Wednesday, May 24, 2017

quick guide to soldier field 10 mile

Disclaimer: I received entry for Soldier Field 10 Mile to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Me and Angie at the 2015 SF10.

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the Solider Field 10 Mile race and included some links to my reviews of the past few years. Thanks to Facebook Memories, I saw that 2014 was my first year running it, so this will be my fourth year. It has been confirmed haha.

Registration is still open, so head on over here and use code BibRaveSF1017 for this free water bottle.

Most of this information can also be found in the Participant Guide.

Packet pickup begins today at Fleet Feet Old Town from 3pm till 8pm and then Thursday and Friday from 10am till 8pm. There is NO race day packet pickup (this is a huge race, so that makes sense), so be sure to get to FF Old Town to grab yours. You can have a friend or family member grab it for you, if you are unable to attend – they just need a copy of your registration confirmation. Fave packets per person max. They had offered $15 packet mailing, but you would have needed to sign up for that three weeks (or more) prior to the race. Something to think about next year (or for other RAM Racing events). Note that they also had a packet pickup day at FF Deerfield on Thursday May 18 from 3–6pm and at FITT-RX on Saturday May 20 from 10am–3pm. They do a pretty good job of offering multiple days and times, which is appreciated.

The race takes place on May 27 at Soldier Field (duh) with multiple waves – red, blue, and white. Starting time is at 7am, but each wave will take some time to get through. I didn't start until 7:45 last year (last wave). They recommend an arrival time of 6am and getting into your corrals between 6am and 6:45am. 

Here's a map of the post-race party and corral staging. Post-race party begins at 8:30am (says inside Soldier Field, but the map shows it is on the outside grass) and will include music, food, and beer. Open to the public.

It looks like the starting line-up area is different than previous years, in which a lot of the line up, at least for the last wave, was on Waldron Dr. Here's the Course Map:

There will be gear check opening at 5:30am and closing promptly at 11am. It will be located in the Stadium and you'll want to enter through Gate 0. Only registered participants can enter the gear check area, and your bib must be clearly visible. All bags will be searched prior to entry into this area and you MUST use the 12"x18" clear plastic bag and beaded luggage tie provided to you during packet pickup. 

Aid stations will be stocked with water and Nuun. Port-o-johns will be located at the start/finish area and at the aid stations. Looking at the map, it looks like there will be 5 aid stations located around miles 1.75, 3.5, 5.25, 6.75, and 8.75 (these are just my guesses looking at the map, but gives you sense). Plenty for a 10 mile race.

Have a runner you want to track? Sign up for tracking updates here.

As an added benefit to the participants of the Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile, there will be event pace groups lead by the experienced Chicago Endurance Sports Pace Team. The Pace Team provides even splits and camaraderie amongst runners striving to reach similar goals. These pacers support a wide range of runners, from those finishing their first 10 mile race to those who are looking for a new PR. Pace groups will be available at the following paces per mile: 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30 and 15:00. In addition, we will offer three pace groups that will do a combination of running and walking. The first will be at a 11:30 run pace (5min run/1min walk). The second is at a 12 minute run pace (5min run/1min walk). The third will be at a 12:30 pace (4min run/2min walk). To learn more about Chicago Endurance Sports and the wide variety of training programs they offer, visit

Volunteers, participants and spectators can park in the Waldron Garage and South Lot starting at 3:30am or the North Garage, starting at 4:30am. Entrances are marked on the Parking Map. Follow the direction of parking officials. Parking is complimentary until 7:30am or once the lots are full, whichever occurs first. Should lots fill before 7:30am, vehicles will be directed to remote parking locations. After 7:30am, normal parking rates apply; payment will be required as you enter. In order to ensure that you have a relaxed and enjoyable experience race morning, please plan to arrive at Soldier Field no later than 6:00am. The address of Soldier Field is 1410 S Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605.

After the race, look for your FREE race photos. You'll receive an email with your free pictures that you can share on Facebook, Twitter, or download/print it. Gotta love free photos!

Soldier Field 10 Mile is proud to support Folds of Honor as our national charity, and SALUTE, INC. as the local charity of the Soldier Field 10 Mile!

Folds of Honor
Since 2007, Folds of Honor has pursued their mission to stand in the financial gap of the more than one million dependents adversely affected by war, providing educational scholarships to the children and spouses of those killed or disabled while serving our nation. They strive to embody the words of their motto: Honor Their Sacrifice. Educate Their Legacy.

Their logo embodies the heavy price our troops pay for the freedoms we hold dear. Yet it’s also a symbol of hope, representing the enduring ideals that make this country a beacon of democracy. The 13 folds in a flag presented at a military funeral honor the sacrifice of America’s heroes, while giving hope to the bearers of their legacy. This folded flag is a constant reminder of those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. It inspires us to help equip and educate their loved ones in need of our support.

For more information, please visit

SALUTE, INC. passionately pursues meeting the financial, physical and emotional needs of military service members, veterans and their families. SALUTE, INC. strives to raise awareness of their sacrifices and provides a safety net to ensure every military family is treated with honor and dignity. For more information, please visit

So tell me - who's ready to race? Normally they have members of the military handing out the medals, which is a special moment, especially being Memorial Day Weekend. Be sure to thank them for their service.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

up next: soldier field 10 mile

Disclaimer: I received entry for Soldier Field 10 Mile to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

My next two races are this weekend. No, I don't take breaks haha. On Saturday I'll be heading to Soldier Field for my fourth or fifth year of the Soldier Field 10 Mile and on Monday I'll be running the Ridge Run 5k. Is it sad that I can't remember how many years I've been doing races? I don't keep a very good 'record' book, and I only started using BibRave to review the races since 2014, so anything before that is ?? haha. I know a lot of people know exactly how many of each race they've done. The only one I know for sure if my marathon total. Maybe one day I'll find the time to go back and tally it all up.

Registration for SF10 is still open, but not for much longer. Use code BibRaveSF1017 to receive this water bottle for free (you'll get it at packet pickup).

Here's the 2017 Goodie Bag (shirt and finisher medal):

All finishers will receive a Soldier Field 10 Mile medal to commemorate their achievement! The triangles of stars surrounding the Chicago star signify the folded flag placed on the casket of deceased veterans, to honor the memory of their service to our country. The tri-folded flag is an emblem of the hat worn by the Patriots of the American Revolution.

I love this race because it's a unique distance. There aren't a ton of 10 mile options, versus the amount of 5k, 10k, and halfs in the area. Another really cool thing is that you get to finish on Soldier Field at the 50 yard line. Last year was messed up a bit because Beyonce was in town and so the field was covered up with that metal concert platform they put on the fields to prevent them from getting ruined. Do you know what I'm talking about? Anyway - looks like this year should be back to normal.

I haven't decided yet whether I'll run with my mom or run on my own with my usual intervals and see how the legs do. Sometimes I start off of my own, and then I poop out and my mom catches up and I run with her till the finish. I'll definitely be running with her on Monday; it's our tradition. And weather is usually crazy hot and humid, and I don't have the energy to push through that haha.

Check out my BibRave Reviews from 2016, 2015, and 2014.

OR my blog recaps:2015, 2014. Apparently I never wrote my blog recap from 2016 because I didn't run it through BibRave. Typical me – I can never keep up with my blog recaps {eye roll}. I know I had a great time last year because Angie and Josh were in town! We hung out after the race for a bit.

I might need to squeeze in some extra miles the next week so I can hit my 100 mile goal for every month of 2017. I'm a little behind (I don't know how, I feel like I've been running a ton, but I guess I did skip a few week day training runs due to travel/no time away from work/tired).

Anyone out there planning on running either of those races this weekend? Say hey if you see me :)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

feeling the oo: oofos oomg shoe review

Disclaimer: I received an a pair of OOFOS OOmg Shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Last summer I reviewed the OOFOS Original Sports Sandal and loved how comfortable and supportive they were. Not your typical flip flop at all. When I heard that OOFOS was coming out with their first closed-toe design, I knew I had to try them out. While I love the sandals, I couldn't quite wear them post-race here in Chicago, as it's too dang cold for no socks. 

The OOFOS OOmg comes in three colors: white and black, black and grey, and black and citron. You know how much I love bright colors, so naturally I chose the black and citron. I will say, they are way brighter in person than they appear online. I think they are super fun, but for those that might want to wear these for work, you'll get away with it better in the other two muted colors ;) I know that's what a lot of BibRave Pros did. Tip for sizing: If you are a half size order the next size up. Express orders must be placed by 2 pm PST/ 5pm EST to ship same day. You can find the OOmg shoe in the women's section of the websiteMen's specific OOmg is expected out in 2018. They are working on a design that widens the toe box and makes the strap along the top of the foot thicker to hold a bigger and heavier foot. If you are a men's size 9–10, try the unisex version.

Please excuse the dirty car floor...

Let's talk about the technology that went into these amazing recovery shoes.
"These are the first fully closed shoe to feature OOfoam technology! They have combined the OOFOS patented footbed design you know and love with a 4-way stretch mesh upper to create an unbelievably comfortable shoe that enhances the recovery process. Take the stress off your tired soles, joints and give your feet the freedom of natural movement in a shoe you can wear all day, every day."

Perfect to toss in your car or gear check bag for post-race.

"Revolutionary OOfoam technology absorbs 37% more impact than traditional footwear foam materials to reduce the stress on your feet and joints. The OOmg features a breakthrough in shoe construction that eliminates unnecessary layers and leaves only OOfoam between your foot and the ground. New OOtex 4-way stretch mesh upper conforms to your feet and the stretchable strap adds support over the arch without binding. These technologies combine to aid in the recovery process and create an incredibly comfortable shoe you can wear anywhere."

It's not just another shoe, but it's a tool for recovery:
  • Reduces stress on sore feet, knees, and back
  • Enables more natural motion - The 4-way stretch mesh upper allows a lot more give, so it helps the foot to move naturally post-run
  • Minimalist construction technology for extreme light weight (5.5 oz for women’s size 7)
  • Machine washable (mesh won't bleed and you can also spot wipe. Wash on a cold wash, avoid bleach and fabric softener)
  • Close cell foam, which means that you can get them wet and water just drips off, no water stays in the shoe, no bacteria.
  • Typical wear is 6 months – 1 year, depending on the amount of wear (and other considerations). The bottoms will wear out before the foam is condensed.
  • Wear it all day; not just for post-race/run. It's a lifestyle shoe.

These shoes are a "make you feel better" product - the OOfoam technology is extremely unique and defining to the market. OOFOS has created a whole market for recovery.

You might be weary of the price point of the OOFOS OOmg  but take into consideration that it's a recovery tool. How much do we pay for other recovery tools, massages, going to the chiropractor, etc? The $120 price point for the shoe fits into the market for a lifestyle shoe with all of the tech benefits, and the amount of wear you get out of them makes the cost not so bad – if you wear them for a year, that's only $.32 a day ;) 

Not bad without socks, either.

As far as my experience with them, ohhh they've been a lifesaver. I was hoping to receive them for after Illinois Marathon, but unfortunately they came a bit later. I wore them after my half marathon two weeks later (a half that was tired and sore, as my body probably could have used some more rest before going for that longer mileage so soon). 

Went to Downtown Disney to grab dinner.

The real test of these shoes was the following weekend (aka last weekend) when I was at Disneyland for runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. I debated bringing them at all, because I try to pack light going out there, as I know I need space for the mugs and glassware and shirts and shoes I buy at the expo. I figured they squished and didn't take up too much space, and were lightweight, so I would fit them in. 


Boy, am I SO glad I did. I spent the majority of the days on my feet – standing in lines for the expo, for security, for entrance into the parks, for rides, and then all of the running + walking to and from the parks to the hotel. I got there Wednesday and left the following Tuesday. My milage for those days were: 5.21, 7.01, 12.91, 12.79, 22.38, 10.91, and 5.14 (clearly a travel day haha). 

After the races, my heels were giving me a throbbing pain all day long. I tossed on the OOmg shoe to wander the parks or when I went out to grab food, and the heel pain would dissipate. There were times where I wasn't sure I would be able to walk much more, but putting on the OOmg helped meet keep moving so I could have fun at the parks with my mom. 

I ordered a size 9 (my usual running shoe size is an 8.5). They are a tad big, so I think maybe going with an 8 would have worked (I wear a 7/7.5 in non running shoes usually such as heels or fancy flats... these days I tend to just get the 8.5 in any gym shoe, even if I'm not wearing it to run in). I usually wear them with socks, but I know a lot of other Pros prefer to wear them without socks. I say you can go either way... just depends on your style, preference, fashion sense (I don't have much of one, so didn't care if I looked dorky with the socks or not... I'm just about the comfort level haha). 

Would I recommend these shoes? Definitely. Again, I know the cost might shock you, but it's like a pair of running shoes – you get fitted to have the right style for your running and foot, and these shoes aren't just shoes, but they are an aid in recovery. Something us runners really need to focus on to avoid injury and to help keep us at the top of our game so we can continue to run those miles. 

Connect with OOFOS:
website | twitter | instagram | facebook | pinterest | youtube | LinkedIn

Check out the reviews from other BibRave Pros:
Mel | Tedrick | Lindsey | Jeannine | Nora | Angie | Vanessa | Emily

Friday, May 19, 2017

my spring goal race is over - now what?

Hello friends! My big goal race of the first half of the year is over and I've finally written all of my posts recapping the experience. If you're interested it's the Illinois Marathon expo + pasta feed, Illinois 5k, and Illinois Marathon. I was extremely pleased with how I did at the marathon – I beat my main goal by over 3 minutes when I wasn't sure I'd even hit my goal during the first half of the race (it was very windy and I just had a lot of doubts rolling through the brain). 

I'm not even sure I've fully processed it yet, as it's been a whirlwind since. The day after I 'ran' another half marathon (with shin pain half way through I pretty much walked the second half... slowly I might add), took a week off, and then was back at it with a half marathon the next weekend, and then a few days later I flew out to California for runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, where I spent a lot of time on my feet at the expo, parks, running all three races, and what seems like hours spent in line for everything (purchases at expo, corrals, security, to get into parks, and then waiting for all of the rides). I had some sore feet, let me tell you.

Anyway, I have three more weekends of races and then will have a bit of a break in the summer (it gets too hot here, and with humidity (I get sick in that kind of weather) I only do a few races throughout the months rather than every weekend haha).

Upcoming races include:
Chicago Spring Half Marathon on 5/21 (use code BRCHI17 for $10 off) 
Soldier Field 10 Mile on 5/27 (use code BibRaveSF1017 for a free water bottle)
Ridge Run 5k on 5/29
North Shore Classic Half Marathon on 6/4 (use code BibRaveNSC17 for a free water bottle)
Chicago Bears 5k on 6/24
Rock n Roll Chicago 5k on 7/15 
Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon on 7/16 (use code BIBRAVE15 for $15 off half valid until 7/9)
Burgers and Beer 5k on 7/17
BTN Big 10k on 7/23 (use code BibRaveBTN17 for a free water bottle)

Ok, so maybe more races than I let on haha, but it's not EVERY weekend like this past month has been so it seems like less to me.

Those races will be for fun. I never push too hard during RnR weekend because it's usually 90 degrees and 100% humidity. Ick. I'm supposed to be in recovery mode, and instead of short miles on the weekend, I'm running half marathons. So far my body is holding up, but I think not pushing too much is the key. Not running for PRs here, and for runDisney I ran with my mom and we stopped for photos.

So other than these fun races I'll be doing, what else is on the agenda? Well, my next big goal race is Chicago Marathon. I'd REALLY like to get under 6 hours. I'll have to shave off 6 minutes from my current PR, and about 16 minutes from last year's finish time. I think it's doable, but closer to race day I'll talk strategy and finish times with my coach and see what he thinks is realistic. Training should start up next month I think.

I wasn't great about keeping up with my hydration game during vacation (I mean, I can only buy so many bottles of $3 waters), so my goal for the rest of the month is to get back to where I was before the marathon and drinking at least 64oz of water a day. I should be drinking more based on my weight, however, getting to 64 is a big deal for me, as I used to probably only drink 20oz a day. Once I can hit 64 consistently, I'll try upping it. 

Another thing I need to start focusing on again is strength training. I haven't been doing a great job with that in a while, and I need to get back in the habit. Not only to strengthen the muscles I need for running and to stay injury-free, but I also would love to lose some body fat. Going along with this, I want to focus more on my nutrition. I need to get back in the habit of weighing and tracking all of my food to make sure I'm getting the nutrients I need and not too much sugar/unhealthy fats. This is tough for me, as I absolutely love unhealthy foods. I don't drink as much beer as I used to, but I certainly enjoy it so that can add up to. I hate tracking it all, but I know it's the best way to be conscious of what I'm putting in my body and how much of it.

Do you set different goals throughout the year or have a few that you maintain all year round? I tend to need to re-evalutate throughout the year to help keep me focused. What are you hoping to achieve the second half of 2017? I know we are still in May, but with my goal race over, it was time to look again and see what I wanted to do for the rest of the year (besides having fun, of course).

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

tinker bell half marathon weekend

Can you believe it's already Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend? This trip really came up fast for me. I was so preoccupied with the Illinois Marathon and then being swamped with work I barely had time to get my packing done! Of course I did, and hopefully I have everything I need.

I figured I'd post a few last minute reminders for anyone coming to Disneyland for the weekend.

You can find the event guide here.

Make sure to print out your waiver(s) for your races – 5k, 10k, half marathon, and/or Pixie Dust Challenge.

Once you know your bib number, you can check out the corrals: Pixie Dust Challenge or Half Marathon.

Are you running the challenge? Make sure to get a photo at the expo with your bib (that's usually right next to where you pick your bib up).

Expo Hours are in this great graphic posted by runDisney

Looking for course maps?
half marathon

Remember to grab your bib numbers, shirts, and any pre-purchased merchandise while you're at the expo – Dooney purses, weekend jackets, pins, etc.

I plan on attending the Sparkle Athletic meet up on Friday at 10:30 am in Downtown Disney (near Rainforest Cafe) and the We Run Social meet up on Saturday at 12pm (details in graphic below). Anyone else going? Please say hi to me if you see me and recognize me. I can be really shy, but I'm trying to come out of my shell!

I'm thrilled to be running my fourth Tinker Bell Half Marathon! Who else will be here? What are you most looking forward to?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

sweet treats without the guilt: quest protein bar review

I don't know about you, but I am always on the hunt for a protein bar that I really enjoy. I've had quite a few (mostly thanks to races that give them out in the goodie bags or post-race), but it's hard to find ones that taste great, have the amount of protein I'm looking for, plus doesn't have a weird texture that makes it hard for me to consume. I'm very picky on texture, so it's been a tricky task. There've been a few that live up to the hype, and Quest Protein Bars are definitely one of them! Plus, it's a healthy alternative to snacking on say, a bag of chips or a candy bar.

I went to my local Target to grab two boxes (four bars in each) of Quest Protein Bars, and deciding on a flavor was tough. I had some time to think about it though, since I looked up Quest Protein Bars on the Target website, and it told you which stores had which flavors. How convenient is that? Looking for a specific flavor? Check out the website and it'll let you know. Not to mention, it tells you what aisle to find them in, which made it super easy and quick trip (much needed, as I am swamped with work currently).

I went to my local Target and since I had looked it up online, knew exactly where to go in the store to find Quest Protein Bars – right by the pharmacy. While I debated flavors for a moment, I ultimately went with Cookies & Cream and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Are you seeing a trend there? Haha – I love cookies and anything cookie flavored (these are some of my favorite ice cream flavors too).

Both flavors are great, so I'm looking forward to tasting the other varieties (Apple Pie is calling my name!). What I also enjoy about these bars are not only are they easy to grab while shopping at Target, they are a great grab-and-go snack. I toss one in my purse, bag, or whatever I have on me and it's a nice little treat while I'm out and about. I'm the kind of person that snacks all day rather than eating large meals, so this definitely fits my lifestyle. Plus, it's so delicious you think you're eating something indulgent, but it's actually healthy. Score! Way better than snacking on that candy bar that gives you a sugar crash and doesn't fill you up. I'm not always great at choosing the right things to snack on, but eating a Quest Protein Bar gives my brain and tastebuds the feeling of eating a dessert, without those extra unhealthy ingredients.

Quest Protein Bars are definitely a great way to get some protein in after your workout – each bar has 20g or more of protein (4-7 Net Carbs, 170-210 Calories, 13-15g Fiber, No added sugar.) . They are also Soy Free, Gluten Free, and Vegetarian Friendly. So basically a great choice for anyone! 

I was looking into another way of eating a Quest Protein Bar and making it part of my daily routine. What is something I do most days? I make a protein shake. So, why not add a Quest Protein Bar to give myself a new flavor? I used 4 ice cubs, 8oz of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and cut up a Quest Protein Bar into smaller pieces and blended it up. It was so tasty! Plus, quick and easy. I was headed out the door, so just brought it with me and drank it in the car. Convenient.

If you're looking for a healthy, delicious, sweet treat, I'd suggest trying out one of the many flavors (or heck, try them all!) of Quest Protein Bars. They fit the active, healthy, on-the-go lifestyle most of us runners/athletes have and won't break the bank at $8.99 a box (4/box). Visit your local Target and pick up a box of Quest Protein bars to try for yourself!

illinois marathon recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for Illinois Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Angie and I leaving the hotel room – ready to go... ?
photo credit: Ang

If you want to read Part I: expo and pasta feed or Part II: 5k recap, head on over to those links. You can read my shorter marathon review over on BibRave.

Also - sorry the photos won't always go with the text. I have too many and if I placed them where they should go, they'd all be in one spot haha.

And so we begin the long journey of the marathon (and not just how long the distance, how long it takes me to run one, but mainly I mean the length of this post haha). Make some popcorn, grab your favorite protein bar or beer (New Glarus? Revolution? Russian River?), sit back and enjoy ;)

The alarms were set (for Angie and I, at least – I know my mom woke up much earlier) for 4:45. That gave us about an hour to get ready and head out. The drive wasn’t long (15 minutes maybe), but we get anxious about parking and Angie had to find a friend to give him the bib she picked up for him at the expo.

The Start Line.

I have trouble eating before the big races, but I managed to eat half a bagel. That’s a big deal for me. I got dressed (which is always easy since I lay everything I need out the night before), brushed my teeth, and filled up my bladder with bottled water/Tailwind (always interesting to figure out logistics of things when traveling vs being home for the race). We packed up the car, checked out the breakfast foods at the hotel (they opened up their breakfast earlier for the runners which was nice – a great spread of bagels, breads, fruits, cereals, yogurt, coffee, juice, etc). I grabbed some granola bars for later, checked the room for anything left, and checked out.

When you and your best bud are together for a race,
you take as many photos as possible.

Before I forget, it was pretty chilly out that morning + very high winds (20–30mph), so I debated all night what I should wear. It was 43 feels like 35 at the start. Did I want to wear short sleeves? That was the original plan. In the end, I re-wore the long sleeve BibRave shirt I had worn for the 5k. DOn’t judge me too harshly. Haha. I ended up feeling pretty warm mid-way through with temps rising into the 50s (feels like upper 40s probably) and the sun came out. I didn’t regret the long sleeve, but I did push up the sleeves a bit later on. My hands took forever to warm up. If it wasn’t windy, I wouldn’t have had a problem, but since it was, my hands got cold and what usually takes a mile to warm them up, took about 3. Ooops.

We found Mel!

Parking was super easy. I went to the same lot that I had gone to for the 5k and there was no issue with backed up cars or anything. About 30 minutes before the race I headed over to the portapotties. We all know how important a good bathroom break is before a race. For me, especially, for the marathon, since I’m out there 6+ hours. And I know this is unladylike to speak of, but we are runners and I don’t think there is such a thing as TMI or any subject off limits haha. I wasn’t successful at the hotel. Very disappointing. It makes me anxious to not have that taken care of before the start of a race. Thankfully, I had success at the portapotty. I hate not having water and soap to wash my hands with, but I had some Wet Ones in the car and anti-bacteria hand stuff, so I used both, because I’m a hypochondriac. Ha. 

With about 15 minutes till the start (7:03), the three of us (Angie, my mom, and I) headed over to the start. Angie and I were in the same corral (did she forget to put a finish time estimate on her registration? haha), so it was nice to have someone familiar with me. Though it’s nothing like waiting in an hour corral like i have for Disney or Chicago, it was nice and helped my anxiety. I am usually very nervous before marathons (I used to be for halfs, but I’ve run so many now that they don’t phase me… unless I’m trying to PR, but that’s another story), but thanks to Angie and maybe being my fourth and feeling prepared, I was feeling pretty good. 

We ran down Race Street!

Going to our corral we spotted Mel and took a quick photo and wished each other luck. She was running the half, so I knew she’d be long gone by the time I finished. We unfortunately never spotted Andrey, but I did see his girlfriend walk by and we said hi (she wished me luck).

Anywho, they sang the national anthem and happy birthday to Alma again, and then the corrals were off. I think there were maybe 2 minutes between each one, but I wasn’t paying that much attention. I think Angie and I had our photo taken about 5 times from Marathonfoto photographers. It’s like every step forward we took there was one there to take our photo haha. We figured why not? and posed for each one.

Maybe mile 15ish or so? I liked running through this park area, though
if there were a lot of runners around it might have been hard since the
pathway is more narrow.

I hugged momma goodbye (she was running the 10k since we had a half tomorrow and even though I wasn’t reasonable in my plans, I convinced her to be smart about hers haha), and soon we were off. I told Angie not to hang back with me at all. My plan was to try and start out a bit slower that I normally do (turtle pace for most of you, and then scaling back to snail by mile 20 haha). I also knew that starting with my intervals from the very start would be the best thing for me. I have done other races where I run for a few minutes with the crowd so it can thin out and then start, but that wastes too much of my energy. Luckily it wasn’t too congested and we started maybe in the middle of the corral, so I didn’t have to work too hard to get to the side and walk when I needed. It’s also a delicate balance to not waste all my energy weaving in and out to try and be on the right to walk and then get around other walkers or runners when I need to run.

The split.

I was happy I managed a 13mm for the first two miles (how rare that I have the same pace for two miles straight!). The course was FILLED with volunteers, at just about every intersection and block. They were amazing. There were also plenty of aid stations, maybe every 1.5–2 miles, though I didn’t need anything since I like to take my own with me (I’ve learned that it’s the best for me – I don’t always like what’s on course, or sometimes races run out by the time I get further along, or it’s not frequently enough for me. I like to know I can drink whenever I want). I had also heard that the water tasted a bit funny down there. At mile 20 or so I took a cup of Gatorade, thinking it would taste normal, but it was funky (for me – I’m sure it’s just the water system and it’s different than Chicago… no one else seemed to have an issue). Around mile 22 I was able to grab a bottle of water which I carried for maybe two miles while I sipped at it.

Maybe around mile 20?

I took my Clif Shot Blok every 3 miles, and I think I stayed pretty on top of that, though sometimes I would be half a mile off when I remembered I needed to eat one. I also brought along a Clif Bar to eat at mile 10. I told myself YOU HAVE TO EAT THIS. I had been bonking during my long runs lately, and I think it was due to lack of fuel. Unfortunately, mile 10 came and my usual problem arose – the thought of eating made me gag. So, I never ate it. Luckily, I never had that bonking moment I had been experiencing during my long runs, and I attribute that to my bagel. Or my late night Jimmy Johns half sandwich after the 5k haha. Either way, something worked out great. Now to try honing in on the fueling issue during my next marathon training cycle.

Photographers happened to be walking by when I ran and they stopped
to take photos - so nice. I think they were headed to their cars to leave hah.


The course was lovely, in my opinion. Nothing super exciting, but I thought it was pretty and the volunteers really made a big difference. I was concerned about this race because I thought I wouldn’t get the crowd support I might need during times of exhaustion and defeat. They might not have been huge crowds Chicago can get (though remember my first year when I was super duper slow and most crowds were gone? Yeah, me too lol), but those singular volunteers all over the place, plus the aid stations and groups of community members outside their homes cheering, were fantastic. I said thank you to as many as I could – even at the aid stations when I wasn’t taking anything. I waved when I couldn’t speak because I was tired. I heard so many people tell me how great I was doing. Lots of compliments on my outfit. I think one older gentleman said I was cute. Another told me I won for best dressed. These kinds of things really made me smile. There were signs throughout the course with U of I trivia/facts. Others of encouragement. I saw a bunch of chalk written on the ground which, since I was often by myself, I could actually read because there wasn’t anyone in my way haha – but they were words of encouragement like ‘you are awesome’ and ‘keep going’. There were times I was feeling really tired, and this helped get a pep back in my step.

Just passed mile 26. So happy!

YAY! Haha.

I felt great the first few miles, and then there were the moments of feeling nauseous, light headed, sickly, weird leg pains (almost like restless leg syndrome type feeling, which I’v never experienced when actually moving… so odd), foot pain, knee pangs. Everything went away quick, but they all put doubts in my head. Can I really go another 16 miles? It was so windy I didn’t think I’d make my goal time at all, which was a 6:10. Around mile 8 I was thinking ok, I can still PR if I come in under 6:16. 

My mom had finished her 10k and she came out to mile 13 to see me. I told her I was doing ok and I’d see her at the finish. Truth was feeling kinda crummy, but I didn’t want to tell her because I knew she’d worry. Plus, it’s not uncommon for me to feel that way, and often times I feel much better the second half. Which is what happened. I felt pretty great through most of miles 15–20. Then my knees started to hurt, but I kept on trucking. My miles slowed considerably then, but I knew I was doing ok and ahead of my goal time (for the moment, anyway). I had a pace card printed out and in my pack pocket that I would check periodically to see how I was doing. I was really surprised when I came to mile 20 and was about 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, that time dwindled as those later miles passed, but when I hit mile 25, I told myself to give it everything I had to get to 26.2 and hit my goal and PR.

I kept looking around at mile 11 to see if anyone around me was running the marathon. There were four different color bibs out there, which made it tough to decipher, but I knew blue was the Full I-Challenge and I think orange was the marathon, then white for the half and I think yellow for the half challenge. I was hoping I wasn't the only one in the mid/back pack that was continuing on haha. It's a scary feeling. Luckily, the course was very well marked, so I didn't have to be worried about being lost without anyone to follow.

I finished my fourth marathon. Best time yet.

Around mile 12ish. the half and the marathon course splits, and I look around… there’s a person ahead of me and one behind. Not much else for a while. Eventually I catch up to a few different groups of people or a single runner. Some of them I chatted with. One guy who had run a few marathons he told me and was worried about the course closing in 6 hours. I told him the finish line was staying open 7 hours so he would be ok and not to worry. Another older man who said he wasn’t doing much running anymore. I told him that he was still moving forward and that’s what mattered. Another older gentleman who was wearing a marathon in 50 states shirt – I said that’s so cool he had done one in every state, and he told me he had done it twice. How cool is that? Basically, everyone I encountered had their own story and was amazing. It’s why I love the running community. We all support one another. 

Most of the second race I’d say I was by myself. I didn’t mind it. 

Marathon and Full I-Challenge medals.

Again, I said thank you and waved at people cheering, volunteers, police officers. I think it was around mile 20 or 21 where the course crossed what seemed like it could be a busy street. A police officer was there guiding traffic, but I still looked both ways to make sure everyone had stopped before I crossed, and he told me don’t you worry - I got you! I really appreciated that, though I wanted to say I trust you, I just don’t trust the drivers haha. Nonetheless, so great to have so many people out there supporting the runners. Every major intersection had police officers and all of the rest had volunteers. And I know they were out there just as long as I had been (and longer), so know they were tired too, but they kept on cheering. I can’t say enough great things about this race and everyone involved with it. I knew of a hill around mile 23/24, so when that came I wasn’t too depressed about it. As long as I am aware of the harder parts of a course, I am ok with it. I get annoyed though when I’m told something is flat and then there turns out to be any hills haha. I know that’s flat to most, but any hill means it’s not flat in my mind and I need some warning to prepare myself lol. So anyway, thank you to whoever it was that told Angie about it, which she told me, which had me looking at the elevation map and preparing myself accordingly.

I had to hold my bib number down because it was still so windy!

I guess back to the finish – I passed the 26 mile marker and was headed into the stadium to finish on the field. Only one other runner around me. I could hear my mom and Angie in the stands cheering. We finished. I was under 6:10 and was SO PROUD. I never raise my arms at finish lines, but I did it for this moment. And at the finish line they treated me like royalty. They got me my marathon finisher medal. Brought me my challenge medal. Gave me my finisher blanket. Took my photo multiple times, and gave me a heatsheet (which tried to suffocate me… it was so windy out still and I don’t know what I was trying to do. I think take it off for a photo, and it just flew up around my face and with my hands full of whatever, I had trouble getting it to come back down haha). There was a PR bell at the finish area and you bet your ass I went to ring it.

After some photos, I headed up the stairs gingerly, slowly, painfully to the concession area where they had giant bags of pretzels, bananas, granola bars, bagels, pasta, and Nature’s Fury. I think I got a bottle of water right when I finished, but I don’t remember. It might have been upstairs too. Lots of food left for the back of the pack. 

With the RD Jan.

We hung out for a bit, were able to briefly chat with Jan (one of the RDs for the race) to tell her how awesome it was, and yay! No rain! She laughed and said they traded in one bad weather element for another, but I think most would want wind over rain, but who knows. I’d rather be dry (well, relatively, since I sweat so much it probably wouldn’t matter if it rained - ha! But it would have felt a lot colder if the rain had come with the wind, which was a possibility). Eventually we made our way outside. The finish line party on the 27th mile was pretty much over. No more cake or beer available. That was ok, since I couldn’t eat anyway.

The 3 medals for that race weekend. Earned one more the next day.

Love this girl!
Professional Photos. Out of order. My bad.

We went back to the cars, I made/drank my protein shake (the almond milk held up well in the cooler with ice packs, thankfully), we chatted and took more photos before saying goodbye to Angie. Mom and I drove a little closer to ARC where we took showers before heading home. It was nice to get clean and put on dry clothes before the 2 hour drive back. Definitely worth the $5/person (we brought our own towels. I guess you can rent them, but they said they’d likely be out of clean ones that day or something… I’d rather bring my own anyway). The facilities were clean and though I had trouble moving, was able to get my compression tights on for the drive back haha. We stopped for gas before getting on the highway and then one more time for a bathroom break / stretching of the legs. We stopped at Jimmy Johns to grab dinner and then mom went home. We would see each other again bright and early the next day for a half marathon… which I’m sure you can guess didn’t go great the day after I ran a marathon haha.

I was so happy not only with how I ran this race, with a course more difficult than any other marathon I had run before (granted it still wasn’t super hard, minimal elevation, but more than I am used to, though I did train with some hills - proud of that because I used to always take the easy, flat routes haha), but with the race itself. It was so well-organized, with anything you might need to know being on the website or in the event guide. It was so well-thought out and thorough. So many races are lacking this, and I really appreciated all of my anxieties being let go because I could find out all the information I was curious about without much trouble. I am planning on making it my spring marathon again for 2018 and plan on breaking that 6 hour barrier I have hoping to do that in Chicago, but I’d like to keep that a trend ;) I’m sure I could continue to ramble on and on with my jumbled thoughts, but I think that’s enough for this one post. Is your head spinning? Sorry about that. I sometimes jump from thought to thought and then have to back track a bit so I don’t miss anything.

Hey look - I'm running and I think both
feet are sort of off the ground!