For the month of April, I’m participating in Susannah Conway’s #AprilLove2016 and writing a love letter to a different someone/thing every day. Today’s love letter is to Feet.
I grumble about you, oh I do, especially first thing in the morning when you feel like two painful blocks of cement attached to my legs, but I’ve got to give you credit — no matter what I ask, you seem to come through (and only punish me later when it doesn’t matter as much). These two race reports are proof of how awesome you are and are my tribute to you.
Winter Trail Frosty Quarter Marathon (February 27th, 2016)
I was totally peer-pressured into this race; by the time it came around, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to go because I wasn’t trained for it and I suspected that it would be some form of miserable. As it turned out, a spark of motivation got me down there and a whole lot of patience and good attitude got me through it.
I seeded myself at the back of the pack. With it being a trail race, I knew there wouldn’t be a whole lot of room for passing and I didn’t need anyone breathing down my neck wanting to get around me. I had also decided ahead of time to keep to the intervals that I had been using during training (4 minutes running, 1 minute walking) and had my watch set to buzz at me to keep me in line.
I skipped the first walking interval only because it would have been difficult to get to the side because there were still too many people around me. But at 9 minutes into the race, I was all too ready to take a quick break. As I stepped over and started walking, I heard a voice behind me, “Keep going! You’re setting a great pace!!” I turned around, surprised, and found a woman smiling at me and motioning at me to start running again. I chuckled and then told her what my race strategy was and she brightened and said, “That sounds good to me!” and with that, I had a running buddy for the rest of the race, which was totally awesome. You know, this kind of thing just doesn’t really happen very often when you’re running with faster people. It’s like there’s no time (or breath) for getting to meet someone new.
Anyway, me and running buddy trudged through a couple of miles — she was in better shape than I was, but not by so much that I felt bad — and I found out that this trail was her stomping grounds and she routinely ran here. It was nice getting a preview of what was coming (or, you know, what to be afraid of!) and the conversation kept my mind off the fact that I was really starting to struggle by a little over midway through. The ups and downs — which aren’t really a part of my training, coming from FLAT Chicago suburbs — were tiring.
And the last two miles or so? MUDDY. Nothing like skeeting down hills because there’s too much mud to get any footing. Or walking through a patch of muck so deep that I almost lost a shoe. Already tired, the mud became my worst enemy, but at least it was something (else) to laugh at. I figured if it didn’t kill me, I might as well make jokes about it.
Finally – FINALLY! – the finish line was in view and I was DONE. The most awesome medal ever was put around my neck and then I made my way through the post-race food area to grab a piece of cake (best cake ever!) and some hot chocolate (best hot chocolate ever!). Really, I don’t know how their food was so damn good. Either Indiana has magic bakeries or anything served to me after that would have tasted like heaven.
After that, it was just a matter of waiting for my friends who were doing the half marathon to finish (something I happily did, considering the aforementioned best ever cake and hot chocolate), taking a ton of pictures and then heading out. What a great day!
Chicago Quarter Marathon (March 24th, 2016)
Two of the friends featured in the Winter Trail Frosty drove upstate to join me for the Chicago Quarter Marathon. Inconveniently planned for Easter weekend, it was to be a short get together, but totally fun nonetheless.
That morning brought pretty decent running weather; it had been 30 degrees with 45+ mph winds two days prior, so I was really happy with the lower 40’s and only an easy breeze — it doesn’t get too much better when you’re running on the Chicago lakefront in March, right?
After milling around for a little while pre-race, we finally got going. My roommate Kate was running with me — despite being much better trained and my pace so slow that she could probably do it in her sleep, she stayed with me. I kept to the same 4/1 intervals because I was hoping to save enough energy to be able to finish without feeling like death was at my heels. Spoiler alert: it almost worked.
Starting out really felt great. Walking that minute really was working great for me and for the first 4.5 miles I felt reasonably good. My legs were cooperating, my breathing was okay and my heart rate was high but (seemingly) under control. And then, with two miles left to go, things kind of fell apart. My heart rate wouldn’t go down during the minute walking segment, I was starting to feel a bit light-headed and mostly just wanted to sit down and take a nap (not that wanting to take a nap is all that unusual for me). Kate kept me on pace, but was good about checking in with me. She didn’t want me slacking off when I could push a little harder, but also probably didn’t want to have to carry me back to the finish line, either. She was great and kept me going.
The upside to all this was that the weather was great: bright and sunny, not too cold and a gorgeous lake view helped pass the time.
And then the finish line was finally in view. I unleashed my final kick (sounds impressive, doesn’t it?) and was DONE. Then I grabbed a fence to hold myself up so I wouldn’t fall over and fought the urge to vomit Gatorade all over some poor volunteer who was trying valiantly to put the medal on over my head.
Good news: it only took me a few minutes to keep the Gatorade where it belonged and to start talking about where we would go for breakfast. Which, as anyone knows, is the real reason why anyone runs races.
2016 races completed: 3
2016 races signed up for left to do: 2
2016 additional races being considered: 2