2014 Zooma Chicago

This would best be described as it was the best of halfs, it was the worst of halfs.  Originally this was scheduled for another weekend, and not the weekend directly after San Fran.  But I have done halfs on back to back weekends so I thought I might as well go for it.

I can’t tell you about the expo because I did not make it.  My plan, had been to make for the last little bit but my plane was late.  Fortunately, there was an option to have your packet mailed to you, which I chose, because you never know…

I stayed at the host hotel and was able to take the shuttle over to the race site.  Because I have time issues, I got there super early and was able to watch the sun come up.  Wow, what a sight!

Good Morning sunshine

Good Morning sunshine

Finally it was go time!

Almost GO time1

Almost GO time

I started out fast (as usual) but was able to keep it up.  This was the start of the good half.  So good, that I thought about switching to the 10K and getting a real PR!

The course was along the Lakeshore Trail, which meant there were users, but I think we were all able to share fairly well.  Lake Michigan was within sight for the most of the course and absolutely gorgeous.  I love running by water!  Water also meant a nice breeze as it was getting warm, but the breeze tempered it.

View from later in the day

View from later in the day

I passed the 10K turn off, still determined to do the half and still feeling pretty good.  That feeling would not last long.

I don’t know if it was the heat (it wasn’t ridiculously hot – maybe low 70’s), the lack of sleep from the week before, or that it just wasn’t my day.  I don’t know that I’ve ever hit the proverbial wall before but I’m pretty sure I hit it yesterday.  I shuffled along, one foot after the other, repeating all the positive mantras I could think of.

The field had significantly thinned out and at times I couldn’t anyone in front of me from the race.   It was probably the most painful last half of a race that I have ever had.  Or that I can remember.

I was so happy when I finally saw the last curve, followed by the 13 mile sign and the volunteer waving us into the finish chute.

My time?  After all that, I bet you are wondering about my time.  I was too – as always my baseline goal is to finish, and my next level is to finish in under 3 hours.  I finished, always a good thing and I finished in 3:00.14 – not quite under, but not quite over.  I’ll take that!

Done

Done

New bling

New bling

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2014 San Francisco Half Marathon

Ever since I heard about the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, I have been enamored with the idea of running through the streets of San Fran and, more importantly, receiving a Tiffany’s necklace from a fireman!  While I still have not participated in the San Fran race, I was fortunate enough to run in the inaugural Nike Women’s DC Half last year.

Reading Krissy’s recap of the full marathon last year, further solidified my dream to run in San Fran, although I knew I needed to run the first half marathon because I NEEDED run across the bridge.  Somewhere along the way, running San Fran someday turned into running this year.

By the time I decided to run, the host hotel was sold out but I was fortunate enough to get reservations at one of the associated race hotels nearby.  It was late Friday night by the time arrived and I was so happy to climb into bed.

Saturday morning, I got on a shuttle to the expo.  The shuttle left from the host hotel, which was only a few blocks from my hotel.  The expo was held at Fort Mason and was on the small-ish side, but that didn’t stop me from picking up a few items.  I will say I was a little disappointed in the official merchandise – the majority was geared towards the full marathon, which I get as it is the headline event, but I still wish there was at least a few token half marathon items.

I dropped my goodies off back at the hotel and set off for the Golden Gate Bridge.  Bridges are one of my favorite things (not sure why).  As I didn’t have a lot of time in San Fran, and not wanting to ruin my legs too much, I decided my one “must-do” would be to find my way to the bluff overlooking the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Of course my one activity still took some time and before you know it, I was eating dinner and heading back to my hotel room for an early night.

Mmm pizza

Mmm pizza

The morning came early and I made my way to the start line.  The sun was just starting to come up as my wave headed toward the start line.

The other bridge

The other bridge

The main event is the full marathon and then you can do the first half (which goes across the bridge) or the second half, which starts about where the first half ends and follows the  rest of the marathon course.

And we were off!!  Down the Embarcadero we went.  One of the attractions of racing in different cities, is getting to experience the city a whole new way.  This way no exception. How cool to be running down the waterfront.  Past Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina.  Alcatraz was sitting out there in the distance looking somewhat menacing.

We hit the first hill and I walked it.  I knew the hills were real and could potentially drain me.  I decided early on to walk the steep hills, and attempt to run the not so steep hills.

Past Crissy Field with the first real views of the bridge!

Hello Golden Gate

Hello Golden Gate

Up another hill and there was the bridge in all its glory! A little bit foggy, but all in all the weather was perfect for running – not to warm, overcast and with a breeze.

I kept thinking to myself “I’m running across the Golden Gate bridge!” I looked around as much as possible while still keeping my eyes on the ground and in front of me. It was definitely crowded on the bridge deck, plus you had to deal with different surfaces.

#selfie

#selfie

And then it happened – a series of unfortunate events that led to my downfall. Literally. A girl darted in front of me and because we were on a grated portion, when I tried to maneuver around her, my foot caught and BOOM! Down went Emily. I got up super quick because embarrassment over having fallen was foremost in my mind. I moved over to the side as much as I could and waved off the concerns repeatedly saying that I was fine. Which I was, other than a few minor scrapes, and my bruised pride. I was almost at the turn around point, and continued walking until once again on the bridge deck before starting to run again.

I was definitely stiffening up after the fall, but other than that. I was fine. I internally laughed to myself. Being the klutz that I am, falling during a race was bound to happen at some point. And now I have a great story – remember the time I fell on the Golden Gate Bridge?  And I didn’t fall off the bridge!

The fall occurred just after mile 7. I had been doing decently pace-wise up to that point. A little behind where I would have wanted, but I had stopped for pictures.   The first half marathon has a 3 hour time limit and up until that point, I hadn’t worried at all about not meeting the time limit.   Enter the worry. But when I got across the bridge, the worry lessened. I had run across the Golden Gate Bridge!!

Exiting the bridge, there was a downhill before an UP-hill followed by a ridiculous DOWN-hill. I think I was more worried about falling again on the downhill! But it had gorgeous views of the water. This has to be one of my favorite courses hands down. Painful, with the hills, but gorgeous!

We hit mile 11 and I looked at my watch. Under 3 hours was fading fast.   We were now amidst rolling hills and it was on one of these hills, with my hip screaming at me, that I realized 3 hours was not going to happen. I had a little internal pity party before remembering I RAN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE! And I was going to finish. So what if I didn’t make my time goal?

With my new mindset, I tried to just enjoy the last few miles of the race. We entered Golden Gate Park and split from the marathoners (who would join up with the second half marathoners).

Finally the finish line was in sight! I didn’t really have a finishing kick in me, but I was able to run across the finish line and get my hard-earned medal.

 

Done!

Done!

So next up is the complaining portion of the recap.  I had heard about the great spread of food and goodies after the race but there wasn’t much left.  But maybe the spread was at the marathon finish line.  Which I wouldn’t know about because it took close to 2 hours waiting for the shuttle and the shuttle ride back to the other finish line.  I had a flight to catch and so hurried to my hotel.

All in all, a great race!

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Wish I Was Wednesday #60

So today’s Wish I Was is more of a feeling…wishing I was on vacation, with nary a care in the world (except maybe what to see next), sipping a cappuccino in Vienna at the Sacher Cafe.  Ahhhh.

P1020982

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Hope

It’s amazing what can trigger a memory.  As I was sitting in a traffic jam this morning, my mind went back to another traffic jam on another July morning, several years ago.  That morning I not only sat in traffic, but also watched the aftermath of a multiple car pile-up outside my window, where a beautiful little girl was critically injured and later would lose her life.

But I was once again reminded of how hope arose out of that tragedy.  Rachel’s selflessness (giving up her 9th birthday to raise money for charity: water) in her short life inspired so many people around the globe, including myself.  Remembering her story was  a good reminder for me that no matter how dire a situation appears to be, good can come out of it.

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2014 Biggest Loser 10K

Saturday, I was up early for the Biggest Loser 10K.  I wasn’t expecting much as work has been taking up a lot of my time.   It was taking place at Six Flags and we were directed to park in what seemed like the very back corner of the parking lot.  While there seemed to be a decent turn-out, it had a feel of a small race.

We set off, and I was actually keeping up with the 10:30 pacer.  Have I mentioned before that I start out waaaaay too fast?  That lasted for not quite the first half mile.  I managed to say with the 11:00 pacer until almost the 1 mile marker, before fading to my normal pace.

Start Line

Start Line

The first part of the course took place in Six Flags, starting in the parking lot, before heading into the park and then the behind the scenes roads, which were not in the greatest of shape.  I had visions of me tripping and falling (which fortunately I did not do!).  The course was also surprisingly hilly!

Once we exited the park, the course wound its way through the parking lot towards the finish line.  But only for the 5Kers!  Those doing the 10K started the loop all over again.

Part II was much of the same, except for that small stretch when I couldn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me and wondered if I had accidentally wandered off course.

Going into the race, I was hoping to come in under 1:20.  As I got closer I realized that this was entirely possible and in fact, I could PR.  Well based on their course.  What I also realized was the course was short (according to my watch anyway).  I did end up with a PR at 1:14 even, if the course was accurate.  But I have my doubts.

Across the finish line

Across the finish line

So now, here is the dilemma…do I count this race as a PR?  Or not?  My watch clocked in at 5.93 but could it be my watch?  I was having problems finding a satellite at the beginning.  So I ask you, dear readers, would you count the PR or not?

Done!

Done!

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Wish I Was Wednesday

image

Today’s Wish I Was reflects back on the time I saw the German soccer team outside the Cologne cathedral.  It was 2006 and the World Cup was in Germany and the excitement was palpable.   I really do love the World Cup and was ecstatic when the Germans won this year (of course my first loyalty is to the US but once they were out I was backing the Germans!)

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Ode to an Early Morning Run

Sometimes the alarm goes off and you debate if this run is really necessary

Sometimes you step outside and you are greeted by a glorious early morning sky and you remember you do like running (for the most part)

Sometimes you look over at the person that is effortlessly passing you and wonder if you’ll ever be even half as fast

Sometimes every step is a battle to move forward

Sometimes you need an extra long walk interval

Sometimes a stop at a water fountain becomes a #selfie photo shoot

Attempt at #teamsparkle photo a day

Attempt at #teamsparkle photo a day

Sometimes after a water fountain break you find a burst of energy

Sometimes a field of flowers can bring a smile to your face and lightness to your step

2014-07-06 07.35.11

Sometimes all it takes is a High School Musical song on your iPod and you skip the last walk interval and finish strong

And sometimes when you are stretching you realize your shirt was on inside-out the entire time

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So later I realized there was no way I was going to publish that water fountain picture.  Or at least to instagram.  But you, my friends, get to see the outtake.  Actual photo a day posted:

Actual photo a day

Actual photo a day

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