Running longer and faster… a few thoughts…

Posts tagged “Chicago

Recap 2014…

First week of the new year reaching its end… Time for a short summary on how 2014 went…

Figures first: Races: 4 marathons, 4 half-marathons, 3 10K, 2 smaller races.

Back to the beginning: Dubai marathon. Great start with a new PB by 4min 44sec and year objective reached by 1min 1 sec… Could not wish for better first race of the year. Once again, tricky conditions for training with rubbish weather in December and January, BUT a really good finish of the year training with 477km run in December which probably helped a bit for getting this result. Sun shining… and surely starting to think about what other objectives should be set for this marathon distance for the rest of the year… Next step: busy March with first : Semi de Paris. New PB by 16sec for a race which was counting as training-race. Good way to train the running, the “Oooohhhhh nooooo… I dropped my gel and had only one for the whole race…what should I do now”-energy plan and enjoy fully the scenery 🙂 Two weeks later, had nothing else to do but to register to an 8km Spring run and got a PB on it (once again, first time run = PB 🙂 Liking it!). And then came the cherry on the cake: Copenhagen half-marathon, standing as well this year for World championships in half-marathon. CRAZY new PB by 2min 41sec since SdP at the start of the same month. Getting as well WAY under the objective set for the year. And a great celebration with running-buddy “Trickie” who was joining the race as well. So after this, the cup felt full and happy I was. The year had only gone 3 months and all felt fine… Got to run our 4km terrain club championship and got first place woman 🙂 Still fine year, right? But it was without counting Rotterdam marathon in April. Dubai, Copenhagen, Rotterdam and Chicago were the A-races of the year. But having set PB in Dubai and Copenhagen, I was more than happy to run a fast race in Rotterdam and that would do… But nope. All preparations had gone well, two weeks after Copenhagen I was standing in Rotterdam with stomach aches and not able to keep anything in my tummy. So the plan was just to complete the race… Which ended with a first half in 1hr25 and a final time of 2:57:25, new PB by 1min 44 since Dubai… and 4th in age category 🙂 Wow, the year was just great. After that focus was on Chicago in autumn, with a few races on the way there. First was mid-may with III Subida a la Cruz de Benidorm, 10K race which I took first day of “training-vacation” in Spain and got happily to cross the finish line first of all ladies (after a huge 2km uphill and a super fast 2km downhill in the middle). This fun training-race under the sun was followed by a lovely sunny training week in Spain (and crazy pain on the front of hamstrings… which made me understand WHY downhill training is of importance sometimes!). Back home it was time for Göteborgsvarvet. There was a dip in motivation for this race. Which was anyhow planned as training race and hopefully to get sub90. Which I did…for a couple of hours…until the elite field was granted with 14 extra seconds for all times due to issue with the start clock. Ending 1sec above 90min… Next stop was two weeks later, the capital and Stockholm marathon. Once again this was as well Swedish Championships and even though it was not top-race on my plan, sub3 was a wish… This was without thinking of a bad turn that happened the week before and the pain in the knee until the race. Got the race done, half way as planned but by km30, the knee just did not want to cooperate. Good time anyway with 7min 43sec faster than last year, but missed the sub3. No worry, I had my knee still there and that what’s matter right? A PB without knee? Not too good 😉 Followed a recovery month, meaning crazy daily rehab training, skipping the 10K-races planned in July and finally got to run ONE 10K on the 2nd day of Augsut. Musselloppet. Crazy time right before the race (took us over 2 hours for driving a distance which should have taken us like…30min?), arrived at the race 10min before start and understood when getting there that it was NOT a flat race, but a 2-laps race with hills… No crazy time, but got the “knee-test” passed. No pain. All good for next race at the end of August: Midnattsloppet Göteborg. This one is a midnight run and started with 5min heavy rain on us, right before a delayed start. got a good training (when I woke up after 4km reminding myself it was a 10K and not a 42K…). Once again, knee-test ended well. So training continued and it was time to get ready for the test-run before Chicago: Stockholm half-marathon (standing for Swedish Championship this year). Great weather, body fine, still took it easy for not pressing the knee. Which ended in a PB (he he he…you know…first time for this race = automatic PB 🙂 ) and a sub90 half-marathon which gave me a 36th place in the Swedish Championships. Happy, because there were crazy fast chicks this year! Got to congratulate JP for his crazy achievement in this race too. So nice to be able to celebrate after a race with people you like 🙂 All-in-all, it felt that “more ready cannot be” and October was already there. And Chicago marathon. Spent a week in crazy warm North Carolina the week before and got to Chicago where a mild weather was given to us. “Tricky” was there as well, which made this race even more fun. Right before the start, the left calf did a bit of boring reminder like “youhouhou…I’m here…”-like, but race is a race and it was just one of the most amazing experiences to be in this race. Until 20km, all felt good and perfect, but then the calf did not cooperate too much, and the choice was pretty simple: I have two calve (got them at borth: no change nor refund possible) and there will be other races… Chose to slow down and complete the race. Will be back there in better shape. Missed the sub3, but got rewarded with a 1380th place out of 40,418 participants. 172nd woman. I think it is good 🙂 Got some rest after that. A bit of motivation was lost due to this “miss” in Chicago, the calve were not too happy, letting me run but not as much I wanted really. So skipped all races for the rest of the year and focused on training to get the best start in 2015. Ended December with a new all-time-high in volum with 513.5km run 🙂 A good ending.

Sooooo: for last year: 2014 was a great year for running. In figures (because it is fun!): 3,929.1km and over 313 hours spent on the roads (the number of steps added to 3,384,900 (calculated with an average of 180 steps/min :)), on 3 continents. Travelling is part of it and fun, but not all the time. Food? a couple of problems before races, which strangely gave me the best times achieved this year. Looking a bit more on food for recovery. When I have time… Long runs? not as many as I wished, but definitely lots of fun out there! Massage? Should be sponsored by a massage company for all the time I spend there too! Core exercises? Surely a great improvement since last year. Can be seen on pictures 🙂 but as well in the running where it feels better longer. Back ache? nope. Alternative training? biking a bit and not enough swimming (this will change this year!). Running on terrain? Surely added this in summer and late autumn (will continue this year too!). Trained under any weather condition and did take time for resting too (thanks for a wonderful crazy sunny summer, got a nice tan as well ;).

Would say that the year had gone all well as a whole. With surely some times with feeling down, bits of lack of motivation, knee and calve showing that one should clearly respect one’s own body when running and training in general. But when looking back, it was a great year. Let’s see what 2015 brings us, shall we?


Race Report – Chicago marathon 2014 – 2014/10/12

Planned: As usual there was a plan 🙂 This time it was in this order “sub3, sub2:58 and anything faster than the fastest so far is nice” 🙂 Preparations had been going well, but a bit bumpy with the left calf issue that has bothered me the past 3 weeks before the race.

Actual: 3:04:32… PB on the route (this is the first time I run here, so PB it is J). No crazy time, but the ranking made me happy: 172th place (women), 35 (age category) and 1380 (total out of 40,418 participants completing the race…). So surely was a bit far from the time objective, but having a complaining calf from km15 does not give many options… Enough said: great race, superb support from the public of Chicago and with pre-race + mid-race conditions, I am satisfied! This was an experience really (especially before the start and the last 2 km…)

Race results:

Place (M/W) 172
place (ag) 35
total 1380 (of 40,418 participants!)
age/grade: 75.97% (2014 Stockholm 76.76 / Rotterdam 78.43 / Dubai 77.74 / 2013 Berlin 75.74/Stockholm:73.1/Boston:72.19/Dubai: 72.35/2012 Berlin:68.29/SF:65.66/London:66.47/Dubai:66.6)
time total (netto): 03:04:32
time total (brutto): 03:04:32
average pace: slow 🙂 (4:22 min/km)

Official splits

Split Net time (difference)
5K 20:48:00 20:48:00
10K 41:46:00 20:58:00
15K 01:02:54 21:08:00
20K 01:24:36 21:42:00
Half mara 01:29:14
25K 01:46:34 21:58:00
30K 02:09:02 22:28:00
35K 02:31:54 22:52:00
40K 02:54:57 23:03:00
Marathon 03:04:32

*****************

M Day-2 & -1

Little reminder: pretty late arrival in Chicago on Friday before the race due to issue with the air traffic control. Made my arrival after midnight instead of 8pm… Good I am an easy sleeper on plane 🙂 Saturday was dedicated to…walking !!! Walked to the Hilton hotel for taking the bus to the expo. Boston marathon feeling to be only runners in a school bus to somewhere J Pick up of the BIB (cool to be in the #1 pick-up area out of 50). Then walking around with Tricky in the expo. Found sunglasses and off to Starbucks for hot soychocolate and a pain au chocolat and headed home. Walk back home. Finally met my host, a bit of chat and headed out there for final run. Took the subway to the McCormick Place (Chinatown) and ran the last 2+km on Michigan avenue + to the finish line. Good. Now back home…via a bit of tomorrow’s race on Adams’ street (this is so powerful to see those blue stripes on the pavement…). Back home, shower and hunting for food. Discarded the Italian close to home as it looked mostly pizza and I wanted pasta. Could not find my way to Little Italy 😦 and stupidly walked and walked and walked to find back the Vapiano I saw while running…not knowing it would take me back to close to Millenium Park. Food. Linguine Bolognese. Safe choice. Took forever to walk back home as I took wrong sense and got North instead of heading to Greektown. Really annoying to add all those km in the feet. Whatever. Back home. Chilling out. Slept a bit. And prepared my gear and review the map for tomorrow. Double check where to drink and take the gels as well. Cold shower, massage of the legs and headed to bed.

Before the race

Started early, with the alarm ringing 3:20am. Once again this feeling of shouting “who set this stupid alarm so early” reached the mind, not knowing really WHY I should be going up that early. Quickly settling with myself that it was time to get ready. Had been in bed around 10:30pm but took a little while before sleeping deep and definitely was deeply in dreamland when it rang! Oat-porridge (well, half a portion as looking at the full portion made my stomach a bit unhappy) + Nesquick milk (could not find less than extra large soy milk bottle so I bought the day before a little bottle of chocolate milk which I know my stomach had taken fine before). Green mix with apple juice as well. And a banana. And back to bed.

4:00am (and every 30minutes after that) – drinking alternatively Gatorade and water. Making the mouth a bit dry to have Gatorade directly in the morning, but you gotta to what you gotta do, right? 5:30am – final drinking and off to the shower (cold). Getting ready. Added my stuff in the transparent plastic bag for the race. Wrote the expected splits on my hand (decided for the fastest pace :)) and it was already after 6am and I was therefore late according to my schedule…

Wishlist for Christmas...

Wishlist for Christmas…

06:20am – Headed to Grant park in the dark and under the light of the city. Nice in the air. Jogged my way to the start. Alone at first, getting some “good luck” from policemen already in place for the next to start event of the day (aka the Chicago marathon J). Lots of car traffic at this time of the day…a Sunday! The closest to the park, the more pedestrians to meet and most of them (if not all of them) were of my kind: runners J Still jogging easy to the start. Had a 7:30am start, but being in the American Development program I had to be in the tent and changed before 7:00am to head to the start before the Elite. So yes, I was late. Same nice feeling as other great marathons starting early in the morning, seeing this wave of people moving towards one spot. Soooo extremely nice. Found my way to Gate 1. Quick chat with two guys in the queue. One congratulate me to be in the American Development program. He is also aiming for sub3, starting in corral B. A funny chick is asking to an official volunteer whether there is an “express lane” to the corrals J Made us laugh a bit. I could do with an “express lane to the finish line” if there is any! Gate 1 is reached, turning a bit around to find the tent of the American Development program. Really cool! Special entrance and there you can see those crazy-fast people already warming up in a specific separated area. Trying to spot some of the elite, but honestly they ALL look fast to my eyes. To the tent, choosing a table in the corner, taking off my warm clothes and the speaker sounds already that we have 7 minutes (yes, SEVEN!) before we leave the tent to the start… Fastest un-clothing ever, anti-chaffing cream where it is supposed to, massage of the calve with chilli cream, asked for a before race photo and closing my bag. Fastest stop at the loo ever (great to be in this American development program as the area is sealed and aaaaaall the porta potty are for us (for now). No queue. Washing my hands with alcohol gel and remembering that I have my splits and gel time on my hands… They are fading away already… and we have not started the race yet… Aaaaahhh…We are leaving now…

Morning on the run towards the start...

Morning on the run towards the start…

Still time enough for some more pics...

Still time enough for some more pics…

Finally reaching my gate...and the long queue

Finally reaching my gate…and the long queue

the "non-fast" lane :)

the “non-fast” lane 🙂

towards the start (I think...)

towards the start (I think…)

6:46... not much time left to reach my tent...

6:46… not much time left to reach my tent…

The "fast and serious" ones warming up...

The “fast and serious” ones warming up…

"Blurry" me in the tent before start

“Blurry” me in the tent before start

07:00am – an official get us to the start through a little passage. Getting a cheering hi from Tricky on the other side of the hedge and then it becomes all quiet (kind of) in the head. Very cool. We are placed in a start corral right behind the elite wheelchairs runners. So, here I am. Chicago marathon 2014. First line. Don’t even dare looking behind me. 40,000+ are supposed to be behind me. Listening a bit to the chat all-around. To the gal being asked how she will do today “Oooh, aiming for 2:39 if this is a bad day” she answers and the guys asking her answering back “Yeaaah, such days happen as well. Then I would do probably 2:26-29. Good luck to you then and hope for a good day”… Hmmmm…. OOOOOOOOKAAAAAAYYYY…. I feel COMPLETELY misplaced here. I KNOW there are fast people, I have SEEN some, I saw that in Chicago there ARE fast chicks (100 first last year were sub3), but this? Seriously? Should I move back to the next corral? Some of the girls are looking so tiny and cool. And all are talking sub 3 (nooo. Sorry, not “sub3”, but sub2.50 (for the slowest…)). Does not matter. I did qualify for this group, so I have right to a spot here. The American Development program is a specific one recognizing some of the athletes that have a good regional or national level but not on elite-level. They also accept international runners in this corral (as long as you do the qualification time, which I did). OK, I’m in. Checking for the third time my laces on my shoes and then doing the stupid thing of checking how my calve are… which results in my left calf not being happy. Noooo. Not now. In 42km it will be fine, but not BEFORE the start, I think. Too late for withdrawing. Not that I would have done it anyway, but seriously putting a shield on the part of my brain which KNOW that there is something not good in this left calf. I choose to ignore it. If running fast enough, it won’t hurt. Just have to do it for the full marathon distance… Hmmm, ok, then. Game on!

7:17am – National anthem is sung. That.is.so.beautiful. The sun going up in the skies, this angelic voice singing. The tears are actually coming to my eyes. Same feeling before start as in Chicago and Boston when this song hit the air. Could just stay here for a while…

7:20am – Start of the wheelchair race. Strangely did not hear the gun-shot of the start. Just saw them starting. Then runners with disabilities are feeling the place left. And we are actually asked to move to the close-by corral to be behind the elites…WHAT? And we all thought we would be starting in the lane parallel to the elites (like group C in Rotterdam – see race report) L Finding my way to a nice spot close to the start line. Can see some of the elite, like the guy who won Rotterdam this year. SECOND time I see him (last time he had a large smile on his face and was just passing km40 at Rotterdam…when I was heading to km30…) and the little gal who won last year the Chicago marathon and the Boston marathon this year. She is smiling already 🙂

7:28am – the air feels loaded now and there are less and less people talking. Is there anything happening soon? The music is still on.

7:29am – on my watch. It is quiet now. No more music. Waiting for the countdown to start….

The race

07:30am – I noted an official raising the hand and saying quietly (he is a few meters from me) that the start is soon….and it IS the start! Did not hear any start shot whatsoever. But all runners are moving and I press my watch right away (being in the American Development program, this is the brutto time that is taken. So as good to be 1) as close to the start line as possible and 2) start the watch on time). No real push, but once again this wonderful wave feeling towards one goal: the finish line (which ironically is literally a km or so BEHIND us… we will just take a little detour of 42.2km before getting there… :)). Passed by many, I am careful not to get a too fast pace from start. Thought that if I can maintain a 4:08/10 until half way, then I should still be in good shape for either continuing on same pace or derive a little bit (and still have good chance for a nice time). The start feels like it is going a little up towards…a TUNNEL! Now I cannot remember having read how long is this tunnel, but really hopes that the GPS won’t disappear already so early in the race. And it seems fine. A bit tricky to run in the dark there. Already the runners are spread across the whole tunnel. Lots of place for everyone. Hearing a chick beside me recommending to a friend to run “ON” the blue dotted line because “someone told me this is the shortest path to the finish line”. I smile to this comment 🙂 Breathing under the tunnel is quite ok, but not perfect. But soon it is over and the sunrays are upon us. Km1 is reached after taking our first turn left (Chicago has 31 “90-degrees” turns…and still is one of the fastest races on this earth!). Mile 1 is passed in 06:30. Which I think is a bit fast. But this is not crazy fast. So ok. My watch is as well showing 1.6km at this mile1-mark. So no GPS issue. And new turn into State street. This is magnificent already. It is 7:30am. A Sunday. And your ears are submerged by the shouting and cheering of the people all here in the street. Really? Just for us? Wow! That.is.cool! Down down down the street and new turn to Jackson Blvd and then to LaSalle street. (Yes, I know. I studied “a bit” the map and know – almost by heart – which street to pass and when.  But mostly in the middle of the city.)

Mile 2 is passed in approx. 13min +. Still fine pace I think. Have skipped the first aid station. The plan is alternate energy and water until half way. So I am taking Gatorade at the second aid station. This is a bit after the 5km mark. But I never SEE the 5K-mark 😦 My watch has been beeping and yes I know the 5K is supposed to be a little bit after the mile 3-mark, but still. Have I missed as well the time-matt? And here comes the lady holding a … 6km-mark sign… NOooooo, I am almost telling her. 6km-mark is a bit before where you staaaaaand…. Heading forward. Looking good. It is not too fast and not slow either. Cruising pace and I like it. Can be going well today. Entering Lincoln park (already?). And second aid station. Water it is. Those aid-stations are incredible: loooooong, on both sides of the road, soooo many people giving the energy drink first and then the water and not only that… they are CHEERING as well (surely, I think by then, that it is because it is the start, they are just not tired yet… but it is actually like that for ALL aid stations on the course!!! THUMBS UP FOR THOSE VOLUNTEERS REALLY!). Can’t tell I really enjoy the scenery in the park. Having three chicks in front of me, which I am following closely. Close enough to hear they are chatting about all and nothing. 4:06min-tempo and those gals are having a “chat-tempo” 🙂 Running for a while behind them, close to them, passing them, passed by them. All good. And all with the sun shining on our side. Just feeling that the stretch to mile 7 will never end… And then after that I cannot see the next turn left coming either. Have they changed the route, I thought? This part is run with the motorway on the right-hand side. Can remember this from the youtube video I checked before the race 🙂 Aaaaand the turn arrives….aaaaand the next as well. And I am SOOO happy to see mile 8 mark appearing and the aid-station as well. The windy part is arriving. And no one to get the back to. Aaaaa! I don’t like this. Need to accelerate or to slow down a bit. Not a chance. I’ll run on my own then. Have even the time to read some of the many posters along the way. I like the “I thought they said 2.62 mile” or “You can run slower tomorrow when no one is watching”. Other original ones are “Smile if you’ve peed in your pants” or “In our eyes, you are all Kenyans” or “My friends are running faster than yours”.  Or “WTF??? = Where is The Finish line???” (he he he, cheering people CAN be so creative!). I also liked running and hearing the crowd cheering for “James”. Must be a famous guy this one, I thought, but did not dare to turn and check. When he passed me, he had simply (daaaa!) written his name on his tshirt. This made the trick! And surely I got a large smile from him when he passed me 🙂 I even enjoy being passed sometimes! Here right after mile 8 and reaching the aid station, I think (?) I mistakenly took some Gatorade instead of water. But redeemed myself (!) by taking some water right after 🙂 New stretch to half-way. Well, I think more “up to km20 and it will be soon finished”. Reaching km15 ain’t a dance in the park (we had left Lincoln Park anyway…ha ha ha :)). The left calf felt a bit and I don’t like it. No stop though. I am still on a good time and this is more a “feeling” than an “ache”. First thought (of many during the rest of the race) saying “if the calf gonna explode, it won’t be helpful at all (not now and not ever after)…better do regular check on this”. Energy drink at the aid station after km15. The km-marks are now 100/150m away from my Garmin-“beeps”. So I lap the time when coming to 15km. Feeling still fine (apart from this *#%%&! calf). Trying to see the Willis Tower (which is the new name of the Sears Tower for anyone asking…). I am still a bit behind the now-“two chicks with the “4.06min-chat-tempo”. One of them has dropped behind and is behind me slightly. Not many gals passing by, but enough for me to think that this is extra place in the finish which I will have to get before the end. More energy at the aid-station after mile 10. Cheering is just continuing on and on and on. And I liked this looooong stretch on Wells street. Especially for 1) being a looooong straight stretch and 2) passing again Ohio St, which is one of my reference mark for saying “soon to the 20km-mark”. Skipping all aid-stations after this one and just running. Which is fine, but now the calf is not happy and says it clearly. [Take a towel in your hand and hold it loose (each hand on each extremity). Then pull to straighten it. And pull a bit more (like it feels it is going to break). Yap. You have now what it felt in my calf.] Good for me that, by now, the right front thigh is happily cramping a bit. So I can balance my thoughts on both sides of the body 🙂 ANYTHING but thinking of the pain itself. Km20 is reached and I see that I am not gonna make my planned 2:56 and not even 2:58. Even though for this later one, it looks still “kind-of ok”, I know myself and that I won’t hold this pace one more half of the race. Smile on the face and turning into Adams street. I KNOW THIS STREET! Have ran it yesterday (and walked in it later the same day when I lost my path in the nice city of Chicago…). Being passed by a Swedish chick from Hasselby. Heja Sverige 🙂 Had been passed already by two Swedish guys before that and they cheered for me. So I am just passing it on as well 🙂 Passing the bridge (Ooooooops. Almost falling there. Good they had those mats on the bridge btw to cover the holes) and seeing the mile 13 mark. It was not there yesterday and I am so happy to see it. Push push push and the 13.1mile mark is there. 1:29-something. Sub3 won’t work this time. Just make it to the finish line and keep this smile on the face J

SECOND HALF

Adams Street is just straight and a long stretch, meaning I.like.it. OK, I would have liked it even more without this stupid calf pain, but I have agreed with myself (!) to get this over with. Surprisingly, having passed the half-way mark is giving me extra strength (not that it shows on the pace, but at least I know I am less than 21km away from the finish line 🙂 ANYTHING will work for motivating the mind!). Greektown is crazy. Cheering is just everywhere. They had surely been there for a while, but still…GUYS! IT IS SUNDAY!!! Trying to see if I can recognize my hosts in the crowd, but too many are shouting. Taking first gel at the aid station before mile 14. Beurk. Orange sticky stuff in the mouth. Not good. Thanks for the water (which I take quite well actually. Thoughts I have by now is that the drinking at aid stations has been working quite well. Apart from one where I got some energy drink in the nose…). Have also thrown water on the left calf & knee at all aid stations since it started to feel unhappy. At least for a liiiiiittle while, the cold feels it helps.

Turn left at the end of Adams Street, a bit quieter (which is appreciated actually) and one more turn (have stopped counting down the 90-degrees turns after Lasalle Street….). New aid station (already?) and energy drink. And water. I actually walk there. Around km25. Not because I am tired. Far from that. But I want to feel how my calf is. And it is hard like stone. The right one is also hard, but can be massaged a bit. Not the left one. OK. I skip touching it until the end. The 3:00-group is catching up on me and I could not care less. I just want to get to the finish line in one piece and having a calf that can still carry me home. There will be other races. And the most important: I am still happy running 🙂 Taking my second gel at the next aid-station. Once more, incredible disgusting stuff with orange taste in the mouth. Difficult to swallow even. Water water and more water. I am happily cruising towards the end. My watch indicate 4:12 but I know that it is at least 4:16-pace. Don’t care. No, actually. I do care. But it just does not matter. I am closer and closer to km30 and I like it. Warm becomes warmer. Decide to lift my singlet and risk to have a cold stomach. But would not care less. I am warm by now. More turns. More energy drink. In Little Italy there is a street towards University Village where we got cheering from both sides and so close to us that the ears are close to exploding! Thanks anyway. Keeping my lips smiling! Km30 is reached. 12km to go. Nothing. A morning run. A “back from work” run after a long Monday. Just have to make it to km32 and then I can start racing, I thought. I will have done a nice 32km-long run and finish strong with a 10K-race 🙂 Yap! Still believing in my strength to carry me to the end! Water at the next aid-station. Cannot tell that I noticed the “no man’s land” of “half-way to km32” in this race. There has been sooooo many cheering all the way, that I never felt alone, whatsoever. Probably one of the few races I can recall feeling this way. Reaching km32, I even think “where is the limit of the no man’s land? What is before or after km32-mark?”. Energy at the next station and finally crossing the water one last time (I was soooooo looking forward to this… Felt surely like rubbish then on this final bridge (it DOES feel like an uphill), but did not matter. It.was.the.last.crossing.of.the.river!). One more turn and tried to keep up with the two gals that passed me on the bridge. Energy gel. Good this time. Cola-taste. OK, it taste disgusting, but at least it was liquid! Long stretch along the road and towards Chinatown. Gosh, this felt so great hearing my watch beeping km35. My (tired) brain has calculated “down” the km left. And now it is 7 to go. THIS.IS.NOTHING. Because in a short short while, I will be at km40 (and yes I knew it was 5km to go to km40, but this is how my brain is reasoning at this particular moment. No comment needed 🙂 I let it work its way towards the finish!). Energy drink and water at the aid station after mile 22. A bit boring stretch there I have to recognize. Did not get much energy but from the sun in the face (should think of some ways of using the sun energy when I run…). One more turn and one more and one more and… WHEN.WILL.THIS.EVER.FINISH?!?!? I WANT TO BE IN MICHIGAN AVENUE NOW! I DESERVE IT! And suddenly a last turn and here it is. Cannot recognize it directly as I never went than far south. But when taking my final gel after mile 24, I know… I know it is soon finished. Mile 24 is only 2.2 miles away. Which my brain cannot calculate in km, but does not matter. It sounds short and easy anyway. Passing McCormick Expo on the right and I.AM.HAPPY. Because I know the rest of the route.

By km40 I cannot understand what is happening with those legs of mine. We are now not many runners (well, we might be many but I cannot see a lot in front of me and the avenue is soooooo large that we have the place we need!). I feel like flying. Surely not a WR-pace but I don’t care. I am happy (did I say it already?). I have only one goal now. Passing people before the finish line. And for once, there are gals ahead of me. They look tired. They MUST look tired. I am getting closer and being a good runner, I even cheer them and others when passing by. I hear  more and more my number – 435- go for it. Not sure I thank the people for that, but gosh, this feels good. Because it must look good, right? Otherwise they would not be cheering, right? Passing the gal with black short shorts and blue singlet. One done. Paaaaaaaaasssing the other gal with the rainbow socks. And one more done. Gosh, the next one is accelerating or is it me slowing down? Passing the 25mile sign and then the 25.2mile sign. CAN’T THEY RIGHT 1KM TO GO? My brain does like the “1” in “1 mile to go” but it does not correspond to any mark I know. But here it comes. The “800m to go” sign. Yoooooohooo! Soon there. And behind me this guy running is cheering all other runners: “Come on, the finish is over there on the other side of the bridge. You can do it. Don’t stop now”. (And no, this is not my brain talking. The guy is REALLY there). This gal ahead of me is tricky to get. The little bridge to the finish line does feel in the legs, but by now my feet ain’t touching the ground any longer. My arms are balancing so like crazy. This is the finish. Smile right and left for the guys taking pictures. And passing her and…nooooo there is another chick ahead of me. 200m to go. Can make it. Can make it. Won’t make it. Can make it. Don’t care less. The clock is under 3:05 and that just feels good. And HERE.IT.IS.FINISHED

Official time received later: 3:04:32 (same as on my watch 🙂 )

 

Smiling under the sun - done!

Smiling under the sun – done!

Well-deserved medal :)

Well-deserved medal 🙂

Smiling me after the finish line, the massage and a bit of food in the tummy (with the skyscrapers in the background...)

Smiling me after the finish line, the massage and a bit of food in the tummy
(with the skyscrapers in the background…)

AFTER THE FINISH LINE

Not much happens or so much happens… thanking the rainbow socks girl. Getting a few smiles but lots of people seem to be in pain. No wonder… YOU HAVE ARRIVED BEFORE ME!!! You were too fast. Learn this! 🙂 Walking, walking and walking more. Getting my space blanket and heading forward. Medal with extra cheering from the lady giving it to me saying she likes it so much to see women crossing the finish line 🙂 Sounds cool indeed. More walking. Getting my goodie bag. Grab a banana. Getting some protein drink (and yes vanilla taste is disgusting! Even after a marathon!). Getting a plastic bag full with ice and my knee and calf thanks for it. But I do not stop. Unsure I would be able to start walking again. Heading forward and more and more… are we going to do the full race again, I thought? ( I need carbs, because the brain does not think straight now!). Finally getting my way to Buckingham fountain. So nice and sunny. Forgotten the wind I felt during the race. Now it is finished and it is sunny. A bit painful to walk, but does not matter we ALL walk the same way “penguin-style” 🙂 More walk and more walk. And the post-race party field is in sight. As well as the crowd waiting for their runners…and before that 4 terrible steps to walk down… sounding like ouch ouch ouch and ouch (and not just for me but for the guys before as well :). We understand each other!). Reaching the massage tent. Giving my name, getting a table with two gals and hop on the stomach for massage. Niiiiiiice! Getting to the American Development tent. So much more people than this morning and this sun! What a sun! Showing my BIB on my bare stomach and getting my bag back. Walking slowly the few meters to the grass and after having dropped my stuff on the ground, asking a nice guy to take a few pics (always good to do it when the adrenaline kick of the finish line is still keeping all levels up as well as the smile. Pain is no longer an issue. Distance is no longer a problem. All is good now…for a little while :)). Now I can sit (!) on the warm asphalt. Taking of my shoes and socks and sending the few sms required. Then the fun part arrives (always try to have fun…): getting off those somehow sweaty clothes and get into fresh ones. Yoga postures are far from being easy and I would dare anyone to say they are tougher than trying to get undressed and dressed after running a full marathon. Anyhow, got into new clothes. Enjoyed a bit of the sun for a while and then decided it was time to head back home. A good race in a nice and sunny city. Good way to end the week, indeed!

After the race

Back home. Walking with the most proud smile on my face (ok, maybe it is pain making me smiling, but the mind does not get it and the people around neither!). Receiving so many “good job” and “congratulations” on the way back home. The legs are feeling fine. I am happy. Crossing Hulsted street where some runners are still there. Wow, I am even more happy and stopping for a short while to cheer for them. They all look good to me. Finally home. Cold shower (does not matter as the body feels nothing by now – well, this is not correct. Cold water IS cold water!). Into fresh clothes and then resting a bit with the legs upright. Hmmm, that feels good not to do anything at all…until I have to move a bit to write email in the business center downstairs (the wifi is still not back at home). Feels like 187 years old… but still smiling (so it cannot be THAT bad). After resting, heading to Starbucks for hot soychocolate and a pecan tart. Meeting Tricky and pizza for celebration. Add to this, 2 pints of coke. Yapp, calories are the least of our concerns this evening. We just need food and chat non-stop of what we’ve been through.

THIS.WAS.A.GREAT.DAY…AGAIN!

on the way back home under the sun

on the way back home under the sun

still running...

still running…

Celebration maxi "meat and more meat pizza"

Celebration maxi “meat and more meat pizza”

*******

Weather: Nice in the air at start (8ºC according to Garmin. OK it would have been good to have a little blanket like the “2:39-on-a-bad-day” gal was having and to throw before start). Pretty nice from the moment we started running. A  bit windy on the way down South. But all good overall. Saw the temperature signs along the road showing 11ºC, 14ºC, 62ºF, 71ºF, 52ºF and not in this order probably…

Food:

> before: oat porridge +nesquick milk+banana + green mix/apple juice @3:30am / Gatorade&water alternate every 30min
> during: Vitargo gel @km13.9, 26.4, 33.6 & 38.9 (i.e. aid stations #10,12,16 & 19) – energy drink (Gatorade) at stations 2,4,6,7,11,13,15,17 and water at the other aid stations (Dextrosol: can recall taking two dextrosol around the end and close to an aid station but don’t know when exactly. Must be the one before the last gel)
> right after: banana + 2*Gatorade protein drink.

> late after (5pm?): garlic bread+salsa + 2 slices of “meat and more meat” pizza shared with Tricky+2 pints of coke…

Gear: Moremiles short shorts (2), MIK Singlet, arm sleeves and  blue sunglasses (the new ones). Shoes felt perfect. Once again they felt like nothing. Was a bit anxious that the Achilles heels would feel afterwards, but nope. Nothing. They are good shoes. No, GREAT shoes J
> outfit was perfect for the weather. Could even have run with my calve sleeves if they were not that “thick”. It would have been good with some support, but would have been way too warm really.

Shoes: ADIDAS AdiZero Adios Boost orange

16/ here comes the tricky part again. Until km20, the effort was a good 14/15. No pushing nor extreme effort. To reach halfway it required a bit more than that. But was it effort level higher? Or was it the pain that increased? Because by not pushing more nor accelerating, the effort was not increasing much. Surely have the thoughts of stopping juuuuuust for a little while crossed my mind a few time, but definitely would not set a 17 as overall effort not even for the part where the pain was higher (NOTE: it was more some ache than pure pain. Pure pain would have been to push harder and stupidly think I would make it unharmed… By not pushing much, the pain was contained and the effort remained “low” ore decent). So strong 15/low 16 average I would say even though might have reached 16 during a few km before km25 and then went down to 15 after the 3:00-group passed me. Good level of effort for this result. The final 2 km did see an acceleration but effort-wise it did not feel high – mostly because it was not “high” to start with. As a sign was showing during the race “if you haven’t peed in your pants yet, that means you are not running fast enough!”. So yapp… probably I did not run fast enough… 🙂

Pain level: Nothing from start. Even though had felt a bit in the left calf before start, it did not feel anything until km15 or so. This is those things that if you do not touch there is no pain. As soon as you touch, THEN it is painful. Conclusion: do NOT touch! 🙂 No excruciating pain as I felt in the knee during Stockholm. Was smart enough for not pushing at all after km25. There will be other races for achieving faster times. I don’t have any other calf….

********
SUMMARY:

Good race! With those weather conditions, I would have loved to write “GREAT race”, but the body felt otherwise. And the mind was smart enough for not asking more than necessary for this time. Final race of the season, it would have been nice to have a little better time, but once again, finishing was an accomplishment in itself. And the time is decent after all. As said “long run until km32 and then 10K-race” J Feeling great to see the first half was stable and very close to the previous race in Stockholm. Definitely got caught in calf-problem from km20 onwards. Still having enough strength to finish the last 2km in a decent 4:10-tempo and final 200m in 4:02 J a bit of order in this world, please J What went really good was the carboloading, no problem with stomach (apart from cramp the first day drinking Gatorade…probably too much in too short time), good pre-race day (apart from the 15+km walked & run…I know I know…)… I.AM.HAPPY. Crossing this particular finish line made me feeling in love with the world! (thanks Mr Sun for shining down on me (and all the other runners!).

Support for the crowd? Once again, they get my full points. Awesome. Top notch. More than brilliant. Setting this race to the same high level point as London marathon. Both got my favorite times with the crowd. I just never felt alone. And if I did, the crowd put be back on track so fast that I did not noticed it. THANKS!

First half went as planned until slowing down around km20. Well-controlled, decided from start NOT to go fast as I did in Rotterdam, but nicely and easy. Which worked well. Stability is the word for this first part of the race. Hanging along and would have very much like to have some running buddies to run with for conversation J Second half went as planned with the “reviewed plan”. So fine by me this half too!

New distribution of thank-you and more: for the supporting words, the trainings, the cheering, the laughs and other runs over lunch or early morning…. Just pick! As usual there are limits you believe cannot be pushed but they are. Not always in terms of time or distance. But of “will to finish”. All finishers get stronger just by crossing this finish line (and I got a rush of love at this time 🙂). So once again: THANKS!

***********************

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: the body felt all good during the week before the race. Surely a pain when touching the left calf right before start. Still not thinking it was unsmart to start. With the knee pain in Stockholm, this was stupid to start. But not this day. Once again, listened to the body and went along with what it could give for today.

NOTE: warmup? Totally inexistent. Surely had jogged to the start, but no real warmup. Not an issue really I think. Felt ok.

NOTE: Energy/refuelling during the race? Once again, felt it worked great. A bit tricky to keep up with which station to get what, but apart from one station which I think I took incorrectly form what I had planned, all worked as on rail. Good mix. Was it too much? Don’t know. Kick at km 39? Worked as a charm!

NOTE: Vitargo gel in the sport-bra? NOT WORKING! This has to change really. No burn mark this time (had cut the sharp edge and had them in a sock), but still. Probably need to change brand for my gels to have smaller and more practical ones.

NOTE: Chicago is definitely on my list of “to be run again”. Unsure if it is that fast for my taste, but next time I’ll be ready to take on the windy city as it should be!


Chicago marathon 2014 – 3:04:32 :)

And finally the last race of the season was completed in 3:04:32.

Second autumn race. Missed the sub3 objective, but a quick health check around km15 made the choice pretty simple: either push slightly harder and hope the left calf would not explode on the way to the finish line OR make it through the kilometres left at a still quite decent pace and get happy to complete one more race. (I chose the obvious second option! There will be other races…).

Happy place 172 (women), 35 (age category) and…1384 (total out of 40,418 participant runners…). Not bad,  not bad…

Form is still good 🙂 No pain in the calf a few hours after the finish line.  Sounds fine to me.
More to come (when I have access to wifi and a computer…)


Chicago 2014 – M Day – less than 10 hours to go…

Back a few hours: Flight left 9:40pm, landed well. The issue was that there was a fire 2weeks ago in Chicago and the air traffic control still have problem because of that… Landed late, got on the train and one hour later was arriving in the nightly city. Took not long to get to the apartment but there, the doorman could not get to contact my host and I almost fell asleep on the couch in the entrance. Midnight and I had finally reached home, got a shower and was in my bed. Counted until 1 and ZzzzzZzzz…

Up early, felt quite rested. But seriously? 5:am and pitstop already? Back to bed for a bit longer and 7:30am direction shower (cooooold and then a little less coooold). Got ready for breakfast but having arrived late home, I did not have neither oat nor soymilk. Not chancing on cow milk, the breakfast became: green mix with water and a banana. Left home to walk to the Hilton hotel for taking the bus to the expo. Nice and sunny in the air, hoping it will remain the same for tomorrow. Boston marathon feeling in the bus full with runners 🙂 Met Tricky at the entrance of the expo. Picked up my BIB at #1 desk out of 50 🙂 Cool with a 3-digits BIB number. Then easy around the expo. Getting new sunglasses (one pair similar to my current one which has fallen once and have annoying marks and one pair… for being cool 🙂 ). Then hot soy chocolate and pain au chocolat before heading home.

Best view to start the day...

Best view to start the day…

right?

right?

Boston-marathon feeling - taking the bus to the expo

Boston-marathon feeling – taking the bus to the expo

Pick up area #1 :)

Pick up area #1 🙂

Smile smile and more smile

Smile smile and more smile

 

Suuuuure!

Suuuuure!

Met my hosts and chatted a bit before leaving for a final easy run. Took the subway to Chinatown and ran the last 2km on Michigan Avenue. Easy up the avenue, running carefully on the sidewalk. Good to see how it looks like for tomorrow. Then turning right to the crowded little bridge towards the last 600m and then seeing the finish line. Good to know! Ran along the park to the start and seeing where my start corral would be. Right behind the elite field 🙂 Cool! Then headed home through Adams street. This is where the halfway mark will be tomorrow. Nice to do some recognition 🙂 Then back home and shower. Before going out to hunt for food.

The dotted blue line :) More smile!

The dotted blue line 🙂 More smile!

Aaaand so close to the finish line

Aaaand so close to the finish line

REALLY close!

REALLY close!

and this is the start.

and this is the start.

More blue line

More blue line

Missed where Little Italy was (!), so aimed for the Vapiano I saw while running. Yapp… Not remembering it was that close to Millenuim park (meaning walking 2.5km to get there…). Finally arriving, getting my linguine bolognese + extra bread with olive oil on it 🙂 3:32pm. TWO hours late on my planning. But the food was good.

LInguine blolognes + bread and olive oil - good carbolunch

LInguine blolognes + bread and olive oil – good carbolunch

Then back home would be 2km right (as I would not go through searching after Little Italy..:)…but nope again! Got to the wrong direction and when seeing the TRUMP building coming closer and closer, I knew something was wrong. Yap. Got to turn around, find a Starbucks for updating my map and noticed I was way off track. So turn and turned and turned again and finally got to Adams street again (the same one I ran a few hours before) and almost tears in the eyes, got back home. Now, took a tea and got my legs up (finally!) and took some rest. Slept 1.5hr, well-deserved and then up again. If I would sleep now, I would be up all night… Took the time needed for preparing my gear, packing my bag and re-checking the route for tomorrow. Finally got wifi as well with my kind hostess’s husband making a hotspot on his iphone so I could use it for getting to the outside world 🙂 Had a last check on the route on youtube and then it was already 10pm and time for bed.

Race outfit ready for tomorrow

Race outfit ready for tomorrow

10:23pm – time for one final gear check and heading to the pillow. Tomorrow it will be for real…

NOTE: Today was a bit odd because had to make so many pitstops to the loo and did not feel like drinking much more than normal for a day before marathon. But probably should have eaten more carbs to have this fluid remaining in the body. To be noted for next time…and hopefully won’t have any similar “problem” tomorrow while running…

NOTE2: Weather-like it felt quite nice today and hoping that tomorrow will have a similar weather. No rain nor wind. That would be brilliant! But whatever weather it is, I will be happy, because I will be running 🙂