Going into this weekend, I was really excited for a race. I kept thinking how fun it is for races to be back on the calendar after a very hot and humid summer. And while the humidity and heat aren’t gone, we have had enough days below 100 and cool mornings to know it will be here soon. Those were my thoughts until I selected my shirt to wear for the race – the American 4-Miler shirt I got last month. Oops, yes, that was in the summer on a very hot and humid morning.
Anyway, this morning (August 27) was the fourth race of the Charlotte Six-Pack Series called the Yiasou Greek Festival 5K. This was my first time doing this race, but I had heard a lot of good things about it over the years. People like this race because it is flat (not a common thing in Charlotte) and the Greek Fest is a lot of fun. I didn’t realize until the day before that Greek Fest is actually going to be September 10-11, this year, so I wouldn’t get to go to the festival after the race.
I picked up my bib at the Run for Your Life store in University. The lady there told me that the race used to be before the festival, but it was really hard to set up for the festival with roads closed for the race. Oh yes, that makes a lot of sense. They did give us two tickets to attend the festival, so I may check that out in a few weekends.
This race starts at the Greek Orthodox Church on East Blvd. and runs around the Dilworth area. I love this area, so I knew it would be a good race. The houses there are adorable, and it’s covered with trees, so we should get some good shade.
It is essentially two loops of the area (which is how it can be so flat!) around the church.
The race started at 7:30 am in front of the church. The sun was coming out, but it wasn’t fully out. The weather was nice (I think about 21 degrees Celcius or 70 degrees F). It was a bit humid but was a really nice morning for a race. The DJ was playing “Let’s Get It Started in Here,” and we were off.
My goal for the race was to run 2 minutes / walk 30 seconds, which was Coach Twigg’s suggestion. Based on my most recent Magic Mile time, I should do a 5K at 9:14/mile, but I just don’t see that happening. My goal was to PR the race (beating my Hot Chocolate 5K record of 32:45), but I was really nervous about being able to do that. I wanted to do the 2 min/30 steady and just feel strong. Around the Crown is next weekend, and I really want to do a good job there.
There isn’t much to say about the actual run since it kind of ran together. I opted to listen to music since it would only be about 30 minutes, and I needed to get my feet moving. I started running and ran through my first walk break because the path was so congested. Eventually, I made some space for my walk break and was able to sustain that pattern the whole time. There was supposed to be a water stop at mile 1.5, but it was really before mile 2. I was quite thirsty and very grateful for the volunteers and that cup! By the time I got to mile 2, I was feeling really tired, but I knew to keep pushing since I just had a mile to go. It’s so different running a 5K compared to longer distances.
The sun was out, and I was really sweaty by the second mile. I think it was really humid since it wasn’t really that hot. After the race, I checked the dew point, which was 70 F, so I think that’s what did it.
Regardless, I kept trucking and was feeling okay. Finally, I got to the end and could see the finish line in the distance. I wanted to keep going, but I had to take a couple of extra walk breaks to recover. I think I was running too fast, even though I kept telling myself to be steady.
Eventually, I was able to cross the finish line with a final sprint in the last 0.1 miles at an 8:56 pace to finish with an official time of 31:47! A new PR! My splits were 10:08, 10:12, and 10:25; proof that I was getting tired and slowing down. I was so happy when I crossed the finish line! I think a sub-30 is definitely a possibility if I continue my training.
The finish line celebration was fun. I grabbed my cup (their replacement for a medal this year) and some water. After recovering with my water and taking some pictures, I scouted out a banana and then a King of Pop popsicle. This is a local popsicle vendor that is delicious! This is what should be served after all races instead of beer! (I think that comment could earn me a lot of hate, but hey, I like the idea.)
This was a fun, local race. It is small, but a very manageable event. I watched as some runners finished up around the 45-minute mark. I love these events because people of all types and backgrounds can do it, but they are out there doing it. It just makes me happy that there is a community and businesses that hosts these events. There were several families out cheering for us as we passed their houses, too. Thanks for all of the support!
The American 4-Miler is part of Run Charlotte’s 6-Pack race series. I had done the race in 2017, but the chip fell off my bib, and I didn’t get an official time. I am usually out-of-town for July 4th, but because it was on Monday, I decided to give it a try. This is also the first time I signed up for the entire 6-pack, so I might as well try to do them all.
As you can imagine, July 4 in Charlotte can be a really hot day. When I took the dogs out today, I didn’t think it was too bad. I left my water bottle out last night so I had it ready to go. This morning, I decided it “wasn’t as bad as yesterday” and that “it was only 4 miles” so I could make do with one water stop at the 2-mile mark. That was dumb. That was very, very dumb.
One of the reasons this was dumb was because I did 12 miles on Saturday and was so pleased with my new hydration pack. I love it. One of my best running decisions ever, so why I decided that two days later I didn’t need a small handheld will remain a mystery. Don’t be too tough.
The race was held in the midtown area of Charlotte, which is a really good location. We parked at a parking garage by the Trader Joe’s, who was a sponsor for today’s race. I arrived around 6:45 am for a 7:30 am race since I had to pick up my bib and shirt. For some reason, they changed the pick up on Friday to be on Saturday, which is really annoying. For anyone trying to go to the lake or beach this weekend, you would have to be there on Saturday. I was hoping to go on my way out of town Friday, but nope! I got it this morning, which turned out to be okay.
The 4-mile course would take us around Dilworth, which is a very familiar area to me. I usually drive around the area, so it was neat to actually run it. I’m horrible with directions, so I get from point A to Point B to Point E by Google Maps. What would have taken me a Google Map saga showed me how close things really were to one another.
Anyway, the race started with a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. I wish I would have written down her name because she sounded so wonderful! I love kicking off an event with our national anthem on a normal day, but today it was particularly special.
There were several hundred people at the race, so it was one of the better attended races for the season. When I looked at the results later, it showed there were 607 finishers, so quite a large race! I am always in awe of how many people sign up to do races. These people are either committed to doing something healthy or committed to a challenge. Think about how easy it would have been for them to sleep in or not make it back to town because of a lazy holiday weekend. Anyway, the DJ made his announcements, and we were off!
It was really busy at the beginning. I decided I was going to run this race at Coach’s prescribed half marathon pace, which was based off of my new magic mile (MM) time. This pace was 10:45/mile. In my normal training runs, I do a 60/30 ratio of running to walking, but I always feel like my time is high. On his recommendations, I am supposed to do a half a 10:45/mile and a marathon at 11:40/mile – both which would use a 60/30 pace. For the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around how you can change your pace in the same way. On Tuesdays call, I asked about this again and people suggested modifying the ratio. For this race, I decided to give 60/20 a try because I was told walking breaks should max at 30 seconds. Rationally thinking, I should walk less to go faster, right?
The beginning of the race was so congested! The roads were one lane and there were so many people. It’s so hard to do a run/walk in a race where people don’t practice that. At a Disney race, people will start that from the beginning, but at local races, that isn’t popular so people go all out right from the beginning. I tried to start further back, but I think I was too far at the front. Anyway, I eventually got to a part on McDowell where I could get on the sidewalk to take my 20 second walk break. From there I settled into my 60/20, where I would raise my left hand to signal that I was walking. Once I was about a mile in, more people were walking.
The course itself has some rolling hills, but nothing particularly terrible or notable. I was able to run most of the hills during my run time. But once I was a mile in, I knew not bringing my water bottle was a very, very big mistake. While the heat/humidity wasn’t anything like when I golfed yesterday, it was still horrible! I was already sweating and very thirsty. My goal became to get to mile 2.
The first mile went by in my steady 60/20 pace. By mile 1.5, I walked through one of my run times, but eventually I was at the water stop. Whew. That little cup of water, though, nope, definitely wasn’t enough. Again, I cursed arrogant Kristin thinking that it wasn’t necessary this morning. Humidity is no joke – water is needed. Eventually, I looked down in the second mile and saw my swollen fingers. Then I cursed myself for not bringing my Salt Stick tablets because my fingers hurt.
The third mile marker came right as I was about to start a walk time. I had definitely walked through some of my run times. I wanted to hit my 10:45 pace goal, but gosh, it was so hot. “Just be steady,” I kept repeating to myself. “You CAN do hard things,” was the other thing I kept repeating. I was listening to podcasts, so I had something to think about, but I was really ready for this to be over. I was surprised at how many people I was passing, but I’m sure they all went out too fast. This was just proof that my Galloway training was working the way it was supposed to work.
The nice thing about mile three was that I knew I was almost done. I didn’t even have miles to count down. I was behind a pair of women during this mile who were swearing the weather. One of the girls said, “this is bull****.” I chuckled to myself because, yes this was bad, but you signed up for a race in July. I mean, were you expecting to decide between a long sleeve and short sleeve shirt? That put my concerns into perspective, and I told myself to get on with it.
I was sticking to 60/20. I was at mile 3.5, and my app told me it was time to walk. Do I run the last half or stick to my plan. I decided to stick with my goal of hitting 10:45/mile (which I was really close), and I opted to walk. It was hot, and I recall reading somewhere that you should add time to your goal if its hot, but I couldn’t remember the numbers, so best just to stick to my goal. I’m a Southerner, so man up.
Then I got to mile 3.8 or something, and my beep told me to walk. I rounded the final left turn and saw the finish line. Screw that – power to the end! I was on to the end. Not a full out sprint, but focused and going; it was a race after all!
I crossed the finish line to a song that made me happy, but I can’t remember what it was. It was surprising that I even passed a few people in the finish chute, but gosh, I was so happy to be done. I felt like I had gone swimming and, after finding some water, I really, really wanted a shower. Instead of medals, they handed out medal cups. This was my third cup I earned, but I miss a medal. I get that medals aren’t practical, but neither is a medal cup. Oh well, I know a lot of people like the cup, but I am not one of them.
In my dehydrated state (for the third time), I forwent my concern about germs and filled up my cup with water from the water stop. Run Charlotte is trying to be environmentally conscious and has you fill up your cup from the water bottle instead of having plastic water bottles. I agree with reducing the amount of plastic, but I hate not washing the cup first. On top of that, they still support plastic Gatorade bottles, and I don’t drink Gatorade! Be consistent or don’t, but I would really appreciate a bottle of water. If you want to say no bottles, then have a community Gatorade fill-up, too. <rant done>
I was so proud of myself – my finish time was 43:00 which was a 10:46/pace. Despite the horrible heat, I basically hit my pace. I walked several of my run times during the second and third miles, but I was still about at my half marathon time. Hooray!
I didn’t stick around too long before heading home – a shower was required. Not bringing my beach towel was another regret like the water bottle. I was a sweaty mess! Also super proud I wrote my race recap the same day as the race – this is my new goal! 🙂
This was my third weekend in a row with a race having just completed the Corporate Cup 5K. I was worried about this when I signed up, but I was doing it for fun, so I figured a race is always a fun way to get in miles. It was neat to run different areas of the city for mornings when I should have been getting in a run regardless!
The Shamrock 4 Miler is the first run in RunCharlotte’s 6-Pack series. I have participated in some of these races before, but I decided to sign up for the whole series this year since I am not really traveling and as a way to focus on getting faster on shorter distances. They also bribed us with an AWESOME RunCharlotte quarter-zip up, and that is what sealed the deal. I love this and know I will wear it often when it is cool outside.
The race was held on March 12 in South Charlotte which is an area where I haven’t run before. We started at a local restaurant, Famous Toastery, which is the sponsor for this run. I have about a 45-minute drive to this area, and it rained at home and the entire ride down. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t feel like going for a swim. But I am trying to be consistent, so I packed up my flip-flops, a towel, extra clothes, and a plastic bag so I could complete the first of my six races. It would be bad if I didn’t make it to the first! As luck would have it, the rain stopped when I got to the parking lot!
Of course, the event team was planning for rain, so many of the pre-race tables were canceled, but they had fun music playing and everyone was happy the rain had stopped. Despite the weather, there were still a lot of people there and a lot of people were picking up their cool zip-up, so many people look to be doing the entire series! That’s great for the organization.
It was a neat race. There were some hills as is typical in our area, but we ran through the commercial area of Blankney and some neighborhoods. I was still struggling with allergies, but I earned a PR of 44:16 because the only other 4-miler I did my tag fell off. It was still a decent time for me even though I didn’t feel well.
The rain held off for the whole race, and I avoided puddles…until I went to find our post-race snack. After the finish line, I stopped paying attention and my right foot went straight into a puddle! At least my flip-flops were waiting for me. Instead of medals, the race team is giving our medal finisher cups. I thought this was clever.
Famous Toastery hosted a delicious breakfast with quiche, fruit, and coffee which hit the spot after a run. Even though it was 9:30 am, Wicked Weed was there with beer that we could take home – classic Charlotte race move. While I was waiting in line for breakfast, a man saw my runDisney hat. We started chatting, and I felt like I was meeting a celebrity! He was perfect marathon, Dopey, and Princess! For those of you who don’t know about runDisney, that is crazy! 2023 is the 30th anniversary of the marathon – that means he has done every Disney marathon weekend for the last 29 years. He hasn’t missed one. On top of that, he has done all of the Dopeys (9) and Princess weekends (around 20?). That is such an awesome commitment. I told him I was planning on doing Dopey in 2023, so hopefully, I would see him around in the future. Kudos to him!
I really had fun at this event, and I can’t wait for the series’s next race in May – Hit the Brixx 10K, which I have done before.
The 2022 Truist Corporate Cup was held on March 5. The race includes a half marathon and 5K. My understanding is that it is advertised to many of the large corporations in Charlotte for their employees to do. I had never done it but decided to sign up when they partnered with the Around the Crown 10K, which I will do on Labor Day weekend.
There weren’t as many people there as I expected, and many of them were doing the 5K. The race started at Truist Stadium, which was nice because it was open to use the restrooms. There was also free parking at several of the parking garages Uptown for the race.
My allergies were awful that morning. Instead of racing, I told myself to take it easy and just get in the miles. I had run the Fairy Tale Challenge the previous weekend, too. If I wanted to walk a lot, then I could do that. Despite not being able to breathe, I did a lot better than I thought I would. I finished the Corporate Cup 5K in 33:32, which is just 47 seconds off my PR time.
The final day of the 2022 runDisney Princess Weekend Fairy Tale Challenge was Sunday, February 27. I woke again at 2:30 am for my final early wake-up call of my 3-day running adventure. I was definitely tired but still excited to complete the last day of the challenge which is the Princess Half Marathon. This was also the first time of my previous 9 runDisney races that I wore a “costume.” I would be a version of Minnie Mouse by wearing a black tank top and a red skirt with white polkadots.
I felt good after completing the Enchanted 10K the day before and spending the day in Animal Kingdom. I was able to get back to the room early and get a goodnight sleep.
My goal for the race was to have fun, feel strong, and get some good character pictures.
The course map for the 2022 Half Marathon was similar to all of the other runDisney Half Marathons I have done. I think the only time it differs is for Wine and Dine weekend, but I have never done that one. The half marathon course is my least favorite because there is so much boring highway running.
As they do with all races, the runDisney team sends you off in style with music and fireworks. I was in the 3 wave, and since I was by myself, was able to get into one of the first groups that went off. I like the new model, but it’s just less formal than the way they did it in 2020.
As I mentioned, my goal was to be steady, feel strong, and just have a good time. I did 60/30 run/walk increments. RunDisney is nice with this because many people do the Galloway method. The beginning is a lot of highway running with some characters on side of the highway. You can see picture of some of them below. Even though there is nothing super exciting about this part, it is worth it because it is SO EXCITING when you enter the Magic Kingdom, turn on to Main St. and see the castle in front of you.
The course goes into Tomorrowland and then you make your way into Fantasy Land. When I went past Ariel’s Grotto, I was hoping to see Sebastian (I got a picture with him during Dopey 2020), and I was thrilled to see him and Prince Eric.
After this, you make your way through the castle where you are given the opportunity to get a picture in front of the castle. They have several photographers and the lines go really quick, so I recommend everyone stop here. This year, I got my favorite castle picture to date. I think it was the Minnie Mouse look that did it!
After the castle, you wind though the Liberty area to Frontier Land and then leave the Magic Kingdom. You go past the hotels and get back on the highway for more running. At least here there are lot of characters, and they try to keep you entertained. I was feeling really strong and stopped to get pictures with a few characters, which I found really fun.
Making Friends with Donald Duck
Eventually, as the hot, grueling sun beats down on you, you eventually make it to the backstage of Epcot and you know the end is close. I was really excited to see a character stop with Mickey and Donald! I had to stop and get this picture even though I had to be half a mile from the end! As I was standing in line, Mickey had to leave. I was two people away, and the photographer motioned to the girl in front of me that it was her turn. She asked when Mickey would be back, and he said a few minutes. She told him she would wait, and well, if you know Donald, he was NOT happy. Poor Donald Duck! I said I would be happy to get a picture with him, and he was so happy! I felt good making Mr. Donald Duck happy since I know he always feels slighted by being second to Mickey.
The half marathon by nature is going to have more characters than the other courses, but there were definitely characters we had seen on other days. There were LOTS of princess (as there should be!) I wasn’t able to get pictures of everyone, but I tried. Some of my pictures didn’t turn out because it was just so busy at the beginning.
It was a hot day, so getting to the finish line was very exciting! They also had cold, wet towels to help you cool down. RunDisney always does a great job taking care of their participants.
I finished the half in 2:57:31 with a restroom stop and several character stops, so it was a complete win for me. My goal was accomplished since I had fun and felt really strong through the whole race. I didn’t train as well as I should have, so I was a bit worried about how I felt. Since completing Chicago, I hadn’t done a lot of running besides a few of the smaller races I signed up for in 2022. Completing a challenge is a big accomplishment for me, and it continues to amaze me that I can do 3 days of walking/running and still feel good.
After I got my Mulan medal at the finish line, I made my way to the challenge tent to get my Moana Fairy Tale Challenge medal. Then it was time for my celebratory picture at the photo booth. The sun was out in full force, so I didn’t really get a good picture, but it shows that I made it! Then it was time to get to the bus and make my way back to the Art of Animation for a shower and to get Mom to go to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. It was truly a magical trip. I just love runDisney events!
2:30 am on February 26, and I was excited to get going! The alarm went off, and I tried to be very quiet getting ready so I didn’t wake my mom. I decided just to wear my race shirt since I didn’t do a good job trying to put together a costume. It was a pretty purple shirt with Tiana on it, who was the focus for this Enchanted 10K.
The bus ride was very easy, and we got to see a beautiful Spaceship Earth as we walked to the corrals. The 10K is probably my favorite race distance. It’s long enough to be a challenge, yet it is doable for all people. It’s a distance I feel comfortable it trying to get faster, yet it isn’t taxing like a marathon.
It was a busy day again and so many fun costumes! I love seeing the designs people put together; they are so cleaver. It’s amazing how many people were there doing the challenge. The 5K is not included in the Fairy Tale Challenge, like it is in Dopey. Our bib was different today and had Moana on it. There were A LOT of Moana bibs. I assume that if you enjoy running and you just have to do one more early morning, why not do it and get the extra medal?
The race started at 5 am, which was earlier than in past years, but the time they tried to get the marathon to start in 2020. I’m not sure what they did in 2021, but I assume the earlier timing helps with 1. traffic in the parks and 2. getting people out of the heat sooner.
This course was really exciting for me! I couldn’t wait to do Hollywood Studios AND Epcot, plus getting to go around the Boardwalk. I remembered doing the 10K during Dopey, and it was my favorite course. Since there was another course, this had to be better!
Afterwards, I heard people say they don’t like this course because there is a lot of highway running. I kind of understand what they are saying, but I don’t know what the option is. I don’t know if the highway running here bothered me like it does during the half marathon. They had a lot more characters out in that space, and getting to go through 2 parks (even if it is for the last 2 miles or so), still makes the race a lot of fun in my opinion. I’m not sure what the construction situation will be for 2023 Marathon Weekend, but I hope they keep this multi-park course in the plan.
There were lots of characters out on the race course, which I found exciting. Many princesses were out like they were out the day before. I always try to take pictures of them, and I think I got all of them on the Enchanted 10K course. I was making good time, so I even stopped for a few of the later ones who had more manageable lines. The Frozen sisters, Tiana, and Aurora had INSANELY long lines. I always feel like I’ll get swept by the balloon ladies if I were to stop and wait for them.
The sun was coming out when I crossed the finish line for my first Enchanted 10K, and I felt great! I took the race easy because of the half tomorrow. The Disney photographer even got a great finish line picture for me!
I finished the 6.2 miles in 1:35:42, which I thought was pretty good given my restroom stop and my several character stops. My PR is around 1:08, but the goal at Disney is to have fun and not to PR.
We got a really beautiful medal – it has the EARadecent look like from the 2022 Marathon Weekend medals to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. The green and gold just looks so good together! I think this was most people’s favorite medal from the weekend, and I would have to agree. It was the most beautiful one.
After getting my medal and box of Disney race food, I stopped to get my celebratory picture at the photo booth. I was a sweaty mess (it was humid that day!), but I was excited! I had two medals in my position, and I was ready to accomplish the half tomorrow to get my final two. Before then, I had to get back to the room so Mom and I could tackle Animal Kingdom and get some pictures with our new bling!
To motivate me while training for the 2021 Chicago Marathon, I read a lot of blogs of people who talk about their running and race recaps. Many people were participating in an event called “Hot Chocolate 15K” which seemed like a lot of fun. I learned that it was actually going to happen in Charlotte in February, so I decided that would be a lot of fun to try. The 2022 race happened on February 19, which was the weekend before the 2021 runDisney Princess weekend. I didn’t think the 15K would be possible that close to the challenge, but the 5K seemed like a perfect alternative.
One of the reasons this race is popular is because of all of the swag. Instead of a normal race shirt, participants get a really cool puffy coat! The size fits small, but it’s really comfortable and warm.
In Charlotte, it was a big race. They held the expo at the convention center, which means it must be a big race. For having such a big space, the expo was very small. I think they could use a different, less expensive option in the future
Race morning was busy and COLD! There were a lot of people! We gathered at First Ward Park where fun music was playing. I think this marshmallow man is the mascot for the race.
A lot of people were planning to do the 5K, but a good number of people were going to tackle the 15K. It was my first 5K in a very long time, so I was excited and a bit nervous. I hadn’t stuck to a consistent running schedule since Chicago, but I also had the Fairy Tale Challenge looming in front of me.
End of the Race
The race was a lot of fun and very hilly. I walked twice during the race but still earned a 5K PR (32:45), which was exciting. Another reason people like the race is because of the chocolate fondue at the end, which is really cute!
The medals were also really cool! Overall, I highly recommend this race and would do it again in the future. Super fun and low-key!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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!
Once I got my water, I made my way to bag claim to get my things and find a place to sit down.
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
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.
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.
The Novant Health Lake Norman 15K and 5K was held on September 26 and is an annual race as part of the Charlotte 6 Pack Race Series. This was my first time running this race, and it was my first 15K. Automatic PR! I signed up for this as part of my Week 16 long run of 12 miles. I thought this would be a great way to make my last double-digit run of the Chicago Marathon training season more exciting.
The race takes place in Cornelius where you run through the Peninsula, an upscale community on Lake Norman. In addition to running through the neighborhood, you run through Jetton Park. The views are nice and peaceful, but the course is incredibly hilly! There are very few flat stretches.
There weren’t a ton of people signed up for the race, but it was still a good crowd. This makes me nervous because I don’t want to come in last place and have the event crew wait for me. My goal going into this was to be slow and steady. I needed to get the miles in and feel good about it.
The first three miles were great. I felt fantastic. It was a beautiful, almost chilly morning. We ran on the road and through the park. I opted to just run and see how I felt instead of doing a formalized run/walk pattern. (Spoiler alert: this was a mistake!) The next three miles involved walking, but I hung around an 11:22/mile pace. Then I got to a huge hill around mile 6.5. It was so big that I couldn’t run. It was a walk…and walk…and walk. I really felt tired around mile 7 and wondered if the race would ever end. Mile 8 was along the main road, so it was pretty boring. I just did a run-walk until I face another HUGE hill. Finally, I got to mile 9, rounded the corner and saw the finish line. I was done!
When this race was originally planned, it was going to be virtual. I signed up in September when I noticed it was in person. Even though it was in person, they gave you your medal when you picked up your shirt. There was something really anti-climatic about already having your medal and then crossing the finish line and not getting one. I brought it with me and snapped a shot.
Instead of a race shirt, they had these GREAT zip-ups. This may be one of my new favorite shirts. It’s so comfortable. I’m going to wear it when I go to Chicago next month.
This is definitely a race I would do again to see if I could improve my time. I finished it in 1:46:20 with an average mile of 11:23. 15K is a challenging but attainable distance.