Chicago Marathon – Say What?

Well, I did it.  I signed up for a marathon.  Something I said I would never do and still am debating if I’ve gone completely crazy but I’m doing it.  On October 8, 2017 I will be running the insane distance of 26.2 miles.  What have I gotten myself into?

As part of this journey I’ve decided to be charity runner which means I’ll be able to raise funds for a charity and represent them while on the course next October.  I looked at the different charities and researched what many of them represent and one hit home pretty hard.  Bright Pink is an organization whose mission is “save women’s lives from breast and ovarian cancer by empowering them to live proactively at a young age.”  Although there are many wonderful organizations bringing awareness to breast and ovarian cancer,  Bright Pink is the only national non-profit organization focused on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.  They want women to be educated of their risk and take proactive steps to save their lives.  Their website has a plethora of information, including support groups for young women who find themselves battling for their life.

I first heard about Bright Pink through AfterShokz and their October promotion of Trekz Titanium Pink Headphones.  During the month of October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) they’ve been donating 25% of their proceeds to Bright Pink when you purchase a pink pair of the headphones.  I LOVE these headphones and may or may not have made my husband get me a pair lol.  Although there’s only a few days left you can still grab a pair and help support a great cause.

The reason running for this charity hit a soft spot for me is because my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when my father was a young boy.  Although she was able to beat it back then, the cancer came back many years later and we lost her back in 1998.  You don’t hear about many young people getting the disease and even some doctors are hesitant to order mammograms because a patient is “too young” and couldn’t get cancer at that age.  It’s important to know your family history and get the testing you need to make you an educated person when it comes to your health.

If you’d like to donate to Bright Pink and support me on my journey of running of the Chicago Marathon you can do that here.  For every $10 raised, 4 women are able to be educated on early detection and risk reduction.



Teaching, Grad Classes, and Running

Well, it happened… Life took over.  August brought the beginning of a new school year with new students, new classes, and new technology for myself as I started the new year of teaching.  August also brought on the start of my next graduate class – Advanced Calculus.  For those of you not in the education world, the state of Indiana has decided that a person is not “qualified” to teach dual credit/AP courses unless that have a Master’s Degree with at least 18 graduate credit hours in their content area – which for me, is crazy hard math classes.  I’m sure you can kinda read into that last sentence that the whole thing is a little ridiculous – how does taking more math classes make me a better pre-calculus teacher?  Or a better AP Calculus teacher?  It doesn’t – but I’m not going to turn this into a rant session (but I could really easily lol).

So how did I make it work?  How did I juggle teaching, school work, family time, and running?  Simple answer – I didn’t.  My running suffered.  I barely got outside during August and September and I felt it.  I felt the extra stress and the sluggishness I used to feel before I started running.  And then on top of it all I had already signed up for half marathons the first weekend of October and the first weekend of November.

Fort-4-Fitness was on October 1st and Mark was running the inaugural full marathon while I was to run the half.  Our girls had also been keeping track of their miles throughout the summer and were going to finish up their kid’s marathon by running the last 1.2 miles on Friday night.  Mark had a decent run and you can read all about it here.  But my run was a disaster.  I hadn’t trained properly and I was dreading the race.  When I hit mile 8 I pretty much no longer cared and just wanted to be done.  I spent lots of time walking and just enjoying the sites a little throughout Fort Wayne.  I finished, about 30 minutes slower than my previous half – which was during the half and half challenge.

So am I ready for November?  Not really.  I’ve been trying to get out there and run but I still can’t seem to push myself farther than 3-4 miles.  And I’m supposed to run 13 in three weeks?  I told Mark that I’ve kinda given up on doing well at Monumental.  I just want to finish and then I can focus on April where I’ll be running the Pro Football Hall of Fame half marathon.

Life is about to get a little easier for a few months.  I just finished Advanced Calculus as of about 9:30 this morning and my next class doesn’t start until January 2nd.  Two and a half months of freedom (or at least less stress).  I’ll have time to run after school and not have to spend 2 hours doing homework each night.  I can get my speed back to where I want it and try to finally concentrate on breaking that 30 minute 5k time I’ve been eyeing for so long.  I can finally breathe a little and take life more than a day at a time.


Is a Full Marathon in My Future?

For the past couple of years, Mark and I have volunteered at the Chicago Marathon at the mile 5 water station.  This year we had the opportunity to be the announcers for the runner to let them know Gatorade would be first followed by the water.  Such an amazing experience to be on that side of a race and to see the organization that goes into a race that size.  Each year we’ve done this I see all these runners, who run for a charity, who are running their first, and possibly only, marathon.  It’s inspiring to see many of time who aren’t the fastest runners get out there and accomplish something only an elite few can actually say that have completed.

With that being said . . .  I’m debating.  I always said that I’m good with just that half.  I’m too slow to be training for a full marathon.  My long runs would run up close to 5 hours – do I really want to run for 5 hours straight?  Will my legs even be able to run for that long?

I’ve been looking at the charities and what it takes to be a part of the different teams.  Registration for Chicago actually opens up in a few weeks and so I have a very short time until I actually have to decide what I’m going to do.  October 25th – that’s the date I need to sign up.  I think I’ve found a charity to support to hits close to home for me as well as some friends and colleagues I’ve had.

Do I have it in me?  Will life allow for me to train throughout the summer and start of the next school year?  Will I feel like a crap mom who would rather go out and run than be with her family?

So many questions, but only a week to figure out the answers . . . .

Runningluv – Catch What Runs

Like almost every runner – I sweat.  And especially when I sweat on my head it travels down to my eyes and then I’m basically blind because the salt gets in my eyes and stings so bad.  So then I’m trying to use my shirt to wipe off my eyes and head while wearing sunglasses and it’s just a hot mess lol.

This past Christmas Mark decided to get me what he thought was a random running gift that he wasn’t sure I’d even like but I ended up falling in love with it.  Runningluv is basically a towel that you can wrap around your hand or wrist so you have something to wipe away the sweat while you run.  Their website advertises the runningluv as a towel or a tissue to catch what runs – sweat, snot, or tears.

This summer, the runningluv has become my new best friend.  With the humidity in Northern Indiana, even when the temps are in the 60’s, I tend to sweat a lot.  It’s nice to have something that’s not tucked away in a running belt or backpack you have to dig out and possibly stop to find.  There are two main ways you can  wear the runningluv:

On your wrist – this way is nice for when you want to wipe down your forehead in one quick motion.

On your hand – this is how I tend it wear it most of the time.  This way you can easily undo the towel and use the corner to wipe off your eyes and get the sweat that has been dripping down and stinging your eyes.

My collection has now grown to about four or five runningluvs.  Even Chloe, our youngest daughter, has learned to love the runningluv.  It’s always on her bed the night before a race to make sure she remembers to bring it for her race.  Our local running store, Fleet Feet Sports of Mishawaka, carries them and when we need to spend that $50 to use our coupons we get in our race packets it’s an easy thing to grab at around $15 because there are so many different colors and designs.  Most of the designs in store are geared more towards the female runner that I’ve seen but on the runningluv website they do have more male or gender neutral designs.  Disclaimer:  it has been a few weeks since I’ve been in store, so they may have gotten some of the more neutral ones in stocks.

If you tend to sweat a lot or find yourself always carrying tissues with you during a run I highly suggest looking into the runningluv and seeing for yourself how well it catches what runs.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

ACTS 5k and 10k

Father’s Day weekend is normally the weekend for the Courthouse Classic 5k but this year, for whatever reason, the date has been moved to next weekend.  Courthouse is normally a good race for our girls because they offer a kids mile and we see lots of our local running community out there.  The issue is, we wouldn’t have my step-daughter because she goes to her mom’s for the next week so my husband and I wanted to find a local race that Emma could be involved in.  I heard about the ACT 5k/10k and kid’s mile on Pulse FM, a local radio station, and it seemed like a fun race with a great cause.  Allowing Christ To Shine (ACTS) is an organization dedicated to help the children of Haiti and have even built a school for the local children to attend.  With this race, they not only wanted to raise money to feed the kids at the ACTS school in Haiti but also wanted to help the local cancer community by giving a donation and buying benches for the community to enjoy and remember all those families affected by the disease.  When registering you had the option of getting a race shirt (cotton) or a race tank (also cotton).  I thought it was fun they gave you the option of getting a tank top.

Packet pick-up and late registration was easily located off of US 30 in Warsaw, Indiana from 7:00-8:45.  The kids mile was a free race with the option to buy a race shirt for $10.  We opted to have Chloe and Derek run the mile, while Emma would run the 5k with me.  Mark would be taking the weekend off after racing the last few weekends and then also running next weekend.  The mile started at 8:30 and was a an out and back on part of the 5k course.  I ran with Chloe and the course measured a little short (0.9 mile) and she finished in about 10:40.  Not a PR for her but better than what she’s done the last few times.  She’ll have another opportunity next week at Courthouse.  This would be the first race Derek would run.  Let’s just say we’re not sure he’s quite ready yet lol.  He turned around when he saw Chloe and I on our way back and just wanted to be carried the entire time.  Each of the kids running the mile got a participation ribbon for their efforts.

The 5k and 10k were scheduled to start at 9:00.  At 9:00 the directors started us down to the starting line (why was this not done a little before 9:00??).  After some random talking because some people showed up late to register (if you say the cutoff is at 8:45, then it should be at 8:45 . . . ) they let myTEAM TRIUMPH take off about 9:08 and then said we would wait another 3-4 minutes to give them a head start.  So here’s my deal – They should have gotten us to the starting line before 9:00 if they wanted myTEAM TRIUMPH to take off before the rest of us.

The gun ended up going off about 9:12 and we were off.  The first half mile had a slight downhill and I was running with Emma who took off way too fast.  At one point we were going about a 7 min/mile.  Needless to say, she couldn’t keep up with it lol.  The first two miles were on the road around the local neighborhood and then for the last mile we got on a bike path around Pike Lake and had some really nice views.  My only issue with the course was there was only one water station and it was just before the two mile mark.  With as warm as it got, I wish they either had the water station a little sooner or had another one at about the first mile.  Not often do I have to use my own water but I did this time – it got warm and there wasn’t much shade for the first two miles.  With that being said, we finished in 32:20 and the course measured pretty much dead on at 3.09.  Emma did a great job even though it wasn’t a PR.

Around 10:00 awards started with some door prizes of water bottles and lighted wrist bands with the ACTS logo.  After giving out several door prizes the 5k awards began. Overall male and female winners received a medal and a wooden plaque.  Age group awards went five deep with top three getting medals and forth and fifth getting ribbons.  The awards were taking FOREVER and I was getting annoyed . . .  Mark ran over to the timing tent to see if we even needed to wait around for the awards and we did – Emma ended up getting first in her age group of 11 and under . . .  and I ended up winning my age group!  Two weeks in a row with some hardware – this will change next week lol.

Overall, I enjoyed the race but I just wish they would fix a few things about the starting time and then the water stations.  Not sure we’ll do it again, but we’ll definitely keep it on our radar if we have a free weekend.

Hot, Hot, Hot – Randy Miner Memorial Run

This past Saturday was the 3rd annual Randy Miner Memorial Country Run in the small town of Etna Green, Indiana.  The race to said to be the “Biggest little Race” you’ll ever run and it never disappoints.  The big difference between this race and many others you’d run is the time. Instead of being in the morning, the Randy Miner Race is at 4:30 in the afternoon.  With it being early June, you never know what you’ll get.  Two years ago it was a perfect day, last year the 1 mile run went off just fine but storms started just before the 4 mile run, and this year, it was HOT.  With temps in the low 90s with the real feel in the upper 90s we knew it would not be a PR day.  It was a “let’s stay hydrated and not die” day.

The last two years I have run the 1 mile race with Chloe while Mark then runs the 4 mile.  It works out nicely since the 1 mile begins at 4:30 and the 4 mile begins at 5:00.  It gives us enough time to hand off the boy and for Mark to get a bit of a warm-up in.  The one mile race has handcrafted clocks for the overall top 3 male and female and then a nice handcrafted plaque for the top runner in each of the 10 year age groups.  After looking at the times from last year, I found that my age group was won with a time of over 12 minutes.  Knowing this, I decided to ditch Chloe (Mark would run with her) and try to get that age group win.  It was warm and I opted to run with one of Mark’s handheld water bottles.  Maybe it’s just because my hands are smaller than his but I was not a fan of having it on my hand while I ran.  Luckily, I only had to run with it for a mile lol.

The day was warm and I had already done my long run (5 miles) that morning so my legs felt a little dead.  My goal was basically to finish the mile in what my pace needs to be for a 30 minute 5k which is 9:40.  I ended up finishing in 9:50 – not what I had wanted but with having already run and with the heat I ultimately didn’t care.  I finished and I didn’t pass out when it was over, that’s all that matters.  Chloe finished in about 12 minutes which is better than what she’s done this summer so far and with the heat she did awesome.

Mark handed off Derek and then went for his warm-up.  You can read about his race and experience here.  Not the race he wanted but again, with the heat you take what you can get.

So now the fun part.  I did end up getting 1st in my age group and got a pretty cool plaque – my first 🙂  And Mark got 1st in his age group in the 4 mile.

One really cool thing the Todd (the race director) does for this race is he goes out of his way to have some pretty cool door prizes.  He is able to give away items such as training logs, running books, DVDs, handcrafted award shelves, and then the big prize of a 55 inch smart TV.  After all the smaller door prizes are given out they put all the names back in the hopper and draw for the TV.  It is mentioned that you must be present to win and quite a few people have already taken off.  The first name is drawn and has already left so they have to draw a second name . . . And who do they call??  ME!!!  I won the 55 inch smart TV.

After the shock of actually winning, we then had to figure out how we were going to get the TV, the kids, and the jogging stroller in the car to go home lol.  We figured it out but there was a point where we thought we’d have to leave the kids . . . (just kidding, we wouldn’t actually leave them).

The Randy Miner Memorial Country Run is a great little race with some awesome awards and door prizes.  If you want a small town run with a great atmosphere you can’t beat this one.  We’ll be sure to come back for many years to come.

Sunburst 10k

This past Saturday was probably, in my opinion, one of the most overrated races in the South Bend area.  Sunburst races are always the first Saturday in June during Notre Dame’s Alumni weekend and consists of a full marathon, a half marathon, 10k, 5k run, and a 5k fitness walk.  There is also a 5k family walk on Friday night the day before all the races.

The big draw of this race used to be that it starts in downtown South Bend and then would finish a the 50 yard line in the football stadium.  Because of construction on Notre Dame’s campus they haven’t been able to do this for the last three years.  Many people wonder if it’ll ever finish on the 50 yard line ever again.  As a life time resident of Michiana (Michigan + Indiana = Michiana for those of you not from the area lol) I can honestly say Notre Dame is the MOST OVERRATED college in the area.  I worked while in high school at a local grocery store in the guest convience area (I made fruit and veggie trays) and I have to say that I’ve always hated Notre Dame.  So for me, I seriously could not care less whether we end anywhere near Notre Dame.  I’d rather stay completely downtown and end at the stadium of the Minor League Baseball Team (South Bend Cubs) but that’s my own personal opinion.

Sunburst is a race you love to hate.  Every year there seems to be something they screw up.  A friend and local runner said on Saturday as we were waiting for the race to start “Sunburst will do anything to get your money and then the seem to forget you exist on race day”.  The race is a pretty costly one even from the start but thanks to our running club we’re members of we were able to get a $15 discount for our races (which also paid for our membership lol) so the 10k end up being $15 – okay, for $15, can you really pass up a race??  Didn’t think so . . . .

As I said, I love to hate this race.  Between the shirts, the medals, the after race food, the start times, etc. something gets jacked up.  Last year was the shirts.  They were horrible – the sunburst logo was barely able to be found on the shirt, the front logo made it seem to be a kids fun run shirt, and the women’s cut ran EXTREMELY small and was a v neck (and if you’ve read any of my blogs, you know I can’t stand v neck shirts).  Also last year, after many people had already signed up the race decided to change the start times of the races – the marathon started at 6AM, the 5K started at 6:30, the 10k started at 7 and then the half marathon started at 7:30.  And then there’s always complaining about the food running out of the marathoners that finish after the 5k walkers which I get.

This year the shirt was better, the sunburst logo was prominently on the front and the color wasn’t horrible.  However, the women’s cut was still small and still had a v neck (why??  what makes a v neck shirt for women??  I’ll get over this at some point, I promise – okay, maybe not . . .) but I was able to swap it out for a men’s small which is a crew neck so I’m a happy runner 🙂

We arrived downtown shortly before 5am since the half, which Mark was running, starts at 6 and someone has to be at a race at least an hour early even though the 10k didn’t start until 7.  Whatever, it gave me time to pee and wander around a bit lol.  After watching Mark take at pretty much exactly 6 I just wandered about and tried to wake up a bit and tried to get ready for the 6.2 miles that I was hoping not to completely suck at.  The last 10k I ran a PR and was at close to the top of my training.  Since the half and half challenge my legs have hated me and I haven’t run more than 4 miles and at a pace I’m a little ashamed of lol.

So the course . . . The 10k course was the exact same as last year which has some issues in my mind.  First issue, when we start we go about 20 feet and then make a sharp right turn, as a runner, you really can’t start running until after you make that turn so it kills the momentum you want to start with at the beginning of a race.  We then wander around downtown until we get to Indiana University South Bend’s campus shortly before the 3rd mile marker which caused issues because 1. we’re on pretty narrow sidewalks which makes it hard to pass and 2. there were students try to cross the sidewalks and get to the buildings and didn’t seem to care that there were runners in their way.  And then we get to mile 5 . . . where Hallelujah Hill is located.  For anyone not from the midwest, this hill is probably pretty lame but for those of us in the flat lands this hill is pretty decent and that fact that it occurs right a the end of the race when it’s starting to get hot and humid and your energy is starting to fade.

My garmin read the course to be 6.4 miles which was the exact same as last year and we all know there will be some variance with distance when is comes to GPS devices.  (Just don’t ask about the half – most people end up with 13.6 or the full – which many people got near 27 miles.  Sunburst is catching A LOT of flack right now . . . .)

After the race they had cups of water and gatorade, bananas, bagels, assorted chips, cups of fruit, popsicles, and, of course, chocolate milk.

Mark was waiting for me at Hallelujah Hill and ran the last mile with me and then waited as I grabbed some water and food.  We then proceeded to gear check (only for the half and full marathons) which was at a new location than last year and somewhat out of the way and then proceeded back to our car in downtown.  The race does offer shuttles to take you back into town but Mark and I have always used the walk as a cool down/shake out after the run.

Overall, Sunburst is what it is.  Would I go out of my way to do the race?  No, absolutely not.  Would I do the race if it wasn’t part of our running club race series for points?  Probably not lol.  But will I do it again next year?  Probably . . . like I said – I love to hate it.

Be sure to check out my review and others on bibrave and remember to share the love and review all your races so others know the best races to run.