Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!

Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!
Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner and entering code AMB-bee4a78d!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#85- The Marine Corps Marathon! OORAH!

This was my 4th year running the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) and I still love it! Not only is it a lot of fun, it is very inspiring too.
This year I wanted to try and do what I have never done before at MCM and that's run under 5:00. I am always to busy taking photos and having fun at MCM, but this year I at least wanted to beat Oprah's time of 4:29:15!
My race weekend started Friday night when Chris (my friend of almost 30 years) picked me up from the airport. His parents were in town so his mom and his boyfriend Chris (who will be called Gumbo in this blog not only because they have the same name and you won't know who I am talking about, but he is from New Orleans) came too.
We stayed up until 2:30am catching up and Chris broke the news to me that he WAS NOT running the marathon this year. SLACKER!! I told him it was OK as he would only be eating my dust anyway! Ha Ha!
The next morning I got up and decided to run to the expo. Chis lived only 2 miles from the DC Armory and I thought it would be a nice shake out. I was right. The weather was perfect and I felt great! I thought if I can feel this great during the race, I might have a shot at a 4:05 or better.
The line for the expo stretched around the block, but the line moved pretty fast.
I ended up in line with John! He is a Maniac I met at Big Cottonwood. I picked his brain on his BQ strategy!

We made it inside!

The young Marine who was giving out bibs!

Can't be a wuss at the MCM!
You are going down Oprah!

For the first time in 4 years, I love the MCM shirt this year. It's still a mock turtleneck, but it's made of a warm tech fabric and it actually fits and looks good! I can't wait to wear this for my winter running! The collar has the globe and anchor embroidered on it.

It was so great to run into Marcey from Sport Hooks!

Miles, the MCM bulldog and I!

The hardest part of sitting with these service dogs was not only could I not pet them, I couldn't snuggle them! I was dying!! Doggies everywhere and no snuggles to be had!

I ran into some more Maniac friends, Howard and Kevin!

This Marine Corps Band said their job was to "bring the party", and they did! They were swingin'! I was looking for a dance partner because I wanted to dance!

#1 reason to run the Marine Corps Marathon! Cute, young Marines EVERYWHERE!
After the expo, I ran back to Chris's house, grabbed a shower and we headed out to lunch at this German beer garden called Biergarten Haus. If you like German food and beer, the place is great. I had a tomato and cheese sandwich that cost $14, which was a little steep I thought. Thanks to Ma and Pa Carnahan for picking up the tab!

Chris, Gumbo and I at Biergarten Haus.
During lunch, I got an invite to a Maniac dinner that was organized by Scot Barco and his wife, Sandy. I posted that I would not be able to attend because I did not have transportation to get there. It was out in Arlington and I was staying in D.C.
They sprang into action and within the hour, I had three people offer to pick me up! One more reason I LOVE our club! Thanks for the ride Doug!
We had dinner at this place called Vapiano. It was a cool concept. When you walk in they give you a card. You stand in line for whatever you want and everything is put on the card. At the end of your meal, you take the card to the cashier and pay.
The pasta was all made fresh and was really good. The bad thing is it took FOREVER and you had to wait in a separate line for everything. Some Maniacs never made it to the table before everyone left because it took so long.
This place would be great on a slower night, but on the night before a marathon, it was just too busy.
It was fun to hang with some nice Maniac friends though. Thanks Scot and Sandy for organizing it!

A few Maniacs at dinner.
When I got back from dinner, it was time to prepare for race day.

Flat Angie ready to go! I had my mini kilt made by Sport Kilt out of the Marine Corp fabric and sewed all my MCM patches on it. I put my Bataan patch on there too!
I stayed up a little too late watching the World Series (I had to turn it off before the game was over or I would have never went to bed) and that 4:30 alarm came fast!
Chis drove me to the Metro at 5:30am and I caught the train, getting to the Pentagon at 6:30am. I scheduled the photo for 7:30am. We had a lot of people there, but a lot were missing. People think I am exaggerating when I say you need to leave at least 2 hours early if you want to make it on time. There is a lot of walking and the security takes a while. Most people want to use the bathroom first too. 

Maniacs at the start of the MCM!
We took the photo at 7:30 sharp and headed to the start area. It is super crowded and I needed to walk further up to get in the pace corral (or lack thereof) I wanted to be in.

It is so crowded!

I settled in to the 3:40-3:59 corral. I thought this would be a good pace for a PR! Unfortunately, these are just guideline which a lot of people don't care to follow. A mile in I was dodging walkers and wondered where the heck did they start? With the elites? I REALLY wish they would tighten this up.

Before the cannon shot, they had Marines jumping out of planes and a couple of fly overs. It was really cool!

Getting ready to run!

I ran into Jamila at the start!
Before we knew it we were off!

Getting ready to cross the start line!

Marines everywhere!

It is humbling to start the race with the Pentagon on one side and Arlington National Cemetery on the other. We are lucky to get to do what we love when these brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. 

There were LOTS of bands!
The first 3 miles of the course is uphill. The crowd kind of helped me not go out to fast.

Want a great tour of Washington, D.C.? Run the MCM! 

The Jefferson Memorial

The Washington Monument!

One of the most moving parts of the MCM course is called "The Blue Mile". Wear Blue Run to Remember is a national running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military.

Every year they are here with their tribute to the fallen. There are many tears shed on the course here. I did not run with my friend Teota this year (I lost her before the start), but she and her son Brandon were in my thoughts as was my friend Amy and her fallen son Adam.

Yay! It's cute Jenn! She was celebrating her 30th birthday by running a marathon!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENN!
The US Capitol
It was really fun to run along the river and see all the boats with people cheering us on!

This was beyond AWESOME! What more needs to be said?

A fire boat shooting water made for some theatrics along the course!

These ladies were awesome!
I had hit the half at exactly 2:00. This set me up nice for the 4:05 and if I could run a negative split, a sub 4:00!
Well that didn't happen. At around mile 21, while still on the bridge, I started having some pain in my lower back, but just on the left side. It was affecting my stride so I stopped for a quick second to see if I could stretch it out. Without laying down, I could not do it, so I just kept running and pretty much ignored it.
The last 4 miles of the race were pretty brutal. We had a pretty good headwind which sucked the life out of me the last 1.5 miles. My Garmin was was showing long to which was bringing me down mentally.
That last half mile seemed to last forever. A guy running next to me was so annoyed that he couldn't see the turn. I was too. We knew we would have the hardest .2 miles to come and just wanted to get it over with.
When we could finally see the finish, we also saw this giant hill (or that's what it felt like) lined with Marines yelling "Take that hill!" and "You're mission is not complete!", while also cheering you on as you climb it.
I may have run slow, but I gave it all I had up that hill!

Marines encouraging runners on the last .2 mile hill!
Once I rounded the corner, the crowds were cheering and I could see the finish! I crossed the finish in 4:10:49. Not a PR, but I was happy. I KICKED OPRAH'S BUTT GOOD!

My favorite part is when a Marine gives me my medal, salutes and says "Good job mam!"

My Maniac friend Dan getting his medal.
After we finished Dan and I walked down to get our food and hit the gear truck. On the way to the gear truck they were handing out packages of cold, fresh watermelon. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten!

The band from the expo brought the party to the finish line!
MCM finisher swag! Heat sheet, jacket, and a box of food that looked like a little purse. I loved it!
By this time I was in a lot of pain. Dan saw me to the Metro and thank goodness I got a seat on both trains! Chris picked me up from the station and I had a shower and a nap and Chris, Gumbo, Chris's parents and I celebrated with fish tacos on the Potomac River. What a great race and a great day!
 The MCM Bling!

I could not run this race every year if it were not for my pal Chris, who every year opens his home up to me and whomever comes with me. Thanks buddy!! YOU ARE THE BEST!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#84- The Bank of America Chicago Marathon!!

I have waited about five years to run the Chicago Marathon. Ever since I watched the movie Spirit of the Marathon, the Chicago Marathon has been on my bucket list of marathons to run.
Not only is it one of the Marathon World Majors (along with New York, London, Berlin, Boston, and Tokyo), like New York City (which I have run twice), the energy in the city around race weekend is electric. The entire city comes out to support the marathon, which is rare when you think of sporting events. People will show up for football, basketball, baseball and hockey, but running? Not so much, except when it comes to races like New York and Chicago. 
Spirit of the Marathon made me want to run Chicago one day!
Since I was lucky enough to run New York City last year, I pretty much figured I would not make the lottery cut this year which opened the door for Chicago. I was so excited until I found out that for the first time, the Chicago Marathon was going lottery. NOOOOOOO! I have no luck with lotteries and just had a bad feeling about getting in, but I registered anyway.
The morning the lottery results came out I watched my email like a hawk and nothing came. Just when I thought all hope was lost, while sitting in the waiting room at the dentist (just to add to the misery) The email accepting me into the Bank of America Chicago Marathon came through and I was over the moon!
Now that I was accepted, I needed to work out the travel, which was going to make or break the trip. I can get airfare from SLC to ORD for a good price, but hotels in Chicago over marathon weekend could run you $500 per night!
Last year I did my friend and fellow Maniac Aaron Braunstein a favor and let him stay at my house after the Pocatello marathon, when his flight got changed. He in turn told me if I needed a place to stay in Chicago, he would hook me up and boy did he! He has a beautiful, safe and comfortable apartment with a view of the water. I could not have asked for anything better. THANK YOU SO MUCH AARON!
The veiw from Aaron's apartment!
Unfortunately, my plane was delayed two hours and by the time I got to Aaron's apartment, it was after 1:00am! I felt terrible as Edward Broadnax was also staying there as he and Aaron had to get up at 5:00am to travel to the Prairie State Marathon (marathon #1 of their double weekend). Aaron let me in and I dropped my stuff and went to bed.
The next morning the guys left to run their marathon and I decided to meet a few Maniacs at the shake out run with Bart Yasso (Runner's World) and one of my heroes Deena Kastor (elite marathoner and winner of the Chicago Marathon).
The run started at 8:00am, so I got a cab to Soldier Field and did a nice 3 miles with a bunch of really fun people!

Deena Kastor, Bart Yasso me and some fun people!
It was so great to see my Chicago friends Kinnier and Jenn at the run! Jenn's image was used on a lot of the promotional material for the marathon, so she is famous!  
After we finished the shake out run. I was told the expo was within walking distance of Soldier Field, to Kinnier, Jenn and I walked to the expo to pick up our bibs and look around.

Heading into the expo! See Jenn on the right?
The expo was pretty big, but picking up your bib was like clockwork. They were very organized!
So cool to see my pal Rich Yap at the expo!
It is official! I have my bib!
After I left the expo, I headed back to the apartment to shower and get ready to go to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art to see the David Bowie Is exhibit. Chicago is the only place in the US that it is showing after a sold out run in London and I HAD to see it. Let's just say, it did not disappoint. I was bummed that I could not take photos once inside but I did get some foxy ones of the lobby.

 After I left the exhibit, I headed back to Aaron's to meet the guys for dinner. There was a great Maniac dinner organized by Dan Ruiz and Patricia Werner which we planned to attend, but once the guys got back from their race, Ed realized that he didn't pick up his packet at the expo, so back to the expo we went! Thank you for organizing Dan and Patricia, so sorry we didn't make it!

Ed, Aaron and I at the expo! 
Dan Oh, Aaron and I
By the time we left, traffic was so bad we couldn't get across town in time, so we went back to Aaron's and ordered the best Chicago style deep dish in town from Lou Malnati's and it was so good. I was a little worried how it would sit on my stomach before a race, but I had no issues at all!

When in Chicago, you eat deep dish!
After dinner, we all got ready for the morning and went to bed. The 5:00am wake up would come soon! We wanted to be out the door by 6:00am.
The race as two waves one that started at 7:30am and the other started at 8:00am. Aaron and Ed was in the early wave and I was in the later.

We got to Grant Park in plenty of time even after we had the cab drop us off on the wrong side of the park and had to walk quite a long way to enter the athlete's village.

I had made the huge mistake of leaving my breakfast back at Aaron's apartment. I wasn't too worried as I figured that like New York, there would be coffee, hot chocolate, bagels or at least some kind of Powerbar for runners. I was quickly not only disappointed, but surprised and now a little panicked when there was NOTHING but water and Gatorade! Going into a race hungry was not how I wanted to start. I ate a pack of Gatorade chews and hoped for the best.
I had organized a Maniac photo for 6:50am in front of the famous Buckingham Fountain which gave both waves a chance to be in it. We had quite a good turnout and it was fun to connect with so many friends!

Maniacs at the start! Too bad they didn't turn on the fountain until 10 minutes after we took the photo!

It is always great to see Heather!

My favorite Swede, Anders, Heather and I.

More fun Maniacs!

Andy, his tambourine and I

Dennis, Stacy and I

It was nice meeting Crystal at the start!
Anders and I
Love these girls! Erica (aka E-Boogie) and Nikki!
I will say one thing about the Chicago Marathon, they are strict when it comes to you being in the right corral. They had guards checking every bib as you entered and if you didn't get in the corral by the time it closed (the 8:00am start had to be in the corral by 7:45am), you had to wait and start at the very back of the race.
When it was close to time to get in my corral, I wanted to cry. I was so cold and I didn't want to give up my long sleeved shirt and jacket. I knew once we started running I would warm up, but waiting 20-30 minutes in the cold was not something I was too happy about.
I reluctantly put all my warm stuff in my gear bag (except my Delta blanket), checked my bag and headed into my corral with my fellow Maniacs Dennis and Stacy.
Dennis, Stacy and I in our corral waiting to start!
I was so cold, my teeth were chattering! Dennis reluctantly offered to keep me warm. Ha Ha! (For the record, he really was warm!)
Once the gun went off, people slowly started moving towards the start line. As the did, they also started shedding their sweatshirts and other throwaway clothing. Since Dennis could not run with his arms around me for warmth, I picked up a discarded jacket and put it on (yes, I was that cold). I ran the first two miles with that sweat jacket and my blanket! By about mile three I was warm enough to ditch both.

The Start!
The start was super crowded. When I registered for the race, I was not running as fast as I am now. I put myself in the 4:30 group. This was fine for the beginning of the race as it forced me not to go out to fast, but if I would have put myself in the 4:00 group, I may have saved myself the frustration of getting boxed in behind slower runners later. It was a real frustration and all the weaving and slowing down added time and mileage to my race.
My plan was just to enjoy the experience, but was challenged to go for a 4:05 PR, so that's what I intended to do.

Like New York, the spectators were AWESOME!

The course was so crowded, but this section of town was a hoot!

I would have died to see Miss Utah!

LOVE the volunteers!!

I talked with this man for a minute. He has run the last 13 years to honor is sister who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Every neighborhood had it's own style!

My first Memphis boyfriend!

Viva Mexico! This section was not only fun, the people were cooking some really good smelling food!

Into Chinatown!

Yes, this was my favorite sign! Thanks Anders for getting the pic!
So the last few miles of the marathon are always hard. You get that elation that you are "almost there" and at the same time feeling like that last two miles might as well be another twenty! It is there that I try to find a new race friend to talk to or zone out completely. In this case I kind of zoned out and thought I was seeing things when I came up on Doctor Dribble!
He ran the whole race dribbling two basketballs. Not for nothing, but there is no way I was going to let him beat me! 

Doctor Dribble!
As we hit the last aid station I could see the red, white and blue finish line in the distance (or at least that's what I thought it was). I knew I had not hit my PR goal, but still wanted to finish strong, so I tried to pick up the pace. I was so excited to be done and thought a 4:10 was in sight.
As I got closer, I saw that it was not the finish line, but the big jumbo tron on the corner. Once you turned the corner you had about a little over a quarter mile left.
When I turned the corner I wanted to die when I saw what felt like a giant hill (but was actually just an overpass). I just wanted to walk up that hill, but I pushed through (slowly mind you). When I got to the top I could see the finish line about 100m away and I gave it all I had. I crossed the line in 4:12:54.

There is the finish!
When I crossed the finish line I suddenly felt light headed and could not catch my breath. It was strange but I grabbed one of the medics and told them I needed to sit down as I felt like I was going to faint.
They grabbed a wheelchair and put me in it. I was holding my chest because I was just trying to get my breathing under control. When they saw that they asked me if I was having chest pains or heaviness? I told them my chest felt a little heavy from trying to catch my breath.
Oh boy! They threw me on a gurney and drove me to the ICU tent (while all along I am telling them, I am fine and just needed to catch my breath). Once there I had four doctors ask me in I was having chest pain? To each one I said no. The proceeded to take my blood, do labs, give me an IV and do an EKG!

Me in the ICU!
Now, I was kind of laughing about it at the time, but looking back I am really grateful that they were so on the ball. What if I was having a heart attack? The medical team was awesome, except the doctor who didn't laugh at my jokes! Ha Ha!

After I left the ICU tent I had to walk back to the finish line to get my medal, blanket and food bag. I was stopped a couple of times, but eventually got my stuff.

How sexy are band aids and EKG leads?
Found a few Maniacs at the finish!

Chicago is in the books!
So overall even though I did not get my PR, I ran a fairly consistent race. My pace fluctuated at times due to crowd and terrain, but over all it was OK considering my Garmin showed close to 26.7 miles!
 My splits

My name in print in the Chicago-Sun Times! Out of 40,567 finishers, I finished in 16,203rd place beating out 24,364 people! I finished in the top half of the field! I'll take it!
I thought Chicago was a fun race, but it would have been so much better if their athletes village had food and if they could control the crowd like NYC does. NYC has four start times not two and both times I have run NYC, I have never had an issue feeling boxed in like I did in Chicago. I now have a whole new love for smaller races.
The spectators and volunteers were AMAZING.
Again, HUGE THANK YOU to Aaron Braunstein for putting me up. I would not have been able to come and run without your generosity. You are an Mensch my friend!