Wandering with a Purpose

Tag: marathon (Page 1 of 2)

Officially in Marathon Maniacs

As if Dopey wasn’t enough, I cannot believe I am now officially a Marathon Maniac. Number 15950, to be exact!

Welcome, Kristin!

What are you talking about now?

Marathon Maniacs is a club of people who like to run and do crazy numbers of marathons. When I was training for Chicago 2021, I learned about blogs and discovered many cool people and their running journeys. One that I really enjoyed is 50by25 where Laura shares her journey to be the youngest person to complete marathons in all 50 states by the time she is 25. She talks about her quest to join Marathon Maniacs and all of the connections that she has made through that club.

Her story is so interesting and motivational. When I read about this, I thought she was nuts and there was no way I could ever be part of that group. Well…this is why you should never think you CAN’T do something because, in all likelihood, you really can!

How do you join?

Marathon Maniacs has several different club levels. The lowest level (what I am), is their bronze level. You qualify for this if you complete 2 marathons in 2 weeks or 3 marathons in 90 days. I qualified during my Dopey 2023 training when I completed the City of Oaks Marathon (November), Kiawah Marathon (December), and Walt Disney Marathon (January).

3 marathons and my MM shirt

When Coach Twiggs put 26+ mile training runs on my schedule, my initial reaction was to freak out. I couldn’t do it, but I kept telling myself to “trust the coach.” He knows more than I do, so I cannot question his advice. I am trying to improve and get better. Then I thought, I can’t do that distance without a medal, so I researched races. Raleigh and Kiawah were perfectly placed on my training schedule, so (even though I was still doubting my ability), I signed up for both.

A few weeks after finally registering, it occurred to me that those may qualify me for membership to Marathon Maniacs. Sure enough, that is 3 marathons within 90 days.

What’s next?

When I go to races, I now notice people in their Marathon Maniacs jerseys and shirts. Next time I’m at a race, I am going to introduce myself. During Kiawah, I ran with a lady for a while who had done over 100 marathons (I think) and was a high-ranking Maniac.

The club also offers discounts to races and even some meetups at races. As I work on completing a race in all 50 states, I think this could come in handy for states I don’t know much about.

And, I’ll just continue to be in awe of my accomplishment!

Race Recap: 2022 Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon

The City of Oaks Marathon is held in Raleigh, NC. The 2022 event was on Sunday, November 6. This event has something for all distances – 5K, 10K, half, and full marathon. Originally, I signed up for the half marathon but when Coach Twiggs put a 26-mile training run on my schedule, I felt like I needed to get a medal for my efforts. I went back and forth for a long time on whether I should sign up for this race. I had a lot of fears:

  1. It’s a lot of pressure to run a marathon. To just do one “for training” was something I could not get my mind around.
  2. City of Oaks is not a large race like a world major or Disney. I’m a back-of-the-pack runner, so this was really nerve-wracking to be alone or maybe not even finish.
  3. The race only had a 6-hour limit. My current PR for the marathon is 5:57, so that is barely squeaking in. I would be really upset with myself if I didn’t finish, and this limit added a whole lot more pressure than it just being a marathon.

After my successful 23-mile training run, I decided to be brave and just got for it. I changed my half marathon registration to the full, and then the pressure was really on to do it. If I could stick to my prescribed training pace of 13:15, I would finish under the 6-hour limit, but also earn a PR with a time around 5:47.


The race logistics and communication were my two biggest complaints about this race. I don’t know if I was extra nervous because of the fact that it was a marathon or because travel was required. I lived in Raleigh for many years, so I shouldn’t be nervous about that, but I know that I was.

Packet Pickup

They offered to mail your race bib to your house instead of going to packet pick up. This was an extra $6.99, which is a nice option, but sometimes I like to go to packet pickup just to see what it is. They continued to mail about the deadline, but they never communicated when and where packet pickup would be. When I emailed to inquire about this, they said they weren’t sure and would communicate details later. Well, that makes it difficult to plan!

Ultimately, I decided to have it mailed to my house. This is nice because I got a picture of Churchill with a bib, even though he wasn’t there to tell me good luck for the race.

Packet pickup ended up being at a local school until 6 pm or something, so it was good that I had it mailed to me.


Another issue I had with logistics was with parking. The race started and ended in downtown Raleigh, but they communicated 3 parking areas that were between 0.3 and 0.7 miles away from the start. Some of the areas were street parking, which I scoped out the day prior. I didn’t feel confident at all that I would be able to find a parking spot, and this stressed me out a lot. I’m not great at driving, let alone in cities. Luckily, I drove through downtown from my Airbnb to those spaces and found a paid parking spot just down the street from the finish line. This ended up working perfectly, so I wish their communication would say there was paid parking in different lots downtown.

The Course

Alll of the City of Oaks courses lap each other and turn off at various points, but they all pass some of the big sites of Raleigh like the NC State Capitol on Fayetteville Street. Something I really liked about this marathon course is that the breakaway from the half and full happened at mile 8 where the full went straight onto a greenway and the half turned around at the end of Hillsborough St. Mentally, as a marathoner, that was a lot easier to process than seeing the half marathon run to the finish line when you had to turn off and do 13.1 miles more. The Charlotte Marathon is set up this way, and I think that would make for a really hard mental game.

The other thing to note about this course is that the Raleigh course is really hilly. If you’re doing the half and shorter distances, you have a few hills, but it isn’t anything too much if you live in the Piedmont area of NC, since that is just your normal. The full marathon, on the other hand, had some HUGE hills on the greenway. I remember running down one around mile 10 or so thinking this is going to be really hard to go back around. We were around mile 21 when we had to go back up that section, but that wasn’t the only one!

The Race

The Start

The City of Oaks Marathon races started at 7 am. I left my Airbnb around 5:30 am, not sure about what I would do with parking. This would give me enough time to fumble around and figure something out. I had my hydration pack full with no-flavor Tailwind, a few Ucann gels, and some graham crackers to eat before. The time change happened that morning, so I had an extra hour to prep for the race. I was incredibly nervous, so I was trying to find ways to calm myself down.

The weather was also not looking good. It was warm (I think around 74 in the morning) and the air was THICK! I made sure to pack S-Caps and Salt Tabs to help, but I knew this would make the day that much harder. I was sweating just standing around waiting for the race to start because of the humidity – this was not a good sign! You can even see the haze in this picture from the humidity. I was scared this was going to turn into 2020 WDW Marathon again, and that was NOT something I wanted to repeat – especially on a smaller race when I was already expected to struggle.

Miles 1 – 8

Since this is a smaller race (I think about 770 registered and 565 finished the full marathon), they don’t have start corrals. Everyone (all distances except the 5K) started at the same time. There was a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, then we were off. Well over 2,000 people registered for the half (1,700 finished) and 1,220 registered for the 10K. Imagine almost 4,000 all at the same time going down a city street. It was absolute madness! Topple that with me trying to run/walk (I placed myself towards the back, but then a lot of people came late), and it was a fiasco.

I wanted to make sure to start my intervals from the beginning because I was doing the full and needed to conserve my energy. I had to run through the first 1 or 2 walk breaks but eventually was able to get off on the side to walk. Originally, I started at 20:30, but I had to back off because I was going much faster than my 13:15 goal pace; my first 5K was under 12:00/mile!

I backed my intervals down to 15:30 to try to slow down. One or two people told me “thank you” for raising my arm to signal my walk break, as I think I was the only one run/walking at that point of the race.

It was really fun to run through downtown Raleigh to see all of my old sights. A lot of my downtown experience was the bar scene, so running a marathon is quite a difference! I even ran past the Junior League of Raleigh building where my Junior League career started, which was a fun surprise. It’s funny, one of my favorite things to do is to visit and tour state capitol buildings. North Carolina is one I need to do. Not only have I lived in NC longer than any other state, but I actually lived in the capital city for 6 years! So typical, isn’t it?

Even though I changed my interval, I was still running under 13-minute miles at the 8-mile mark. I don’t understand because running this interval is much slower when I’m at home.

Miles 8 – 22

Half/Full Split

The second section of the marathon was most of the race and all marathoners. I marked this off at where the half and full marathon split and the marathoners spend the entire time on the greenway. It was really hot and humid at this time. My goal was to stay strong on my 15:30 intervals for the whole race, which was okay at this point, but I couldn’t believe I still had 18 miles to go.

Mile 10

The greenway was really nice, and the noise of Hillsborough Street faded away. Little did I realize how many large hills were waiting for us! I was able to zone out here, just run, and say hi to some fellow runners while commenting on the weather. I started to struggle and chose to only walk around the halfway point. Since I did 10 miles with a power walk the day before for Mock Dopey 1, I figured if I could pull off 14-minute miles I could still finish under the 6-hour time limit. Just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I also finished my whole hydration pack of Tailwind at this point – on top of taking water at every water stop! This was going to be really hard.

It was a really scenic view, which was really nice because of the colors of the trees. Everyone was struggling at this point. Around this point, I also saw the leaders coming back down. They were looking strong, but even the fast people were walking and looking hot.

turn around

This greenway took you up until around mile 15.5 or something, which was close to North Hills. I can’t believe that I was able to run from downtown to North Hills; seems like such a far distance! When I turned back around, I saw that I wasn’t the last person and tried to cheer people along. I had started passing people at this point because it was such a struggle. According to the race results, from the halfway point to mile 20, I moved up 29 places and I was just power walking. That’s how bad it was.

There were people with medics, too. One I saw was a half marathoner on Hillsborough St. with an IV. Another girl I saw on the greenway was flush white on the ground. I kept telling myself, just be safe and be steady. This is a training run and there is never a need to push yourself that hard.

The hills were killer. Mile 20-22 was 170 ft of elevation gain, which was quite steep. Writing it, it doesn’t seem like it should be that bad, but it was awful! My pace slowed to a slow walk where I was clocking over 15-minute miles. I was definitely feeling it!

mile 22

Mile 23 – Finish

mile 25

It felt like forever, but eventually, we got off the greenway and back onto Hillsborough Street. We did a weird out-and-back then were really back onto the road to get us back downhill. While 3 miles doesn’t seem like a lot compared to doing 26, these last 3.2 miles were killer. I was so, so tired. Miles 24 to the end were downhill, but I was still walking. I was trying to stay with my power walk, but I was so hot and so dirty. It was hard having an empty pack, and I hadn’t had electrolytes or calories since mile 13. I was too scared to take any of the electrolyte drinks they had on the course because of what happened at the 2021 Chicago Marathon. Maybe it would have helped, but I didn’t want to chance not being able to finish.

When I saw the 25-mile marker, I tried to run, but I couldn’t sustain my intervals. I had to just power walk. Some of the people around me were able to speed up and add in some running intervals. I was so impressed with them! I desperately wanted to, but I couldn’t. It was one girl’s first marathon, and she was doing amazing!

Eventually, we got back downtown, and I knew we were close. We crossed over Glenwood where we started, and it was just a little bit. I tried to press on and turned the final corner. There it was – the finish line! It was straight ahead and the clocked showed around 5:57 – I could finish in under 6 hours! It took everything I had but I powered in at the end. That short speed burst clocked in at less than a 12:00 mile, I think. But I finished!

The Finish

City of Oaks Finisher

My official final time was 5:57:38. It is hard to believe that I had finished my fourth marathon, and I finished it at a race where I was so nervous. The City of Oaks Marathon is the kind of race that good runners sign up for and for people who really like marathons – but I did it! I snuck in just under the time limit, and I couldn’t be happier.

This was my third fastest marathon, but that was okay. It probably had the second worst conditions, outside of the 2020 WDW Marathon. There is a lot that I can do to improve, but I had even more to be proud of. It was a challenge for me to sign up, but I did it, and I stuck it out through the conditions, and I changed course so that I could finish. The race party was over and the race food was gone, but it was okay. I earned my cool spinner medal and gained a lot of confidence – more motivation to do better the next time.

City of Oaks Spinner Medal

Up Next

This was the first of three marathons that I have coming up. Dopey 2023 training is coming to an end, but there are still a lot of miles to go. Next month, I will do the Kiawah Island Marathon, which I am less nervous about because there is a 6.5-hour limit. Then, I will cap off my training season with Dopey 2023 in January – what I have been working towards!

If I can accomplish all of these, I am going to apply for the bronze level of Marathon Maniacs. I haven’t been able to say that yet, but if I can do 3 marathons in 90 days, I might as well. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again, but you just never know!

Race Recap: 2021 Abbott Chicago 5K

During my marathon research, I found out that major marathons host a “shake out” run the day before the big event. Chicago Marathon’s is called the Abbott Chicago 5K. Even though I was nervous about running the day before the marathon, much of my research showed that it’s a positive thing, assuming you take it easy.

Course Map

The course is a one-way 3.1 mile run through the heart of Chicago’s downtown loop area. It passes major landmarks and is just a fun way to see the city.

The course itself was very cool and a fun way to see the city. The race highlights different countries so many people had flags to run with to show their home countries.

The Start

I arrived too early because I had a hard time sleeping. It was a pretty morning and fun to watch people arrive. My guess is that many of the people running were also running the next day.

The Race

There’s not much to report on a 5K race going at a really easy pace. I felt strong the whole time but really was there to take it all in. The coolest part of the race was around a mile going up an exit. There was a group of people and I heard some rumblings. When I turned around, it was Shalane Flanagan walking up the ramp with some girls from Girls on the Run. A bunch of the runners freaked out and tried to take pictures as we passed. My pictures didn’t turn out, but it was really cool to see her on the course.

fun bag of snacks post race

The Finish

I felt great at the end. The run gave me a lot of energy, and they gave everyone a cute bag of snacks at the end. My final time was 35:24 which was about an 11:24/mile pace.

If anyone is doing the Chicago Marathon and is considering the Abbott 5K, I would highly recommend it. Not only was it a fun course, but it was a nice way to get out race jitters before standing at the start line. I think I would have been much more nervous on Sunday if I didn’t get this race in the day before. To read how the marathon went, check out my race recap.

Race Recap: 2021 Chicago Marathon

I completed the 2021 Chicago Marathon on October 10, 2021. When I signed up and started training, it seemed like that day would never happen. That it was so far away, but then, all of the sudden I was waiting at the airport to fly to Chicago.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Travel and Logistics

I flew to Chicago on Friday morning and arrived in the afternoon. O’Hare was really busy, and you could see people wearing running shirts from past races. Once you got into the lobby for the L, there were signs that advertised marathon weekend. It made me really excited. The ticket even advertised the 2021 Chicago Marathon.

After taking the L into the city, I found my hotel, HI Hostel, which was a quick walk from one of the stations. While I understand this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I cannot say enough great things about this place. I was luckily able to book a private room with a shared bath before I was confirmed for the race (free cancelation) and paid $253.85 for the entire weekend and it is a literal block and a half walk to the corrals. It was perfect.

Once I settled in, I decided to take the Metra train from Millennial Park to McCormick Center. The cost was $4 round trip, but an Uber was $30 one way. Uber’s were incredibly expensive all weekend, so I opted for walking or public transportation the entire time. The train was easy, and I didn’t feel too uncomfortable. I think it was about 3 stops away.

Marathon Expo

I went to the expo on Friday afternoon. I’m not sure if it was like this all weekend or if that was the time everyone decided to go, but the line was absolutely ridiculous! There had to be thousands of people there.

Once I was in the expo, I found the packet pickup location and received my bib. We then proceeded to another location and picked up our t-shirts.

I’m not sure how the expo compared to previous years, but it was smaller than Disney (obviously) yet I thought it was still really big. I didn’t buy any gear because it was all a bit overwhelming. I focused on getting my bib and a picture before leaving.

Evening Entertainment

Then it was time to make my way back to the hostel on the Metra to create my dinner plans. I decided on an Italian restaurant called Osteria Via Stato my brother recommended in the River North (I think) area. I took the L there, and after getting lost for a few blocks, found my way to the restaurant. Since it was race weekend, I treated myself to an appetizer (burrata) and Cacio de Pepe, which I hadn’t had in a long time. I really enjoyed the burrata, but I should have chosen a different pasta. Since I didn’t feel comfortable on the L, I walked home and saw some beautiful sights. I think it was my first time being downtown at night.

Then it was time for bed to wake up for the Abbott 5K.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Abbott 5K

I slept okay but was up well before I needed to be to get ready for the Abbott 5K. The start line is in the same area as the marathon, so it was a quick 1.5 block walk to the start. Read more about this race in the race recap.

Riverboat Cruise

After showering and getting ready, I found a coffee on my way to Michigan Ave for the start of the architecture tour. I thought this would be a good activity to see the city but stay off my feet. I had been on one when we lived here in the early 2000s and remember it being awesome. It was the most perfect day, and I got some amazing pictures!

The Evening

Alert from Chicago Marathon - one more sleep!

After the tour, I walked really fast to the train station to catch a Metra train to the suburbs to visit my best friend from high school. I spent the rest of the day with her family before taking the train back and walking to the hostel. Then I laid out my gear and tried to get a good night’s sleep.

After all of the early mornings and hard work, I couldn’t believe the day was almost here. I had a really hard time sleeping, but I just had to trust that it was all going to be okay.

2021 Chicago Marathon Run Flat

Sunday, October 10, 2021 – MARATHON Sunday

Getting Ready and Start Line

Whew. I was terrified when I woke up in the morning. I knew I had everything, but I was still so nervous. For breakfast, I ate my granola bar around 6:00 am and saved my Honey Stinger waffle until the start line. I got dressed, put on body glide, sunscreen, and my bib. It was finally time to do the actual race. My plan was to run 60 seconds and then walk 30 seconds after running for the first 1 or 1.5 miles as a warm-up.

I left my hotel around 6:30 am since they suggest arriving at the gates at that time. It was a long time to be at the start line, but I knew I wouldn’t relax anymore in my room. I wandered around the corrals for a while. I was originally in corral M, but I requested a change to L. Because of the temperature, I knew there wasn’t a snowball’s chance I would get below 5 hours (wishful thinking) and felt guilty about going to L. It all ended up working out because I couldn’t even figure out how to get to the L group from where I entered. Also, I will note, that I shouldn’t have felt guilty about starting in an ambitious group. I think people do that often.

Anyway, my conscious felt better starting in my initial group of M. I went to the corral after checking my bag, using the restroom, and decided to just wait. I had a long time left to go. Slowly but surely things started and we made our way to the start!

Marathon Strategy and Goals

As I was visualizing the course, I put a strategy together that split the course into 6 sections.

  • Section 1: Miles 1-3 > the downtown warm up
  • Section 2: Miles 3-8 > going north
  • Section 3: Miles 8 – 13.1 > south to halfway
  • Section 4: Miles 13 – 17 > the west side
  • Section 5: Miles 18 – 23 > going south and banana time
  • Section 6: Miles 23 – 26.2 > home stretch

I thought this would give me shorter mile markers to focus on and phases for focus. I knew I needed to go slow for the first three sections because I had to feel good at the 13.1 marker or things wouldn’t go well. Sections 4 and 5 would be the hardest and most boring. I wanted to evaluate how I was feeling at section 6 so I could decide if I wanted to pick it up and push towards the end.

Marathon Goals

  • Run in at least 5:15
  • PR (I should have confirmed this time before the race, but I knew it was just under 6 hours)
  • Run a steady 60/30 pace
  • Change to a 30/30 pace at mile 20, if I can’t sustain 60/30
  • Run some after mile 18
  • Finish even if I have to crawl

Section 1: Miles 1-3

The race was off to a good start. I read a lot of race recaps from previous years on blogs and what they say is true – GPS doesn’t work and it’s crowded. Everyone was running faster than I felt they should be, but it was just so darn exciting! There were so many crowds with funny signs. I really tried to force myself to stay slow for the first 1.5 miles, but I was feeling good. When I started my run/walk series, I felt really out of place. Even in my back-of-the-pack crowd, no one was walking. I tried to stay on the edge and out of people’s way. It was a challenge because I knew I had to run my race. I couldn’t follow what other people were doing. I needed to feel good and not tired when I came back down to the river again.

Section 2: Miles 3 – 8

Irish band at the 8K

Shortly after passing the 5K mark, the city becomes less congested and more residential. I keep on my 60/30 pace and was surprised by how strong I was feeling. I couldn’t get my podcasts to work, which was frustrating, but I ended up taking in the crowds and the experience. Around mile 5, you get into a park. I stopped for a restroom break and also got down a little bit of Gatorade for some electrolytes. I hate it so much, but I felt like I needed to do it.

Mile 8 and time to turn south

As you make your way further north, the neighborhoods change, but there were crowds the whole way. Even though it was warm out, it didn’t feel that bad. There were gusts of wind which made you feel cool. I tried not to think of that, but I took water at every aid station to drink and also put a few on my head to try to keep me cool. One of the things I learned during training is that your heart rate increases as you get warmer, so it is important to cool yourself off (thus, why I bought a pair of shorts).

Mile 8 was when you make your turn back south. I reached the most northern part of the course. I just kept chugging along. Slow and steady.

Section 3: Miles 8 – 13.1

The last part of the first half was upon me. At some point during this stretch, I picked up another Gatorade and choked it down. Yuck! The city started getting more condensed as we made our way back into River North.

But I just kept chugging along. I couldn’t believe I was feeling so good at the halfway mark. At some point, I passed the police car doing the 15-mile pace for Wave 2. I felt really good about that and felt confident that I could PR this race. I thought with all my training it would be no issue to PR, but maybe I would do better than expected.

Stopped to get a picture with the Sears Tower

But I knew I had to keep my mind calm. Just slow and steady, 60/30. Just keep going. Don’t get excited. Just be steady. After all, this truly was a marathon and not a sprint!

Then we started getting back into the thick of the city and back to the river when we made it to the halfway point!

I just couldn’t believe that I was feeling good and not too exhausted. Just stay steady!

Section 4: Miles 13 – 17

In my visualization, I knew this part would be hard. This was just an out-and-back going west. I wasn’t sure what would be out here to look at, but it wouldn’t be like the River District. Around mile 15, I started to not feel well. I decided to walk for a little bit, took a Huma gel, and stopped at the restroom again. Nausea just wouldn’t go away so I kept walking. When I tried to run, I just couldn’t. I started to get really frustrated with myself. What happened? Why couldn’t I run? I stopped at the restroom again another time or two but nothing was helping. I was so angry and upset.

As a note, you do pass the United Center (I think Chicago Bulls) and the place where the Blackhawks play.

Section 5: Miles 18 – 23

Section 5 did not go well at all. I was so angry. At some point, I walked over to a side street hoping I could throw up but I couldn’t. How did I start out so well for it to go so not well? I was scared I wouldn’t be able to finish because I felt so ill. I got my banana, but I couldn’t even think about taking a gel (the last one I could take was the one I had at 15). Should I just pull over and be done with it? No, I wanted the medal. I worked too hard. I told myself that my last goal was to finish – even if it was crawling over the finish line at midnight – I would get to the end, so I had to just put one foot in front of the other. Just keep going.

This section was just miserable. Just focusing on one foot then the other.

Section 6: Miles 23 – 26.2

Only a 5K remained. This was when I was supposed to evaluate to see if I could push myself further. I couldn’t I tried to run; whether it was 30/30 or just a little run. I struggled so much. By the time I made the turn back north, I started to feel hot. It hit me that it was quite hot outside. There also wasn’t any shade. My Apple Watch died around mile 24. Around mile 25, I was desperate for a water stop. I was feeling dehydrated, but I was almost there! Almost done.

Then I got to Mt. Roosevelt. I wanted to tackle this. It felt like I was running, but I doubt it looked that way. My “run” sustained until the very top when I had to walk, but I was almost there. After the top, you turn left, and just like the other recaps said – and there it was – THE FINISH LINE! I was so close. “Run, Kristin,” I told myself. “Keep going. You’re so close.”

Marathon Finish

I finally crossed the finish line and was overwhelmed. My emotions were everywhere – I was angry with myself, relieved that I was done, proud that I had completed a marathon, tired, dirty, hot. I couldn’t sort it all out. All I could focus on was finding water and then my medal. They had a cool rag which was AMAZING!

Look at that beauty!!!

Once I got my water, I made my way to bag claim to get my things and find a place to sit down.

In Conclusion

My final time was 5:53:38, which was a lot worse than I had hoped. I thought it may be a PR, but once I double-checked my first marathon was 5:52:32. Just one minute would have made a huge difference. I was so disappointed because I trained harder for this marathon than I did for my first one. The pace was about 13:45 minute/mile. I was doing closer to 11:30/mile at the beginning before it went down to 14-16 minutes during the rough time.

Marathon Goal Update

  • Run in at least 5:15 – nowhere close, but I think it wouldn’t have been in my reach if I didn’t get sick
  • PR – off my 1 minute!!
  • Run a steady 60/30 pace – oh sigh…
  • Change to a 30/30 pace at mile 20, if I can’t sustain 60/30 – even 30/30 was too much
  • Run some after mile 18 – I tried to do some running, but I couldn’t sustain anything
  • Finish even if I have to crawl – Achieved this one
me with my medal

At the end of the day, as people remind me, I did finish a marathon and my first world major. It was an amazing experience and is just further motivation to improve in the future.

Celebratory Dinner

Since I signed up, I knew I wanted to celebrate with a Chicago-style pizza from Giordano’s and a Magnolia Bakery red velvet cupcake. Mission accomplished and it was delicious!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Flew home and wore my medal in the airport with the other finishers. I was ready to go home and see my puppies.

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 18

AHH! Marathon week is HERE! Mileage on the training plan is really low this week because the focus is on making sure your muscles are rested so you can power through on Sunday.


My massage therapist was available for a massage and it was so needed. I had a really tight muscle in my lower right back. I didn’t realize how bad it was until she was working it out. That is going to help my legs a lot for this weekend.


Running after my massage did not go well. My back was so sore that I couldn’t move my legs fast enough to run. My three miles were very much a walk averaging at 12:16/mile. I know this week I need to go slow and not push it.


My neighbor ran 4 miles with me today, and we practiced my 60/30 pattern. This went well, and I felt really good. I averaged a 13:00 pace because we walked a lot at the beginning. Again, the goal was to take it really easy this week.


AHH! This was my last run at home before I flew to Chicago. I completed an easy 2 mile run at an 11:09/mile pace in the morning and then all thoughts turned to actually packing everything on my packing list. I was so nervous I was going to forget something. I couldn’t believe I completed all of my training runs and tomorrow was time to go to Chicago.

my completed marathon training plan

I should also note, I tried to eat more carbs this week, and while I never have a good diet, I felt really yucky this week. I know I didn’t do it right, and this was something to figure out in the future.


I flew to Chicago in the morning and took the “L” to my hotel – HI Hostel. I couldn’t have picked a better location as the start line was literally a block away. More on trip details later. After settling in, I took the Metra to McCormick Place for the Expo. I got my bib and then went to dinner before getting a good night’s sleep.


The Abbott Chicago 5K started at 7:30 am. I wanted to experience the race and just take it easy. I ran the whole thing averaging 12:07/mile pace. Read the race recap for more details.


Today was the big day! Bottom line, I finished the race. I didn’t meet a goal time, I didn’t PR, but I got my medal. I’m frustrated with myself, but I know the areas I need to improve. Completing a marathon is a big accomplishment no matter what the time is. I’m proud of myself because I stood at the start line feeling proud of my training and the dedication I put into this race. For more details, read my Chicago Marathon Race Recap.

me and my 2021 Chicago Marathon medal


It’s funny. I put in 18 weeks of effort and still didn’t do as well as I wanted to. It probably will always bother me. I’ve never stuck to a training plan as I did here. I’m really proud of myself for that. I know I must be in better shape than I was before, but I don’t always feel like it. What I do know is that I want running to be part of my life for the long term. This won’t be my last marathon, but I am going to focus on losing weight and getting strong with shorter distances. Once I feel like I have a more solid base, then I’ll work to attack another marathon – and hopefully earn a new PR.

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 17

The last training week before marathon day! I look back on where I started on Week 1 and can’t believe I’m actually here.


Something I really need to focus on is finding a strength routine that I will actually do. Why do I hate doing it so much?! Sigh…no workout again.


I finished my 4 scheduled miles at 11:07/mile pace, and I felt really good.


Today was rough. I was supposed to do 6 miles, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I went out and got in 3 at a 12:15/mile pace. While I’m happy I did something, I was really frustrated with myself for not being able to commit to doing all 6. What if I “wasn’t feeling it” on race day? That night I read about running mindset because I have been feeling really nervous. This was helpful and tried to get me to think more positively.


Since I had 3 on the schedule today, I did the 6 that I should have completed yesterday. This went well and I averaged an 11:07/mile pace. I was pleased with this and happy to see trying to change my mindset was helping.


Today I did get in some bodyweight exercises and stretching, but nothing serious.

Schatzi checking out my results


This was my last long run before race day. It’s hard to believe 8 miles seemed daunting at the beginning of my training, and now it was a lower mileage day. I averaged 8 miles at a 12:00/mile pace. Not sure why this was the first time, but I tried a 60/30 run/walk style which worked out well. I felt strong and somewhat consistent, so I think this is what I am going to do for marathon day. I felt like I could probably sustain that for a good period of time.


I rode my bike but otherwise took the day easy. Trying to make sure I don’t get hurt before the big day which is in ONE WEEK!


I can’t believe next week is race week. I’ve been stressing a lot about the race and worrying, but bottom line is, I have worked hard for this. Even though I am nervous, I am excited and that is what I need to focus on. This is such an opportunity. An opportunity that was taken away last year, and I don’t want to waste the opportunity again. It’s such a unique experience to run a World Major Marathon and the Chicago Marathon.

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 16

We’re down to the tail end of training. It’s the first week of tapering and quite a disappointing week for me. Trying to stay focused on being healthy, staying strong, and prepping for the big weekend.


Another strength day that I was determined to do. I did a short yoga stretch workout on Apple Fitness, but that was about it. I didn’t even close my rings. This continues to be a struggle that I need to figure out.


This is where the week really went south. I had 5 miles on the schedule and laid out my clothes the night before; I was ready to tackle all of my runs this week. Unfortunately, I got about two miles in, and I couldn’t ignore the pain. More than a goal of getting my runs in is making sure I’m healthy when I get to the start line. I’ve struggled with back pain and spasms for years. The Sunday or Monday I was supposed to leave for Florida for Dopey 2020, I had a spasm start which caused me to walk most of the 48.6-mile challenge – not what I wanted at all!

For this reason, I shortened my distance to 3 miles and walked the remainder. My new goal was to reduce the spasms to make sure it didn’t get any worse. This is a combination of stretching, icing, Biofreeze, and moving slowly.


Needless to say, my 8 miles was a no-go. My back still had sharp pains. I spent the morning trying to stretch and do light core workouts. This pain could be avoided if I would do yoga and strengthen my core. It all comes back to this – why do I avoid it! I was really nervous and mad at myself since it was a beautiful fall morning.


Still trying to be gentle, I didn’t go out for my 4-mile run but did a light walk on my 1.5-mile path. It went okay, and it was a nice morning. I iced my back and continued to stretch and do my core exercises. Even though I did an Epsom salt path after my 20-mile run on Sunday, I’m sure this flare-up was from that and not stretching enough. I vowed to myself that I would take strength training and core work more seriously. If I want to keep running and get better this MUST be part of my routine.


The sharp pain was gone when I woke up on Friday, so I decided to try to get my 4 miles in from yesterday. I told myself I must walk and call it short if the pain came back. Luckily, it didn’t, but I knew I needed to move slowly. Because of the beautiful weather, I averaged an 11:33/mile pace and kept my heart rate to 156 BPM. I did some core exercises and stretching when I got home. I wanted to make sure I was feeling good for Sunday’s 15K + 3 miles.


It was such a beautiful day, and I didn’t have any plans for the day! The pups and I had a lazy morning. I read an article in Runner’s World about Ryan and Sara Hall. Sara will be racing the 2020 Chicago Marathon, so I will be at the same race as her! She was interviewed on a podcast I listened to a few weekends ago and I instantly liked her. This article made me like them even more – they are a Christian couple who are complete rockstars in the running community. What wonderful role models! Who knows, maybe I will even pass them in person on race weekend!


As part of my training, I researched races I could do to make my long runs more entertaining. One I found is an annual race the Lake Norman 15K and 5K. It takes place in Cornelius, NC, and is one I have tried to do in the past. Today, I had twelve miles on the training schedule, so it worked out perfectly. I did 1.6 miles before the race, about 9.3 miles for the race, and finished with a final mile. Read my race recap to hear how it went!

Other Updates

Bib and beanie for the Abbott Chicago 5K

The race keeps seeming more real! On Thursday I got my bib and fun beanie in the mail for the Abbot Chicago 5K, which I plan on doing the Saturday before the marathon. I love this hat and absolutely cannot wait to get there for race weekend! During my research, I decided to book an architecture river tour for after the 5K. Time is getting close, so I need to finalize my itinerary!

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 13


Didn’t do a strength workout…again!


A solid 4.5 mile run today. Average pace of 12:41/mile


I didn’t run today. It was raining, and I just couldn’t think about doing 9.


9 miles on a weekday – this run was a major accomplishment! This is as much of a mental hurdle as it is a physical one. I did the run at an 11:51/mile pace.


1.5 miles. Just wasn’t feeling it…I couldn’t get myself to do the 5 miles the training plan had scheduled.


My training plan called for an 18-mile run this weekend. I went back and forth on this a lot. I’m not sure if it was the right thing to do, but ultimately, I decided to run 12 miles today and race my 10K on Sunday. It was tricky to figure out how to get 18 miles in with the race on Sunday starting at 8 am.

I felt good about this run which I did doing a 3/1 run/walk pattern and averaged a 12:09/mile pace. Afterward, I even played 15 holes of golf before having to leave to get to the expo before it closed.


Today was the big day! I was really excited about this race. The Around the Crown 10K is a really run event. The weather was great (even though I should have brought a hat because it was sunny!) I felt good and strong during the race which resulted in a new PR for a 10K. Read my race recap for more information.


Overall, I am proud of my performance this week. I PRed the 10K and completed my first 9-mile run on a weekday. I’d say that’s pretty good!

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Weeks 9-12

While I continued with my training plan, these weeks really got lost for both training and blogging. I’m not going to go into a summary of all of the runs, but a few highlights are:

  • Humidity was a killer
  • I was feeling really discouraged. My runs weren’t feeling good.
  • It ended up becoming a blurr

Weekly Breakdown

  • Week 9 – August 2
    • Tuesday 3 miles
    • Wednesday 7 miles
    • Thursday 4 miles
    • Sunday 10 miles
  • Week 10 – August 9
    • Tuesday 3 miles
    • Wednesday 7 miles (only did tomorrow’s 4 because of scheduling)
    • Thurday 4 miles (only did 6 from Wednesday’s schedule)
    • Sunday 15 miles
  • Week 11 – August 16
    • Tuesday 4 miles
    • Wednesday 8 miles (I didn’t get these in)
    • Thursday 4 miles (did 6 to try to make up from yesterday)
    • Sunday 16 miles (did 3 miles in the morning before the Emerald City Half Marathon)
  • Week 12 – August 23
    • Tuesday 4 miles (I was traveling and didn’t get these in)
    • Wednesday 8 miles (I was traveling and didn’t get these in)
    • Thurdsay 5 miles (felt really good to run again!)
    • Sunday 12 miles

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 7

Not a great week, but I got in all of my runs. There were a lot of factors that threw off my marathon schedule like watching Stubby and staying out later on Saturday night. Just proves the importance that sleep has and having a good routine. Not a lot to say other than that for this week.


Stubby (my Rover dog) and I went for a 2-mile walk to try to wear him out. I think he can go further, but I don’t want to make him sick from the humidity. I couldn’t make it to Pure Barre and didn’t do any yoga or strength training, so not a great day for marathon training.


After walking Stubby for a mile, I went on a 3-mile run where I averaged an 11:24/mile and average HR of 150 BPM. I walked Stubby for 1.5 miles in the evening, so I got in some good movement for the day.

success finishing 6 miles on a Wednesday!


I was so nervous about this run. Six miles is a big run for me anyway, let alone running it before work. To top it all off, Stubby needed to get some energy out on a walk. We probably woke up around 4 or 4:15 am and went out for a walk around 5 am. Stubby and I walked 1.5 miles (which wasn’t enough he said!) and then it was time for me to get my run on.

To make the run less daunting, I decided beforehand to run a 3/1 run/walk pattern, which really helped. The first mile was okay, but the second was really rough. After 3 miles I felt more in my groove. 11:46/mile and 155 BPM.


It was another very early morning so I could walk Stubby for 1.5 miles again. My neighbor joined me for my 3 mile run today. I definitely run faster when I’m with someone. My Strava heart rate graph showed me in the tempo zone for most of the run, so I guess that means it was a tempo run? Regardless, I felt good and averaged 11:09/mile and 164 BPM.


Pure Barre at 6 am. That was all I did because I was exhausted from Stubby’s stay and just wanted some downtime.


A short walk and Pure Barre was all I got into today since I had to work. I ended up going to my mom and dad’s that night for a boat ride and some fireworks. I was nervous about how it would affect me on my long-run Sunday, but it was a great show, so I’m glad I went.


YUCK! I felt so tired after this 12-mile run. I should have slept more the night before, but the weather was just awful. Overall, I averaged a 13:02/mile pace and 145 HR. It was all I could do to finish, and there’s not much more to say than that. Not feeling good like I did last week.

sunrise over the lake
Even though the run was awful, I at least got to see this beautiful view.
« Older posts

© 2023 The Rosy Wanderer

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑