Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicago Marathon 2012 - Race Preparation

Unofficially I've been preparing for the marathon 2012 since the day after marathon 2011.

The mild winter allowed me to keep my weekly mileage up in what are typically low mileage months. I ran a number of races in the spring, leading up to a good base once marathon training officially started in early June.

In the last 18 weeks, I've spent roughly 70 hours training or racing and another 50 hours in the yoga studio. That's not counting Ragnar Relay, because, well, it should be it's own thing.

And there's marathoners who dedicate significantly more time than that.

All for one day. Not even a full day.

A morning. One morning in October.

 Normally I find myself obsessing about the weather or my nutrition strategy during the taper. This year I tried to remain calm. In the end, maybe a bit too calm.

When Brian, Kim and I headed to the Expo on Friday. We walked throughout the Expo - a hundred thousand square foot utopia of all things running. I managed to spend a mere $8 on Gu and forgot to pick up Spectator Guides for my family and friends. Not my normal expo strategy.

Then it was off to dinner where we had delicious pasta and a few glasses of wine. (Wine less than two days before race day?)

But I did do some things right. I hydrated and ate well in the week leading up to the race. I logged good hours of sleep. I felt ready.

That is, until Saturday night.

Shortly after my Mom came over, I started going through my pre-race ritual - laying out the outfit, pinning the bib number onto the shirt, etc.

I looked all over the condo and couldn't find Dave's famous cowbell sign. He always has that big yellow sign. So I made a new one. 

Then I couldn't find duct tape to attach my name to my shirt. I searched high and low for it. Just before walking out the door to CVS to buy some, I looked one last time in a place I'd checked six times before and finally found it.

Oh boy, it's going to be a long night.

I went through the marathon check list, sealed up my participant bag and went to bed.

In a few short hours I'd wake up and head downtown for my fifth marathon.

The Bus Dancer

(Written with less than a week to go to race day...)

In a city of a few million people, one would think you wouldn't run in to the same person twice. Or not twice a week.

Not me. I run into a guy I affectionately call 'The Bus Dancer.'

I've come to know him for a few reasons.

Whenever he's seated on the bus, he's on his Samsung flip phone. He talks. A lot.

Whenver he is standing, well, I think you can guess what he does. He can't stand still.

Keep in mind that bus is usually pretty full. As in, the standing passengers are close to if not touching each other already.

Yet he moves around. Leaning on one foot and then the other. Changing the hand that grips the bar. Doesn't grip the bar for awhile. Sighs. Looks longingly out onto traffic. The cycle restarts. Sometimes he does some weird stretching.

I try to ignore him when I see him.

However, last night, he was standing right next to me in the vestibule of the bus's back door.  He used the pole he held onto to stretch out his foot, constantly changing his position. Sometimes his position would back into me.

I kept hoping that my stop would come before he stepped on my foot or fell on me.

It would really stink if The Bus Dancer put me on the injury list for the marathon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Excuses & a Cruddy Run

Not every run is a great one.

Sometimes they're downright terrible.

I'm willing to admit that, because in all honesty, yesterday's three mile run was a downright cruddy run.

I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Even though I felt that way, quite often the challenge lies not in the action of running the distance of the day, but rather in the steps to get you out the door.

Excuses. They're a dangerous thing, aren't they?

Too tired. Too sore. Sick. Not enough time.

Too warm. Too cold. Too windy.

Forgot shoes. Forgot gloves. Forgot socks. Forgot music.

I have a meeting. I have dinner plans. I can't do it today.

There are thousands and thousands.

I think the most dangerous though is the rather passive 'I'll do it later.' I must have spent a collective two hours yesterday thinking about running and a whole 30 minutes doing it.

Which brings me to this: 

Sorta sums up this post.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Running to Yoga

Over the last month, I've been trying to use up the remainder of my class package at Yoga Studio #1. As I had blogged about a few months ago, getting to Yoga Studio #1 is a bit of a challenge.

YS1 is a nice place. If  lived or worked closer to it, I'd be a frequent practitioner there.

Lately, I've been trying to squeeze in a yoga session during lunch. YS1 offers hour long classes at noon which works nicely. Now to getting there. Here's where it's truly faster to ride a bike or run.

Case in point:

To arrive to YS1 about five minutes before class starts, I'd need to board a bus at 11:30. Even though YS1 is just a mile and a half from work.

We had a few beautiful days last week. It was on one of these days that I planned to go to the studio. After looking out my office window and seeing people walking around without a coat or a cloud in the sky, I decided to adjust my yoga transportation strategy.

I would run there.

This makes so much more sense. Why haven't I done this before?

I left work with just my clothes on my back, my work ID and my phone.

I estimated 20 minutes would be plenty of time to go a mile and a half at an easy pace, even if I stopped at every stop light.

I arrived at YS1 with a few minutes to spare. I left my phone, ID and long sleeved t-shirt in a cubby and grabbed a loaner mat.

I walked into the studio to see an instructor I'd had earlier that week. We had talked in class about the marathon. She remembered me. This made me feel better as, upon entrance in to her warm class, delayed sweat from running poured out of me and onto the mat.

While in downward dog during warm up, I looked down to see the loaner Lulu mat was not going to be up to the task of staying a viable yoga mat. Instead, rather quickly, it was becoming a slip and slide.

As we moved through practice, I thought about how truly amazing my new mat, called 'The Mat' from Lululemon is. It's made to handle big yoga sweaters like me.  I also was making an effort to not be obnoxious on the slip and slide.

As we jumped out of downward facing dog to the front of the mat at our hands, the sound of feet slipping on rubber was apparent each time as we moved through sun salutations.

A quick survey of the other women in the room showed that none of them were breaking a sweat. Yet here I was, looking like I just came out of a sauna.

As practice progressed, we moved into balancing positions. I stepped off the slip and slide for that.

Then into seated positions for ab work and binding. Maybe now I would finally stop sweating.


As I laid on the mat in final relaxation pose, I felt sweat running down my face from my temples.

Practice concluded. We picked up our mats and props and headed out of the studio. The instructor wished me luck on the race. I wished luck for the future of loaner mat. That poor thing got more than it was bargaining for that afternoon.