Tag Archives: chicago

Boston Marathon 2016-Post 1/4-Friday

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So, my Boston post isn’t going to be one giant mess, I promise.  I have decided to break my own recaps on this amazing trip into four posts-Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  That way I can better highlight each day!

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Cover shot!

Friday was one long day, and actually a continuation of Thursday…we flew out of Calgary at just after midnight, connected through Toronto, and arrive in Boston at around 8:30 am. After figuring out transit pretty well (only one small fail, which then led to a one mile walk to our hotel with our suitcases in tow…this happened to Dan and I in Quebec City too…hm) we unpacked, changed and headed downtown to the Hynes Convention Centre for the expo.  Before entering the expo, I decided we should take the time to walk down Boylston to see the finish line set up, which was getting finishing touches as we made our way to it.

 

As we looped back down Boylston, we came across the Adidas RunBase store.  This store is relatively new, and is the official store of the B.A.A (Boston Athletic Association).  I ended up buying a nice store shirt for $25 and a black/neon pink/teal headband for $16.  They also had some cool signage that explained the meaning of the unicorn logo among other things!

Entering in the convention centre was something else.  You could tell from that very moment that “YES  THESE PEOPLE HAVE ORGANIZED THIS EVENT BEFORE.”  My husband even realized that as we made our way to packet pickup, as there were volunteers and security at every possibly corner directing us.  There was no possible way to get lost.  The pickup process went so fast and so smooth.  I had my bib!  My lucky ticket!  We then made our way back downstairs to the expo floor.  I knew Dan was just going to follow me aimlessly as I walked the aisles looking for nothing in particular.  This is when I eventually got my Runner’s World ‘cover shot’ done.  As you can see, I am wearing my go-to shirt that I wear on expo day to a lot of my races!  I love wearing the Nike “Hustlin’ From Start to Finish‘ shirt!  I think it says everything I need to say!  Before getting this photo done I was able to stop and meet Runner’s Worlds very own Bart Yasso…the man behind the menacing Yasso 800 workouts.  We had a nice chat, and he even spoke highly about the city of Lethbridge, where I live!  He had been there a few years back and had the opportunity to run in our famed Coulees, and raved about it!

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Bart Yasso & I

The expo was massive.  It was hard to actually gauge how large it was, as the ceilings were rather low, unlike when I attended Chicago in 2006.  In Chicago, the convention centre ceiling was quite high so you could see how many booths there were and it was a more natural looping through the exhibits.  I was scared I would miss something as we walked through.  I picked up some freebies here and there, and even bought a couple little things.  My big purchases were made prior to arriving, as I had already pre-ordered my Adidas jacket along with some other long sleeve shirts and shorts.  We even managed to find a Samuel Adams booth where we got to sample their 26.2 brew.  I have to say, I really liked it!  I tend to lean toward more of the IPA-style beers, and never expect much from a beer with lower alcohol percentage, but this was a good brew!  I had it lots over the course of the trip!

By this point in the afternoon, the fact I hadn’t really slept on the plane hadn’t settled in yet.  We made our way down to the Fenway Park area where we went to a couple pubs, most notably the famed “Cask & Flagon.”  This is where I had my first cup of Clam Chowder during the trip.  (I ended up having four!)

After checking out another nearby bar, Jerry Remy’s, we made the trek back to the hotel so I could dump my stash of goodies.  We had an hour left in us, as it was still light out, and after making it back from a little tour of the Brookline neighborhood (where our hotel was located) we hit the sheets pretty early.  Dare I say Dan was snoring by 9:01 PM and I followed closely by 9:30 pm.  An action packed day for sure!  And Saturday had an early alarm coming up, as we would be running in the 8 am B.A.A. 5 km even the next morning in Boston Common!  Rest was needed!  More to come…..!

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The swag acquired from the day!

A Decade of Marathons 

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I have wanted to do this post for sometime, but haven’t found time to sit down and do it. So now I am finally sitting down and doing it! While Vancouver Marathon has come and gone, I can’t stop thinking about that race. The more I think about that race, the more I think about the races I did before it. And then I realize how long I have been actively running long distance races.  

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I ran my first full marathon in May 2005. 10 years ago! It was the Madison Marathon in Madison, Wisconsin. I trained with a plan my friend Matt had put together and was able to finish in a respectable time. I was sore and felt like junk afterwards though! My body wasn’t used to the beating it was put through. I honestly couldn’t lift my leg over the tub to get into the shower a few hours after the race! But, even with all that pain, I was hooked. It felt great to do something not everyone can do! I did my second marathon the following year in 2006, when I repeated that very event. The heat index was out of control and they actually closed the course after 5 hours and 15 minutes. Thankfully I had finished.  

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I did marathon number 3 that same year in October-The Chicago Marathon! It was my first BIG event! 40,000 runners…through the streets of a big city…amazing crowds….I broke 4 hours in this event and felt unstoppable! The next year I did Madison again, and I dropped a few more minutes off my Chicago time. Wow…maybe I can keep dropping time? Maybe in the future I could qualify for Boston? Well, reality hit when I ran the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in October 2007. I ran my second worse race, hadn’t really properly trained (I had been working at Badgerette during the summer running Pom Pon camps and not really taking training seriously in between). When I did Madison Marathon the following May 2008, I only dropped half a minute off my Lakefront time. Maybe I wasn’t meant to get any faster??

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Madison Marathon 2005—4 hours 27 minutes 38 seconds

Madison Marathon 2006—4 hours 47 minutes 48 seconds

Chicago Marathon 2006—3 hours 59 minutes 25 seconds

Madison Marathon 2007—3 hours 56 minutes 37 seconds

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2007—4 hours 42 minutes 18 seconds

Madison Marathon 2008—4 hours 41 minutes 50 seconds

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Then I moved to Canada. And I trained in Lethbridge for my first marathon in Canada. While the training seemed to go well, my body wasn’t well adjusted to the elevation and I bonked. I did awful. This was the Calgary Marathon in 2009. And after this race I took a hiatus from full marathons until January 2014. This was when I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon to cap off my Dopey Challenge four race adventure! Now, I had trained extensively for this event, doing many 10km and half marathons in preparation. And during that time I had dropped down all my shorter race times and had gotten faster! And all that hard work paid off because I didn’t just break 4 hours, but I ran my fastest race yet! This got me thinking about the elusive Boston Marathon again. If I focused on training for full marathons again and took my training up a notch, maybe, just maybe I could drop enough time to make it there! I trained for the May 2014 Calgary Marathon. I ran in, running way better than I had in 2009. But it wasn’t good enough. I was frustrated. I quickly registered for the Edmonton Marathon in August 2014, hoping to shave enough time off. I faltered. And it hurt. Maybe it was time to retire after running 10 marathons…

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Calgary Marathon 2009—5 hours 3 minutes 37 seconds

Walt Disney World Marathon 2014—3 hours 50 minutes 52 seconds

Calgary Marathon 2014—3 hours 46 minutes 22 seconds

Edmonton Marathon 2014—3 hours 44 minutes 59 seconds

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I decided to give my Boston Qualifying attempt one last shot. I trained my ass off for my 11th marathon, the Vancouver Marathon held this past May 2015. I had a training plan made specifically for me, and took things more serious than I ever had before. It was all or nothing. And that attitude paid off. I not only made the 3:35.00 qualifying standard for Boston, but I smashed it by just over 10 minutes! After 10 years of running marathons, I had finally achieved what every runner wants-to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon. And while one would think that marathon 12 would be Boston in 2016, it actually was when I went back up to Calgary in the end of May 2015 for a little redemption. I ran the 50km Ultra during Marathon weekend in a time of 4:39.37….I ran 50km in Calgary faster than I ran 42.2 km in Calgary 2009! I even managed to podium in my age group! 

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Vancouver Marathon 2015—3 hours 24 minutes 56 seconds

Calgary Marathon 50km Ultra 2015, Marathon Split—3 hours 56 minutes 37 seconds

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So now what? Well, marathon #13 will in fact be Boston 2016. I register for that during the second day of rolling registrations, on September 16th, 2015. Running my qualifying time by over 10 minutes paid off! I am all but set to be running the 120th Boston Marathon. I cannot wait for marathon #13, as it will be so sweet. Spending over a decade of my life…my 30 years life….so 1/3 of my existence….running marathons has paid off. Yes, it is a hobby, but it is an important one. Running all these races have taught me determination, focus, resilience and mental toughness. I faced triumphs…and frustrations. But I never gave up. Never, ever give up.

Epic Airport Post about People Watching at Airport Bars (Title Says it All)

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My times spent at airports have added up this year. I went to Disney in January for the Dopey Challenge, notably flying direct from Calgary, after the polar vortex hit. In February, I went to Milwaukee, April Quebec, June was Albuququue. And now I am sitting in Chicago. No, I am not heading to Milwaukee again. That’d make sense, since I am an hour away. I am en route to Calgary, though originally I was flying from Orlando to Houston to Calgary…but weather got on the way.

I am now delayed 2+ hours from “change up” flight to Chicago to Calgary flight, and in the end, I will be ending up in Calgary *hopefully* only 4 hours after my original arrival time of 9:00 pm. 1:00 am arrival and then a two hour drive to Lethbridge. Lovely.

So I am sitting at this airport restaurant bar in Concourse B—-Stefani’s Tuscany Cafe. And since these delays stress me out (note the post from January when I broke down in Calgary..read it here!…and I already lipped my poor husband off in an email today. Sorry Dan. Love you) I decided I needed to write this…

Who You See at an Airport Bar

Here are my unedited, sequential notes I took while sitting here in Concourse B…because why the hell not?

Guy next to me-business suit. Hunched over. Glued to phone. A sip of bud light left. Said nothing I was an inconvenience sliding in to the last spot at bar next to him. Is basically mute, when spoken to takes five seconds to respond. We had a little convo about the B gates, and he told me he knows Calgary is expensive. Now standing away. Checking phone. Pretending to watch golf. He hates me.

Woman who ordered a Stella with bedazzled phone case and shopping bags. Trying to look younger than she is. And I have no clue where she disappeared too.

Lady ordered side salad after asking about sides but also a meal and wine. She looks like she doesn’t really want to be traveling but making most of it. She had one drink and was out. A quick hit and run.

Guy over at the island bar facing the concourse who came up for another Bacardi coke. Sounds like he is here all the time. Knows bartender by name. Introducing himself to the guy next to I’m. He’s drunk.

Guy who looks familiar but I know I don’t know. Self explanatory. Who are you?

Lady in the pink 3/4 length polo that looks like it is from American Eagle 2000. She’s been drinking red wine the whole time and has her sunglasses unnecessarily on top of her head (it’s 8:17 pm and we be indoors!). She looks like she’s fun though. Wish a spot had been next to her when I sat. Fuck. I’m stuck here next to Mr. No Personality.

Old man with a hat. Totally exists not just while driving the Midwestern highways but at the bar. Can’t tell what he’s drinking by his mouth has been agape the whole time.

Foreign man with Russian accent who came up with half a Diet Coke bottle and ordered a Captain on the Rocks. Will he mix it in his bottle???….then his lady came, sat at the bar and clearly said NO to not having a drink. Bartender is not amused with them. Quickly cashed out. Not wasting his time.

Bud light and shock top pseudo-businessmen young guns. Can’t really tell what they are talking about. But they ordered beer and don’t seem to know how to drink a beer. I can see them from afar staring at their phones, sorta people watching, but then back to phones.

Now the guy who did not like me cashed out and left. I can now move my bar seat over now from the corner to actually see the tv! I have an empty stool next to me! Normal looking younger 20 girl came and ordered a Belvedere Water (had to settle with Grey Goose) but didn’t sit by me. Seriously—-do I smell? I can’t. I reapplied deodorant and brushed my teeth again after landing here. Wtf?

Four European guys who wandered past this bar, double takedm and were taken back. Not by me, but by Stella Artois. All four sidled up to the bar, taking up the stools between me and Mrs. Belvedere. One guy could say “Four Stella’s. Glasses” and that was enough for their beverages.

And then there is me-wearing the soffee shorts, untied Mizuno shoes, a sports bra with the straps hanging out at my neck, slim fit disney tee. Worn off makeup, crusted curly hair. Staring at my iPad typing furiously. I look up…everyone is forking food in their mouths, drinking, and on devices. No one is having a conversation. I am one of them. But…I think it’s safe to say I’m the gem of this Chicago O’Hare airport bar.

Chicago 2006 vs Calgary 2014

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All of you reading my blog know I have my big race this Sunday in Calgary. It’s the Calgary Full Marathon, all 26.2 glorious miles of it, and my goal is a sub 3:35:00—a Boston qualifying time for my division.

Flashback now to October 2006, when I ran my third full marathon. It was my first marathon other than the now-extinct May-time running of the Madison Marathon. During those previous races, I had ran a 4:27:38 and a 4:48:03. My goal this particular race was to break four hours.

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It’s funny to now look back at this race and see how my goals and ability has evolved. It also makes me feel hella old, because it’s now been 7.5 years since that race! I was still fairly inexperienced when it came to long distance road races, but I had caught the bug.

My good friend Matt and I drove down from our college town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Chicago on the day before the race. The expo in Chicago was unlike anything we had ever experienced. It was insane and a sensory overload.

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The lead up to the race was equally as amazing. Close to 40,000 runners that year if I remember correctly. This was also back in the time when they didn’t have a corral system to start. I just positioned myself in the masses and after the gun went off, it took me about ten minutes to get to the timing mat.

The weather was overcast, a bit chilly, and rainy. I think I was wearing a long sleeved cotton shirt, which now I realize is a huge rookie mistake. Come on—I was a poor college kid. Why would I pay lots of money for a fancy tech shirt?!? Along with that, why would I pay lots of money for a decent watch? (Photo to follow)

The support from the friends, family members and volunteers throughout the boroughs of Chicago was amazing. I got in such a running trance that the race felt effortless. Before I knew it, I was approaching the finish. After a final push, I crossed, with my official time as 3:59:25. I broke my four hours! (even with a crappy $5 Wal-Mart watch too!)

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Matt finished his race in 3:00:17. A ridiculous time! He was upset he didn’t break 3 hours, but he qualified for that elusive race held every April in the springtime—-The Boston Marathon. He went out there the following year and experienced every runner’s dream.

This Sunday, I hope to cross the finish in Calgary with the same combined end result as what Matt and it had in Fall 2006—a new personal best, and a Boston Qualifying time.

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