Long weekend

Dan’s dad has been in town from Phoenix since Friday, so we’ve been out and about all weekend. Friday was pretty low-key; we dropped by Talayna’s for some pizza, then headed back to our place to hang out in the backyard with the fire pit. It was a little too windy, so the party stayed inside, but we had fun – and stayed up way too late nonetheless.


Photos of the century. Google+ will save photo bursts of 5 or more shots as a GIF. (click the image to see it in motion)

Saturday afternoon, the boys hit up the Loop to grab some food an check out records while I spent a few hours recovering from Friday’s festivities. BFF Lacy and her Mr. were in town from Madison, and she and I hit up our friend Nikki’s wedding while the boys went to a Blues game and drank all the beers!

Sunday was the big family chili day, which I somehow managed to not get any pictures of.

We took today off work and hit up Crown Candy. That place has always been a staple in St. Louis, but it really took off once it was on Man vs. Food. There’s usually a line out the door. We had to wait about 30 minutes for a table, which is nothing.


Malts and chili. You can’t see it, but there’s about 2 lbs of candy under the table. Don’t worry, we didn’t only get malts and chili; the guys also got roast beef sandwiches, and I had a turkey club the size of my head.

After consuming our body weight in malts and bacon, we went to the zoo to avoid a food coma. Tons of animals were out! We got to see the sea lions being fed, which I’d never watched before. The day started out chilly and overcast, but it warmed up even though the clouds never really took off. We were going try for an A-B brewery tour, but it was closed for Veterans Day.

We weren’t really thinking about the holiday when we planning our outings, so I’m glad that zoo was actually open! I head back to work tomorrow, but was great to walk around the zoo in such wonderful weather without any big crowds.

Next on the agenda: The Silver Ballroom, then a lazy night at home.

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So…now what?

Tricky thing about training for races, especially longer ones: They happen, you feel awesome, then you have a bunch of free time and no idea what to do with it.

In classic runner fashion, I went from excited about training, to feeling overwhelmed with it, to being irritated with myself for signing up, to being proud of my improvement, to looking forward to tapering, to losing my mind during the taper, to successfully finishing my race, to being so happy it was over, to missing running all the time.

So there’s that.

The same ankle that’s been harassing me this entire training cycle did so well during the race… then that same foot started acting up. Ms. Super Genius over here wasn’t thinking when I packed footwear for Chicago and spent all day Monday walking around the city in Chuck Taylors (I know). The outside of my foot started throbbing toward the end of the day and has a weird nob/bump on it. I went to the doctor, who promptly told me to quit being an idiot, put on real shoes, and stop running for a week or two lest I give myself a stress fracture. So, that’s where I’m at right now.

I’ve been icing, elevating, and calcium-ing it. I have to admit, it is feeling better. My custom orthotics have arrived, but the office can’t get me in to “fit” me for them (aka, let me pick them up and make sure they didn’t mess up my order) until Nov. 4. Until then, no running and minimal walking (as much as I can help it).

For now, I’m going to hit the weights and the bike, hard. I bought “The New Rules of Lifting for Women” some time last year and made it through the first few cycles with pretty significant gains, so that’s what’s on the agenda for now. I’m hoping to improve my strength, which shouldn’t be hard given how little time I spent in the weight room over the summer, and correct some muscle imbalances in doing so.

After that, it’s time to tackle my half marathon and 10k PRs (PR = personal record). They are old, outdated, and not indicative of my ability. Look out, spring racing season, I’m coming for you… as soon as my foot heals.

Chicago marathon!

I know, I know. It happened a week ago, but better late than never, right?

As I was running my race, I realized that 26.2 miles is really far, and that there was no way that I’d be able to remember or register everything that was happening during those miles in order to write about it. Having that thought is essentially the only thing I remember thinking during the entire race. Oh, that and the PAIN.

I’m only sort of kidding.

Actually, everything about the day of the marathon could not have gone better, which I am tremendously thankful for.

Dan and I got into town on Friday night, where our friends Lindsay and Kevin promptly took us out to eat at a great pasta place I can’t remember the name of. I didn’t even take any pictures of my food. Helpful, I know. I was being really lame, so we watched a horribly depressing episode of Taxicab Confessions then went to bed.

Saturday morning, we woke up and Kevin took us to Bang Bang Pie Shop where we enjoyed the most amazing biscuits, homemade jams and butters, and candied bacon ever. Breakfast stuck with me so long that I wasn’t hungry for lunch until almost 3…which is miraculous. After breakfast, I met up with some acquaintances/friends who were nice enough to let me third-wheel it all Saturday.

Katie and I met at the national ACES conference [nerd alert] in Cleveland back in 2006 [ouch]. We kept up over the years though social media and both started to get really into running around the same time. She and her longtime friend Mike try to run a race together every year, and Chicago was 2013’s selection. They found a nice apartment for us to stay at on Airbnb and were kind enough to let me tag along to the expo, go to lunch, chill at the apartment and indulge my crazy nail art hobby, go to dinner with their friends, stay with them Saturday night, and navigate to the race start Sunday morning. As Katie said after, it was nice to be friends in real life for once!

We made our way to the expo with Katie’s fiancé, Lance, leading the way. He worked in Chicago for several years and had a better sense of the city than the rest of us, that’s for sure! The expo was huge…it was so overwhelming that I was too busy navigating the crowds to bother really taking any pictures. It was really well organized, there was just so much…humanity. Not paying attention to where they were going or what they were doing. We got our numbers/shirts, and I made a brief stop by the DetermiNation tent to pick up my Charity Village credentials and make an extra race bib. Then we got out of there!

My DetermiNation bib.

My DetermiNation bib.

After the expo, we grabbed some Chipotle and went back to the apartment to chill out. We had a 7:45 dinner reservation for, you guessed it, more pasta, but we didn’t get our seats until I don’t even know when. By the time we ate and paid, it was well after 10 and we were fading fast. We headed back to the apartment and got our race day stuff together, agreed on a 5 a.m. wakeup time, and went to bed. Actually, I stayed up a bit longer to finish my race day nails, then finally got into bed around midnight. I slept OK; I fell asleep pretty quickly, but woke up a lot throughout the night. The upstairs neighbors were playing their music a bit loudly, then I heard gunshots, then fireworks, then it was time to wake up! Despite my fitful sleep, I hopped out of bed and was ready to roll pretty quickly.


Obligatory nail art picture (grasping celebratory post-marathon wine).

My favorite part of the morning was probably the 5 minutes of standing in the kitchen with Katie and Mike, silently choking down various combos of peanut butter, bread, and bananas and drinking our coffee. Even though we didn’t say anything, it was really nice to share that moment with other people after months of doing the exact same thing all by myself every Saturday morning.

After breakfast, we walked to the L and made our way to the race start with no problems. Security was stricter than any other race I’ve done; I kind of felt like I was at the airport. Your race number had to be showing constantly, and they went through everyone’s gear check bag before admitting runners into Grant Park. We checked our gear and had just enough time to take a few pictures and wait in line for the bathroom before we went to our respective corrals.


Me, Katie, and Mike right after entering Grant Park.


Chicago skyline, right before entering Grant Park.


Ready to rock and roll!

We lined up in our corrals with approximately 1 billion other people, and before we knew it, we were crossing the starting line.

I know it’s hard to believe, but I really don’t remember a whole lot about running the race. There were so many people everywhere that I was just trying to concentrate on not getting stomped on or elbowed or tripping over anyone. I was mostly successful. The crowd support was overwhelming. There were tons of spectators and they were cheering so loudly, it was like being in a wind tunnel. I just tried to stay calm and relaxed to avoid getting caught up on the moment and going out too fast.

Around 3 miles in, I realized I needed to hit the bathroom again. The lines were crazy long, so I decided to wait until the next stop, at around 5 miles. At that point, the lines were still really long,  but I figured that I would be uncomfortable for a large portion of the race, and I might as well be as comfortable as possible for the earlier, easier miles. I also figured it’d be better to get it over with early in the race so I wouldn’t have to stop and then try to regain momentum later. Unfortunately, my pit stop cost me somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes because the lines were pretty long. Not ideal, but I’m glad that I did it instead of risking feeling sick later in the race. Luckily, that’s the only time I had to stop.

From that point on, I put on the cruise control and kind of zoned out, making it a point to look around and check out my surroundings every few minutes. I didn’t bother checking my watch too often, as my Garmin paces were all over the place and wildly inaccurate. I tried to take a few Honey Stinger chews every 3 miles and mixed Gatorade and water at each of the water stops, which were spaced out about every 1.5 miles or something. I’d walk for 30ish seconds to drink and eat a few chews, then resume running. That was my strategy for the whole race, and it worked really well; I never got a stomach ache or bonked.

Dan, Lindsay, Kevin and the rest of the crew were all waiting for me at mile 16, so my primary goal was to make it to that point looking and feeling strong. I was due for some more chews around then, but I didn’t want them to see me walking, so I held off. I never did see them, though they saw me and yelled. Dan said I was totally ‘in the zone,’ which must have been true for me to miss them. I didn’t want them to see me walk, even just for a fuel break, so that propelled me through mile 17.5. Once I realized I had likely missed them, I just put my head down and powered through. I kept repeating the phrase “controlled fall” in my head and made it a point to check my posture and run as relaxed as possible. We hadn’t discussed it beforehand, but I knew that my mom and our friend Ann would be at the finish; I just had a feeling that I’d see them. I focused on getting to mile 20, then from that point on reveled in the fact that each additional step would be a personal distance record for me.

Around 22 miles in, I definitely started to hurt. I didn’t hit the infamous WALL, but my hips and low back were aching and my calves started feeling a little crampy. I had to step off the course twice for about 20 or 30 seconds each to stretch a little. People always praise the Chicago course for being so flat and fast, but that also means that the exact same muscles are taking a serious pounding for all 26.2 miles of the race. It was a huge relief to shake out a little.

At no point did I ever, ever feel like I wouldn’t be able to finish. My ankle also felt great the entire time. After months of training, and several weeks of fretting over my ability to happily complete the race after missing some significant training runs because of my ankle issues, I felt oddly calm the entire time I was running. Once I crossed the starting line and began running, my brain shut off and I just went on auto pilot.

I took a slightly longer walking break at mile 24, probably about 2 minutes, then made a deal with myself that I would run the remainder of the race, and run I did! I got some kind of second wind and I’m pretty sure my legs were just numb after hours of pounding. It was a little frustrating, because the course got pretty narrow in certain parts and a lot of people were walking. Weaving around them was too much energy at that point, and I didn’t trust myself to not trip or lose my balance. I feel like I could have gained some valuable time had I not gotten stuck, but oh well.

Once I got around 1,000 or 800 meters away from the finish, I heard “GO, SALLIE, GO!!!!!!” Sure enough, it was my mom, screaming at the finish just like I knew she’d be. For context, there are thousands of people at the finish line, cheering, ringing cow bells, blasting music, etc. My mom has a…signature cheering voice that is capable of piercing through pretty much any other noise. Not only did I hear her, but I was able to zero in and find her and Ann in the crowd. After that, it was game over. I was so ready to be done, I tore up the “hill” (I think it was a bridge or on-ramp or something. I was super thankful for my Tower Grove Park hills at that point) and cruised across the finish line. Official finish time: 5:01:26.

I threw my hands up and let out a triumphant yell as I crossed the finish line. I miiiight have shed a few tears of joy as I hobbled through the finish chute and got my medal.




Me with my new hardware and a giant smile.

The walk from the finishing area back to the gear check and park exit was brutal. It was about a mile or something and required descending some stairs. After running all that way, I managed to walk to the beer table, grab a cold one, and hobble off to the side of the fenced in area. I collapsed and enjoyed about half of my beer (after calling mom to tell her not to worry, I just needed to sit for a minute).


The sweet taste of success.


Bling bling.

Mom and Ann took me back to their hotel, where I took the hottest, most glorious shower of my life and passed out for a few hours. After I was back among the living, Lindsay and Dan joined forces to make an amazing celebratory dinner of Italian pot roast, horseradish mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and homemade bread. There might have been a little (a lot) of wine and champagne, too. I fell asleep with a full belly, happy heart, and major sense of accomplishment.


Pizza and beers at Piece, aka Heaven on Earth.

Getting out of bed the next day was another story…but I managed to fight my way through it and eat all of the pizza and beer!

Overall, I feel great about this experience. Running in memory of Kim and in honor of my grandma was so tremendously rewarding. Thinking of them and of all the people who donated to the American Cancer Society in support of this run was a huge source of comfort and motivation during my training, especially when I was having doubts about my ankle. I wish I hadn’t lost that time in the bathroom, because a time of 4:XX would have felt pretty darn good, but I really can’t complain. I didn’t bonk, my body held up, I didn’t doubt myself, and I was able to raise money for a great cause. I can definitely see myself running another marathon in the future, but for now, I’m just going to bask in the glow of what I’ve accomplished thus far.

I did it!

Double dose: Weeks 6 & 7 recap

Sorry for the lack of updates! The past two weeks have been really busy at work and in life, and the last thing I felt like doing every day was writing about running…or anything, really.

Week 6 was pretty uneventful; I ditched on my long run for the week (7 miles). Maybe not my finest hour, but it did feel good to get some extra rest. I’m at the the point where both my body and mind are starting to fatigue from the grind of training and figuring out how to get everything done each week. It helps to just take my plan one day at a time, but my long runs are getting long enough now where I have to plan a bit more so I can get them done, be a responsible adult, and still have a life on the weekends.

Week 6

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 3.5 on the treadmill
  • Wednesday: 5 on the ‘mill
  • Thursday: Easy 3
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Rest (should’ve done 7 miles)
  • Sunday: Rest

Totals: 11.5 miles in 1 hour, 48 minutes. Nothing worth writing home about. It was really hot all that week, and that definitely contributed to my lack of motivation.

Week 7

  • Monday: 3.3 @ 9:05 on the treadmill + strength work
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 1.25 walk on my lunch break + 6.3 tough miles after work (outside, 10:09 pace).
    I was really excited for this 6 miles at the beginning of the day, because the weather was great! By the time it came time to do it, I was not in the mood and really struggled for motivation to put on my gear and get out the door. To make matters worse, I had steak and broccoli for lunch and it was just NOT a good meal to eat before a “longer” run. My stomach was upset from mile 4 on, and I had to take a few walking breaks, which I hate.
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 2 mile walk to dinner and back
  • Saturday 13.1 miles @ 10:27
    Woke up Saturday morning feeling tired and not terribly excited to run, given that we celebrated Dan’s birthday the night before. The one thing that got me out of bed to meet up with my group was the great weather. It was fantastic. I felt pretty good once we started running, and I locked in with a group of 5 or 6 other people to get this run done. I had banana and a piece of toast for breakfast, plus an almond milk latte on the way there, fruit bites at 5.75 miles and another pack of bites at 10 miles. In the future, I’ll probably do my nutrition at 5 and 8 miles instead. The last 3 miles of this route were super hilly, and my legs were feeling it. I ran without any break until the 10-mile point, then took a few walk breaks over the last 3.1 (I think maybe 3 walk breaks in total). This is the longest run I’ve ever done! From here on, each long run will be a distance PR for me. Exciting stuff!
  • Sunday: All of the rest.
    I thought I would be more sore after Saturday’s run, but I didn’t feel too bad! My shins are a little tender (from all of the hills), and my hips are a bit tight, but nothing major.

Totals: 25.95 miles, 5 hours, 6 minutes

It’s time to kick off Week 8. I’m already feeling a little stressed out about it, because I a lot of work to do, my monthly freelance assignment to tackle, and friend/family obligations for my birthday. It will definitely be a balancing act trying to get it all done.

Week 3 training recap

Week 3 is done! Last week was super busy; I wasn’t home nearly enough and didn’t run in the mornings like I wanted to. I also didn’t do much walking or cross training, but I did get in my mileage (and then some), so I’ll take it!

Plan: 3 miles easy
Actual: 3.2 @ 9:22. My hamstrings were still pretty sore from last Friday’s deadlifts, but this still felt good! I also got a walk in on my lunch break.

Plan: 4 miles easy
Actual: Big River Speedwork at the track –

.5 warmup
4 sets of:
2 x 200m + 400 m @ mile pace, approx 6:44
Recovery jog/walk to match distance ran
Some kind of cooldown.

My Garmin was out of whack, but I think I ended up with around 4.5 miles for this one.

Plan:  Rest
Actual: 3.25 @ 9:13. I usually take the day after speedwork off, but I was feeling good and didn’t know how Thursday would play out. Started around 9:40 and worked down to 8:00. Felt easy after the sub-7:00 repeats the day before!

Plan: Cross train
Actual: Rest. Kind of? I had too much stuff to do around the house, including some freelance work.

Plan: 3 miles easy
Actual: Rest. Again, lots of stuff to do, and Dan and I had a date at our favorite sushi place.

Plan:  5 miles long
Actual: 8.25 hilly miles @ 10:30.

This was supposed to be my first cutback week on the plan, but I wasn’t feeling ready for that yet. I also wanted to make it to the first St. Louis Track Club group marathon run to see what it was like. The course was two 4-mile loops through Queeny Park. I hadn’t gone running in that area in years (since high school XC) and there were some really tough hills! I stuck with the group for the first loop, then kind of got left behind on the second loop when I made a pit stop. The second time through was tough; there were a couple of hills that I barely ran up, but I made it! All of the downhills did a number on my calves and shins. Definitely still feeling it today.

Plan: Rest
Actual: 30 minutes of stretching/foam rolling.

I’m going to count this in training because it requires a lot of effort and pain! It’s also super important. I felt much better after this session, but my left hip and IT band are still pretty tight.

Total: 20.45 miles, 4 hours 11 minutes.

Because of the holiday, I won’t have my track session on Tuesday. Instead, I’ll be waking up bright and early on the 4th for the Freedom 4-miler downtown. I’d like to run harder on this one. If I can break 35 minutes, I’ll be happy enough.


So remember that whole at least 3 morning runs goal for this week? Yeah.

I guess it’s “only” Thursday and I could still get in 3 runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, but who am I kidding?

I’m sure it’s just a result of my increased activity level, but I’ve been needing about 9 hours of sleep every night this week. I conk out and don’t stir until my alarm goes off. Related: I’ve been having really vivid dreams (mostly related to running).

Wins so far for the week:

1. Three days of running in a row, including one really hot and humid track session that left me drenched. I’ve been cross training or taking the day off after my track workouts because they’ve been leaving my legs so dead, but I actually felt pretty good on Wednesday and managed a 3.25-mile progression run, starting at 9:30 and working down to 8:00 miles with some good climbs and a little downhill running (all on the treadmill).

2. I’ve kept my nutrition in check, and with the exception of a Snickers ice cream bar (who can resist?) and my mom’s homemade ice cream (no, really, WHO CAN RESIST?), I’ve eaten really well from a nutritional standpoint this week. I will say that “the hunger” has started to creep up on me, and I’m just always…hungry. But it’s not too bad yet.

3. It’s only Thursday, and my long run is the only planned run I have left. My legs are feeling pretty good, too.

Saturday marks St. Louis Track Club Marathon Training Group’s first meeting of the season. On the docket: 8 miles. Early. Like…I’ll have to wake up some time before the 6 a.m. hour to make this happen, but I guess I deserve it after slacking off on morning runs all week.

I’m not running outdoors as much as I probably should be, but I don’t feel too bad about it because I”m doing my 2 hardest workouts of the week outdoors: track sessions and long runs. As long as I can keep that up, I think I’ll be in pretty good shape. Ideally, I’ll start doing more outside, but that’s all contingent on me getting up on time. Right now, I’m satisfied with just getting my workouts done every week, whenever I have the time to do it. No use in stressing over the when and where!

Week 2 training recap

Another week down! It feels good to mark the day and workouts off my plan as they go by. This week was a little crazier (somehow), and I didn’t manage to wake up and run before work at all. That meant more treadmill miles than I care for, but I did sneak in some morning yoga on Wednesday and get my long run done Saturday morning before the heat became too terribly oppressive. Goal for week 3: at least 3 morning runs. Weather permitting, of course. The forecast calls for severe storms on a few mornings, and lately the weather has been no joke! Crazy thunder and lightning, 30+ mph wind gusts, flash flooding…not fit or safe for outdoor activity.


Plan: 3

Actual: 4.25 @ 9:24 + strength. This was on the treadmill at an easy pace. I like getting a little extra in at the beginning of the week. It makes the prescribed runs for the rest of the week seem easier because they’re shorter.


Plan: 3

Actual: Big River speedwork. 4.75 total, including warmup, 10x400m @ 7:11 pace w/250m recovery, cooldown.

First speedwork since my ankle injury! The workout was 10-12 repeats at 5k pace. Speedwork culminates with a 5k time trial on the track in a few weeks, at which I hope to break 24 minutes. I felt pretty strong during the workout, but my stomach was starting to get grumpy toward the end. I copped out at 10, mostly because I didn’t want to hurt myself my first week back and I wanted to get in a good cooldown without going way over my assigned mileage for the day.


Plan: Rest/XT

Actual: 40 minutes yoga.

Woke up and did this before work. My legs were sore and dead from speedwork the night before, so I chose a flow that focused on the hips and hammies. Felt a lot better.


Plan: 3

Actual: Rest.

Woke up with internet problems, so I had to take Dan to a friend’s so he could work, then pick him up so he wasn’t bugging them all day. I’d wanted to run after work, but time got away from me and it was way too hot.


Plan: Rest

Actual: 3.24 @ 9:23 + strength.

Did some deadlifts in addition to my normal strength stuff, and they really worked me over. Trying to incorporate more hamstring/glute moves into my routine to help with my hip issues. I’m definitely having less tightness and discomfort than I had been a few weeks ago.


Plan: 7 miles @ 10:00

Actual: 7 @ 10:17

Stayed up too late on Friday night, but still managed to get up around 7:30 on Saturday. Got out the door by 8, and it was already 77 degrees with 70% humidity. I am NOT a hot weather runner at all, and I’m really not acclimated to the humidity yet. I knew it could be a potentially rough run, but I did myself a big favor by slowing down and just running by effort, not pace. I’m a sucker for taking walk breaks when it gets hot, but managed to slow down enough to not take any. I also went through about 24 ounces of water. I felt OK after finishing, but when I was done, I was really glad it was over!

Everyone has their own “long run” mark; the distance varies depending on what you’re training for. The 7-mile mark is when I consider my runs to be getting “long.” Running for 60+ minutes is my line in the sand. It felt good that I was able to do my first long run in such unpleasant weather conditions, so early in training when I’m still building up, and not feel like death. Had it not been so gross outside, 8 or 9 miles would’ve been on the table for sure. That’s encouraging.


Plan: Rest

Actual: Rest

And man, did it feel good! My hammies were still sore from the long run, and my lower back and neck were mega stiff when I woke up. I took some time to relax and foam roll my aches and pains.

Total: 22 miles, 5 hours 6 minutes.

I usually get in a few walks on my lunch break at work, which I count in my weekly mileage but don’t bother writing about. You know, just in case you added up the totals and thought I was terrible at math.