For as long as I can remember, I told people "I can't run." But in March of 2009, I decided that this was no longer an option. From my first 5K to my second half marathon, I've endured my highest highs and lowest lows as an official Runner. This year I want to embrace running for something beyond times and distances.

Running is so much more than merely getting out there. I want to get out there and love it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


So speaking of my legs hurting, the following has been bothering me forever. At Kohl's in the morning I walk from the ground floor up to the third floor. And then 2-3x more times throughout the day I walk from the first to the third (the cafeteria, and more importantly COFFEE, is on 1). The three flights in the morning are a REAL DOOZE. I've worked here for almost four months and when I get to the third floor I seriously have never been more exhausted in my life. More than my Half this weekend? PERHAPS! It's like I get to the top and I feel like I'm literally having a heart attack. I cannot catch my breath and my legs are burning to boot.

So! Being as bored as I am today, I finally googled it and found this, aptly titled: "I run daily but stairs still kill me." YES! Dude I know!!! Well, turns out the answer is very obvious. Different muscles + gravity + climbing a high altitude in a short amount of time = Who gives a shit if you can run a Half Marathon?! So basically, I have to work in some kind of biking massive hills if I EVER want to climb three flights of stairs without dying. That's cool.

Alright that's all I got.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicago Half 'Cap

Alright then! So here are some thoughts I took from the Chicago Half Marathon! Neg stuff outta the way first.

Did you know that 20,500 people registered for this race and only 13,500 finished? So apparently I wasn't the only one unprepared. But I DID finish! While my time was a mere three minutes slower than my first half, I worked my ass off to BE three minutes slower. Huh? Let me explain. While part of the three minutes contained a very small handful of breaks to briefly stretch and take iPhone photos...

a majority of it was me falling apart in the last three miles. In fact I was ahead of schedule up until then and by a lot! See, at the Expo the day before, I grabbed this free 2:15 pace tattoo. They had them for all 15min increments between like 1:30 and 3:00 or so. Pretty freaking sweet. And you KNOW I looked hardcore with a ginormous pace tatt on my forearm!! Anyway, so up until miles 9 and 10 I was AHEAD of my pace by upwards of, wait for it...three freaking minutes. For example, mile 4? I hit it around 38 minutes. My 2:15 pace tatt screamed 41 minutes at me. And while I cockily pumped my fist to the sky mouthing the lyrics to "Empire State of Mind," I should've been SLOWING THE EFF DOWN. Well, as I said, I learned my lesson in the final three miles when I literally wanted to die. In fact I passed people who looked dead on the side of the street or on stretchers and I thought: Hm yeah, that's about right.

My friends, the sun was hot that day. The temp was crisp and, indeed, hinted at autumn. But the sun, my God the sun. I didn't wear sunglasses thinking for some reason that I'd be fine. But I probably poured like seven cups of water over my head throughout the second half which was entirely facing south into that giant white ball of horror. HOW was it so hot??? A friend just wrote me that he was at the race rooting for his wife's sisters and spotted me at mile 12. He said I was smiling. Squinting in burning agony is more like it.

Aside from my too-quick start and the sun, two additional debilitating things were 1. being nauseous the entire race--like the ENTIRE race--and 2. my feet.

Not sure why I was nauseous?? Perhaps it was eating a half of a PB sandwich at 5am. They say never change what you eat before a race, so therefore I guess I should've eaten nothing. But that was TWO HOURS before I actually ran, so should've been fine. I only ate one gel at the 3-4 mile mark as I couldn't stomach another one. That might've killed me in the end too.

And my feet....HURT. As I said some other time, I wore the shoes I trained in the first time orangies. The orangies are far from broken in and were replaced for a reason, but preferable to the pinks ones that I've given up on. So ALL pieces of my feet felt shattered by the end of the race from my arches to my heels to my ankles and Achilles to the toe part where bunions typically form (that area was the worst). Sighhhh shoes. Sidebar, you know what didn't and still doesn't hurt? My KNEES! The one part of my body that gave me the most trouble for the past year and a half. I think I might have to thank the 2-3 flights of Kohl's stairs 4x a day. Go go gadget quads!!

Now maybe I should stop pointing a finger at all this stuff and see those other three fingers pointing right back at me! As I started this post...Yeah I was unprepared. Even with my jump start and being ahead-of-the-game for the majority of the race, the second half was horrible because I didn't train as hard. Sure, I didn't fall apart so badly I had to pull a DNF. But I felt like I was scraping at an old frying pan for the last bits of caked on food particles, ANYTHING to fuel those final minutes. I don't regret not training as hard. But now I know better. Now I know how it feels to be unprepared.

MEANWHILE. I had fun.

WHAT?? Haha! No really, this race--this entire WEEKEND--was an absolute freaking BLAST. I said I was going to do this for enjoyment and I totally did. I mentioned the Jay Z fist-pumping right? That was a huge highlight. I felt amazing at that mile 4 moment, like nothing could stop me.

Another highlight? The weather. (But you just said??) Ah whatever, the sun sucked, but the perfect blue sky looked gorgeous behind the Chicago skyline and refreshing breeze felt absolutely wonderful.

Best highlight? The crowd...having spectators lined up along THE ENTIRETY of the race route, cheering us on. And because we had our first names on our bibs, people would find them and yell them out! I mean seriously!! But the cherry on the top was when I felt like absolute crap and I passed a teenage girl who said, "...Aw, I want to start running." My eyes well up just thinking about that. I mean I couldn't have asked for anything better at that point.

And finally...the moment. The finish line. The medal.

I will admit that the phrase "I want to quit" crept up in my mind a healthy portion of times...I saw people stop and just leave the course in the middle of the race. Buuuut I heard my inner whiny child-voice say, "no, but your medal!" Haha! Man it's like a dog without a bone! So I passed the finish line, perfectly satisfied when I stopped my watch at 2:18, and stumbled (literally stumbled) through the crowd with my sweaty mitts on my medal (SERIOUSLY Katie, you did not WIN the Chicago Half Marathon). Then I was handed a bottle of water, a banana, a granola bar, and...oh my sweet Lord, a delicious chocolate chip cookie. It was like manna from the Gods. I shoved it directly into my cookie hole, chocolate smeared everywhere. Oh it was glorious!

And with that I took note of the fact that this is why I race. I mean in addition to the ability to shove cookies into my mouth, I think I race to undergo that incredible transition from feeling the worst ever, to feeling the best ever. And this is the recipe for life. We don't know ups unless we know downs. The sweet ain't as sweet without the sour. Despite being probably the toughest and most painful of the handful of races I've done in the past 14 months, this particular race will probably go down as my favorite: From the conversation-packed ride to/from Milwaukee with my friend Mark, to the absolute hilarity and scrumptiousness at carb-loading dinner with Mark, Monica, Tim (plus Crystal's tiramisu cot and my lemon pounding).

From my silly stupid pre-Half dreams ("you can race it, but you're not getting a medal"), to the feeling of pure happiness post-Half, as I vegged on the couch, Miller Lite in one hand, a piece of Lou Malnati's pizza in the other, watching the Bears sort-of win....ahh it was perfect, absolutely perfect.

Where is she now?

My legs are like twisted pieces of rubber, doused with Sriracha cock sauce, and lined with barbed wire that has been coated in hawk talons and anacondas that are squeezing every muscle fiber till they all pop. I think it took me 20 minutes to walk downstairs yesterday and at work I've resorted to the elevator. I put off going to the bathroom as long as I can so I can avoid getting out of my chair. And this is ALL after immediately replacing my glycogen (see: chocolate chip cookie), replenishing my fluids (bottles of water and Poweraid PRE AND POST-Miller Lite), and stretching lots and lots and lots. Clearly I must've worked hard because I didn't even feel a fraction of this aftermath when I ran that 16 miler. Sigh. I look forward to being able to walk without looking like a 90 year old who rode a horse for twenty-five straight days.

And when I can RUN again, what's my plan? I have a 5K in two weeks, an 8K in four weeks, a 10K in six weeks, and a 15K in seven weeks. So that's all sounds doable hey? Yikos. Better heal up quick!! And invest in SOME sort of footwear while I'm also barefoot training. Ah barefoot training...that should be interesting.

Anyway, thanks Chicago Half Marathon for some seriously awesomely good memories!! See you next year, questionmark??? ;)


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

Sunday's the big day! Am I prepared? Yes and no.

First and foremost, it's nice to not be vomming my guts out and weak from nutrients rapidly being ejected from my body. I mean really nice. It really sucked to not be able to look forward to the race last time around. To wonder if I'd even run it at all...something I didn't officially decide until 5am that morning! This time I'm in mega relaxed mode.

But too relaxed?

This whole 12 week training process as been the epitome of too relaxed. Last time I ran 190 miles in 12 weeks, this time a mere 130. I didn't do any tempo or intervals. Last time I was running 5 miles at around 9min/mi pace. And doing it all the time. This time? I think I went for 5 mile runs like twice. I didn't really push at all. So my original goal of being super hardcore, rocking intervals, and pushing for a sub-2 pretty much went out the window at the word go. The goal just didn't stick.

My new goal? To enjoy the race.

And I think that's why I'm particularly relaxed this week. With my first Half, I didn't want ANYTHING to screw with it. And then the flu stuff messed with my head. So while the experience was amazing, don't get me'll never forget such a major First...I think Sunday will be worlds different. Not better, just different. South Shore was small, meek, and bare bones. Chicago is, well, Chicago! Big city, awesome skyline view, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of runners. It will be a lot to take in. There will be a true sense of camaraderie. South Shore was very quiet, very personal. Chicago will be buzzing and I'll feel a part of this huge, loud, obnoxious picture. So I want to really enjoy taking that all in. The whole time thing won't be my priority. Sure, I'll want to do what I can to match the 2:15 from South Shore (I mean I even printed out one of those pace wristbands HA! But if a PR isn't in the cards, no big deal.

Most looking forward to???

The medal.

Like I said, South Shore was great. I'd do it again some day. But as I've noted previously, there was no medal, no shirt, nothing but a bib number and some race results somewhere on the web to prove I did it. I keep envisioning crossing that finish line and someone handing me a medal and then wearing it around all day! As I wrote in a past post, in the 5K I ran with my friend Monica, I watched the Half Marathoners receive their medals and was simply mesmerized and practically salivating!! It's super stupid, I know.

Sighhh, now watch. My arch will fall during the race and I'll get picked up by the 3 hour van. Yeah there's some rule where you have to finish in under 3 hours or they pick you up and that's it. Yikes. No medal for Katie.

Positive thoughts!!

The weather looks absolutely gorgeous for the 7am start! Free pizza afterward! Bear's Home Opener! Done training!!! Haha! The last one will be nice. I want to reboot and start fresh. I don't want to repeat last post-Half and just give up for a month! It's running season ever! I want to enjoy myself and have fun again :)

In other news, my friend Mark is running this bad boy as well (he's my travel AND hotel buddy for the weekend!). My ex-coworker and fellow softball player Josh is running as well. Apparently his wife is like super speed bunny...I don't even want to know! This chick I currently work with is ALSO racing. This is her first half and she was diagnosed with bronchitis this week. She's on some meds and currently plans to still do it!! Flu is one thing, but bronchitis?? She's a trooper!!! And finally, my bestest friends Monica and Tim will simultaneously rock the Chicago 5K! I'm super stoked to spend the weekend AND this particular experience with them!! They're newish runners this year, so it's been awesome having friends to whom I bitch about running and they understand ;)

Alright dudes, let's get 'er done!!!