Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Chicago Marathon

Oh hello.

 Every mile was NOT magnificent...

Did you miss me?  I thought maybe you did.  I've been going back and forth about just shutting this blog down altogether, but then I also want to remember these races someday... and my life, since my memory is terrible...

So, what have I been up to?  Well, most of you know we moved.  Staging our house, selling our house, moving, being homeless, making offers on several different houses, and finally buying a house, and then moving into said house, have consumed pretty much the last 4 months. 

And guess what?  The house is 100% complete 1973 through and through, which means not ONE change has been made to it since then.  Not ONE.  So we have lots and lots and LOTS of projects ahead of us.  It's exciting and fun but also so overwhelming at the same time that you don't even know where to start because you want to do so many projects at once.  I find it hard even deciding what we should work on this weekend.  Is it the backyard, or painting the hallway, or painting the bedroom, or installing new light fixtures, or getting a new thermostat, or tearing the falling down fence down, or.... (the list goes on).
So. Much. Brown. Everywhere.

I also ran Hood to Coast (I should probably post about that at some point?), Baby J turned 1 (that too?), I started a new job, and now, I ran the Chicago Marathon.
You'll notice I didn't mention TRAINING for said Chicago Marathon.  I did, a little, but it was by far the least amount of training I've ever done for a marathon.  In the 12 weeks before (my normal training cycle time), I did Ragnar Ultra (that's good!), I ran 14 miles, did Hood to Coast, which was 17 miles across 24 hours, ran 10 miles, ran 17 miles, ran 13 miles, and ran 18 miles (in that order).  I should have done the 20 I planned to do instead of 18 but I let myself quit early.  Then Baby J got sick and then I got sick and I did not run at ALL during the two weeks between the 18 miler and the race.  I just couldn't.  Not deplorable but not exactly a perfect training cycle, eh?  
 Baby J's first plane ride!

Then let's talk about race weekend.  The day before the race I entertained a baby on an airplane for 4 hours (NO EASY FEAT!), didn't drink any water because I didn't want to have to get up to go to the bathroom on the plane, didn't eat any food until night just by accident because we were racing to get to the expo in time, and then for my one meal of the day I ate a delicious (but not smart!) four huge layers of cheese pizza casserole at the famous Giordano's.  Not exactly a recipe for success. 

So, let's sum up the race.  It was really three different races.
Race #1: The first 8 miles.  I ran the first half marathon, and although I didn't feel great, I felt okay the first 8 miles.  I knew my legs didn't feel fresh or bouncy or anything that you dream they'll feel on race morning - they certainly weren't raring to go.  But I was doing fine, taking my time, enjoying the crowds, having a blast out there on a gorgeous day.  

5K #1 Split: 31:52 (10:16)
5K #2 Split: 32:01 (10:19)
5K #3 Split: 35:27 (11:25) (this includes the pit stop in mile 9, and here comes Race #2...)
Feelin' great (but terrified) before the race!
Race #2:  The second 8 miles (miles 9-16).  Now comes the intestinal distress part of the race.  Thank GOODNESS the Chicago Marathon has a TON of aid stations (20 I believe, which is incredible), because I waited for and used the port-a-potty FOUR times during these miles.  Ugh.  I seem to have a race related intestinal disease, because while I didn't have an issue in any of my training runs, I've now had issues at Ragnar, Hood to Coast, AND now Chicago.  I stopped my watch each time and these four stops added up to 15 minutes by the end of the race.  Fun times. 

Despite this, I ran the entire first half marathon (except for these stops and walking through aid stations) and finished in 2:17 (not including stops).  But the last few miles I was promising myself that if I just made it through the first half I could start walking after that.  But after I started walking, it was pretty much impossible to start running again. You can see that I was still trying to hang on, since these include stops.

5K #4 Split: 38:38 (12:27)
5K #5 Split: 35:22 (14:35)
Such a great cheerer!
Race #3:  From 16 to the end.  After my 4th port-a-potty stop in mile 16, I suddenly felt better!  My stomach problems were gone!  I was ready to run!  YES!  I felt great.  EXCEPT.  Except.  Except when I started running, I had incredible shooting pain in my right knee.  No wait, it was in my right hip.  No wait, it was in my right glute.   Basically, my right leg hated me.  Whoever invented the IT Band has another thing coming.
At Mile 17
The weird thing is, I never once had any IT Band during any of my training runs either.  Though I'm sure taking two weeks off before the race didn't help in this case.  So I kept starting to run again, and I would have to stop after only a few steps because my knee would hurt so bad and I would fear I would do real damage, when what I was really trying to do, but get a personal worst by 20 minutes less?  I just wanted to enjoy the rest of the trip and sightsee and I didn't want to be crippled!  So I walked.  But man.  It takes a LONG time to walk that far.  And my knee was still killing me, it was just killing me less.  So those 10 miles were 10 miles of pure torture.  Not to mention that they were pretty embarrassing at first.  As everyone else cruised by and I'm the ONLY person walking.  The last 5 miles or so were a lot better because tons of people were walking by then.  I did try to walk as fast as I possibly could, mostly because I just wanted to be done!

5K #6 Split: 51:16 (16:30) - Yep.  Ouch.
5K #7 Split: 50:41 (16:29)
5K #8 Split: 48:15 (15:32)

But then I was finished!  Thank goodness. My finish time was 5:55:48, my watch read 5:40 (without the stops). 

And marathon #4 was in the books!  Only TWO HOURS off my PR.  Ha.  I'm on the every two years plan (2008, 2010, 2012, now 2014) so I'm relieved I'm off the hook until 2016.  I'll have to plan another bucket list race for then - maybe NYC (if I can ever get in!) or Big Sur?  
Lots of delicious pizza & Portillos eating and sightseeing ensued.
This race was GREAT though otherwise.  It was flat as a pancake, I can't believe it's even possible for a race to be so flat.  On the one hand, that was lovely, but on the other, I don't think it helped my knee.  I'm more used to the rolling hills of the PNW.  The crowds were INCREDIBLE!  Incredible.  They say 1.7 million people spectate this race which is hard to believe, but there were sooo many people.  I wore my name on my shirt and they were all shouting it and that was so great.  Elvis and the Beatles sang to us on the course and cheerleaders did cheers and people made crazy signs and it was just awesome.  TWENTY aid stations were amazing and I was certainly never hurting for water.  I do wish they'd had more bananas earlier, I think the faster people ate most of those.  I totally recommend doing this race - it's a true bucket list race and I'm so thankful I got to go and experience the race and Chicago with my family and bestest friend.  

So long folks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ragnar Northwest Passage ULTRA Style

I could write an entire book about this relay and at the same time I could sum it all up in just a few sentences.

Before it all began!

Here's the short version:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Yes, it was the WORST of times.

Here's the long version:
Without completely and utterly embarrassing myself (too late for that?), let's just say I suffered incredible intestinal distress such that I've never experienced while racing before.  I've been a complete arrogant snob - my gut has always been a "rock", and that was something that happened to other racers.  Well let's just say, I will never ever again relay without carrying Imodium.  That stuff is magic.

My happiest moment: before the running and distress began!

While this was my 3rd Ragnar and 6th relay (well, 7th if you count Mt. Si but that's not the same), I've never done one ultra style before (ran with 6 runners instead of 12).  And, I'm not sure I will again.  Let me be clear, I am incredibly proud of myself for finishing and for accomplishing this.  I'm so glad I did it and I'm happy to cross it off my bucket list.  But let me also be clear, this was probably the hardest race I've ever completed.  It was hard physically (oh the hills, the hills, hills, hills, everywhere) and it was sure hard mentally, and didn't I already mention I thought I was actually dying during it?  Like Robyn sneezed and I couldn't muster the energy to tell her 'Bless You' even though I wanted to.  That's how bad it was.  Like I was googling hotels in the area and Marilyn said 'Maybe her husband should come pick her up'.  THAT'S how bad it was.  So maybe you weren't clear about that.

But here's the lowdown of the race itself.  I got to hang out with 5 amazing ladies and one truly amazing driver (Marilyn's husband is AWESOME).  I loved each of these ladies and I'm so glad I got to know them more.

In order of legs, Robyn, Lauren, Marilyn, moi, Jordanne, Bethany.

These women are hard core, never give up, funny, kind, inspirational, generous... they are the kind of ladies one would be lucky to call friends.  I'm so lucky I got to annoy them for 48 hours!

 Reppin' Nuun!

We decided to divvy up the miles in a more "interesting" way than the typical 3 vs 6 leg conundrum, to avoid one person being stuck with an 18 mile middle-of-the-night leg, so we split them unconventionally across 4 legs for each person.  Sometimes we ran 1 leg at a time, sometimes 2, and lucky me once got to run 3 legs at a time.  So here they were:

1st Leg: Legs 7 & 8
9.67 miles  10:38 average  1:42:58   elevation gain: 807 feet (yes you read that right)
Friday, 2:48pm
Splits: 9:41, 9:15, 9:39, 10:06, 9:42, 12:07, 13:25, 12:14, 10:07, 9:49

They said this was the hardest leg of the entire course.  Too bad I didn't realize I had to climb a mountain until the week before.  It was DIFFICULT to say the least.  Steep and unrelenting and HOT in the middle of the afternoon.  It was pretty though - on gravel trails through forests and along a lake. 

A few miles is was when I started to worry about how my stomach was feeling.  Another mile or two and I was panicked and looking off into the bushes.  Luckily there was a bathroom at this lake park in the middle, I don't even want to think about what would have happened if that oasis hadn't magically appeared.  I majorly struggled through the rest of the leg.  The mile splits tell the story. 

I've never been so happy to hand off that bracelet!

Then I proceeded to die in the car for a few hours.  Like seriously, it was terrible and not pretty.  We saw Lindsay and the Nuun team at the exchange and I couldn't even go hang out with them, that's how bad it was.  Until Robyn had the genius idea to ask the first aid tent at the major exchange for Imodium.  And man that worked IMMEDIATELY!  Seriously, it was magic.  You could tell I felt better when I finally laughed (once! ha) and took a few tiny bites of my sandwich.  I wasn't 100% but it was 10,000% better than it was before. 

2nd Leg: Leg 18
5.55 miles  9:58 average  55:23  elevation gain: 26 feet (yes you read that right!)
Saturday, 12:13am
Splits: 9:45, 9:41, 9:58, 10:02, 10:10, 10:19


I felt much better during this leg and didn't need a bathroom.  Win!  Also it was cooler and flat as a pancake, so that certainly helped.  This was the closest to running on a treadmill as I would EVER thought was possible.  Who even knew such a flat road even existed?!

3rd Leg: Legs 25, 26, & 27
8.68 miles  12:09 average  1:45:36   elevation gain: 597 feet
Saturday, 7:38am
Splits: 10:25, 12:33, 10:42, 12:44, 12:35, 12:09, 12:57, 13:05, 12:18

Here's where I made a mistake of not preempting the bathroom issues by taking another Imodium.  Man I wish I had, because the intestinal issues were back, as were the relentless and difficult hills.  I was really hoping my team would come by so I could get that magic pill from them but they were off at Starbucks.  Luckily I ran through not one but two exchanges and I used the port-a-potties at each.  Once again, those splits tell the story.  It makes me cringe just looking at them. 

My nice teammates were making fun of my outfit.

4th Leg: Leg #34
5.69 miles  9:38 average  54:54   elevation gain: 476 feet
Saturday, 2:54pm
Splits: 11:05, 9:02, 10:06, 8:25, 9:51, 9:12

And NOW the going gets good!  I was just about writing off relays FOREVER.  I was begging others to take that leg.  Thank goodness Robyn and Bethany and everyone else told me to SUCK IT UP LADY and stop being a baby and just finish this thing, because this was easily the best hour of the whole entire race.  Again, look at the splits!  This was still a hilly leg - and yet there's an 8:25 in there and a bunch of 9's!  I felt amazing, I felt like me, THIS is the Ricole that comes to relays, not that girl I didn't even recognize from before.  Who was that?!?!

This was exactly my favorite kind of run - on rolling hills (hills are okay as long as you actually get to run down them!) through beautiful countryside with animals (I saw a deer and her baby!) on backcountry quiet roads on a coastal island.  Seriously, does it get any better than this?  And I was truckin'.  I still powerwalked the huge hills but now I FLEW down the downhills.  I picked out people to pass like "come here little one" and passed 8 people one-by-one.  THIS WAS ME.  It was a wonderful way to end the relay after such horribleness. 

Isn't running wonderful?!?!  I yelled this to my teammates during this run and they all thought I was being majorly sarcastic after all of my complaints but I wasn't!

In all it was 29.6 miles of running, 1,906 feet of elevation gain (YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT), and 5 hours and 19 minutes of running.  WHEW! 

I was too grouchy to cross off any of my legs until after I finally had a good one.  

All done!  32 hours and 17 minutes later... and cheersing with some pizza, and later with some DQ.

And thanks in advance to my husband for not holding all of my sad sick texts against me the next time I want to relay...

And that's a wrap!  Let's hope Hood to Coast is a little more friendly...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Baby J 9 & 10 Month Update

I am so terrible.  9, 10, AND 11 months have come and gone without an update.  It's hard to believe that my next update will be ONE YEAR OLD.  How has a year almost gone by already?!

It's really hard to break apart what has happened in each month, since the changes are so gradual, but I know I need to write down SOMETHING or I won't be able to do his 1 year book (since yes, I'm a procrastinator, and I haven't even started.  It's going to be a SUPER daunting task).   So here's some bullet point changes. 

Our first Mother's Day!

1)  It's hard to tell who he loves the most - Roomba or Cooper.  But it's certainly, undoubtedly, neither Mom or Dad.  Him and Cooper have such a special relationship and it makes me so happy.  Baby J is OBSESSED with Cooper's toys and wants them so bad.  Which of course is disgusting whenever he actually gets them and immediately starts eating them!  He'll chase Cooper around in the litte walker car and laugh so hard when he "gets" Cooper!  I think that his ONLY incentive to EVER crawl is to get Cooper and / or his toys.  It still might not be enough though.  He also is obsessed with Roomba though.  He will literally shove your face out of the way so he can see him. 

Happy Easter!

2)  Speaking of Easter - Baby J went to his first Easter Egg Hunt!  He didn't seem to get it.  Also, the weather didn't really cooperate.

He DID get the idea of getting presents though!  

Well, kind of.

3)  At his 9 month appointment he was 21 pounds 13.5 ounces and 29.25 inches.  Both were about the 80th percentile.  I'm sure we're way bigger now.  We WERE wearing 12 months clothes for the most part with some 18 months thrown in there in some places.  **Update** At about 10.5 months I put the 12 month clothes officially all away and we're strictly in 18 months now. 

He's a big boy!  Clearly those pants needed to be retired!

4) He is OBSESSED with taking his socks off.  He think it is HIL-AR-IOUS how much we DON'T want him to take off his socks!  We try to put shoes on to hold the socks on but now he's figured out how to get his shoes off too so that just compounds the problem.  Oh yeah, and did I mention he thinks velcro is amazing?!  **Update** Funny - but this has kind of gone away!   Not entirely, but at 11 months sometimes he'll keep his socks on for full hours at a time! 

5)  I've mentioned before how much Baby J loves bath time. 

 Bath time with friends!

I know they say babies only need a bath every 2-3 days but Baby J gets one every night because it's his absolute favorite thing.  So I've been really excited for him to have swim lessons and go on this spring break trip to Great Wolf Lodge.  But... of course.... as we should have predicted... he wasn't so sure about this different, bigger, busier, colder water!  The first 4-ish times we even just put his feet in the little baby pool he cried.  We were starting to think we'd made a HUGE mistake.  But then he started getting more and more used to it and finally he would sit down and then he thought it was AMAZING!  He still didn't love being fully submerged (well, to his neck - I'm not a monster!), but he got carried around up to his waist and walked in it and sat in the wave pool while the waves lapped at his legs!  SO fun and cute.

**Update** Speaking of swimming - at 10.5 months we started swimming lessons!  Well, lessons is quite the stretch, because the lady hasn't taught us one-single-thing.  It's parent-tot, but somehow all the other kids are swimming geniuses and could do "torpedo arms" and "jump in" and all the other things she tells us to do.  She is not a good teacher.  Sorry lady.   But he LOVES it!  He will lean forward until he falls in the water when he's sitting on the edge!

6)  Baby J's laugh is just the best thing ever.  We love making him laugh.  So then you find yourself saying ridiculous things in ridiculous voices (like "coookies"... "donuts"...  "cheese please!"... "I smell baby poop" - but imagine these things said in really deep slow voices or super high pitched voices, for example).  But it works!  Once.  Then you have to come up with something else.  New material is key. 

I call this one, scenic Baby J

7)  Did I mention he's not even remotely close to crawling still?  We totally failed that questionnaire at his 9 month appointment.  We had to fill out this really long questionnaire with all these random questions that made me feel like a bad mom and like Baby J was completely failing.  But some of the questions were crazy: does baby try to get at a cheerio inside a clear plastic bottle???  Ummm????  I don't know!!  But he's not crawling, walking, pulling up, talking (he says lots of things but nothing FOR anything, although he has said "dada" at JMan a few times he also says "dada" about a 1,000 times a day so it's really hard to say that it really was TO him!).

He does roll EVERYWHERE.  I seriously don't know why he would ever be motivated to crawl when he can get anywhere he wants by rolling.  We like to joke that he'll be rolling around the kindergarten classroom to turn in his homework.  

 A standing machine!

**Update** He's still not crawling.  He just wants to stand which he can do with assistance (and he started pulling himself up in his crib at around 11 months).  We're calling his first "steps" June 5, but since he can't really get himself to a standing position on his own and he walks like a crazy drunkard who is also a crazy person and has no idea what's going on!!! I definitely wouldn't call him "walking".  

8)  We're FINALLY getting some teeth!  We have the two lower teeth coming in, one is about halfway done and one is just poking through.

**Update!  When it rains it pours?  He's getting the 4 top teeth now too.  He's very toothy. 

9)  Sleeping is such a roller coaster.  Just when you think you have it figured out it changes.  Just when you think YES WE'RE ON A SCHEDULE he is like "No way Jose, I do what I want" and then he has a nap strike and you have a horrible day.  Sleeping at night is WAAAYYY better but we're still not 100% sleeping through.  And the problem is that now when he wakes up hungry at 5am it is waaayyy harder to get him to go back to sleep than when he woke up hungry at 3am.  So we've had several super early mornings that weren't that fun. 

10)  Baby J got his first haircut!  I barely cut anything, just those really long bangs in the front, but I pretty much immediately regretted it.  He went from being "laidback surfer dude" to "where's my pocket protector"!


11)  Breastfeeding is pretty much over.  It was a slippery slope, and we went downhill quickly.  It happened by accident - one day at 9.5 months we were in Portland and we *GASP* forgot the milk when I had to be gone all day.  So we gave him his first taste of formula (thankfully he took it no problem - that could have been one horrible disastrous day!).  After that since we'd already given him some, we decided to try giving him a bottle before bed to see if it would help him sleep better.  DID IT EVER!!!  Wow I wish we'd done that a long time ago.  I think the problem is that my supply just kept decreasing and decreasing gradually and he just wasn't getting full at night. 

At 10.5 months my supply had decreased so much that it didn't seem worth it to pump at work anymore, so I gave that up.  It really shows how little I was making because I went cold turkey not pumping in a day (I had been pumping twice a day) and there was ZERO engorgement (I had only been pumping 3-5 ounces total in those two pumpings).  Then I kept up with 3 other feedings for a little while, but I've just dropped the afternoon and night feed, and I'm about the drop the morning feed too.  I feel a little bit like a quitter but it's also so freeing! 

12)  Baby J is going to be a circus performer.  He's all like "I don't always hold things, but when I do, I hold them with my feet."

 Seriously - ANYTHING he gets he immediately puts between his feet.

13)  Baby J loves shopping and going places (he loveessss riding in the cart), he loves riding in the stroller (that's the key if he's fussy), he loves play dates and his "friends", he loves being outside, he loves swinging at the park, he loves Roomba and Cooper, and he loves food (especially cheerios, raspberries, and cheese, but he wants to eat anything that we're eating!). 

And that is MORE than enough about Baby J!