Monday, December 31, 2012

the last post for 2012

The light-up necklace was the coolest part of the swag!
Can the year really be coming to a close already?  Wow!  Seems like it was January 1 just a couple weeks ago.

Hmmmm, I haven't exactly been covering myself with glory fitness-wise these last few weeks.  Again, life has interfered with my well-intentioned plans.  What's the saying? "You make plans, and God laughs"?? Or something like that.  Another saying: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." You get the idea.  So I'm just going to keep moving forward and see what happens....  I still have to do my all my HBBC update posts.... Yikes.  I'm behind.

Annnnnyyyhooooo.  Let's talk about my last race of 2012. The Jumpin' Jack Frost 5k. It was a good time!

I love 5Ks.  Such an easy distance and I feel like I can just go and run 3.1 miles and not have to train or anything.  Of course, I'm never going for speed. Things might look a little different if I were a serious runner. And by serious, I mean fast. Which I'm not. And I also mean talented.  Which I also am not. But I'm fun!

Pre-race with my running buddy.
So the night before the race, I met up with about 30 of my high school friends, all home for the holidays. It was so fun to see all those folks and catch up on everything that's been going on in the 5 years (give or take) since we graduated from high school. I was super careful about my pre-race fueling, too.  The temple that is my body ingested only the best deep-fried Wisconsin cheese curds and I insisted on 9-grain bread for my BLT.  And my dirty martini vodka of choice?  Grey Goose. I hear it's got more carbs than other vodkas.

Good thing the race didn't start until 4:35 p.m.

I ran with a friend - our first time running together ever - and we had a wonderful time!  We ran pretty slowly (see our splits below) and chatted the entire time.  I always forget how much fun it is to run with someone else! The course is an out and back along the Mississippi River in St. Paul.  We started at dusk; it was completely dark by the time we were finishing up and the city lights shining over the river looked absolutely beautiful.  A nice way to finish the year!

Avg Pace

And now, let's look at the year in review.

Number of races completed this year: 
23 total - Six 5k (including one Warrior Dash!), an 8k (trail), a 10k, an 8.9 mile (trail), a 10 mile, 8 half marathons, a 25k, a 30k, a 20 miler and two full marathons (Grandma's and Chicago).

Number of PRs set this year:
Six! - 5k, 8k, 10 mile, half-marathon, 30k, and marathon.

Free stuff! 
Remember, I'm cheap frugal, so I LOVE getting anything for free, no matter how it happens.  And can I just say that I love the magic of the internet?
Items won via Facebook:
1. Soleus watch courtesy of Team Ortho, organizer of many of my favorite races!
2. Race entry to a half marathon, courtesy of an Orthopaedic Group that sponsors many races.
3. Sweatshirt courtesy of the Med City Marathon folks, just for "liking" the Facebook page! (The fact that I won a sweatshirt is kind of ironic since the temps in that race rivaled the those in the pits of hell.)
The message informing me that I'm a winner!

5. Race bib belt from Final Stretch running, just for being one of the first 10 folks to sign up for their newest race.  It's called the Chocoholic Frolic.  Guess how long it took me to sign up once I saw the title.... Yeah, about a nanosecond.  That's why I'm a winner, folks!

My cozy sweatshirt....
.....and my cool race belt!

Items won in other ways.....
1. A sweet jacket courtesy of my running club for following their blog.
2. Hotel room at Grandma's Marathon - ok, so I didn't "win" this, but still, free stuff is free stuff!
3. Road ID bracelet for signing up for the Explore Minnesota Challenge.  Sadly, I didn't meet the challenge because most of the races I ran didn't qualify.  Oh well.  Maybe I'll try that one again if they expand the race list....

Progress on goals: 

1. Complete Grandma's again and improve my time. Check!

2. Run a total of 1000 miles.  Nope. 773 was my total mileage for running.
2012 Running Miles

But when you include walking and elliptical, I covered 1123 miles.  Not too shabby!
2012 Total Miles

3. Run at least one mile per day every day of the year.  (the "I heart to Run" running streak challenge)
I abandoned this one. Running one mile every day proved much more difficult than anticipated!  The daily donning of the sports bra proved to be the biggest mental hurdle to reaching this goal. Oh well.

4. Purposely move my body 30 minutes every day for the first 100 days of the year.
99/100 days of success!
Missed it by one day. Doh!

5. Attempt eating clean more often than not.
Epic failure. But I did manage to purge Oreos from my diet.  Speaking of Oreos...

6. Keep on trying new challenges and see where this adventure takes me next.
Well, I guess running a marathon on very little training is one way to challenge myself...... but I do keep on trying!

All in all, it's been a pretty good year.  I may not have met all my goals but I still managed to accomplish a lot and had a pretty good time doing it.  That's success as far as I'm concerned.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Looking forward to continuing the journey in 2013!

Monday, December 3, 2012

dodging duties

The weather is so strange today!  56 degrees in Minnesota.  On December 3rd.  It's misty and foggy out.  Looks like how I imagine springtime in Transylvania would look.  I'm getting ready to take Jane out for some quality time.  In the dark.  In the fog.

A propos of nothing, here are a bunch of videos for your viewing pleasure.  Some are fitness related and some are clearly not.  (Yeah, I'm practicing dog-walking avoidance techniques. And I may or may not have adult ADD.)

Think of it as a fun little diversion on a foggy Monday night.

And don't judge me for wasting time while my poor dog whines to go for a walk.


1. For starters, the husband and I have been working hard on perfecting our yoga routine. I think it's looking pretty good.  Don't hate us* because we're beautiful.

(*not really "us" but it totally could be.)
2. And don't hate us because sometimes we're THOSE pet people.... you know who I mean.  This is Jane in warmer days.  Yeah, we're easily amused.

3.  Must give equal time to cats.  This video had my kids and me laughing so hard the first bazillion times we watched it!  It's pure stupid.  Right up our alley.

4.  This one is included for no other reason than because I dedicated pretty much an entire post to my thriller of a jacket.

5. Ok, this video is just plain amazing and inspiring. It's been everywhere already but is worth sharing again and again.  I heart Arthur!! Makes me want to cry and give him a hug every time I see it because I feel so damn proud of him.


Oh alright., I've avoided the walk long enough..... Out into the scary, foggy night..... good thing Jane is so tough.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

hbbc - week 2, and a potential goal

I may have found a replacement for my beloved Oreos.
Ugh, a tough week for me training-wise. But a very successful (albeit exhausting) week work-wise.  So I guess that was the trade-off.  

Turns out it's a lot easier for me to run and workout when I have three days off of work, despite having family visiting from out of town for four days and hosting a dinner for 25. Looks like I need to make some changes if I'm going to meet this challenge head on!  Oh well, onward and upward, right?

Oh, and since part of the HBBC is healthy eating, I must come clean about my latest treat obsession. Surely you remember my unhealthy love of Oreo cookies.....  I have pretty much given them up because I have proven incapable of portion control. I've found a new love and it's like a match made in heaven - salty and sweet, chocolate and crackers, carbs and sugar....soooooo white trash!  I LOVE them.

Ok, back to running/healthy stuff.....
Pull-tabs.  Yeah, we're classy like that.
So the husband and I are toying with the idea of a destination marathon...... anyone run the Manitoba Marathon in Winnipeg?  Looks like a pretty cool race, and quite small (675 or so finishers last year). And FLAT!! Only a 3 meter elevation change. Perfect to attempt a PR, no?

Speaking of the husband, he was also suffering from the effects of a highly challenging work week. We celebrated the end of the week by having a very low-brow date night - dinner at a local pub that has spectacular sandwiches. And pull-tabs. Lots of pull-tabs.  They're like hope and possibility-filled paper Oreos to me. Good thing we only go there once every 7 years or so. (Have I ever told the story of how we used pull-tab winnings to pay for our marriage license? It's true! Don't judge.)   

Anywhoo, Here are my stats of shame for HBBC week 2:

Runs: 0
Walks: 2
Miles: 4.73
Strength/Core Workouts: 2.5 (50 minutes of yoga)
Elliptical: 0
Fruits/Veggie Servings: 2!!
Bonus points: 3
Total HBBC Points: 10.23 (Please note that I although I sucked at being active, I did manage to meet my freggie goal TWICE this week. It's a little miracle!!)

Here's hoping for a better week 3!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

hbbc week 1

The carnage.  We had two 24 pound turkeys.
It's been a busy week here in Lake Wobegone.  Thanksgiving - my absolute FAVORITE holiday - means lots of family time, lots of great food and a fair amount of work for the husband and me.  We hosted dinner for 25 - our kids, my parents, my three siblings and their spouses and families, the husband's parents, the husband's brother and sister-in-law, and my SIL's sister - and it was a fantastic time!  The meal is a family affair with everyone contributing, so we don't have to make it all ourselves.

The food.  


It's amazing!!
Saving room for pie.
Two turkeys, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rutabagas, green bean casserole,'s a protein and starchy carb cornucopia. So yummy!!  But maaayyyybeee not the healthiest.  All the recipes contain copious amounts of butter, cream and salt, along with a healthy dash of family tradition.  You don't mess with family tradition, and frankly, the food is so good, no one wants to mess with those recipes.  My SIL and I decided we needed more veggies on the menu than usual so we added brussels sprouts and roasted carrots. Both were a hit. I think they might become permanent additions.

Did I mention the pies?  

We had eleven homemade pies. 

Yes, you read that right.  ELEVEN pies.  

French silk, pumpkin, pumpkin chiffon, apple, dutch apple, pecan and mincemeat. Served with fresh whipped cream.  Good lord, I think I gained weight just typing this.  

Thank heavens it was also week 1 of the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge.  

Trying so hard to get my 7 servings of veggies in!
You know it's been a tough few months for me with getting my workouts in.  I signed up for the HBBC to help me with accountability and motivation.  Week 1 was pretty good!

Monday: walked 2.71 miles, hit the elliptical for 3.99 miles, did 20 minutes of gut-busting core work.
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: Ran 2 miles, walked Jane 2.7 miles
Thursday: Ran 3.5 miles with Jane before the feast
Friday: Ran 3.5 miles with my SIL 
Saturday: Walked 2 miles
Sunday: Walked 2 miles, did 20 minutes of core work.
Totals: 40 minutes core work, 4 miles on the elliptical (yeah, I rounded up), 9 miles run, 9.5 miles walked. 

The day after Thanksgiving and ready for a cold, snowy run
 with my SIL from Indiana. Those cool red shoes would be my
size 11 trail shoes.  My SIL is the one with the dainty girl feet.
Black Friday, post-run.  Thanksgiving morning was 60 degrees and sunny.
The snow was a cruel and unexpected surprise, but we didn't let it stop us!
One of the challenges in the HBBC that I'm most excited about is to eat 7 servings of fruits and veggies every day.  I suck at that and have been known to resort to V8 juice in an effort to get more veggies in.  I have yet to hit the 7 servings goal, although I did come close on Thanksgiving. Oh well, something to shoot for, right?

Updated to show my week by the numbers:
Runs: 3
Walks: 3
Miles: 18.58 points
Strength/Core Workouts: 2 points
Elliptical: 3 points
Fruits/Veggie Servings: 0
Bonus points: 16

Total HBBC Points: 39.58

Monday, November 19, 2012

world's greatest cranberry recipe

I can't wait to eat these again!
Ok, I posted this recipe last year, and have gotten some requests to post it again.  These cranberries are AMAZING. I'm drooling just thinking about them. I found the recipe in the newspaper a few years ago.  Maybe I should make them more than once a year.  And it's a fat-free food!  

So here ya go!

Cranberry Apricot Relish
1 (12 oz.) package fresh or frozen cranberries, about 3 cups
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar (or to taste) or mild clover honey (I recommend honey)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dried apricots, quartered or coarsely chopped
¼ cup dark Bacardi rum
Pick over the cranberries, discarding shriveled berries and stems. Rinse well and drain. Combine the water, sugar, ginger and cinnamon or allspice in a medium-size saucepan. Place the pan on the heat and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, or just until the syrup thickens and the ginger is tender. Stir in the cranberries and the apricots and cook, stirring, until the berries begin to pop. Immediately reduce heat to low, add the rum, and simmer the sauce about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until most of the berries have popped but the fruit is still firm and has texture. Don't cook the sauce into a mush.
Remove the sauce from the heat and cool to room temperature. Keeps at least two weeks in airtight containers, preferably glass jars.
Serve at room temperature.

According to the paper, here's the goodness breakdown per ¼ cup serving:
Calories: 104
Fat: 0 g
Saturated fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 3mg
Calcium: 12 mg
Dietary fiber: 2g
Carbohydrates: wait for it..... wait for it..... 24 g (no wonder I love this stuff!)


hbbc 2012

This has absolutely nothing to do with
the challenge but...... well, duh.  Right?
It's that time of year again.  Ol' Fatty McButterpants LOVES to show up on my doorstep (and my gut, butt and thighs) during the holidays, and then stay well into the New Year. (Mostly because I have zero impulse control with the spectacular food choices that will be crossing my path the next six weeks of holiday fun, festivities and family gatherings.) Unfortunately for my gut, butt and thighs, I have an extended family of foodies, and while the food we make is amazing (pronounced "Ahh-MAAAY-Zing!! in a high-pitched, sing-songy voice) and delicious, it's also more often than not high fat and high calorie. And I'll be honest, I deny myself nothing during those spectacular meals.

So, I'm going to do the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge again this year.  It's hosted by Amanda at Run to the Finish and is a great motivator to stay active and keep your butt from expanding too much during the season of eating.  And you can win prizes!  I did it last year and had fun with the challenges but sucked at keeping up to date with blogging about my activities. I'm shooting for a better personal performance this year.

Did I mention the prizes?  There are prizes to be won, people!! So sign up and tell 'em Bitter Hag sent you.  It's going to be fun!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

diva dash 10k

My official time was 1:03:41.
And I'm pretty sure I ran the entire 6.2 miles
but GarminElectra disagrees.
I haven't run in three weeks.  Three weeks!  I've walked a fair amount but walkin' ain't runnin' now, is it?  So here's where my head was at..... I went to packet pickup yesterday and almost switched to the 5k. But I ultimately decided if I'm going to drive 20 miles, I may as well run the 10k, however slow it may be. Then this morning, the friend that I was going to run with had to cancel due to illness.  And it was thunderstorming out. And kind of windy.

So I considered skipping the race.

Seriously. Unless I'm really and truly sick or injured, WHY do I ever even entertain the thought of skipping a race?  I have NEVER regretted getting out there and running, regardless of how slow I end up going.  It's never a wasted effort!  Even if it does end up being a tough run, there's always more good than bad going on.  So I just need to quit that behavior.

Looks like he's a master at
getting rid of crabby pants.
So....back to the race.  Due to my pre-race waffling, I left the house late (another pattern I need to break!) and was worried I might miss the start.  It was raining and I was crabby.  I was all, "I'm going to have to park a million miles away and walk in the rain, it's late and I still need to go to the bathroom, WHY am I doing this????"  So I thought maybe some tunes might help.  I hooked my iPhone up in the car and God bless Ricky Martin, he was instantly there for me with "La Copa de la Vida"  ("Do you really want it? Do you really want it? Here we go, Ale ale ale!!  Go, go, go! Ale ale ale!").  The version I have is awesome, it's like being in the middle of carnival....

I heart Ricky and his simple, vapid, yet immensely appealing songs! You just know the guy has to have a good sense of humor.  Plus, he seems like a genuinely nice person.  And....he's kinda pretty to look at.

Ricky snapped me right out of my crabby pants mood.

And really, after Ricky intervened, everything seemed to turn around.  I got to the school where the race was being held and noticed that for some inexplicable reason, until now, NO ONE had parked on the road in front of the school.  So I (along with several other late comers) got to park right out front.  Score!

Then I'm heading for the porta-potties and I see the incredibly long lines....will I be able to get through the line and get to the start on time???  But then I see some porta-potties in the back of the school, and there are NO lines.  Can you hear the angels singing? Score again!!

My business complete, I headed for the start line, crammed in with about 600 other 10k runners and we were off.  I have to kind of laugh about this course.  I actually love it - it's very pretty but probably not the best race to try for a PR.  About 1000 feet from the start we had to squeeze through a very narrow opening in a fence - the whole crowd had to walk though it, going around was not an option.  And we were running on a narrow bike trail for a most of the race.  Tight quarters for sure and not the best for speed, but it really is beautiful.

Five minutes after the 10k runners started, the 5k runners were off.  You know what's next - the fast 5k runners were on the the slow 10k runners like a pack of dogs.  Add in the fact that this was an out and back for the 5k runners, the front runners had to pass the 10k runners again on their way back.

One of the coolest thing about this race is that "new runners" make up a huge portion of the participants. But that also means that many runners are clueless about moving to the side to get the hell out of the way of the faster runners, not running (or walking) 4 abreast on the narrow trails, etc..... It was surprising to me that people didn't move over when they saw the other runners.  I'm slow so it didn't matter much to me, but it must have been frustrating for the front runners.

My splits - I'm not ashamed of them! Was the course short,
did GarminElectra fail me again, or....
is this the correct distance??   We may never know.
Anywhoo, I was loving the run today!  It was the first run I've had in a long, long time that felt effortless!  And I was only (almost exactly!)  four minutes slower than last year!  (No protesters this time though, at least not that I saw.)

My training (if you can even call it that) for the past several months has been so sparse, I'm grateful that I was able to RUN the entire distance (with the exception of the two water stops, of course).  I could tell I was moving a little faster in the last mile and was totally digging the feeling of being able to pick the pace up a tad. I didn't push it at all, though.  It's probably bad enough that I'm off running six miles on no training, pushing it might lead to injury and I've done my time in THAT funhouse.

It was a great race to end the year on.

Now I need to set some new goals for 2013.  I already have a time goal....... I just need to decide which marathon to set my sights on next..... and maybe some other goals to push me out of my comfort zone a little more.

A sprint triathlon, maybe?  Intriguing for sure, but the swimming portion scares the hell out of me!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

shallow to the core

Ok, so I admit I'm more than a little bummed I didn't run yesterday.  This cold is really kicking my ass so I know it was the right decision - trying to run 10 miles in this condition would have been an absolute suckfest.  But still.......

Why am I bumming?  Because I didn't get to try to improve my time from last year? Yeah, partly.  It's a great course that's mostly downhill so I was looking forward to trying for a shiny new PR.

Because it was a missed opportunity to run with the husband?  Of course!  I love running races with him.

Because I didn't get my precious bling?  Well, duh.  You KNOW how I am about the bling.

What's missing from this picture? Oh yeah, THE FINISHERS MEDAL.
But the biggest reason I'm bummed about not running in yesterday's race?  Not the chance to rise to the challenge of a new PR...... not the opportunity to run with the husband....... nope, I'm bummed because I didn't get to wear the arm warmers purchased specifically for the Monster Dash.

My awesome arm warmers
In addition to being a bling whore, I am a gear whore.  And I was looking forward to rocking my newest gear!

Extreme arm warmer close-up.  Aren't they cool?

Oh well, there's always next year, right?  And really, who says I have to wait a whole year?  Skulls are always appropriate - I'm sure I can find another opportunity to rock 'em!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

monster dash 10 mile dns

I was all set to run this one again but alas, it was not to be.  <cue the violins.....>  I have a nasty, terrible, no good, miserable cold, complete with clogged ears, sore throat, sinus pressure, sneezing, excessively running nose and I'm coughing up all sorts of yuck..... I've been blowing my poor nose so much that it's all red and raw and painful.  Just imagine, with the cold weather and the way my mucous production has been in overdrive, I would have been the queen of snot rockets out on the course today!
I would have needed something like
this if I tried to run in today's race.  source
But enough about me (said the self-absorbed blogger.)  

So yeah, I didn't run in today's race but the husband did!  Believe it or not, it's the first race he's run solo.  He likes to run but isn't a bling whore like I am, thus, he gets enough satisfaction just from the act of running.  I could use the weak argument of, "I usually run by myself so I like to run races because then I'm with other humans...."  but really, we all know the truth, don't we?  

Anywhoo, back to the husband..... I'm so proud of him!!  It's his longest run since Grandma's and he killed it!

He's done way more than his share of showing up at races to cheer me on so I decided I would do that for him.  So Jane and I piled into the car headed over to the big city to see our man run. My original plan involved catching him at a couple of places along the course, but princess that I am, didn't quite feel up to being out in the cold for that long.  We'd have to settle for watching him cross the finish line.

I conveniently forgot the little factoid that approximately 10,000 people signed up for this race, and that numbers like that might impact my ability to park close to the finish line.  Luckily, I got lost and ended up on a lonely side street, where I stumbled upon a parking spot about 4 blocks from said finish line.  Score!! 

volunteering with the boy 2010
Jane and I wove our way through the throngs of runners and spectators to the finish line and waited about 20 minutes for the husband to cross.  Holy crap there were a lot of runners!!  It's definitely a different perspective being on the sidelines rather than in the race. Surprisingly enough, it makes me want to volunteer again.  

Side story: Sweet Son and I volunteered at a 7k race in 2010 but were sent out to direct traffic to and from the race, which meant we didn't get to see any of the runners actually run in the race. I was hoping that seeing the huge numbers of folks running would inspire him to run a race someday, but it didn't quite work out that way.  Oh well.  On the up side, he was pretty impressed with the huge number of runners who thanked us for volunteering.  So that was cool!

The husband striding to the finish line!
I'm dying to know the story of the woman next to him. Maybe
she thought the finish line banner was really low....
Back to the husband and his awesome race today.....

I got up with him this morning and was all, "Did you have breakfast?" "Do you have some type of energy food to eat during the race?" "Do you have gloves?" "Are you going to wear a hat?"  "Make sure you use the bag drop, you don't want to be without warm clothes like we were two years ago when we had to wait forever for that damn shuttle!" 

Last time I checked, he's a grown man who is able to take care of himself.....guess I sort of forgot that for a few minutes.

Anyway, back to the husband again....I was super excited to see him looking strong and heading toward the finish line!  I shouted (croaked) his name but he didn't hear me.  Jane went crazy when she saw him.  (The German Shepherd in her HATES it when we're out in public and not right next to each other.) We had to try to weave through the crowd again to find him.  When we did, Jane leaped upon him with relief. He looked like he hadn't even been running! Just looked totally relaxed, like he'd been out for a walk.
The husband and a much calmer Jane post race.

I drove the husband back to his car.
Sort of a side note: This is a point to point race. The 10 mile course for this race ends 3.1 miles before the half marathon finish (I'm a math whiz!) so the 10 milers have to take a shuttle to the half marathon finish to get their stuff from bag drop and to be closer to their cars.  The line to the shuttles was indeed long, and it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference if the husband had listened to me and relied on the bag drop for quicker access to his warm clothes. Yeah, he didn't listen to me on that one. He ignored me about the hat and gloves, too. Always exercising his free will.  
Anywhoo, while we were driving, I asked him about the race and how it went.  He said the first mile flew by, the next couple of miles went pretty fast as well, but the last three, not so much. And that was it.  It would appear that, unlike me, he doesn't get verbal diarrhea when describing his races.
A coffee for the husband, and a little treat for the wife.

But I think he's pretty proud of himself.  And he PR'd!!  1:43:13. Did I mention I'm proud of him too??  I am!!

Being the good wife that I am, I offered to hit Starbucks on the way home and get some coffee for him to drink while he languished in his ice bath. (A REALLY good wife probably would have made coffee at home but whatever.) I saw the Pumpkin Spice Latte on the menu. It looked soooooo yummy!  Right away I'm thinking "Damn, too many calories." But then I remembered a very important fact.  You always feed a cold.  Feed.A.Cold.  Feed all those luscious, flavorful, fat-filled calories to your nasty, terrible, no good, miserable cold.  Use it to make that cold your beyoch!  So that's exactly what I did. I included the whip cream for good measure.

And I got a coffee for the husband too. :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

chicago marathon race report

Bling for Marathon #3
Spoiler alert - I finished the marathon!

5:19:43 is my official time.  I started slow and ended slower.  But I finished! It was a tough one, no doubt about it.  The last few months have been tough for me on a personal level, and training really took a backseat to everything else going on.

My long runs saved me.  Good thing I know myself - I'm both lazy and a bling whore. (Because I know that about myself, and because I obviously need external motivation to get my ass out the door, I signed myself up for a ton of races so I wouldn't have to map out my long runs or carry my own water, and then when I'm done, I get rewarded for running, with things like food, medals, shirts and sometimes jewelry. Winner!!)  Anywhoo, it was all those races that kept me in some semblance of running shape.

The husband and I flew to Chicago on Saturday morning.  Race or no race, we were going to be celebrating our wedding anniversary on October 7th (which just happened to be the same day as the marathon.....the man loves me so much he agreed to travel to a distant city to watch me run a marathon ON OUR ANNIVERSARY. I'm a lucky woman) and then spending a few extra days to prolong the celebration.

Unless you're new here, you know that my training for this marathon has been, shall we say, less than ideal. Until I went to the race expo, I wasn't even sure I was going to run the marathon.  But damn, it was hard to not get all caught up in the excitement of the event and being a part of it!

So I was waffling.

I bought a pint glass (had to - it's tradition).

I bought an official Nike Chicago Marathon shirt.

See if you can spot my name.....
Ok, there's a back story here.  I wanted the shirt in day-glo orange. I looked and looked for a medium but all I could find was XL and XXL. I tried on the XL and it was ginormous. Pretty much all women's shirts in size medium were hot property. Then suddenly a woman holding my desired day-glo orange top says, "Hey, is anyone looking for a size medium?" I said yes and she was handing to to me when some ballsy beyoch RIPPED IT RIGHT OUT OF MY HANDS. Unbelievable. The husband looked her in the eye and said, "REALLY??"  She didn't even flinch. In retrospect however, she probably did me a favor. Day-glo orange shirts and red hair do possess a bit of a conflict.) Aaaaanyhoooo......

I think there were about a bazillion people at the expo. Seriously. I counted.  Can you say clusterf*ck? But that's a subject for another post....

You know what sealed the deal for me?  Finding my name on the wall of runners. How could I NOT run now??

Pre-race. "Hey stranger, would you please take our picture?  It's our anniversary!!'"
So that's how I ended up in corral L early on Sunday morning. Me, along with 44, 999 of my closest friends.
It was cozy at the start.
It was a fun run, if you can believe it.  I had my earphones in just in case I decided I needed some music, but never did turn the music on.  (Yurbuds - the best, most comfortable earbuds EVER.)  It was much more interesting listening to the crowds!

My timing chip.
I should probably leave it on my shoe as a reminder to help keep me upright.
Did I mention that there were 1.7 million spectators at this marathon?  Yeah, one point seven MILLION. It was amazing. The various neighborhoods take their cheer sections seriously.  My favorite section was (I think) in Old Town. A bunch of crazy enthusiastic people in yellow shirts yelling out encouragement to us slow runners. I loved it!

Mile 2.  Still feeling fresh as a daisy.

Though it was a fun day, as I mentioned above, it was a frickin' tough run for me. No lie. I had to dig deep for this one. On the upside, I think going sooooo slow prevented me from having any GI issues.  That was a nice change! (I did still have to take two potty stops but no 8+ minute breaks in the action like at Grandma's last year.  Oh, sorry, I guess that qualifies as TMI......)

Around mile 23 or so, I saw Bobbi and her sister Michelle.  That was a huge boost for me - I was pretty tired at that point and seeing Bobbi's familiar face was fantastic!  Michelle was running her first marathon; her knee had pretty much given out on her but she was determined to finish. And finish she did! I took a picture of the three of us and Bobbi & Michelle look adorable.  I on the other hand, look absolutely hideous.  Even the husband when looking at the photo said, "You're beautiful!  Buuuuttt, that picture isn't your best." God love him, he's the king of understatement.  

Mile 25.  Sore as hell but still smiling. And still running!

I kept going and saw the husband at mile 25. Only 1.2 miles to go!  He gave me a kiss and sent me on my way.

Finish line!
(Actually, now that I think about it, this is just the painted photo-op area about 2 miles from the finish.  But whatever.)
I pushed on, turned the corner to the finish line and powered on through. My goal (had I been in shape) was 4:30.  I crossed the finish line almost 50 minutes slower than that.  But it was a most satisfying marathon finish.  I'm pretty damn proud of myself.

Actual finish line photo.
This must be my "happy marathoner" pose.
(I'm the one in the grey shirt.)

My slowest marathon time to date, but I think it's the one I'm most proud of.
So far.  But perhaps I should rethink the headband. <sigh> At least my ears stayed warm.
Damn straight I did!

And now for the big question: Which marathon should I set my sights on next?

Friday, October 5, 2012

ai yai yai

In two days, I'm going to attempt marathon number three.

A bucket list marathon.

Chicago.  Shi-Ka-GO!!!

How's my training been going, you ask?

Ummmm, honestly?  Not so great. Remember how I was whining about life getting in the way of my training? Yeah, well, I'm still whining about that because it has continued to do so. I've managed to do several long runs but my weekday runs have been practically non-existent.

Despite that, I figure I may as well toe the line Sunday morning and see how it all shakes out.  I mean, what's the worst that could happen? A DNF? That would suck but in the grand scheme of things, not the end of the world. Besides, I think I'll feel worse if I don't even try. So I'm going to try.

The weather looks just about perfect.

I'm told it's a pretty flat course.

As long as the body holds up, I know I can do the miles.

Ok, I THINK I can do the miles.....

So it will most likely be extremely slow (but the course is open for six and a half hours - I can WALK the whole way and still finish in that time, right??)......

And I'm guessing it's not going to be too pretty.......

But what the hell.  It's not like I have anything else planned that day! (Well, except that the husband and I will be celebrating our anniversary, but that's why we're staying a few extra days in the windy city)

It's going to be more of a test of my mental toughness than my physical fitness.

I'm ok with that.

But if you have time on Sunday morning, would you do me a favor and toss a prayer or two my way?  Especially around 1:00 CST.  I'm guessing that's when I'll be needing them the most.