Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jenny Garrison's First Pro Triathlon!

My good friend and triathlete goddess Jenny Garrison competed in her first triathlon as a pro on August 24th right here in Chicago!

It was a tough day for her out there but Jenny showed us what a true athlete does on such days...you keep moving, plain and simple.

Jenny is just five months from giving birth to her second child and she is already out there competing. She kicks my butt, that's for sure.

Congrat's Jenny, I'm so proud of you!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bastille Day 5k 2008

Thursday July 10, 2008
7:30 PM
6th Overall Female
1st AG 40 - 44

I will admit that I was not quite in the right frame of mind for the race this year. I've had a really good spring based on all my training for Boston ...but once Boston was over the bottom had kind of dropped out. I was excited about getting back into training for my fall marathon but my body just didn't want to go along for the ride. Well after a really dismal 10k race in June my good attitude followed my body out the door and I got sloppy with my training and eating and I was feeling less than comfortable around my waist! Then less than 2 weeks before this race I strained my hamstring. It was minor and I had to take a real easy week of runs of no longer than 2 miles with lot of days off, I got my eating in order focusing on nutritious food and tried to get some good sleep. The day of the race my hamstring was almost 100% but I just was feeling out of shape and under pressure considering I had done well at this race last year.

The good thing about this race is that it was a company sponsored race so I would be with all my running co-workers and I love that energy!

So the day of the race comes and the skies start looking very ominous and the rain starts coming down hard. Great. I was already working hard to be up for this race and racing in a thunderstorm isn't one of my favorite things to do. I try to keep my mind on my work and I'm either hoping it storms like crazy and they have to cancel the race and I can just go home or it better just clear up already! Well it did clear up and everyone got dressed and started the walk to the race less than a mile from the office. Andy wasn't with us as my parents were sick and could not watch the kids, I was kind of bummed about that as well.

We got about half way there and I started my warm up. I planned on really doing a good warm up, lots of drills and some stretching so that my hamstring would be ready to go. As I started running I felt like crap. What is wrong with me? I basically had to give myself a pep talk to knock off the bad attitude. Warm up, race as well and as smart as I can, and for heaven's sake just enjoy being with everyone. The air is a little thick but there is a good breeze and the temps are dropping a bit.

As I warm up and do my drills I see the competition. Oh boy! It was going to be fierce. There were some really fast ladies warming up. That's fine I tell myself, people to chase, and to be truthful knowing that winning wasn't going to be realistic took a load off my shoulders and I started to feel better and my body relaxed and got into a better groove. Weird, eh?

I look around for any of my co-workers to wish them luck but I only run into a few of them and I had to get to the starting line. I chatted with a few people up front but then it was time to fly.

The start:
Everyone went out like bats out of hell!! I felt like I was standing still. It was crazy but I held my pace. I wanted to avoid going out too hard and going into oxygen debt and I wanted to protect my hamstring a bit. So many women around me, looked like I was going to have a lot of company. The lead women were already way ahead and out of sight.

Mile 1 - 6:08.7
Not too bad and worlds better than the opening mile of my 10K a month ago...still it would have been better to be under 6 minutes. I now start hunting. I have no idea at this point what place I'm in (10th) but I know its time to really focus and get as many places and I can. Between mile 1 and mile 2 I pass two women.

Mile 2 - 6:09.7
I don't look at my watch at this point as I keep my focus on form and the next woman to pass. I feel strong but not exceptionally fast. Looking at my splits later I'm really pleased to have come back only 1 second slower so even though I'm not in the best of racing shape I'm still plenty strong. I see the next woman and she looks fit and fast but I'm catching up to her so I pass halfway to the 3 mile mark. Things are getting uncomfortable and I don't see any other women so I just continue to try and bring my form back in line every time I notice I'm getting sloppy. Constantly reminding myself to keep the turnover going, bring the arms in, keep my chin down, control, focus, push. The 3 mile mark is coming into view and HEY, what is this? Another woman in sight!

Mile 3 - who knows?!
I dig in for a fight and attempt to take the next place right at the 3 mile mark. She responds for maybe a second but since she was wearing headphones she never heard me coming. She was a sitting duck and I got her.

The finish - 19:09 (6:52.33 for last 1.1 miles)
Once I pass headphone girl I push as hard as I can around the corner and to the finish line. At this point I still have no idea what place I finished in but I felt like I put in a good honest effort and it was faster than the 19:30 that I thought I would run.

I get a Gatorade and go back to cheer everyone in. As I wait the storm clouds return complete with thunder and lightening. I fail to spot any one of my co-workers coming in and as the downpour begins I give up and run back to the office.

People start showing up at work all drenched and I get a chance to touch base with everyone. I'm ready to go home and so is everyone else. Hopefully we will get better weather next year.

Final results show that I won my age group 40 - 44 and was sixth overall. My winning time from last year would have earned me 4th place this year so obviously the competition was much deeper this year.

I'm glad I made it to the start and it definitely was a lesson in staying positive and focused on what is important. Its not always easy but I do love running and racing!

Good job to all my co-workers, Kelly, Brian, Paul, Jim, Kim, and poor David who was really sick and should have gone home!

Live to race another day!

Runner Girl

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hard Choices lead to Best Decision - Mohican 100 Miler

Brian started his first 100 miler on Saturday on great pace but in the end succumbed to foot blisters on feet that may not have been completely healed from his last 100K on May 3rd. Attention for the blisters were taking more and more time (by medical staff and by Brian) and the pain reached a level where continuing on would have required more suffering than was reasonable. Brian still completed an admirable 52.2 miles and had to contend with some scary weather as well.

The allure of the ultra distance race. Formidable challenges with NO guarantees. Hats off to Brian and his first attempt. We are all proud of you!

As my old coach used to say:
"Live to race another day."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Brian going for his first 100 Miler

I guess running a 100K is not enough for Brian as he will be participating in his first 100 miler this weekend (June 21-22). This boy has caught the ultra bug BAD and it sure has been fun following all his ultra adventures. This one should be the best one yet!

Go to his blog http://briangaines.blogspot.com/2008/05/i-gotta-feverand-only-prescription-is.html to read on what led Brian to sign up for this event.

See http://www.mohican100.org/ to view the race website.

As usual I will be sending "run fast and free" vibes out to Brian everytime I think of him and hopefully I will be able to track his progress with his new SPOT GPS toy. :-)

Best wishes to Brian and his crew support Kelly.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Boston Marathon Race Report

Finish time: 3:08:02
Overall Place: 2,115th out of 21,963 finishers
Overall Female Place: 133rd out of 8,935 finishers
Overall AG 40 - 49: 24th out of 2,980 finishers

Its been a long long winter of training and I was FINALLY here. Boston Massachusetts. Andy and I arrived on the Thursday before the race to see the sights, take in the Women's Olympic Trials race on Sunday and of course run my race on Monday. It was great to just walk around and enjoy the time with my husband. Boston is a really cool city.

Part I - Seeing the sights

We arrived in Boston in the late afternoon and after buying our "Charlie Card 7 Day T-Pass" we navigated Boston's public transportation system to our hotel. We were advised to avoid renting a car and to just use the "T" and it was darn good advice. You can get everywhere in Boston on a subway or bus and even to the outlaying areas via commuter rail (like our Metra) and it's very organized and cheap! Streets are narrow and confusing making for bad driving. Boston itself is really very small and we found ourselves walking more than anything else.

Over the next two days in Boston we did the tourist stuff by checking out some of the historical sights on the "Freedom Trail". This is a marked path throughout the city that brings you to Boston's most famous historical sights. The weather was beautiful and sunny, it was obvious by the end of the day that we had not worn any sunblock.

Me on the USS Constitution - oldest, still in commission, ship in the world!

Bunker Hill Momument - 294 steps to the top window. I had to take a pass on that.

Andy took this picture from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument to share with me when he came back down.

Friday we had dinner with an old high school friend of mine Leslie Liu (nee Lin) and her husband Ling Yi in Chinatown. I haven't seen Leslie since 1991 and we had a really great time. The food ordered came off the menu that only could be read by Ling Yi so you know we were doing it "authentic" and all. We didn't know what everything was but we ate it and it was delicious!

Saturday morning I went by myself to the 16 mile mark on the course, the beginning of the famous Newton hills of which the last and biggest one is known as Heartbreak Hill. I took the T out to Woodland, jumped off and ran the course all the way to Boston college (about 4 miles). I'm glad I did this as I felt it was important to see for myself what these hills really looked like. My opinion, decent sized hills and something to be respected but not so bad if prepared. Took the T back to the hotel from Boston college. The area around Boston college was absolutely beautiful. To think I could have gone a million different places and I chose Iowa. If only I could do college all over again...

Saturday afternoon we joined up with the sub3 guys (Kevin, Tom and some of their friends) at the expo where we tried unsuccessfully to do something about my assigned corral, hoping that recent performances could get me a better starting spot. Nope, brick wall a.k.a. Boston Marathon Association. Move on. The expo was a mad house and was just rocking with excitement both for the upcoming race and for the Olympic trials. Ryan Hall was there giving autographs but we got in line too late. I got my official Boston marathon jacket, soaked in the energy.

Part II - Women's Olympic Trials Marathon

I was so excited for this! The Woman's Olympic trials was to start and end in the same area as the Boston marathon finish area and they were going to run multiple loops. It was going to be so easy to see the race unfold! Everyone expects Deena Kastor to win and qualify for her second Olympic team having brought home a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic games for the marathon. Deena's best time was light years ahead of the other competitors...but one never knows. My friend Dot McMahan was running in the Hanson's uniform and we were planning on showing our support for her the best we could. I briefly ran with Dot on Chicago's Universal Sole running team a number of years ago. Back then I knew she was trying to make a decision whether or not to quit work and give training professionally as a runner a shot. Well she took that jump by apply for and getting accepted into the elite Hanson's running team where she has been for a few years now. I was praying with all my heart that today she was going to shine!

Well we got there early at the starting line and watched the women come on out to warm up and get ready. I was shocked at the emotion I felt, it was totally unexpected but I started crying. All my memories and feelings from having run the 1996 Olympic trials and my buried disappointment that in the years since I had not managed to qualify again due to ....well life I guess. It felt like such a loss. Hindsight is 20/20 and if I had known I would have savored that time so much more. Andy noticed my emotion and quietly put his arm around me. The feeling passed and I came to realize that this was yet another example to live fully in the now and that's is exactly what I was going to do.

The women are lined up ready to go. On the front line far left is Magdalena Lewy Boulet, 5th in the 2004 Olympic trials (originally from Poland), next to her is I believe Mary Akor (orginally from Nigeria?), then Kate O'Neill (one of the favorites), then Elva Dryer (another favorite and two time Olympian), Blake Russell 4th at the 2004 Trials after leading most of the way (she has some unfinished business to attend to I believe!) , Deena Kastor (Bronze medalist 2004, American record holder, aka as Queen Deena), Zoila Gomez. Dot is on that front line but she is hidden by the officials on the far right side.

The race gets off and pretty quickly Magdalena takes the lead while the pack stays very conservatively behind. It seems like every Olympic trials has a person that goes out hard from the beginning just to get swallowed up and tossed aside but this seems a little different. Magdalena isn't running out of this world splits and the main group seems just plain slow. There will be a point in this race where Magdalena will be 2 minutes ahead of the main pack with only a 10K remaining.

The main pack finally breaks up as Deena goes after Magdalena with Blake Russell following and Desiree Davila(Hanson's runner) looking to challenge Blake for the 3rd spot.

We see Dot (front left) several times during the race and she looks strong and is slowly moving up the ranks.

Joan Samuelson running a steady pace in her characteristic running form. Joan will end up breaking the US 50 - 59 AG group record.

Deena Kastor

In the end Deena takes the lead past the 22 mile mark but Magdalena holds for 2nd and Blake Russell finishes 3rd. Dot finishes an outstanding 8th place (2:35:02) with a more than 8 minute PR, running the race I always knew she was capable of. I was so proud of her.

1. Deena Kastor 2:29:35
2. Magdalena Lewy-Boulet 2:30:19
3. Blake Russell 2:32:40
4. Zoila Gomez 2:33:53
5. Tera Moody 2:33:54 (former Illinois high school runner)

Best wishes to our marathon Olympians in Beijing!!

Part III - Boston Marathon

The day of my race dawned and it was cool, cloudy and gloomy looking. I feared rain but the weather reports said not to worry so what could I do. I left my room at 6am to meet the sub3 guys at the bus loading location on Tremont alongside of the Boston Common park. The pick up location was within walking distance of my hotel (nice little unexpected perk there). Andy would leave later to take the T to the top of Heartbreak Hill a little past 21 miles which would be hours from now. I'm really used to seeing Andy a lot during my races but the way this course is laid out it's about the best thing we could figure out, kind of a bummer for Andy as a spectator and for me for hubby support but I knew this ahead of time and I didn't feel bothered by it. It was all cool.

The sub3 guys were in good spirits as were the rest of the crew that came with them. I was happy to be in the company of friends and we got on our bus. It was really wild to be on a bus just packed with runners all buzzing with energy. We got on the expressway and it was a never ending line of yellow school buses...I found it really amusing. I felt relaxed and excited to be here.

Once we arrived in Hopkinton we entered the Athlete's village and found a spot for our group under the massive tents they had up. I called home to chat with my kids before they left for school, talked to my parents who were taking care of my kids, and I called Andy. I couldn't wait to get going! I thought they were going to call us out by range of numbers to go drop off our stuff and line up but you really couldn't understand what the announcer was saying and there just came a point that my group decided it was time to go and we got ready to leave. I took off my sweats and put on my ultra high-tech garbage bag for wind block and we left. There were buses after buses with race number ranges on them. You hand your bag of stuff to someone hanging out the window of your assigned bus and go line up. It felt like a pretty long walk from the Athlete's village to the actual starting line but it probably felt like it because there were so many people around.

Kevin and Tom bid me goodbye when we reached the 8th corral (my start) and they moved on since they had higher corral starts. I wormed my way as far up the corral as I could and then just waited like everyone else. Everyone seemed in great spirits and the sun came out and it started to warm up.

Elevation chart:

The Course:
"Run" the course in about 4.5 minutes with this really cool compressed video tour.

I reviewed my race plan which was this. Just go with the flow when we cross the start line don't worry about pace and don't expend energy weaving. As things open up slowly move up in pace. I hoped to be able to start running my real splits after 5-6 miles. The half way point should still be comfortable and as I approach 15-16 miles get ready for the Newton Hills. Take the hills with good strong form coming out at 21 miles with energy to continue strong to the finish. Nice plan, eh? Let's see how I did...

First 5 miles

Gun goes off and we start a slow walk/trot. I don't know it at the time but it takes about 4:13 to get to the starting line which isn't all that bad considering I was pretty far back from the starting line. I feel relaxed and definitely not in "real" running mode. I'm already passing a lot of people but only when a hole opens up to allow me to flow through. Leslie had given us a tour of the first 16 miles of the race on saturday so everything I see looks comfortably familiar and I'm humming along. The first mile or so is a pretty big drop in elevation with a small rise right before 5. Somewhere in the 2nd mile there is a quiet part and I listen for a moment and I hear the footsteps of 12K+ runners and a steady even breathing. I look ahead and there is an endless stream of people ahead of me heads all bobbing up and down...a little surreal but very cool. I cross the first timing mat at 5k and I visualize my friends tracking my progress and its weird but I feel this connection with the people I care about who care about me and it just fills me up with energy. (you would of thought I was on some happy drugs). I felt this on every timing mat I crossed. A little "here I am!" to my friends every 5k. I also know some of my friends were watching my splits carefully so it was a nice "see, I'm running smart...so far". Paul Clement was texting Andy as I crossed each timing mat as well, so it was also my link to Andy.

1 - 7:39.41; 2 - 7:22.60; 3 - 7:14.10; 4 - 7:05.81; 5 - 7:21.91
5k - 22:59

First few minutes of the race. I'm somewhere about 8 thousand people back. See me? I'm probably still standing still.

Leaders reach the first mile. I've probably just cross the start line 30 seconds before this.

Miles 6 - 10
These miles click along at a nice pace, nothing exciting and I resist the urge to go sub 7 because believe it or not my quads are telling me that the downhills have not gone by unnoticed. The space around me has opened up a bit. The streets are narrow and the spectators are pretty much right on us. The positive energy flow is something else. I'm still just passing and passing. I'm not really talking with anyone as I'm running the pace that people in the 3-4 corral were probably running so there is no one to really stick with. Did I say already that this course is just fantastically beautiful?

6 - 7:06; 7 - 7:10.15; 8 - 7:09.76; 9 - 7:04.09; 10 - 7:09.19
Total 10 mile time: 1:12:23
10K 45:22 (5k split of 22:23)
15K 1:07:28 (5k split of 22:06)

Miles 11 - 15

These miles start to roll a little more and we start entering some bigger towns. The crowds are getting bigger and its definitely starting to get warmer. I should have worn my hat. I'm staying well hydrated but I only started with 20oz of Gatorade on my belt and I'm going through it faster than I had thought I would . I start making more use of the gatorade stations. I'm still fighting the urge to go sub 7 because I'm feeling the quads a bit and I know the Newton hills are coming. Shortly before the half way point there is what people like to call the "Scream Tunnel" or "Scream Alley". The girls of Wellesley college have a long standing reputation of coming out on marathon day and literally cheering non stop from first runner to last. They stick their hands out to high five the runners and a lot of the guys stop to steal kisses from the girls. (Um, no I didn't do that). I could hear the Scream Tunnel before I could even see it. I asked the runner next to me if the noise was what I thought it was and he was all smiles as he replied "Yup! Enjoy, its just awesome." I was getting goose bumps from the excitement that seemed to rise up from everyone as we got closer. It was just this surreal love fest and I jumped right in high fiving a ton of spectators and was lucky to not have dropped a 6 minute mile here as the energy was unbelievable. I believe that somewhere before the 16 mile mark I pass Kevin and Tom. I raise my arm to them as I pass and they cheer me on. Slow climb to 15 mile mark then a big drop before the Newton Hills start.

11 - 7:13.69; 12 - 7:05.31; 13 - 7:04.04; 14 - 7:01.06; 15 - 7:12.97
Half - 1:34:30
20K - 1:29:45 (5k split of 22:17)
25K - 1:51:38 (5k split of 21:23)

(Boston.com Staff Photo / Dana Giuliana)
(Boston.com Staff Photo / Dana Giuliana)
(Boston.com Staff Photo / Dana Giuliana)

Just before the half way point. The Famous "Scream Alley" - Wellesley College. You can hear them cheering before you even see them. I still don't understand how they manage to be so loud. It's truly awesome.

Click to hear the scream tunnel for yourself

Miles 16 - 20

Okay, this is usually the worst part of a marathon for me but I was having none of that today!! I was hungry for those hills and looking forward to seeing Andy at 21. I felt mentally fresh and eager to finally go. My quads were not the happiest due to the downhills but the uphills actually were a relief on my quads. I see Newton hill number one, check, hill number two, check, hill number three, check. I chant "form form form" in my head as I pass hundreds of people. I felt like I was on top of the world. I take mile splits but I don't look and I even miss taking the 17 mile mark - I was on a mission. I keep my breathing steady, my eyes forward, my form quick and efficient and I think of nothing but the next step that is before me. The next and biggest hill comes after the 20 mile mark. The splits in this section vary quite a bit as the sections in between the hills were either downhill or flat and I think I was just keeping my hill effort throughout, maybe should have taken the in-betweens a little bit more relaxed.

16 - 6:43.92 17/18 - 14:19.74; 19 - 6:56.92; 20 - 7:14.99
20 mile total time: 2:23:16
30K - 2:13:34 (5k split of 21:56)

Mile 21 - 26.2

Heartbreak Hill!! Ha! A doozy but didn't break my heart! I see Andy at 21 and he runs down the sidewalk with me for about 20 seconds cheering for me the whole time. God, I love this man! The crowds in this area are thick, the road has widened, and the cheering is all around us. Some people are struggling up Heartbreak and the crowd sends those people concentrated cheering. I'm thinking at this point that Boston spectators need to get medals - they just rock. Now that the toughest part of the race is done it is time to set my sights on the finish. The downhills come hard and furious here and I have to keep a check on form and ignore the rising tide of discontent from the quads. I remember the posters about town that say "My quads were screaming but the crowd was screaming louder." Yup I'm starting to live that about mile 24. I finally see the famous Citgo sign that is supposed to signal a mile to go and I can't do anything but just keep form the best I can. I was running with some women from 22 to 24 but I can't stay with them anymore so I focus inward again and I can hear the announcer from the finish line that of course is hidden around a turn (why do they do that??, ugh). I see that finish line, I'm hurting and I'm pushing to the end. Total time 3:08:02. Done!!

21 - 7:27.31; 22 - 6:54.86; 23 - 7:10.95; 24 - 7:00.16; 25 - 7:19.16; 26 - 7:20.28; 26.2 - 1:34
2nd Half split - 1:33:32 (negative split, yeah!!)
35K - 2:35:49 (5k split of 22:15)
40K - 2:57:59 (5k split of 22:10)

The Aftermath
Wow! What an incredible day. I have never in my life run a marathon with such a great crowd! There is all this hype surrounding "doing" Boston and I wasn't disappointed. As a course Boston is definitely a course requiring a sound strategy. The downhills slowly but steadily do their damage and of course the hills have to come at the back end. I'm so glad I listened to all the advice given to me on how to run this course, by listening to them I was able to really run this course well.

I only got to see Andy once during the race, he couldn't even come to the start with me, and he had a really tough time getting back to the finish line. The T was literally jammed with people and Andy had to get on a train going the opposite direction just to be assured of a spot when the train returned. I called and we decided I should just go back to the hotel. It was hours before he got back. It was a beautiful day so I just kind of shuffled back to the hotel with all my stuff. I wasn't able to find Tom or Kevin but I talked a while with their friend Steve.

Time to give thanks:
Thank you Sub3 guys - Kevin, Tom, Mike for inviting me to train with them for Boston. I'm glad to have become friends with you all and I hope to continue training and racing with the Sub3 guys!

Thank you Leslie Liu and Ling Yi for your hospitality and to Leslie for an unexpected drive of the first 16 miles of the course and taking me to the grocery store to get everything I needed for the morning of the race (I know you needed a nap badly). Your kids are great and it was a pleasure to see you again after so many years.

Thank you Dan Iverson, and Jon Sinclair for sound race strategy. I listened.

Thank you Paul Clement for tracking my race online and texting Andy. It helped Andy to know that I was okay and moving forward.

Thank you to all my friends who tracked my progress throughout the race. I touches my heart that I have friends who care and I take great pride in your accomplishments as well.

A big thanks to my parents for taking care of my children during our trip to Boston!! I know it was a lot of work and we really appreciate it!

Thanks to my children for "bragging" about your Mommy at school and for letting me hear your sweet voices the morning of the race. Love you both!!

Big hugs and kisses to Andy as usual for his support before, during, and after the race. Won't you run a marathon some day so that I can return the favor? No chance, eh? :-)

To Katie Owens for a monster PR at Boston, a 17:32 minute PR to be exact! The Boston Association allowed her in after just missing the qualification time at the Chicago Heat-a-thon (which was a PR as well). Katie definitely proved she deserved to be there. You rock Katie.

Okay I better end this monster of a post.

Runner Girl Janeth

Friday, May 2, 2008

RunnerGirl Kyla Shines in First Mile Race

Kingdom Youth Run - April 26th, 2008
3rd Overall
2nd Girl Overall
1st AG 10 and under

Let's hear it for RunnerGirl Kyla in her first full mile race! She had done a few of those short little dashes a race sometimes puts on but today she was doing the "big kids" race. A whole mile! She wasn't even nervous!

I ran with her so I got to see the whole race right up front and it was really interesting watching her race. She hurt for going out so fast, not being experienced in running a full mile distance, but her ability to push was a little scary. I told her before the race that I wanted her to have fun first and foremost but there was nothing that was going to squash her competitiveness that day! I seriously thought she was going to dry heave mid race. She eased back just a bit, powerwalked twice for a few seconds each time, but as we circled around the block that would lead us to the finish line and with about a quarter mile to go she put the pressure on, broke the three boys or so that were still around her, tried to chase down the lead girl and flew through the finish line. She looked amazing.

8:47.5. I barely could run that fast as a 12 year old! She was all smiles at the end.

Kyla - making it look easy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Brian and Kelly's Very Busy Weekend

Congratulations to Brian on his outstanding finish at the Clinton Lake 30 miler. The Clinton Lake 30 miler is a 3 x 10 mile trail loop near Bloomington/Normal and having run just one loop there last Thanksgiving I know it's definitely some challenging terrain. I certainly struggled with it. Good job Kelly on going along with Brian on his last loop. By Kelly's description she had to work to keep up with Brian and this was his last loop. This bodes well for Brian's 100K in May. Get to work Kelly, we can't have him showing you up again, he gets so annoying when that happens! (totally kidding)

It was awesome to hear that Brian performed better than he had expected! It was driving me crazy all Saturday not knowing how he was doing so I had to call before the day was over. Hey race director how about a chip mat to mark each loop and a way to track online? Oh I forgot, that would be very un-ultra like, I guess I'm one of those spoiled marathoners :-) I'll just have to drag my butt out here next time to watch for myself!

Read all about the race and see this year's results at http://www.secondwindrunningclub.org/Clinton/Clinton.htm

Brian completing his 1st loop

The next best thing to an ice bath - a freezing cold lake!

Now where would we be without our crew support? - Brian and Kelly

Okay now we aren't really done here because then Brian and Kelly show up on Sunday to the Shamrock Shuffle 8K and race yet again! Aren't they tired yet??

Congrats Brian! Its going to be a great year!

For Brian's complete race report see

Shamrock Shuffle 8K

Time: 30:00
Place: 7th Female Overall, 1st AG 40 - 44
Team Place: Dick Pond Co-ed Team 1st

Okay let's just say I didn't really know what to expect today but I was hopeful. I've been marathon training for Boston (just 3 weeks and 1 day from this race) and marathoning training does not usually make for quick shorter race efforts. On the other hand my training has been going so well and the strides I have been doing recently had been feeling effortless and smooth so I thought maybe, just maybe I might be able to pop a good race today.

The weather forcast for Sunday was dreary and cold and it was. Sigh. I don't know a single Chicago runner who isn't tired of this weather already! I bundled up and my husband and I left the house about 6:30 or so. I felt oddly calm and relaxed, hmmmm. We hit the city and found a nice little sitting room in the Congress hotel on Michigan.

By the time it came to warm up the wind has lost some of its bite and I wasn't too uncomfortable warming up. I felt light and ready to go. My adrenaline was up a bit as I anticipated that this race was going to hurt a bit but I didn't feel panicked at all just getting mentally ready for it.

Kelly and Brian showed up to the hotel and we all went to meet the rest of our company teammates at Buckingham fountain. I ran ahead and snuck in some strides and drills before meeting up with everyone for pre-race pictures. I headed off for my starting corral and Andy was to take my sweats from me from the side lines. I get to the start and I had a little mini panic. There was no way for anyone on the side lines get to the corral! They had like 20feet of dead space on either side of our corral and the final fencing before the side walk was nothing anyone would be trying to climb over that's for sure. I had no idea where Andy was nor how he was going to get to me. I took a deep breath and knew that if he didn't show up I would just have to lose my super expensive sweat bottoms and my Dick Pond team warm up jacket to the dead space and hope that somehow I would get them back. I was a little frustrated but I needed to not freak out so I did my final strides with my sweats in my hands and looking over everyone once in a while to see if Andy was trying to talk his way into the corral and eventually that is what happened. They let him in the dead space area he ran up got my stuff and off he went.

I made small talk with other teammates in the corral but soon we lined up to go.
  • The start: The first few seconds of the race I couldn't believe how furiously fast everyone was going. People were passing me like I as standing still and believe me I wasn't! I concentrated on staying relaxed and not blowing it all in the first half mile.
  • First mile 5:54.23. Perfect. Didn't even feel that bad. I was thinking that 6:05 would have been more appropriate but this felt good. There were big groups of women ahead of me and at this time I had no idea where I was place-wise. I start my plan of attack, to move up in place by picking up everyone who went out too fast and was now starting to come back to me. I take splits on my watch for the rest of the race but I don't bother to look as I keep my eyes focused on every female runner I can find ahead of me.
  • Second mile 5:58.44 By this point I had passed about 5 -6 women and there was another group in my sights. I felt strong and really aggressive. I briefly worried if I was making my moves too soon but I just didn't feel like I had a lot of time. I hear familiar voices in the crowds. I might of heard Ann and I could have sworn I heard Mac (my former high school coach). I drive forward.
  • Third mile 6:02.97 Passing more women but things are definitely hurting more. I ignore the tiredness, focus on form, keep driving forward. I want to see that 4 mile mark where I plan on trying to shift even deeper for the last short mile (for my non runner friends 8k is just short of 5 miles). I see only one or two woman ahead of me but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get them in time. What the hell! Go for them anyway! I pass them.
  • Fourth mile 6:03.88 Negative thoughts keep trying to get into my head and I keep pushing them aside. Form is getting harder to hold as I strain to keep the turnover going at a pace I'm just not used to. I hear Andy, I see another woman, and I go for the pass, Andy yells I'm in sixth now. Sixth? I dig hard as we turn onto Michigan Avenue knowing that I don't have much more time. On Michigan I get passed (not by the one I just passed) and I refused to let her go. I dig even deeper and I lock my eyes on her back. I lose a little on the bridge but then its time for the sprint home. I'm not going to be able to get the girl ahead of me but I continue to fight just in case someone is coming up my back. I see the clock and I'm still under 30 minutes, HOLY COW! Just how fast have I been running?? Can I make it under 30? Can I? I'm throwing myself all over the place, making ugly faces with the strain of getting to that finish line. The finish line guy yells that I'm fifth as I finish.
  • Finish 30:00. Ooo so close. I was stunned! Well I guess hoping for running around 32:00 was way off base. I see Bob Lyons in the finish area and I get a great big hug from him. I'm hoping that I'm the first masters runner in (I am). I tell everyone that I finished fifth but it turns out I was 7th, but no matter I'm happy. I start walking through the finish area kind of in a daze, kind of just floating through as I process the whole thing.

Fellow co-worker and fellow Chia runner Paul once again sets a PR! Now if we could only get him to cut the cord he has with his watch and really let loose!

Brian Gaines finishes his second race in two days. His first was a 30 miler on Saturday at Clinton Lake where he ran an outstanding time on a crazy hilly trail. More on that in my next post. Kelly runs as well even after running the last 10 miles of Brian's 30 mile race on Saturday. I'm such a slacker compared to these two!!

Congrats to all the rest of the NFA crew that ran the Shuffle. It was fun to see familiar faces and be able to have people to talk with about the race come monday morning, people who were actually there!

Congrats to my teammates on the Dick Pond Racing team as we placed 1st AND 2nd with our co-ed teams. We had a lot of new faces and they all just kicked butt! Nell comes back in great fashion after a very long injury and my new friend Kristin West helped in the team standings. I look forward to getting to know everyone during this year.

Sam continues his comeback from his heart attack last summer. Way to go Sam!!

Top 25 Women. How sweet it is to run among the young!! (note the ages of those around me) . Click on results to see a bigger clearer picture.

Boston less than 3 weeks to go!!

Peace everyone,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Homework help via 911


...but I better have that "911 only in emergencies" talk with the kids again!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Racing Season Has Begun!
March Madness Half Marathon March 16th 2008

Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Time: 1:27:42 (1:27:45 gun time)
Place: 1st Female Overall

Well let's just say today didn't go at all like what I had expected. Fortunately it went better!!

I arrived at this race intending on using this race to "discover" where my threshold pace lay over good sized hills in preparation for my race in Boston five weeks from now. I was relaxed and not really in the competing mindset. I was confident that I could easily run 6:50's or so and my training over this winter had been very good thanks to the Sub3 guys (Kevin, Mike, Tom, and sometimes Heather).

After some discussion with one of my running partners, Dan, the plan was to run threshold pace (estimated to be about 6:50's) till 8 miles. If I felt good then to drop the pace a little and by 10 miles if all continued to go well then go with whatever I had. I doubt that anything would really change after 8 miles as finishing strong on hills in a distance of this length wasn't something I had been able to do in a number of years.

Sunday proved to be colder than I had hoped it would be so I stayed in tights but only had a long sleeve coolmax shirt under my team singlet. I tend to over dress so I tried not to make that mistake for this race. (Turned out to be just perfect). I warmed up with Kevin, Tom and Mike, did my drills and lined up. It was fun seeing everyone after the long winter and of course Pony-Tail Guy was there in just his Hawaiian short and no shirt (I will never understand that guy).

Gun goes off and I'm running comfortably and looking for the rhythm I would settle into. I was right with the Sub3 guys and
  • the first mile was 6:35. Okay that's faster than 6:50 but the first mile is easy with a lot of down hill so I eased back a bit.
  • 2nd mile 6:42 and of course the Sub3 guys start razzing me about how I said I wasn't going to race this course etc. I listened to them but also I have a particular knack of being able to sense where my threshold point lay and honestly this pace was easy enough for me to make jokes and chat so I figured I would stay with how I felt.
  • Mile 3 6:38. Okay now this was getting a little silly so I really pulled back and tried to distance myself from the Sub3 guys.
  • Mile 4 6:51. Now this isn't accurate because I missed the 4 mile point but as soon as I realized it I pressed my lap button. I'm not sure how off it was. Continued to feel good, breathing was not labored at all and we've hit a few good hills already.
  • Mile 5 6:31. This will not be accurate because mile four was marked late but whatever. Hills are starting to really come in now so I make sure I don't fight the hills but allow some slow down to stay within threshold pace effort. The people around me are keeping steady pace and I can see the Sub3 guys ahead.
  • mile 6 7:06. Comes after a nasty long hill but still feeling good and not worrying at all about the time. I've lost sight of the Sub3 guys.
  • Mile 7 6:59. Everyone on the course telling me I'm in 3rd, which is fine, and remembering that last year at this point I was already falling apart so I feel things are going well. The guys around me seem to want to push me to run faster and one guys spots a girl not to far ahead. He of course doesn't get why I'm not gunning for her but then after about half a mile she walks off (bandit runner). Good.
  • Mile 8 no time. I see mile 8 and feel really good so I make the shift in effort to slightly faster than threshold and duh I forget to take a split. Whatever. I catch up with the Sub3 guys right about the time I start making the shift and run with them. More razzing ensues. :-)
  • Mile 9 13:03 (a 2 mile split). A tad over 6:30 pace. Good! Mile 9 is a fast mile on this course but mile 10 is not.
  • Mile 10 6:45. Good. I decide no more holding back time to run race pace over this last 5k which is pretty hilly. I catch up to Tom and he says "So you are racing now?" and I say "No." in a why do you ask voice, then I laugh. I'm not sure Tom heard the laugh but Tom was able to stay ahead of me to the end with some great splits of his own. Oh yeah, I see the 2nd woman and its someone I know. Kristin West. Good, someone to chase. I never really entertain the thought of being able to truly catch up to her as I'm pretty well aware of her abilities but I was having fun and I kept her in my sights. She was still pretty far ahead.
  • Mile 11 6:46. Not watching splits anymore but just working the hills and keeping my sights on Kristin ahead of me as I start to gain some ground. I hear Ann in the crowd cheering me on. Ann is an old training partner of mine from the Olympic Trials days and owner of a 2:37ish marathon PR so I listen to her! :-) Good to hear her voice.
  • Mile 12 6:46. Okay, now it is becoming clear that Kristin is within striking distance and I have to make some decisions here. I'm already running quite hard, and the hills just don't seem to ever end, so I search inside to see if I have the strength to dig a little deeper. We are getting very close to Three Oaks Road that will take us to the finish line and of course the guys around me are just salivating at the drama unfolding. We make that turn onto Three Oaks Road and onto the sidewalk and she is there. Bob Lyons (one of my past coaches) gives me the last push I needed, I gather myself and GO as we start to climb that last incline. I pass Kristin within sight of the 13 mile mark.
  • Mile 13 6:28. Oh everything hurts and I'm all arms and high knees driving and driving as I make the last turn and into view of the finish line. Someone yells from the side lines "The first woman was a bandit, you are running for first!!" Like I needed any more drama!
  • Mile 13.1 38seconds for a finishing time of 1:27:42! I kind of stand in the finish line area a little astonished at how everything had gone. I ran over 4 minutes faster than last year and I felt strong and confident and did I just beat someone 12 years my junior?? The old lady can move it....occasionally.
  • Cool down. Long slow 4 mile shuffle.
Congrats to all the Sub3 guys, Kevin, Tom, Mike. We all finish within sight of each other and times were all positive feedback on this winter's work. All hail Kevin for being the coordinator of our workouts.

Congrats to fellow ChiADead Paul for SMASHING his half marathon PR!

Congrats to Jim who followed Paul into the finish chute. PR??

A big "wow" to fellow ChiADead Brian who ran this race AFTER doing 20 miles at Clinton Lake the day before. Clinton Lake is a 10 mile trail course and its a bitch. A true ultra runner!

Congrats to fellow ChiADead Kelly for a good solid run on her way back from some difficult winter months.

Next on the plate The Shamrock Shuffle 8K on March 30th, which I will be racing. See you all there! :-)


Friday, February 1, 2008


It's a snow day!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jenny Crain Making Great Improvements!

The latest update from www.JennyCrain.net.

It’s been over four months since Jenny’s accident which occurred on August 21, 2007. While the first three months showed positive but slow change, in the last few weeks Jenny has taken significant strides forward in her recovery.

On December 23rd, Jenny spoke for the first time saying both her name and Merry Christmas! Since that time, she has also recited the days of the week, the months of the year and has read the time off the clock on the wall of her room. She has verbally recognized her mom and other family members, an incredible Christmas gift to all! While her speaking is whisper-like at this time, her care staff assures us that this is a natural starting point in terms of talking.

Another significant step in Jenny’s recovery is her ability to take a few steps with the help of her physical therapists. She is spending three hours a day in various therapy sessions and is also staying awake for a majority of the day.

Jenny’s trach was removed in early December providing her better mobility of her head and neck, however, she continues to be dependent on a feeding tube for nutrition. Her ability to eat will determine the timeline for removal of the feeding tube. A main focus for therapy is her mouth and jaw in an effort to increase muscular strength and mobility in these areas.

Jenny and her family continue to offer all of you our gratitude and thanks for your ongoing support. We feel a great sense of hope as we turn the calendar to 2008…Happy New Year!