Friday, May 27, 2011

CARA Marathon Training & Charity Fundraising

Wow, it's Memorial Day weekend.

Summer couldn't come fast enough (actually, I'm not even sure if it's here yet) with the winter we've had.

I know it's summer when I am counting down my last weekends of freedom. Freedom in the sense of not having to wake up at 5:30am on a Saturday, every Saturday until October.

Why would I do something like that to myself?

Marathon Training. I'll be training again this summer with the Chicago Area Runner's Association -

Training kicks off on June 11th, the weekend of Ragnar.  It's safe to say I'll be up much earlier on that Saturday.

A few weeks ago I agreed to fund raise for Salute, Inc.  - 

It's a great local cause that's easy to support. I enjoyed being a part of their Marathon team last year. I feel like it's the least I can do considering that so many volunteer to serve in the U.S. Military to protect our freedom.

Which just so happens to be a much greater freedom than sleeping in on the weekends.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Left Shoes

A story from Nashville.

Kim and I flew in to Nashville from Chicago. Tracy met us at the airport. She came in from Texas.

We took a cab to our hotel early in the morning. We couldn't check in yet, but the hotel held our bags while we walked around downtown and went to the Expo.

While at the Expo, Tracy mentioned she didn't like the shoes she'd been training in. She said she was pretty sure the running store by her house had put her in the wrong shoes. She felt like her form was off. She's always had Sauconys, so when we approached the Saucony booth, she went to talk to the guy about her shoes.

One of the rules of distance running is "Don't do anything new on race day." Which includes buying new shoes the day before at the Expo.

Kim and I waited and watched as Tracy talked with the guy and tried on a series of shoes. Then, to our surprise, we watched her buy a pair of shoes.

After leaving the Expo we went to lunch. Tracy said she was almost positive the shoes she bought at the expo were the same as the shoes she had had before her current pair, which she loved. Kim and I were skeptical.

We got back to the hotel, checked in to our room and relaxed for awhile. Shortly before heading out to dinner, Tracy began unpacking her bag. This is when she discovered she had packed two left shoes.

It was after 6pm on Friday, the day before the race. Had she have not bought the shoes at the expo, we would have been pounding on any athletic store's doors to get Tracy shoes for the next morning.

Tracy opened her new pair and compared them to the two left shoes she brought. She was right - The pair she'd bought at the expo was the same as her older running shoe, which she liked.

Despite any concerns Kim and I may have had about Tracy running in a new pair of shoes, she showed us on race day. Tracy ran the fastest half marathon of the four girls, coming in just over two hours.

A PR for her. She said she felt great.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Country Music Half Wrap Up

Destination races can't rightfully be compared to hometown races. Nashville is no exception.

Take people from Chicago and insert them in to the rolling hills of Nashville - A challenge within itself - and we haven't even started talking about logistics.

As if I didn't know what we were getting ourselves in to, or, more likely, forgot to remember what the course was like, we landed in Nashville on Friday morning optimistic.

My goal was to show up and run a decent race.

The question is, how is a decent race defined?

Walking around Nashville on Friday, in addition to attending the completely packed expo, caused uneasiness on Friday evening. Which lead to some anxiety Friday night that carried in to Saturday morning.

4:40 a.m. came pretty fast. Kim, Tracy and I got ready and met Brian at LP field at 5:40.

We boarded shuttles to take us to the start line. It was a cool morning. We talked on the way to the corral, hoping for the best. It wasn't until we stood on the side of the corral #13 gazing at the flag for the National Anthem that it really hit me.

I'm remembering more of this race now. Shit. This is going to be hard.

We walked our way down the massive hill to the Start line. Once crossing the start line, we would work our way up a hill for close to a quarter mile, then down, then back up, before crossing the first mile. This pattern repeated itself, in it's entirety, for the first 8 miles.

What started off as a cool morning seemed to get warm awfully fast.

Very early on, I could tell my 2:15 goal time was not in the cards. I'll admit it, I could have focused more (ok, maybe the right word is 'some') efforts on hill training. I probably could have ate better. It would have been great to not have been sick for a few weeks. Or for it not to have rained every day in the last two weeks. Or if the Easter Bunny hadn't been so good to me with those delicious Cadbury Eggs.

All excuses set aside, none of it matters when you're running the race. In that period of time, you're just trying to get through it. That's the part that was tough. Somewhere after 3 but before mile 5,  I had an overwhelming feeling to stop. I felt like my body was not acclimating to the conditions. I remember thinking to myself, 'The next medical tent, you're out.'

But here's the problem - Brian was next to me. Brian was having an easier time than I, but he admitted it was by no means an easy race for him either. So in this race, more so than in the marathon, I found myself mentally defeated early on. But it was Brian who guided me through it, whether he realized it or not.

We decided later on the in the race that we were in fact pulling each other through the race. Eventually we would reach the end. Most importantly, thank God we weren't doing the full. Those people are truly crazy.

In the end, I beat my course P.R. in 2009 by two minutes. Maybe it's not the win I was thinking of, but it's certainly not a loss. And four people in our group, including Tracy and Brian, had P.R.'s at the half marathon distance. Just goes to show one person's bad race is another person's 'A' race.

Now, entering May, I have a half under my belt for 2011. Not a bad position to be in.