Sunday, April 28, 2019

Illinois Marathon Race Recap

Disclaimer:  I ran the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews.  You can read my review of this race on BibRave here.

Lesson #10: You're not always going to get what you think you deserve. These trials can help you realize what's really important. 

I ran my eleventh marathon yesterday!  As someone who said she was "really, really never running another one again" after her fifth marathon, I am a testament to 'never say never'.

Let's start this (really long) recap on Easter, shall we?  That day, the Lord rose and brought me a sore throat.  I didn't even have to find it in a colored egg.  I had been waiting to get sick, because both of my kids were sick the week previously.  Every day from Sunday to Wednesday, I progressively felt worse and worse.  And every one of those days I was a crabby toddler, my brain basically living in the petulant "why me" whine.  

I completed my taper training runs, which were all to be done at an easy pace.  Despite running at an easy pace, my heart rate skyrocketed on all of them.  I know heart rate can be a fickle thing, and perhaps I invested too much mental energy into thinking about it.  Eventually I came to have some peace of mind about the whole race - what was going to be was going to be.  I took all the supplements, I got all the rest I could and all I could hope is that I felt ok on race day.

Thursday afternoon, my friend Anne (who was also going to be running) texted me that she had found rooms at a closer hotel than we initially had booked at.  This was awesome because we were pretty far out there.  Our new hotel ended up being two blocks from the start/finish area. 

We left for the race on Friday morning.  My kids were very excited because we let them skip a day of school to go.  The drive to Champaign, IL is about 3.5 hours from our house.  We arrived at the hotel a little after 1 PM on Friday.  We grabbed some lunch and then went to check out the Arboretum on campus.  I had plans to meet up with BibRave people at 4 PM at the Expo so after my kids got some swimming in at the hotel pool, we headed there.

I had applied to be considered an "elite" runner for this race (as had Anne).  This was going to be my first experience with this and you can bet I was REALLY EXCITED about it.  One of the advantages of this program was getting to start right at the start line, having three bottles of fluids on the course, and access to a special hospitality room (with REAL TOILETS) before the start of the race.  When I got to the Expo, check in was easier than ever because I checked in at the elite table where my shirt, and gear bag were already there.  Then I had to put my bottles in special marked coolers for the next day.  I had gotten a bunch of BibRave water bottles that I was excited to use for this purpose as their bright orange color would stand out.  I also had my kids right on them.

After getting my number and gear bag, we headed to the Expo.  The Expo was larger than I was anticipating.  My kids LOVE marathon expos and there was plenty of swag for them to win.  I also had brought a bag of used running shoes to donate so I was happy to clean out a closet at home.

We went to the race's pasta dinner after the expo.  They had meat and vegetarian lasagna, kale salad, cookies and breadsticks.  It was fun to eat with some of the BibRave people, even if my kids were driving them crazy asking questions.

At 6 PM, those in the elite field were strongly encouraged to attend an informational meeting.  I was excited to see Anne there and I got to meet Rachel Schilkowsky ( @rachelandherlaces on Instagram).  She was so nice!  They went over the course rules and made sure we were all familiar with them.  We had to have our bib on all times, we couldn't accept food/drinks from non-official aid stations, we couldn't run with headphones.  Nothing surprising.

We then headed back to the hotel where another pasta dinner was waiting.  Even though my kids had eaten a ton at the race pasta dinner, they wanted more.  So, we grabbed some more noodles and ate...again. More swimming and then we settled in to watch Mamma Mia 2 and get everything prepped for the next day!  I read a chapter in my book and then had lights out at my usual 9:30 pm.

Race Day
My son woke up around 1 AM because my daughter had rolled on him in her sleep.  He quickly returned back to sleep and surprisingly, so did I.  My first alarm went off at 5 AM.  I shut it off and feel back asleep so when my second alarm went off at 5:15 AM, I had to get up.  I grabbed my cold Picky Oats and chocolate Gen UCan from the fridge and went to the bathroom where I could eat in the light without waking anyone up.  I was pleasantly surprised that my throat felt pretty good and I didn't have to cough out any phlegm immediately upon waking like I had in the previous days.

After I finished my breakfast, I started getting dressed.  We were going to have excellent race day weather - cool and in the 40s to start.  I wore my usual race outfit - Oiselle distance shorts, Oiselle crop, Balega Silver socks, and because I was running this race for BibRave, my BibRave Rabbit tank.  I had made the decision not to run in my VaporFly 4%s well before race day.  I ran my last two marathons in them and both times had a lot of foot pain.  Instead, I was going to wear my Nike Zoom Pegasus 35s.

I braided my hair, took my allergy pill and Flonase and then both kids were up.  My daughter gave me a big hug and told me, "Good Luck" and my son gave me a big wet kiss before crawling back into bed with my husband.  I had made a plan to be downstairs in the lobby by 6 to meet Anne.  I headed downstairs around 5:50.

I sat in the lobby and listened to my montage song (Satan Pulls the Strings by the Avett Brothers) and then used the bathroom.  Then Anne and her husband, Sean, came down and we were off!  Even though our hotel was close, Sean offered to drop us off right at the hotel so we wouldn't have to cross under train tracks.  He dropped us off and we got to the hotel and headed to our elite hospitality room.

It was a larger conference room with circular tables set up and they had coffee, bottles of water, bagels and fruit for us.  The tables were all already occupied so Anne and I headed over to some chairs on the side.  We were being a little self-deprecating saying that people were wondering who those 38 year old moms were over there.  I definitely had imposter syndrome sitting there among tiny people talking strategy and wearing buns.  Anne and I made sure to take our picture to document "that one time...when we were elites....".

I went to the bathroom three times while we had access to it.  We could leave all of our gear in that hotel room - they were going to have someone stay there and watch it while we were all running.    Anne asked me what my plan was for the day.  I said that I planned to run by feel for the first half as I was unsure how I was going to feel.  [My original race plan (prior to getting sick) was to start at 6:40 and see how it felt.]  If by some miracle 6:40 felt comfortable in the beginning, so be it.  I decided to wear my Knockaround sunglasses and my BibRave visor as well.

At about 6:55 AM we headed outside for the start and walked right to the start line.  I saw Tim, the co-founder of BibRave, and we hugged and took a selfie.  And then the gun went off!

Miles 1-5
The half marathon and marathon started together so there were a lot of people in the front running fast.  I stuck to my plan of running by feel and Anne stuck with me and while it was tempting to race up with all of the herd, I also knew that the marathon rewards patience.  I did feel good during this section.  My heart rate was already high but I didn't let that bother me.  I actually didn't even check my pace very much during this part, relying on Anne to call out our mile splits.  

Mile 1: 6:43
Mile 2: 6:42
Mile 3: 6:48
Mile 4: 6:44
Mile 5: 6:44

Miles 6-10
I took my first gel (a Maurten 100) at mile 5.  While I felt good during the first five miles, I also knew that I would not be able to push the pace much beyond where I was at this point.  I wanted to try to stick in that 6:45-6:50 zone and help get Anne her first sub-3 and get a sub-3 in the process.  We got our first bottle in between the 6th and 7th mile and I held onto mine which was filled with Tailwind orange.  Around mile 8 we were on a path through a park and it was a little congested.  I did not appreciate a group of guys making gross sexual remarks about a nude statue that we passed on this section.  During this section, we also caught up with Ben, another BibRave Pro who I knew was trying for a sub-3.  I told him to try to stick with us and offered him some of my Tailwind bottle.  I took my second gel at mile 10 (Gu Roctane in vanilla orange) using some of my bottle to wash it down, giving the rest to Anne to use for her gel and then threw it.

Mile 6: 6:38
Mile 7: 6:53
Mile 8: 6:47
Mile 9: 6:53
Mile 10: 6:55

Miles 11-15
By this point the 1:30 half pace group caught up to us and I was not happy about this.  I thought we were running faster than a 1:30 half.  Initially I thought maybe their pacing was off, but then the pacer said something about being right on.  The half marathoner's split right after the 12 mile mark from the marathons and then Anne and I were with some guys.  I remember thinking at the halfway point, "Ok, that first half wasn't so bad.  Just pick it up and run another one of those." Someone came up and was telling this detailed story about how the wind was going to pick up in the second half and to be psychologically ready for it and that there were a lot of turns.  Anne commented, "I could have done without that whole speech" and I agreed.  It was super annoying.  I remember running by a band playing that Wagon Wheel song and throwing my arm up and cheering for them as I ran past.  During this section, I lost Anne.  At one point I saw Sean on his bike and asked how far back she was and told him to tell her to get up with me.  I was trying to yell for her but don't know if she heard me.  I took my third gel (a Maurten 100) at mile 15 with my second bottle of Tailwind.

Mile 11:6:51
Mile 12: 6:48
Mile 13: 6:54
Mile 14: 7:02
Mile 15: 6:53

Mile 16-20
I was sometimes running these miles with a guy named Jim.  Sorry Jim, but he was annoying me so I was glad that we weren't running together the whole time.  I remember thinking that I was tired but not totally out of it and I was determined to not blow up at mile 16 like I did in Madison.  I remember being very very tired of turning so much.  I had a burst of excitement at mile 18 which didn't last long.  I don't remember why I had so much energy but I do remember Jim consulting his pace tattoo at Mile 18 and yelling (out loud) to himself that he should not have ran a 6:38 mile.

Mile 16: 6:55
Mile 17: 6:55
Mile 18: 6:40
Mile 19: 6:46
Mile 20: 7:00

Miles 20-26.2
Mentally, it took everything I had to hang in there through this last 10K.  I know you run the last 10K of a marathon with your heart but even my heart wasn't in it at this point.  I could not make my legs go.  At mile 20, I saw that I could maybe push and get under 3 hours... at mile 24, I realized this wasn't happening. I did the tricks of "just get up to that tree ahead", I kept telling my brain that it was not really tired, I took a gel (Gu Roctane) at mile 20 WHICH NEVER HAPPENS and had my third bottle of Tailwind around mile 21.  Although I took a few sips, I was not interested in the contents much and it felt like I was carrying a 20 lb. weight in my hand so I tossed it very early.  [Funny enough, Ben told me he saw the bottle laying in the grass and was tempted to pick it up when he saw it! I wish he would have - 20 oz of Tailwind, just went to waste!]  At this point, I was coughing more and while I did a good job of clearing my throat and nose (hello snot rockets!) while running throughout the race, I did stop twice during this section to really hack and try to get the phlegm out.  This section was made more difficult for me for the simple fact that I was running completely alone.  At mile 25.5 a woman passed me and I just yelled at her to GO GO GO.  My brain wanted to go with her but my legs weren't having it. I saw Jen, an IL Oiselle bird right before I turned into the stadium.  I gave her a wave and mustered everything I could to stadium, where I knew I would see my kids and husband.  I looked right as soon as I got out there and there they were!!! I was excited and waved before heading into the finish.  It was here I saw that I was approaching 3:02 and thankfully finished at 3:01:52 - six whole seconds faster than my finish at Madison in fall.

Mile 21: 7:06
Mile 22: 7:23
Mile 23: 7:25
Mile 24: 7:34
Mile 25: 7:34
Mile 26: 6:56

First half: 1:29:08
Second half: 1:32:44

I stopped running, took a moment to find my breath, and continued to get my fleece blanket and medal.  I wasn't upset, but I did want to try to see Anne and get to my family.  I ran into the stands to them and my kids immediately ripped open the blanket and wrapped up in it.  I cheered Anne to a finish and then ran back into the field to give her a big sweaty and salty hug.  

We walked out of the field and to our cars to go back to the hotel to pick up our pre-race gear.  I grabbed one of the free beers on the way out but it didn't taste very good.  I didn't eat any of the huge variety of pre-race food available because my stomach wasn't having it.  I saw Rachel again at the hotel where she told us she got 2nd and also had a PR (she has great recaps on Insta!) and then it was to the shower for me.  My face was covered in salt.  I had some bad armpit chafing which thankfully I didn't notice until I went to take my clothes off.  I stopped by Anne's room to say goodbye and we were off to try to beat the SNOW that was headed our way on the drive home.  


I do wish I was going into the summer coming off of a PR race.  Throughout the last 18 weeks of training, I was hoping to be in the 2:50-2:55 range in this race.  I think an OTQ is really out of reach for me this year and that's ok...for the most part.  It was a bit of a crazy dream anyways.

I did get caught up in the thinking that putting more work in would translate immediately to faster and faster marathon times, even though I know it doesn't usually work like that.  The marathon is a fickle beast.  I had a lot of 3:30ish marathons before I got a 3:11 and then a 2:59 and now two 3:01s.  When I started this blog back in 2015, if you would have told me I would someday run a 3:01 marathon, I would have told you you were crazy.   And here I am four years later sorta kinda disappointed with a 3:01.  It feels a little snotty...and yet, honest, to admit that.

I am now going to take my standard two weeks off of running.  I am registered for the Chicago Marathon in October, which will be my 12th marathon.  And though I've been dedicated to Hanson's Marathon Method for the past 4 marathons, (and credit it for taking me from a 3:25:50 PR to a 2:59:50 PR), I am ready for a change.  Even saying that makes me excited to get training again!

DON'T WORRY!  I am not going to run!


Though I have to admit this is probably the BEST I have ever felt after running a marathon....


:) Thanks for reading and for the cheers.  There may be a lot wrong with social media and the Internet, but I have gotten a lot of love in the past few days and every single message felt like a big hug.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Final Thoughts - Illinois Marathon

Disclaimer:  I am running the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews

I just returned from my last training run - a simple 3 miles. 

I have logged 841.28 miles over the last 18 weeks of training. 

The hay is in the barn as they say!

I kicked off this training with a fractured rib and am leaving it with an upper respiratory infection.  

Yeah.  So this cycle wasn't perfect!

I'm not going to lie, I wish I was feeling good.  I am still congested and coughing up phlegm and my heart rate has skyrocketed on every "easy" run I have had this week.  Regardless, I am trying hard to maintain the excitement for the race because even when I'm sick, I'm lucky to do this.

This will be my first race running in the elite division which I am pretty excited about, sick or not.  The standards to apply for the elite start for this race are 3:10 or below which is pretty fun!  With this, I get three bottles placed along the course and a warm-up/holding room within a hotel at the start.  

At this point, my race plan is to run by feel.  I went to a networking breakfast earlier this week and one of the speakers talked about how she re-frames periods of doubt in her mind as "montage" scenes - as if her life were a book or a movie.  I liked it and have adopted it this week.  Additionally, Blair Braverman's reflections on her first Iditarod made me feel like a marathon is a piece of cake!

The weather looks like rain and wind.  

Anything can happen out there!

You can download the marathon app here to track.  

My family and I are about to pack up and hit the road!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Illinois Marathon Training - Weeks 15-17 Recap

Disclaimer:  I am running the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews

It's race week!  I had some really good weeks leading into my taper which make me excited!

Week 15

I had to do two-mile repeats and the first ten mile tempo run this week.   I've come to think of week 15 in the Hanson's program as the very last hard week because it is the longest mileage week of the plan.  It was windy outside and my tempo sucked big time.  I had no gas and managed a 6:47 average.  I was totally bummed about this and really not able to reframe one bad workout in the context of MONTHS of workouts.  I had a rest day after the failed tempo and decided that I needed to focus on my external environment a bit on my runs because I was getting way too in my head so I created a hashtag - #FridayRunJoy - on Instagram and it made for a good run.  I ran a mile longer than intended because I was having a lot of fun AND my hamstring didn't bother me at all.

Oh yes.  The hamstring is still doing it's thing, although it comes and goes more often than anything.

I had my last 16 mile run during week 15 and it went really well.  I felt relaxed and decided on my race day fueling strategy - Maurten 100 gels and Tailwind.

I also had my LONGEST MILEAGE WEEK ever.  In my life.  66.4 miles for the win!!!!  

Week 16
This week was 1.5 mile repeats and it was one of those idyllic workouts where you just feel on and flying.  I finished all of my repeats ahead of the scheduled pace and didn't feel completely gassed at the end either.  After that workout I was excited to face the 10-mile tempo again.

And again.  FAIL.  We had some snow and sleet this week which caused me to shuffle some workouts around so I did my tempo run on a Saturday and it was just a mental bomb.  I may have cried during it out of frustration.  I ended up even worse off than week 15 - 6:48 average and several stops.  ARGH.  

The hamstring was sore this week, which I was expecting after the previous week.  I ended the week with 53.2 miles, which was slightly under what the plan called for (56 miles).

Week 17
I watched the Boston Marathon this week and felt so inspired.  After bombing at Boston in 2016, I was ready to be done with that course for a while but I'm kind of starting to get the itch to go back.  We will see.

Anyways, I channeled all of that run love into my final strength workout of the plan - six 1-mile repeats.  I wanted to really focus on staying relaxed and running with effort but not killing myself and I definitely succeeded and still ended up ahead of pace for most of them.  

So that left the last ten mile tempo.  The weather was amazing the morning I set off.  Nice and cool and for whatever reason I felt relaxed.  I did really well with this tempo and ended up with a 6:31 average and a negative split over the ten miles.  

After that ten mile tempo, I was officially in taper mode.  I celebrated by getting a deep tissue massage with felt great.  I mean...afterwards, i felt great.  There were a few moments during where it didn't feel so great, ha ha ha.  I ended week 17 with 54.56 miles, two sick kids and a sore throat myself. 

Yep. I'm sick.  I'm hoping it all clears before Saturday morning!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Product Review: Knockaround Fast Lane Sunnies!

Disclaimer:  I received a pair of Knockaround Fast Lanes in exchange for this review as part of the BibRave Pro ambassador program.  Find more about BibRave Pro here and review all races at!

It's been a few months since I did a product review so I was excited to test out the Knockaround Fast Lane sunglasses and review them here.

Knockaround is a sunglasses company from San Diego, CA and features 8 different frame styles at very affordable price points (think $10-$20 each).   The Fast Lanes are one of the eight frame styles that are made for medium to larger faces.

Raise your hand if you have a huge head and face!!

Since the Fast Lanes landed in my mailbox, they are the only sunglasses I have worn during my runs - easy runs, 1.5, 2 and 3 mile repeats, tempo runs - all of it.  They even celebrated my LIFETIME HIGH MILEAGE WEEK with me. 

I love how big they are because they block all light from my eyes and I don't have to squint, nor do I get headaches on really long runs from the sun.  They do not bounce or move at all and I have had no issues with them pinching my head or feeling too tight!

Unfortunately we have had some sleet and snow in recent days here in Wisconsin and they even held up while being pelted with ice balls during a recent run:

I love them so much - they're running the Illinois Marathon with me in less than two weeks!!!! 

If you're curious, head to their website.  You can get 20% off your purchase (any frame/style) with code BIBRAVEKNOCKS1.  This code is good until THURSDAY 4/18 so don't delay! 

In all of the photos above, I am wearing the Knockaround Fast Lane in the slate tortoise shell with sky blue lenses.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Illinois Marathon Training: Weeks 12-14

Disclaimer:  I am running the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews!  

Join me at the Illinois Marathon and use code bibraveillinois2019 to save $10 on any of the races (5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon)! And let me know you'll be there so I can look for you! Registration closes on April 21!

I have three more weeks of marathon training under my belt and things got worse before they got better.  Arthur Schopenhauer said, "To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence."  I'm banking on that!

Week 12
Week 12 began with 4x1.5 mile strength workout.  I was coming off of a cold/fever situation so I was pleased that while I didn't hit my goal pace of finishing these in 9:30, I was at most 8 seconds off.  Then, I had a magical tempo run two days later where, again, I didn't hit my goal pace of 6:30/mile, but I did average 6:33/mile for nine miles.  Woohoo!!! I was rebounding!  

And then came Thursday night where I woke up at some point during the night and started vomiting which continued every 30-60 minutes until 9 AM.  That took me out for two days.  Week 12 should have been 55 miles, but AGAIN I logged significantly less miles - 36.2 for the week.

Week 13
Here I was approaching a big week with two weeks in a row of subpar mileage.  I was not in a good place mentally, but thank goodness for some check-ins with my coach Eric and his wife.  He recommended starting the week with running by time and if I was feeling ok, trying to log 90 minutes.  I was feeling tired and a little out of sorts, but overall it did feel good to run and I managed 10.25 miles in 90 minutes in change to kick off the week.  Things progressively improved as the week went on.  I managed to hit paces on the 3x2 mile strength workout (6:14, 6:23, 6:21) and did ok with my tempo run (6:36 avg for 9 miles).  My long run of 16 miles also went well as I was able to finish in 7:48 avg progressively getting faster with each mile and finishing with a 7:11 last mile.  I logged 64.28 miles this week which is a lifetime weekly mileage PR for me!

Week 14
I finished up week 14 this past weekend and it went ok.  It was a cut-back week and spring break week for my kids which meant that I should have done more planning than I did to get running in.  My 2 x 3 mi workout was dynamite - first three mile set was done with an avg of 6:21/mile and the second set was done with an avg of 6:15/mile.  This workout is a standout in my mind because while I was doing the warm-up I was definitely thinking of postponing the workout because I felt tired and off.  It was only because I absolutely had to take advantage of the fact that I paid for childcare on Monday for my kids that I followed through with the workout and when it was over, I was glad I did.  You can run fast when you're tired!

My tempo run last week did not go as well.  I was freaking out about the paces feeling too hard and had a lot of stops.  I had a week of bad sleep last week which was also throwing me off.  Thankfully after the tempo run workout, I just had lots of easy miles to log.  I finished the week with 53 miles logged.

This training cycle, I was ahead of the cumulative miles logged total from last cycle until week 11 and I am not 12 miles UNDER the total miles I had logged by this time last cycle.  I know, I know...I shouldn't be comparing.  Different circumstances influence every training cycle!!

My march mileage total was 225.62, which while it wasn't the best month I ever had, it was the highest mileage March I ever had so that is something. 

This week will be my highest mileage week left in the plan before slightly tapering down.  Race day is in 26 more days!