Ragnar Great River Review

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So literally two days after finishing Ragnar Chicago, a friend who also ran Chicago, but on another team, approached me asking if I would want to run another Ragnar this season. Coming off a Ragnar high of course I agreed! We were able to form a kick ass all women ultra team for Great River

Compared to Ragnar Chicago, Great River was extremely more organized. The area experienced lots of flooding the day before and as a result Ragnar had to cancel a few legs. Communication of what was happening went out the night before and their plan was very clear. While Chicago had to made adjustments mid race instead which is harder communication was choppy and unclear. As captain during both races I received lots of text updates throughout Great River, while this was not the case during the Chicago Ragnar. Volunteers at checkpoints also seemed more informed about what was going on over the course to clarify any questions.

I enjoyed the course overall, but it was a lot more highway running then I was expecting. A lot of the legs used the shoulder of main roads. For it being along the highway there were still some very pretty views, but I would have like it to be more through towns or on smaller roads. Parts of the course was hilly, but we knew that going in. The volunteers were also fabulous and very friendly!

I only had one major complaint of Great River. On my 5th leg, I had to run through a horse trail that went through a forrest. When our team got to the leg it was around 3 am. Therefore, it was pitch black on the trail. We also at this point only had about 10-15 teams ahead of us, so the whole 4+ miles I was on the course I saw no one! I am used to running alone all the time and often in the dark, but I legit was literally scared running this trail. There were no volunteers and seeing no other runners while you can’t see and don’t know your surroundings is very frightening. To make matters worse, the trail was not a flat easy trail. Instead, it was a rocky trail and I was looking straight down the whole entire time because I had to watch every step I look to ensure I would not lose my footing or step in a hole. The trail towards the end also became very hilly. I was having to use my hands to get down the hills so I would get down them safely. There were several moments on the trail where I almost broke down into tears because I just wanted to be safe and off the trail. While I know, it would probably be unrealistic for Ragnar to have a volunteer (or probably 2 so they wouldn’t have to be alone) available halfway through the trail to provide any runner support, it would have been a huge benefit. Safety of participants is a big deal and I have never felt so unsafe than running this trail alone in the dark.

Minus my 5th leg, I had a blast and another great Ragnar experience. My team “Girls Gone Ultra” also killed it and we we got 2nd place in the Women Ultra Division! I will definitely be running another Ragnar next season!

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Weighted Vest

I love any Crossfit WOD that contains running. This is pretty much a given since I like to run and its something that I am strong at. It is the one movement along with burpees, that I sometimes have an advantage at. Rarely do I click RX for a workout as I typically have to scale most workouts as the RX weight is normally too heavy for me. While watching the Crossfit Games it blows my mind what the athletes are capable of doing with their bodies and their strength is purely incredible! One WOD that they usually complete every year in the famous Murph where they have to do lots of running, pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. As if that is not hard enough they do it in a weighted vest. 
Today our WOD was a 800m run, 40 HR push-ups, 400m run, 100 ab mat sit-ups, 400m run, 40 KBS, and ending with a 800m run. All of these movements are a strength of mine (which is a rarity for me in a WOD!). I was challenged by my coach and fellow athletes in the class to complete the workout in a weighted vest. I was hesitant and anxious to try at the same time. I figured I would challenge myself as it would only end up helping my running, so I strapped on the vest. 
At first when I put on the vest I thought, “this isn’t too bad”. In my head I think I was expecting it to feel much heavier. The WOD started and I set out on my first 800 meters. Right away I could tell it was harder to run, but the first 800 meters wasn’t horrible. When I got back inside I realized immediately how difficult it was to do a hand release push-up with the vest on! On the positive side with the vest you do not have to go down as low, but man it was hard to push up my body and vest. Every one of those pushups was very difficult. I was relieved when I completed my 40. However, little did I know how difficult the run would be following it. I struggled the whole run to catch my breath. I could feel the weight of the vest compressing into my chest. I was also sweating so bad at this point and I could tell my heart was racing which rarely ever happens during a normal run. I was so happy when I returned and surprisingly the 100 sit=ups was not too difficult and I was able to catch my breath again while doing them. Upon completion I set out for the 400m run again. Once again when I started running, I immediately struggled to get good breaths and felt like my heart was again racing as I gasped for breath. I returned for my KBS. I was so gasped I did not think I would be able to swing the Kettle Bell. I really at that point though about taking the vest off, but I really did not want to quit. I rested for about 30 seconds before starting the movement. I normally could do 40 unbroken, but I was so sweaty I could only do sets of 15 as I literally thought the KB was going to fly out of my sweaty hands! 
I was joyed to finish and set out on my last run, the final 800m. I was so tired after finishing the KBS I walked the first 75m to just try and get my bearings. I then started off on my “run”. It really felt like I was going so slow I was practically walking. My legs by this point definitely felt the extra weight, but it was the chest pressure of the vest that made the running so difficult. I could feel my shoulders being rammed down by the weight and my lungs being pushed in by the vest. I struggled through but completed by 800m marking the end of my first WOD wearing a weighted vest. Upon finishing it felt so good to take the vest off and releasing the pressure on my chest was wonderful! I now know why the military and many professional athletes wear a vest to train. Not only does it add a strength portion to running, the amount of extra lung capacity needed to regulate breathing and heart rate is crazy. I never have had to try so hard to regulate by breathing during a run that wasn’t a full out sprint. It was extremely difficult, but I am glad I did it! I also learned that I need to challenge myself more and do more regular just running training wearing a vest. I really think more vest training will have a really positive impact on my running both with leg strength and pure lung cardio endurance. If looking for a way to challenge your running, its definitely worth trying to strap on vest and giving it a go! 

Definition of Runner?

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So earlier this summer I started working at a local running store just for fun and to give me something to do over the summer since I am not teaching. I really enjoy getting to interact with costumers as I fit them for shoes. A lot of the costumers are runners so we converse about races, injuries, and various running experiences. There are also those costumers who come in that just stand on their feet all day and need a comfortable shoe or just enjoy walking.

This past Sunday it was really busy, but I had two conversations with two different costumers that really stuck with me. Both of them were similar in nature and made me really question how people perceive themselves as athletes and just people in general. The first costumer was a male probably in his upper 30s. Standard shoe fitting procedure is to ask them questions about their activities and what they will be wearing the shoes for. The man said he’s not a runner but is trying to be healthy and needs something more comfortable. I then preceded to ask him how many miles a week he is walking. His answered by saying, ” I run about 4-5 miles three times a week and walk the other days for like 30 minutes” I was shocked by this response because he had previously just told me he was not a runner. I shockingly  questioned him then why he had just told me he was not a runner. He told me that he’s not that good at it and he therefore doesn’t run any races.

Fast forward an hour or two…An older women probably in her upper 40’s/low 50’s comes into the store as well for shoes. In she came with her current pair of running shoes that you could tell were definitely time to be replaced…but they were also a new model that we were still selling in the store, so I knew right away she was active in them. She told me she was looking for a new pair of shoes since she had worn out this pair. I then made a comment how she must train a lot. Her response was, “I used to be a runner but now I am too old. I only average about 30 miles a week now between running and walking”. UMM ONLY 30! I am in the middle of marathon training right now and I only do about 30-40 miles depending on the long run distance of the week…and here is a lady who is racking up that much mileage just to be healthy and completely disregarding herself and the work she is putting in. I shockingly responded back to her comment by saying how super impressive that was with how much she logs per week. She then went on to say how due to aches and pains she has cut back a lot and its disappointing.

It blew my mind that both of these runners had similar perceptions of themselves and were both undermining themselves. It made me really question the reason as to why they both did not consider them runners, when the majority of people if asked if they would consider those two people runners they would they they both were. There are so many possibilities to this….-Are they just trying to be humble?-Are they disappointed that they can do better? Do they have this crazy way of defining what a runner is?

The more I think about this, the more it rattles my brain and makes me sad. Each of us has different talents and hobbies that we enjoy more or are stronger at. Just because we may not be the best at something does not mean we are not that person. (I mean come on a person who runs every day does not call him a runner because he does not run actual races!)

I definitely of all people hold myself to very high expectations when it comes to athletic performance (aka running), and in return would call myself a runner. On the reverse, I also really enjoy baking, but I would never tell someone I was a baker because I don’t see myself as being good at it. This list of activities I like to daily can go on and on, but I would never call myself any of those. I just can’t decide whether thats a good thing to undermine ourselves like this because it pushes us to maybe be better; or does it do the reverse and eventually burn us out of that activity because we never feel good enough? How do we decide whether we can call ourselves one thing but not another….why does it always have to be only things we are good at? I know there will never be an answer to this nor an actual solution. The only solution I can really think of to always support and be positive of other people’s efforts. In most cases we are our hardest critics so encourage other’s successes and their trying efforts! Positive encouragement from others can maybe one day help convince that person they really are that! 13392624_1160762193968490_1314811446_n

 

Mobility Magic Ball

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Mobility has always been a chore for me…I know I have to do it but I definitely do not enjoy the “good pain”. The area that I get the tightest in is my piriformis, IT Bands, and quadriceps. I usually can effectively use a foam roller to roll out my tight IT Bands quads. However, I always have struggled with loosening my tight piriformis. A foam roller does not get deep enough, and using a lacrosse ball is wayyy to painful!

When I first saw the Orb, I thought it was cool looking, but I did not think it would do anything different then the other mobility tools I already have. However, once trying it out I immediately fell in love! Though it takes some balance, it is lot more effective for rolling out my quads. Even better, I have found that this is finally a tool I can use to help stretch out my piriformis! The Orb is small enough to fit perfectly in the gluteal region without the excruciating pain like I exhibit when trying to use a lacrosse ball. I finally have found a way to work on this area, and I already am feeling the difference.

I have found the most effective way to use The Orb on the piriformis is to just sit on the ball so it is applying pressure to that area. Then, take the leg of the side you are stretching and cross it over the opposite leg. (See picture below). For even a deeper stretch you can cross the same arm across your body as well. This simple exercise has already brought me so much relief to that area!

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I highly recommend looking into The Orb Massage Ball. Its made by Pro-Tec Athletics and can be purchased on Amazon. Its pretty cheap too, less than $20 on Amazon! There are few

Fighting expectations

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Today was the first day this week that I had hours to get in a workout despite every other day this week when I had to work to really squeeze in time to get my run and workout in. I had planned to get a longer run and a Crossfit session in today before heading out of town tomorrow because I have no idea how much I will work out being gone.

When my alarm went off this morning for my run, I decided to snooze because I knew I had time later in the day after work. At work all morning I felt like I was going to fall asleep, I was exhausted! When I got home the last thing I wanted to do was go for a run. Instead, I did things I needed to do like clean, laundry, and pack for vacation that is tomorrow. I kept telling myself I would workout after I do this….and then I kept putting it off. At one point I laced up and stepped outside, dragging my feet and telling myself to just suck it up and I will feel better afterwards. I got outside and ran about 100 yards and stopped because I felt drained and didn’t want to run. I forced myself to run again and got another 100 yards in before I stopped again. My mind was fighting my body. My brain kept telling me to suck it up and go because I probably figured I would not workout out tomorrow but my body just did not want to go. Couch and Netflix sounded so much better, so what did I do…I turned around and went home.

Quitting on a workout is the worst feeling for me. After stopping I felt guilty for quitting. It was a perfect day out…75 and a little bit of sun. Not hot like it has been mid afternoons this summer. I was really disappointed in myself. I then told myself, this is my body’s way of telling me I just need to take it easy right? I had no real reason to not go, besides that I just felt pure utterly lazy. It got me really thinking…you see all the time the inspirational quotes about pushing though and how in the end you’ll get though it and be happy you did. Though what is the line on this? When do you use every power out there to fight the laziness or to just decide instead to eat ice cream on the couch and embrace it?  I feel every athlete faces this dilemma at some point. Its like on days of planned rest you still want to go, but when you aren’t supposed to rest you want to! Same with injuries, when you are hurt all you want to do is workout, but then when you are healthy you just want to be a bum! I think this is one of the hardest aspects of training and having a personal competitive mindset for expectations of myself. I always think I have to be full throttle and sometimes I need to be okay with slacking and taking unexpected days off. However, at the same time I horror myself that once I start being too nice on myself I will get into the habit of accepting my laziness feelings as being acceptable and it will become more frequent for me to accept skipping workouts. I know people who know me will say, that will never happen because I love to work out too much, but hey you never know!….I do really like ice cream and Netflix 😉

Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powder Review

 

img_2695I was given a sample box of Bob’s Red Mill Protein Powders to try out and review. I have tried lots of different protein powders, but after hearing about this line the thing that stuck about Bob’s Red Mill is that the protein also contains probiotics. While there are some brands out there, there are very few proteins that contain probiotics added in. For someone who struggles with digestive issues, this is a HUGE added plus for me so I was really excited to try them out!

I was given the Vanilla Protein, Protein and Fiber, Chai Protein, and the Chocolate Protein. Taste is huge for me, and I usually always always turn to Chocolate flavored protein. However, after trying all the flavors, I was surprised to find Chai was my favorite!!

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All of the flavors have the same amount of protein (20 grams) and are all relatively the same in terms of calories and fat/sugar content. The flavors range between 160-180 calories and are between 1.5-3 grams of both fat and sugar. All of the flavors are all plant-based so they are vegan and gluten-free if that is something that is needed for your  diet. I also found that they are all high in iron and fiber. Every flavor has at least 12g of fiber.

Both times I had the chocolate I just made just as a normal shake with water as that is how I normally take my shakes. (I have a hard time finding time to make a full smoothie!). It was a sold tasting shake and was not gritty. The Protein and Fiber  was my least favorite as it did not have a taste. (Though it is meant to be tasteless for mixing). I tried it first just with milk and for my second shake I made it as a smoothie with milk, strawberries, and bananas. It was a good consistency as well. I personally definitely think this one would need to be always mixed with something and not meant to be just taken with water. For that reason just out of convenience that as my least favorite.

The vanilla flavor was my second favorite. It was sweet and really tasty just plain. I usually dislike vanilla protein so I was very surprised when I found I liked this one. One smoothie I made with the vanilla that was delicious was with bananas and peanut butter. Last of course I mentioned REALLY liked the Chai flavor. Such a different protein flavor then the usual vanilla and chocolate, which was great. When made with almond milk or just milk, it really could taste like a chai latte! 🙂 The second time I had it I mixed in coffee as well which was awesome. I highly recommend this flavor if you like chai and are looking for a different flavor. On the Bob’s Red Mill website there are recipes to try for each type of protein if you are looking for try different tasting smoothies. There is a recipe on there for Pumpkin Chai Boost Bars that sounds very good that I want to try.

The only really downside is that the protein is kinda pricy. For a 16oz bag (10 servings) it costs $29.99. A 32oz bag is $56.99. Bob’s Red Mill products like their grains, granola, etc are sold at major stores like Walmart and Target. I have not seen the protein in them just yet, but it should be arriving in stores in the near future.

 

 

Can a single pair of shoes cause immediate pain?

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In January I busted out a new pair of shoes  for my weekend long runs to start training for the Boston Marathon. The shoes I started running in were the Saucony ISO Triumph. I had never run in Saucony before, but I heard great things, so I figured I would give them a go.

They had a lot of cushion and enjoyed running in them. I was only wearing them once a week for my long run. Late February I started getting right knee pain on the inner/front portion of my knee as my mileage started getting higher. I went to the chiropractor and was told the pain was a result of tight leg muscles that were pulling at my knee (aka Runner’s Knee). I started going in for weekly Manual Adhesion Release (MAR) treatments. The treatments definitely helped dismiss some of the pain. However, as my knee pain started to go away, I started to develop pain on the back of my heel. Every shoe I was wearing that had a back really was irritating my heel. I brought up the issue to my chiropractor and he found that the tendon alongside my outer lower leg was very tight which was causing the pain even though the pain was in my heel. I stopped wearing shoes with backs whenever I did not have too.

End of March I was out a long run and during the middle of the run my heel was irritating me so I decided to run home and change my shoes. I had a new pair of Mizuno Wave Riders at home that I decided to put on. After running in them I realized they irritated my heel less. I figured it was because when I did wear shoes it helped to rotate shoes because every shoe sat differently on the back of my heel. Despite only doing two long runs, I went with running in the Mizuno’s for Boston. The heel and knee pain went away leading up to Boston.

I hurt my quad during Boston, which is a separate issue (I think…) but since then I have had no heel or knee issues.  After needing a a good 4 weeks for my quad to heel that I strained I ran a half in May. I did well and felt good without any knee pain. Fast forward another few weeks, last weekend I ran Chicago Ragnar. In the two days I ran 38 miles and felt strong. No pain in my knee, heel, or quad. I was very happy!!

I decided this past Tuesday to try out the shoes again after not wearing them for months. I ran 5 miles in them and felt fine. However, Wednesday morning I set out for a run. Upon immediately starting I got horrible horrible pain in my right knee. I only had it 3 houses before I stopped. I walked a few blocks and then tried running again. No way Jose! The pain was horrible! I ended up walking home. When I got home I took some Advil and iced my knee. I then also foam rolled by IT band, quad, etc. Thursday, I felt better again and set out for a run. I did 4 miles until the pain hit again. I continued with the ice and foam rolling Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, I was hesitant to do a long run, but I ran 11 without any pain. I had some soreness near the end, but definitely not pain.

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The pain may have been just a result of just coming off Ragnar, but I find that hard to believe. I had gone 2 months without pain until I put on the shoes. I have decided to just NEVER wear them again to run. I am not going to take the chance as I wholeheartedly think they caused the pain. My reasoning is that even though I am a neutral shoe my right ankle does overpronate some. I think the material of the Saucony Iso is more flexible then other shoes I wear which was allowing to my ankle to roll, more which slightly altered my stride. Like I said I may be crazy, but I decided I am never going to run in these shoes again!

So in the end….

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Chicago Ragnar Ultra 2016

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I have so much to say about the Chicago Ragnar in terms of what both the race organizers and myself/team could have done different, however all and all it was such a great experience and I had a blast! Here are the key things though that were good and bad!

What was good/what we did right:

  1. The Course-It was very scenic and you got to run though everything from towns, through woods, and even down farm roads. The different atmospheres made the runs fly by.
  2. Breaking the ultra into 6 legs. Going into the Ragnar ultra I read a lot about whether to run 3 really long (11+ mile) legs, or 6 normal legs. With the 90 degree heat it was nice to get a rest break after a run to get refueled. I think in the heat running 13 miles in the midday sun would have been difficult. I also think running more often also prevented my legs from really ever getting stiff with lactic acid build up since I was running every 4 hours or so.
  3. Packing/Supplies we brought. There was not one thing I wish I would of had during the 36 hour adventure. The must haves were outfits packed in ziplock bags, cooler with water bottles & gatorade, water jug, baby wipes, sunscreen, advil, car charger, snacks (our favorites: peanut butter pretzels, pbj sandwiches, plain bagels, cuties, and m&ms that we left in the cooler), two pairs of shoes, handheld/someway to carry water. Also don’t forget your night gear 🙂
  4. Drink, drink, and drink some more! I think the amount of water, Nuun, and Gatorade really saved my butt in the heat and even allowed me pick up another’s teammates leg when they did not feel up to it because of the heat. Also with running the ultra you don’t really have time to fully eat meals, just lots of snacking. Therefore, I think the extra nutrients and calories in the Gatorade definitely helped.

 

What was bad/what we need to do next time:

  1. Race Communication: At 9pm on Friday night it started storming so Ragnar postponed the race. We were supposed to receive text updates but we did not. Some people did get them but the information was not clear and the frequency of the texts was no where near how often it should have been. Ragnar also should be posting the updates on their Facebook event page as well as in their app.
  2. Ragnar App: The Ragnar app has a lot of great features but the way it has you get to exchanges to meet your funner is confusing. When you click on say leg 1 to pull up directions it takes you to wear that leg ends rather then wear it starts. You constantly have to make sure you are clicking one leg prior in the app to make sure you end up in the right place when picking up a runner. They should either switch it so the directions take you to the start of the leg or label the app as exchanges because that is where the map directions are taking you. Next time, I will definitely print out a hard copy of directions to all the exchanges to ensure we always went to the correct place.
  3. Ragnar HAS to provide water at exchanges that are van supported. Yes we brought plenty of our own water, but having water to fill bottles and handhelds that we run with really would have been nice. Only offering water at every 6 or 8 exchanges is not acceptable. With it costing close to $200 per team member, providing water should be a given. I understand that it is difficult to provide aide stations along the course, but it really needs to be provided for teams to access at least at the exchanges.
  4. REALLY make sure every person knows what they are getting into. If you are running an ultra: expect to be up for 40+ hours, expect to not eat besides snacks and small sandwiches, expect to be hot. You think this would be a no brainer, but in order to enjoy the experience you really have to be committed to yourself and your team to push yourself even though you may be miserable. Its one thing to get sick or be injured, but if you have to be able to withstand being just tired to support your team the whole time.

Most important piece of advice! Even if you are tired, really try and leave the van to get out on all exchanges to cheer on your teammates. While you may want to get a quick nap during the night legs, during the day don’t really expect sleep so get out of that van and support them! Its better to keep moving for your legs anyways and you will get more of an experience meeting the other teams and seeing all the runners coming in. Stay positive and take in every moment because the time does go by fast and it is a blast! Laugh out any stress you encounter and just beast it out 🙂

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I’m Back!

Life got crazy and I stepped away from blogging. So after 9 months of hiatus I am back! It has been an interesting 9 months to say the least!  So much has happened in my life I do not even know where to begin! I feel like I took so much time away from my blog, I do not know how/where to even start-up again. I think the best way is to do a month blurb of highlights so here is goes (I will do race recaps separate later on):

September:

September 12, I ran BQ.2 and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Crossing the finish line in front of my family and friends knowing I just succeeded in accomplishing a dream of mine, will always be a memory I will never forget!

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Three days later while helping a student at school, I suddenly got a stabbing pain in my foot. I just iron put of the pain and thought it was a case of planters. That Sunday, despite it only being a week out from my marathon, I ran the Fox Valley Half Marathon. I knew my foot hurt going into it, but it is my favorite race and I did not want to miss it. I decided to just run it and then take some time off to let myself heal. Running the race was definitely not my smartest idea. Every step I continued to take the whole race hurt more and more. I raced it very hard because I kept telling myself, the faster you run the faster you’re done!

After being in a lot of pain I went to the doctor and found it my pain was actually a result of a stress fracture. I was given a nice lovely boot to wear for 6 weeks.

October:

Still rocking my lovely boot….

November:

I got out of my boot just under 2 weeks before the Naperville Half Marathon. I was originally planning to do the full, but I obviously dropped down to the half. The course is great and I had a good time. I definitely was running on lots of nervous stress. My foot no longer hurt, but instead I can only best describe it as feeling weird. Almost like the combination of sore with a feeling that someone was just squeezing my foot. It’s interesting to see how when you are in a brace or type of support for an extended period of time how long it takes you to readjust to being without it again.

December:

At the end of the month my foot finally felt normal again. Just in time too to start training for Boston!

January:

I ran the F^3 Half Marathon in Chicago. I do not think I could feel my toes at all during the race, but it was a great time. For Chicago, the race is smaller (prob because most people know better than to sign up for a January Chicago run) and it is an out and back course along the lake. The best part of the race is that up until the start you get to stand inside in the heat of Soldier Field. You don’t have to go outside until right when you start!

February: 

Lots of winter running training for Boston…I have never run outside in the winter as much as I did this year to prepare. I was lucky though as we did have a pretty mild winter and barely any snow!

March: 

At the beginning of the month, I started to develop right knee pain when I was running. After it not going away after a week of rest, I decided to go to the chiropractor. It was nothing major just tight muscles that was causing knee pain. Treatment was just to scale back from crossfit and Manual Adhesion Release Treatments. Slowly pain started to go away some. In the middle of the month I ran the Cary Half Madness. The race is a hilly course meant to prepare runners for Boston, since the rest of Illinois is pretty flat.

March 28-I became an Auntie!! My sister had a beautiful baby girl named Sadie Elizabeth!!

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April: 

Crunch time for Boston had begun! Right before Sadie was born my knee pain diminished. However, while my knee was feeling better, I started to experience bad heel pain. It hurt to wear any kind of shoe with a back. I stopped wearing shoes with backs unless I really had to. My chiropractor said the pain was a result of the tendon running down the outside of my lower leg being inflamed and tight. He began doing MAR while I continue to go without shoes as much as possible. MAR helped tremendously and the few days leading up to Boston the pain in the back of my heel was minimal.

Boston Marathon 2016! Easily one of the best and worst experiences of my entire life. Never have I been in soooo much pain! (And no it was not my knee or my heel that hurt!). There is so much to write about Boston I will make a separate post. But hey at least I finished!

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May:

The beginning of May was still trying to recover from Boston. I did not have a pain-free run until May 15th!  Good timing too as I had the Rockford Half Marathon on the 22nd. Rockford was a good time (minus my actual time) as I was just coming back and starting to feel myself again. I also started working part-time at Roadrunner Sports. People think I am crazy for wanting to work in a store when I already teach and coach soccer, but I love it. People come in and I get to talk running with them while they get the shoes that will work best for them…what’s not to love about that!?

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June: 

Finally we are caught up! June has just started, but I have a big challenge facing me in a few  days. I am running Chicago Ragnar on Friday as part of an ultra team. I am beyond excited and nervous at the same time! It is a lot of pressure as I am not used to having others depend on my running, as running normally only affects just you. I also am hoping I stay healthy running the 30+ miles. It has been a very frustrating 9 months with injuries and now that I am on the upswing of feeling healthy, I want to keep it that way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BQ.2 Race Review

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Last Saturday I ran the Chicaoland Last Chance BQ.2 in Geneva. A longtime dream of mine and many others is to qualify for Boston. I have only ever run one marathon before this one last weekend and my time was over 20 minutes away from the qualifying time for my age group. After my first marathon last fall, I started crossfit and early spring I started noticing I had gotten a lot faster. Then in June, I ran a half in Rockford, finishing at 1:36(a PR of 14 minutes). After some runner friends heard about my half time they convinced me to train for BQ.2. BQ.2 does require you to submit a previous marathon time in which you were close to a BQ or a half time that projects you being able to qualify.I was luckily able to register with my half marathon time.

The BQ.2 race is special because it is a small race with the race registration closing at 300 participants. According to race results, 238 runners ended up running/finishing. Packet pick up was a breeze as I just picked up my packet race morning before the start. I was a little worried about the course as the course for BQ.2 is 8 5k(or so) loops around a parkway and the river. I thought it might start to get tedious as the course went on, but it definitely never did. I actually loved doing the laps for many reasons. After the first lap or two you really felt comfortable with the course, it was like you were running by your house, which I think settles nerves. Also, because of the laps, I was able to see my family and friends 8 times throughout the race which was huge! Getting their encouragement that often was awesome and knowing where they were exactly, made you have something to look forward to on every lap. In addition, I also saw other runners’ spectators  who came out to support them every lap as well. By the end of the course even they were going crazy cheering for me and the other runners because they were constantly seeing the same people run. My mom even mentioned after the race that it was so fun seeing the same people pass by over and over again.

Another perk of the course was that is was extremely flat, which to me (and I think many other runners would agree) is the best thing ever!! I absolutely hate running up or even down hills, so the BQ.2 course really sets you up to qualify. There were two aid stations along the course, so water and Gatorade was available at about every 1.5 miles. The race also had where you could bring a water bottle and place it at a table where you could grab it from the volunteers and then drop it, and they would  return it back to the table for when you passed them on the next lap. I was going to originally do this, but I could not decide if I would put water or Gatorade in it, and I felt like using the table was more stressful than the aid stations like I am familiar with.

I felt really great the first 6 laps  of the course.  I was well ahead of the pace I wanted to run to finish at a 3:30. My goal going into BQ.2 was a 3:30 to have a 5 minute buffer of the 3:35 qualifying time I needed to get into Boston. Since the field for the race is small, I felt like I had an easier time getting into my own pace/rhythm than if I was being constantly surrounded the whole time, distracting me from what I needed to focus on.

In the middle of the 6th lap I started to get a really bad stomach cramp just below my right rib. I ended up running the 2nd half of the 6th lap and beginning part of the 7th lap with my hand squeezing that area to help diminish the pain. Thankfully, in lap 6 it went away for the most part. I am still unsure as to why I cramped, as I felt like I was fueling properly, but it is what is is! By the time I got to lap 8 as expected I was just purely exhausted and my hips were killing me. I knew from my watch I lost a bit of time running the one lap with a cramp, as my pace dipped down a few seconds. However, entering the final lap I was about 7 minutes under the 3 hour mark. This made me excited as I new I could finish a 5k in 35 minutes. My body wanted so bad to slow down because I was hurting and I knew I could afford too, but mentally I was strong and I knew I could not think like that. I just kept thinking about how bad I wanted to get to Boston and it kept me going. The last mile was pure torture, but I survived! I ended up crossing the finish like at 3:19:43.

I could not believe that I had Boston qualified (I actually am still in shock)!!! I knew based on my long runs that I was on pace to qualify, but never did I imagine to finish 10 minutes ahead of what I was planning on doing. I wanted to cry I was so happy, but lets be honest…I was too tired! After I received my medal, I met up with my family and friends. After I stopped running, it was actually harder to walk that’s how sore I felt! I pretty much could not walk properly for a few hours, but it was worth it! I am extremely grateful and so excited that God has blessed me with the opportunity to run Boston in April!!

I owe the BQ.2 directors and volunteers a huge THANK YOU for providing me with the best possible experience and setup to allow me to run a qualifying time. I would recommend this race to anyone who is looking to qualify. I totally understand why people traveled to Geneva for a race of only 300 participants, because this race truly makes every runner feel like the race is being held specifically for them.

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(I also forgot to mention BQ.2 has free race photos…and the race photography team was awesome, as you can tell by the pictures!!)