination of 1) being a bum, and 2) blisters and knee pain.   More like using the blisters and knee pain to rationalize being a bum.  Running with the group on Wednesdays has been longer runs during the week than I’m used to; my body wasn’t doing well with running 6/7/8 miles on a Wednesday and then 10+ on Saturday.  That wasn’t enough recovery time, so I decided to do similar mileage this week, but spacing it out to three runs rather than two.

I was sitting at my desk on Monday being impressed with the superstar pace from Saturday’s long run.  The thought jumped into my head that if I’ve gotten so much faster recently, that maybe I could break my 5K PR.  If I can run 11 miles at just over a 10 minute pace, maybe I could beat the 5K at a 9:20 pace.  I set it two years ago, and it was kind of a freak accident.  I talked briefly about it here.  Well, I don’t have any 5Ks coming up due to no-free-weekends-ever, so I decided that I’d try to break it after work.  Nothing like 4 hours of preparation.  Anywho, Monday at work kinda sucked, so I was grouchy when I set off on the trail, and busted out an 8:34 mile. WOAH too fast, though that’s probably a 1 mile record.  So the next mile was about a 9:51 trying to recover.  I was doing math and figured out what I would need to hold my pace at to get under 28:59 for my 5K.  Well I ran, and it hurt, but I did it!  Yeah, I know it’s unofficial, but I’m not too concerned, I just wanted to know if I could do it! Next time, I’ll go for more even splits!

5kPR

Tuesday was a weights day at the gym with the boyfriend.  Productivity + my favorite person?  Not a bad evening.  Judging by the pain (in a good way) in my arms the next day, we had a pretty good work out too.

Wednesday I did my second 5K of the week.  I tried a new route, got creeped out in the woods, went back the way I came instead of completing my planned circle… I need to stop watching so much TV.  Still got in the three miles, even if the Garmin map looks like I am crazy.

I took Thursday and Friday off in preparation of Saturday’s final long run before the taper (YAY! Taper).  Got to give my knees and blisters a rest before 12 miles!  Saturday’s run ended up being pretty warm out.  I wasn’t properly hydrated, and I didn’t sleep very well the night before so it was a bit rough.  My knees ended up being OK, but my hips were killing me.  I just can’t win.  Regardless, finished!  It’s taper time!

12MInstaI’ve been happy with how this training has been going, but I’ll be glad when it’s over!  I’m getting tired!

 

Half Marathon Training: Weeks 9 and 10

Half marathon training is plugging along! Six weeks to go!
When we left off at week 8, I had big plans for week nine!

I am join yesterday’s Fit Dish link up with Jessica Joy at The Fit Switch and Nicole at The Fit Pepper!  Go check it out!

My running group meets on Wednesdays, but a running buddy couldn’t make it that week so we met up after work on Monday to get a run in. We ran 5.5 miles around my work. I haven’t run that far leaving from work before, so we ventured into uncharted territory. Our scenery turned out to be some biiiiig houses. I decided for the sake of not-being-a-creeper, I wouldn’t plaster pictures of strangers’ houses all over the internet, but seriously. Mansions.

Tuesday I had every intention of running with a friend, and then going to get wine and dinner with her. Wellllll, we went straight to the wine and food. Worth it.

Pinstripes

By Wednesday I was having a crazy week and for mental health’s sake as well as knee’s health’s sake I skipped out on group running and had a night in to myself. It was seriously needed. A run may have helped the stressfulness of the week, unfortunately the nearly 2 hours of driving involved to get to the group (thanks rush hour) do not help the stress.

Thursday I made up for it, and ran somewhere between 4 and 5 miles around work. Ever pause your Garmin at a stoplight and then forget to start it again? Yeah, that’s the “between 4 and 5 miles” bit. I went yet another route this time and found this crazy building. I tend to get distracted by shiny things and paths I haven’t been on before. I knew the general idea of where this path went, but then there was a fork that I didn’t know existed. I just had to take it; I can’t help it. 🙂

PeabodyEstate

Saturday’s long run started out OK, then the whole knees-hurting-business. Ugh. This was a run that may have turned into a walk if it weren’t for my running buddy. I was encouraged along by renditions of Shakira and Meghan Trainor. (Love)

Monday of week 10 started off with a after work walk with boyfriend. Mondays can be dumb, and getting to be outside and just chat with him improved the Monday-ness.

For Wednesday’s run, some of the group was doing 8. Now I don’t know about that came about. It seems to me that if the previous week’s long run was 9, we don’t need to be doing 8 on a week day. Not when I have to do 10 coming up! This seems a little high, for my liking and my knees liking, so we knocked it down to six. My knees were over it by mile 4, so I’m glad that wasn’t the half-way point!  It was pretty dark by the time we were done, so I was OK with that choice.  I did get to try out my new shoe lights!

DarkShoe

Thursday I went to the gym! I haven’t been there in a while. Like… over a month. It’s been too nice outside! We did an arms work out, and let me tell you did I feel it the next day. I gotta go to the gym more often!

I mentioned last time that Saturday’s long run was 10 miles. Always feels good to get a double digit run under your belt!  For the most part, it was pretty uneventful.  It was oddly humid, which made it a bit of a struggle, and there were certainly times that I wanted to lay down and take a nap.  My knees held out for 4 or 5 miles before they started hurting.  I was tired afterwards!  And I had a full day of travel and fun for the rest of the day, and I was only a little loopy from being tired with no nap!

We are getting closer to to the end of training and I’m getting excited! Six weeks to go!

Half Marathon Training: Weeks 7 and 8

Half Marathon training is plugging along. Just under two months to go!  Here’s the first month, and Weeks 5 and 6!

To go along with this recap, I am going to link up with Jessica Joy at The Fit Switch and Nicole at The Fit Pepper for their first The Fit Dish Link Up!  So Exciting!

Week 7 kicked off Labor Day, which meant the long weekend was filled with lots of yummy food and drink. Back at it on Tuesday though, with a few miles up and down a hill by my apartment.

Wednesday with the group we ran “one loop” of our trail, which rounds out at 5.5 miles. This was the same distance we had run for the long run the Saturday prior. The time on Wednesday was about 20 seconds different from the Saturday prior. I was impressed with our consistency!

Saturday’s long run I was hurting a little for. Just under 7 miles, and my knees and hips were bugging me (not good). Luckily I had a big day of nada planned after the run. I did a little shopping, and a lot of relaxing. Excellent recuperation!

Week 8 of the training plan was a disaster of a week at work. Not really an excuse not to work out, but it is what it is.

Wednesday rolled around and I hadn’t worked out yet. When I left for work the weather was AWFUL. All day long it was beyond dark, gloomy and just gross. I was so excited that I didn’t have to go run! HA, says the weather and it got sunny and beautiful about an hour before I was supposed to leave work. Go figure. So I hauled my bum over to go run and, go figure, I had a good time. Imagine that. A few miles in there was this cloud, though. It was not gradual at all, just a cliff of cloud. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t take my phone in preparation for downpour. It started misting and it got pretty dark, but that’s all it did was mist. I was worried we were going to get whipped off to Oz! Can you click your Saucony’s to get back home? Anyway, it was a pretty good run. It was so much cooler than it had been, and we were flying! We ran six miles in one minute more than we had been running 5.5. Woo! Improvement! (Or cooler weather, either way). I was hurting again, and iced my knee when I got home. Only one though, I only had one ice pack in the freezer. The rest of the week my other knee has been hurting. I don’t know if it is hurting just because (it does that sometimes) or if it really could have used some ice too…

Saturday’s long run was COLD.  I was not prepared for 42 degrees! The first few miles were less than fun, but after two miles or so, I got the feeling back in my fingers and powered through 8 miles.

8 miles

I felt pretty good; eight miles is the longest I’ve run since my last half marathon in May.  The knees though… I need to figure out what to do about the pain in the knees.  latte

These two weeks were OK. The quantity of runs was meh, but the quality of the runs was pretty good. Week 9 though, this girl has plans! A running buddy can’t make it to the group on Wednesday, so we got together on  today .  Then I have a run-then-wine date with another friend on Tuesday. Wednesday and Saturday, group runs as usual. Excited!

Half marathon Training: Weeks 5 and 6

Last time I recapped the first month of my half marathon training, but now I’m hoping to break it into two week segments.

Week 5
After the vacation fiasco of zero running during the whole week, I got back into it right away when I got back. And by right away I mean in Tuesday. I was tired on Monday and my apartment was over run with dirty clothing and other just-got-home-from-vacation mess. It was a slower run, but that’s to be expected when you take a week off. I took a new 2.4 mile route and found a disc golf course! I may have to go try sometime…

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Wednesday I was nervous and excited for! I joined a training group to train for this half. I ran nearly all of the last training by myself, and 12 miles solo is long. I was excited to meet people, and scared to meet people. Ever have that feeling? I find people scary and intimidating, which is no offense to any of you, I’m just pretty introverted around new people. But it was fiiiiine! Better than fine! There are quite a few people around my pace, so we ran and chatted. Fun times!

Running Group #1

Saturday I met with the group again for our long run. And WOAH was it humid. Yuck. Hopefully this won’t happen again.  I was having issues with water.  I didn’t want to drink to much and have a sloshy stomach or have to pee, but I didn’t want to end up totally dehydrated.  By the end I definitely concluded I could have drank more water.

Total for the week was about 11.5 miles!

Holy Humidity!

Holy Humidity!

Week 6
I busted out three miles after work on Monday, exploring some more new routes. Not to far behind my office is a few parks, and a bunch of intertwining trails. I run back there regularly and can make up new routes ever time! It’s great, I live new paths.

Flowers run

Wednesday was back with the group and it was muuuuch less humid this time. But it’s starting to get darker sooner and I’m not a fan! When our runs get longer and the sun sets earlier we will be coming back in the dark for sure!

Wed Trail

Friday I finally got to go back to yoga! I haven’t been in a while because my regular class was Wednesday evenings. Which is the same time as my running group meets. But I had Friday off work, so I was able to get to yoga mid morning on Friday. Honestly? I was in a funky grouchy mood and it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had. My legs were apparently tired and my muscles were shaking while I was trying to hold poses. Not the relaxing experience I was looking for.

Yoga

I work up for Saturday’s long run and everything hurt.  My shoulders, arms, abs, legs… all of it.  What on earth happened during that yoga class?  Ouch.  I met with the group, and we set off for one loop around the trail, or about 5.5 miles.  Considering the weather we have had lately, this weather was beautiful.  The wind did pick up part way through which made the up hills a pain.  But we did it!  5.5(1) miles in nearly 1:00 on the dot!

saturday

Friday Five: Fall Preview

It’s time for Friday Five, folks! 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.  Earlier this week I had been thinking about making a fall bucket list, but decided it could wait. I’m working on getting excited for fall, but I also feel like summer just got here! I’ve still got one thing to check off my summer bucket list… I want to make it to one more baseball game! But when the Friday Five theme was announced, “Fall Preview,” I decided it was time to think about fall!

But quickly before fall… head over HERE to see what I was up to during summer! (I am going to miss summer…)

Fall Bucket List
1) Finish my half marathon training and run the race! After an extraordinarily humid Chicago weekend, it will be nice to run in slightly cooler weather! (But not yet! I’m not done with summer yet!) I blame this pace on the heat and humidity!

Holy Humidity!

Holy Humidity!

2) Take a hike in crunchy leaves. I love walking through the woods with perfect fall sun with crunch leaves underfoot. The company doesn’t hurt either.

Hike
3) Make chai teas lattes and pumpkin lattes at home! Last year I started making chai lattes at home with instruction from Cassie over at Back to Her Roots, and they are delicious! Two years ago I had attempted a pumpkin latte (also from Back to Her Roots), and it was a bit of a failure, but I want to master it this year.

4) One other shorter race. I love fall, and fall mornings are even better. I love the crisp air. There’s no better way to enjoy mornings than with a race! I’ve been trying to find one for boyfriend and I to run that fits around my half training, his crazy work travel schedules, and other various commitments like a cousin’s wedding. So far… I haven’t had much luck. But I’m working on it!

5) Trip to the farm! My family has a farm in the boonies, and it’s a pretty great place to go. One weekend last year I went and hung out with my family to pick apples and grapes. We made our goodies into grape jelly, grape juice and apple cider. Boyfriend and I took some of the grape juice and are making it into wine!

Farm

That’s it, guys!  Top 5 for fall! Now I am even more excited about fall!

What about you?  What’s on your schedule for fall?

Have a great (3-day!) weekend!

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.

4onthe4th

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.

McD

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?