Tuesday, 9 October 2018

2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon!

Hey guys!

I absolutely do not know how to even begin this post to capture the awesomeness of this past Sunday...I can't even. But let me tell you it was freaking amazing!

Matt and I did the fast and furious version of a Chicago trip again this year...that's how we roll. Zoom in, zoom out.

Upon arrival we freshened up and then very swiftly caught the shuttle from Nike Town to the McCormick Place to pick up our race kits.
 View from the Bus. 

We explored around the expo and bought a couple of cool Chicago goodies along with a slice of amazing Connie's Island Pizza...delish!

Plan for the race...all of the above!

The Callaghan Crew!

I got my flat self all prepared and we hit the hay early!

After some Pizza from Blaze of course...second Pizza meal of the day, lol.

My amazing running friend, Christy has become quite the mentor to me. She recently ran a kickass marathon in Berlin and is the most positive person I know! She gave me some simple, but important advice for the race:
 I told her I loved it so much I was going to write it on my arm, so I did.

Stacey and Rachael were also running marathons that same day! Stacey in Minneapolis and Rachael in the Valley, NS. I sent them a race morning bathroom selfie to pump them up! They probably just thought I was nuts, lol.
I wanted to sport my power bun like Allie Kieffer and was so sad that I had to wear a hat because I strongly dislike rain in my face.  I also dislike heavy wet braids slapping my back with the longer hair. It looks like a flowy pony kind of day.

I ate a Pumpkin Spice Superhero Muffin from my incredible Shalane Cookbook and an Chocolate Coconut Cashew Energy bar from the same book for breakfast. Christy said she ate "only Shalane foods" during race week so I did the same. :) Plus it's what I ate for breakfast every morning of training on my long runs so I was glad I packed some for the road.

Upon stepping outside we discovered that the race day rain had indeed arrived. I was glad we packed garbage bags to keep ourselves dry. Note to self, don't grab the Febreeze scented ones next time, lol. Let's just say I smelled great at the starting area....LOL!

We walked a bit over a mile with other runners and when we got there we were basically separated immediately. My gate was the Van Buren Gate and Matt and I immediately made a reference to Seinfeld, lol. I dislike this part. I was a little emotional because I was worried that my lingering cold congestion would cause me laboured breathing, (I had needed to take my puffer for the previous two days). I was also feeling a bit defeated from working so hard at school, stressed about Lola's surgery and then showing up on race day with a wheezy chest. I was hopeful though that my strong consistent training and rested taper would have me breathing clearly! Fingers crossed.

I made the decision to be positive no matter what and I have to say I wasn't nervous for the first time in a long time. Just a Saturday Road Hammer workout I said to myself...just a bit longer. ;)

Before...wearing my freshly scented garbage bag! LOL.
I camped out in the above bathroom area and sat by a tree. Shortly after this photo this area was packed! I went to the bathroom three times before I headed to the corral at 7:05. Even though I didn't have to go, I went anyway because 2/3 times I ran Chicago I had to make on the course pit stops! It was not happening today.

It started to become daylight as I entered the corral. This place got packed quickly! I was back pretty far in D but I could still see the start line waaaay up there. I took a gel with 30 minutes to go as Lee suggested.

It was pretty chilly. I kept on my throwaway and garbage until 7:26. I was staying as warm as possible! 

The race began promptly at 7:30 and I crossed at almost 7:37 (according to post race results)! 

"This is it," I said.

The organizers said that the 45000 runners would see approximately 1.7 million spectators out on course! The weather was amazing for running, but spectating may have been a bit uncomfortable in the rain and wind.

We headed under the bridge almost immediately. I remembered needing to pee when I got there last year, but not this year. It was dark in there. My garmin said I was running much slower than I was. I guess following my race plan from Lee was out the window. Running by feel was Plan B. 

I felt good, I felt calm and I felt strong. I prayed this feeling lasted. 

When we came out from under the tunnel people were cheering excitedly and I could feel the adrenaline flowing. 

The ground was also very wet. Organizers warned runners about the slippery footing and they weren't kidding! The ridges on the bridges and the painted lines on the street were not safe to run on quickly. I imagined a total wipeout and runners crashing like dominoes...I did not want that to happen. 

Check out this cool shot from Fleet Feet! 

I love running the streets of Chicago. There are so many cool things to see in the 29 neighbourhoods. 
My GPS was a gong show. Even though I knew this  I continued to obsessively check my watch splits anyway. Lee's advice was playing in my mind. I kept running, feeling like this was probably faster than planned pace, but very unsure since it was saying 5:30/km. 

First 5k split clock was up ahead and I hit it at 23:25...yep too fast! Pull it back Heather! Darn legs still feeling freaking fresh and strong! 

Second gel at 6k. I used the lulu Rack Pack bra and fit 7 gels in there! No chaffing either!!! 

I kept running hoping to see the 3:25 pace group but I couldn't find anyone! Well, there were people everywhere actually. To the point that I received several elbows from taller guys in the head and shoulders. I actually even got pushed at one point! On purpose!  I was like, 'Hey buddy, we can't ALL fit on the tangent line!' LOL, so I didn't actually say that I just thought it. 

I took water and gatorade and every second station. I was feeling thirsty and wanted to stay fueled and hydrated. I thought I was pulling in the reigns. 5-10k split: 23:52. Still too fast. This is going to end very badly I thought and EVERYONE I know will see! That's what I thought anyway.

I kept pushing along and with each 5k checkpoint I felt like I was saying, "Hey," to everyone back home. You guys have no idea how much you helped get me to the finish on Sunday. Thanks!

I was feeling good splashing the puddles and chugging along. I thought of all the crazy hard workouts I had completed over the summer with Christine, Bea, Natasha, Sarah, Charlotte, and so many others! It was amazing motivation and mental strength to pull from. It made me feel confident to know that I had done all my homework. I took a gel after every 6k and was like something to occupy my mind.

Boom, here they are: 3:20 pace group...did they catch up to me or did I catch up to them, who knows?!?! I have no idea what's going on today with any numbers or clocks or people! I'll try to stay with them! Water station at 8 miles: snatch and sip, Hey where'd they go?! Oh well, it was a good two minutes I was probably on pace with them lol. They didn't have the tall signs like some other pace groups did at Chicago. They were just wearing a bib on their front and back indicating that they were Nike Plus Pacers: 3:20.

Just keep focused and don't quit Heather.

At Mile 12 I spotted Haley from IG and she gave me some awesome motivational cheers! She later told me I looked relaxed and strong. She had no idea that I was checking my soaking wet shorts right before I spotted her to see if they were completely gone! I was so wet from the rain/gatorade/sweat/etc. that it felt like I wasn't wearing any! LOL.

At halfway I was feeling fine at 1:39. Yikes...this is probably going to end badly. Enter runner math: What's 1:39 and 1:39? Who am I kidding I'm not going to maintain this! LOL. Well, how much longer until the next checkpoint? 25-21 is...... is..... what the heck is 5-1 anyway? Goodness, I hope my student's parents don't know I can't even do single digit subtraction! <- Just to give you a glimpse.

Regardless, I was still having fun. It was kind of youthful to run straight through the puddles. My new black/rose gold Mizunos that Christy and I ordered were squishing but at least they were very clean! Christy and I decided that these would be our speedy fast marathon shoes and they are doing their job today!

I felt like I was cruising and for a moment I think my GPS started to actually acquire signal! I was like Whoa Nelly, and pulled back a bit. I tried to stick between 4:45-4:50 but I still don't know if it really was that.

And just like that the Garmin paused, not once but TWICE! Great, now I don't even know my actual time. :(  Who cares: Work hard, have fun, don't quit...I repeated.

I was running blind. At least until I could see the next checkpoints and even then I had no idea how long it took me to cross the finish so I would just run my butt off until the end!

It rained on and off and at points the wind blew.

The spectators were doing an incredible job in keeping us motivated. I felt like I was still going strong and was hoping that the clock would say the same. I was feeling good and still having fun.

At the 35k checkpoint I started to feel a bit fatigued. I remembered Christy telling me that for her last 12k she thought of important people in her life. I decided this would now be my plan.

This was a super effective strategy and with each friend I thought of it made the KMs fly by! Thank you <3

When I started to get tired I reminded myself that this is work and I can rest later. This is what I trained for. Don't quit!

There were two slight inclines that I didn't remember from previous years. I'm sure they are mini, but at this point in the race I was like "really?"

Once I hit 40k my toes started to cramp. I tried to push through it and ignore it. The clock was reading 3:13 at 40k and I KNEW that wasn't MY actual time since it took me a bit to actually cross the start so I was super pumped!

Gun it to the finish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, as fast as legs that have already hammered out 40k can gun it, lol.

When I saw 1 mile to go I felt like a million bucks mentally. This I can do!

With about 1km to go a girl wearing a lot of neon yelled at me to go with her, so I did. We sprinted past the 800m sign, up the annoying incline to the finish and past the 500m to go sign. I heard finishers names being called and I saw the freaking chip mat. I sprinted with all I could.

The clock was saying 3:26 and I thought Oh my goodness I got a PB I bet!!! I soaked in the joy of completing such an exhausting task and the tears flowed. I thanked God for my health and my heart was full.

My phone was buzzing on my back and several messages of happiness and congratulations were coming in! I had to again ask Jennie my time, lol. When she said 3:19:29 I hadn't even got my medal at this point and I was in total shock! I never in my wildest dreams imagined a run in the teens! Ever! That's nearly a 4 minute PB for me!!!!!!!!!!!!

I looked up and saw a running legend as I got my medal. I couldn't believe all that was happening.
No big deal just a post PB selfie with Deena Kastor!!! She was so humble and kind. She told me I did amazing and I felt like she really meant it. I was such a cry baby, it was weird, lol. 

I left the medals and immediately saw Matt. I think he was in disbelief when I told him my time and I was thrilled to hear he got in under three hours again! 2:59:07!
 Cheers to PBs!

We were Runner-sicles! So chilly.

The digits!

I am so blessed to have such a great supportive network of people in my life. Amazing thanks to Lee for being so patient with all my questions and for giving fantastic advice while pushing me beyond limits I never dreamed of! Thank you to my training teammates and friends. We are definitely better together! And thank you to Matt for our daily training talks, absolute confidence in me and going on this adventure with me. It was an experience of a lifetime!

Thanks to all of you for reading and for the messages of support! I read every one and am truly blessed. 

Have a wonderful day and Happy Running!
Heather :)

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Rum Runners Relay 2018!

Happy Sunday RUNday folks!

This weekend zipped by at turbo speed since yesterday the entire day was spent running, cheering, walking, eating, driving, laughing and smiling at the 2018 Rum Runners Relay!

This year I ran with the BLT Runners on the all female team "No Mayo." The men entered a team of "Extra Crispy" runners as well. ;)

The day got going pretty fast and furious with yours truly running Leg 1.  This leg began out in Prospect at 6:30 a.m. when the sun had yet to come up. Therefore, reflective gear was needed and I chose my headlamp as well because I remember there are some rough patches along the shoulder where I didn't want to roll an ankle the WEEK BEFORE CHICAGO!

Matt and Lola dropped me off to meet  Dave and Ian at the sign in van. You MUST sign in or you get the organizers hollering your team over the megaphone and that was NOT happening to me, LOL.

I was so excited to do this leg that Matt has run many times. I remembered it as flat minus one big hill. I was so not correct. In previous years I have run Leg 2 (2x), Leg 3, Leg 8 (3x).

Runners ready to roll! I took this photo from Matt Parker...thanks! ;)
I was not nervous, just excited. Lee told me threshold pace would be okay a week before the marathon but not to go too crazy on strong rested legs. Thankfully he was cheering on the sidelines and reminded me to pull in the reigns. ;) When I looked down I was doing a 4:20/km and that was not okay lol.
Janet and I ran closely for a while over the rolling sections, that I definitely didn't notice when driving haha! It felt tough.
Spectators were few throughout this leg but the ones I did see were so motivating!

Once I got to the Irving just before 10k I think I felt an extra pep in my step...something that I haven't felt in a LONG time. I knew the big hill was coming and I was chilled out not worried at all. I simply headed up it glancing down and seeing 5:30 without even caring...no pressure today. That Km was 4:55. Then Stacey drove by as I crested the hill and that was also very pump you up feeling. I passed two guys near the end who looked like they hadn't trained for this so I said, "Come on, let's go!" Nope. They did not come. So I got to finish alone!
Thanks Dave for the pics!!!!

It was bizarre to me how it was pitch dark at the start and the sky was bright as light at the finish. It's so gradual you don't even really realize the point at which you are not running in the dark anymore, weird.

13.3 km, 1:00:44, 4:34/km. The results say that I ran 4:28 pace, but whatever.

I quickly headed home, along the route ;) and changed into dry clothes.

And then I could really enjoy cheering with my crew the rest of the day!
We did not have any fun at all, LOL!
Rum Runners is amazing because you see all the runners from around the area and you can actually chat because you're not just racing. 

And you can offer your friends support!!! 
Stacey showing Leg 4 who is boss! And my big thumb, lol.
Hey look, here's Rachael! I think she just got her hair done or something, ;)

Rum Runners is also amazing because you can eat ice cream if you do an early leg, LOL.

Look, more friends at Queensland Beach!
Christy on the far left just rocked Berlin with a PB by the way!!! 
We were crazy excited to get our photo in the Big Red Chair in Lunenburg!

It was so fun driving the route and cheering on our team and other running friends on other teams. I thought that was cool. Even though you technically run on your own team everyone supports everyone!

Check out our Men's Team!
 They took two tries to get everyone in ....

 But we did it in one shot! Haha!
Our Women's Team placed 4th among the female teams!!!!! 
It was such a great day with 70 teams, 110km, 10 legs, friends, smiles, laughs and miles! Congratulations to all the runners and organizers!!!!!!

Thanks for stopping by the GGR blog and have yourself a beautiful day!

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Maritime Race Weekend 10k!

The Fall Racing Season is definitely here when Maritime Race Weekend arrives. This year I made a big decision to sit the Sunset 5k out as I've done in many years past. Instead I visited Jillian at Nova  Physiotherapy for a little pre-race massage. It was especially welcomed after the first full week of teaching my 22 new little grade ones. ;)

My race for this year's MRW was the Coastal 10k, a race I'd run way back in 2012 which has my fastest official 10k to date, (44:02).
A photo from the archives! LOL...this was the first ever Maritime Race Weekend and I placed second female in 44:02! 

After a disappointing attempt at the 10k in June at the Johnny Miles Running Event I became determined to find my strength in running once again and maybe some speed too. That's when I joined the Halifax Road Hammers and was completely sold on the power of training with a pack. I was challenged and I pushed myself harder than ever in a summer of non stop heat and humidity. The lead up to this year's Maritime Race Weekend had me feeling strong!  I was ready and I could definitely do this!

I LOVE how Michelle let us pick our names for our bibs!!!!!! 
Lee gave me a great race plan that sounded completely doable based on my recent workouts. I just had to go do it.  I had race nerves all week!!!

Race morning tattoo prep was underway (and I'm now struggling to get it off...Looks like sleeves at work on Monday, haha).

I got a drive with Courteney and we all met at Paul's who lives amazingly close to the start so the convenience and hospitality of a bathroom without a line was awesome!
Not to mention an awesome photographer!

I met up with Jennie, Charlotte, Dave and a few other runners for a warm up. I was already hot and sweaty after only 2.2km, uh oh. 

Who ordered up the race humidity??? ;)

The 5, 10, 1/2 and full marathon share a start so I got as close to the front as I could at the bottle-necked start.
Another Amazing photograph from Bruce Nelson!
At the horn we were all OFF and it was hard because the 5k'ers are zipping by. Erin's wise words resonated with me, "let them go." So I did. I met up with an amazingly talented friend, Jennie, who would keep me in line. "Relax," she repeated but I was a bit worked up because I just wanted to go do it!!! ...LOL.

I love this race, as tough as it is. You can see the 5k turn around and begin running towards you right before you head up "the hill." I saw Matt and Craig heading back to the finish looking stellar and strong. Matt was in the lead so I thought, "Oh this is exciting," and I got a bit of pep in my step. The hill everyone mentions that zaps you at around 2-3km is not long but it's also not welcomed in a ten km race, you know? You cruise back down the same hill later and it's amazing! You can see ALL the 10, 1/2 and full runners who are heading up and I heard so many people yelling my name. It was awesome. Check out the hill:

I stayed in control for the first 6k for sure. I tried to keep with Joanne H., who I always run into at races and we sort of pull energy from one another and keep the other one pushing depending on the day.

Then I started getting super warm. :( Jennie told me not to look at my watch and I sort of knew that if I did I'd feel defeated. When I thought I was running really fast, I wasn't. My stomach really started to get worked up and I thought I might actually throw up with 2k still to go. The race got super hard to navigate because the 5k walker congestion was super tricky to weave around. Erin told me to stay to the right on this busy section but an official yelled out to "stay left!"

It was a grind for the last 3ish km. Like I'm talking a serious grunting grind. Jennie got me a water and threw it over my head, lol. I was hoping to drink it but in the heat of the moment, quite literally, I decided we'd laugh about that later. I was sure to grab one for a gulp at the next station. The course was awesome for on-course support - hydration and port-a-potties. The marathon routes had personalized signs too! Special shoutout to Joanne T. who ran her first marathon today!!!!!!!

I just kept pushing thinking of all the strong workouts I'd had and I pictured Charlotte giving me confidence from our most recent long run/speed work where I had run 18k at basically the pace I was trying to pull off today. And that 18k had a 15k warm up! So I knew my fitness was there, but where exactly was it today because I was a hurting unit?

"I'm actually going to finish this thing!"

I tried so hard to be strong. I tried so hard to be fast. I tried so hard not to throw up, at least until I finished anyway, lol.
 It's crazy motivating hearing your name from friends as you head up to the finish.

I saw the clock saying 44:XX and for a brief moment I was defeated. But then I was reassured. I'm at peak marathon training on max fatigue marathon training legs and I am within seconds of my 10k PB on this blistering hot 29 degree day. It was also over a minute faster than my June 10k at Johnny (45:39). Then I discovered I was the third female!!!! :D

44:28, 4:27 pace, 2nd in age group, 3rd female, 10th overall!

I was so wobbly and dizzy at the finish. This doesn't happen often but I  knew I was overheated. 

 A ten k seems short, but boy it felt long today! LOL.  Courteney did a great job capturing all my glory...lol!
P.S. Don't you love my new Mizuno Wave Riders?!?!? Christine and I got all excited and decided these would be the greatest shoes for our marathons, LOL!
I'm also a huge fan of the Crew Socks from tiux! You can use my discount code HEATHERLCTIUX at checkout to get my ambassador discount!

Jennie, pacer, racer, speedy friend and running extraordinaire. Thank you <3

Courteney rocked a 5k Friday night AND a 5k Saturday morning!

And here's Matt winning the 5k in 17:44!!!

Craig, Matt and I. :)

It was a pretty great day, hot but great! Congratulations to all the amazing runners and thank you Maritime Races!!!!!!!

Have a wonderful day and thanks for stopping by!

Happy Running,
Heather :)