Spectating the LA Marathon

Greetings blog followers! It’s been a minute since I posted. You see March is the busiest month I’ve had in a while. In fact, it is busier than April and May are going to be.

Obviously, I went to Vegas, partied it up and didn’t really sleep after what was a trying week for reasons my Vegas post explores.

The following weekend found me on a school trip to an Indian reservation in Northern Arizona. The trip was quick and very exciting. I’ve taken several classes in Federal Indian law and Tribal law. I had never been to a reservation before so that was an exciting experience. Before leaving there was a little bit of drama. My car battery died and Izzy the cat became rather ill. I rushed her to the vet where they hooked up a cat iv, injected her with a ton of stuff I can’t pronounce and did blood work. I was very scared and concerned at the time but she’s OK now. She gets to eat a fancy vet Rx diet which she loves. Girlfriend takes after her mother and loves the fancy.

Saturday I woke up early and took a professional responsibility exam I need to pass in order to practice law. It was an early morning and a long day. I also have a final exam in Federal Indian Law 2 this Thursday. So it’s been a busy few weeks. Running and working out has been on the back burner as well. I’m excited for things to get back to normal around here.

Thus, I was really glad that there was a fun event to look forward to on Sunday morning: Spectating the LA Marathon!

I knew that rain or shine I would be watching the marathon. The course runs two blocks from my apartment so I had no excuse. Plus, I love marathons and cheering so it was an easy decision to head down to the course early.

The weather was near perfect. Highs in the high 50’s, sun and clouds. No kidding, the night before it HAILED in LA. Well, it sounded like hail and I was too horrified by the noise to investigate further. I grabbed a coffee early and waited outside of Starbucks for people to start passing by.

Pretty soon the wheelchairs came cranking by.

Can you imagine doing that for 26.2 miles? I’ve run a marathon and I can’t imagine doing that for that long.

Before we knew it the lead elite women was passing us by!

The light is terrible in this photo and you can barely see her but she had a comfortable lead in front of everyone else including the men. LA does a “gender challenge”. That is, they start the women ahead of the men. Women’s marathon times are slightly slower than male times. The LA Marathon averages the time between when the men finish and when the women finish and then start the women that degree ahead with the idea that by the end it could really be anybodies game. Men win some years and women win others but YAY for the ladies for brining in a win. Fatuma left no one in her wake. We were stunned watching how big the lead was between her and the other runners. She almost hit a course record!

We had to wait a bit over 5 mins (which is a long time in elite marathon running I feel) before the elite men came though. I actually missed the lead man. He was running close to the left side of the road with a motorcade. I did catch the second place man, behind the biker.

Then the regular people started coming through and that’s when the real fun began! I was with my friend Chrissy who is a Boston Marathon cheering alum. We were prepared for the mass of runners. Things were pretty loose until the 4:00 marathon pacer passed us so we were able to call out many runners by name. Some looked like they were dying but many looked great and even were pumping up the crowd and yelling back at us.

I mostly stuck to yelling names but also yelled at people to tell them that they were headed to the downhill. One reason the LA Marathon is so appealing to me (besides being my adopted hometown) is the final three miles are along my usual running route. The way to the ocean is a slight decline, just enough to give runners that little something extra.

We also yelled names and cheered extra hard when we saw people run by in UCLA gear, encouraging on our fellow Bruins.

Several people had funny things written on their bibs, like “Forrest” (as in “Run Forrest Run” from Forrest Gump). Some had saying like “Run old man!” Those people were by far the most excited to hear us yelling their names. I also saw people in shirts of races I’ve run. I cheered extra hard when I saw them. I saw a guy in a Chicago marathon shirt and I yelled out “HEY CHICAGO!” and he winked and gave me thumbs up. It was fun!

More than anything, watching the marathon reignited my desire to run. Between everything I’ve had going on the past few weeks I’ve feel off running again. I’ve gotten some short and unsatisfying ones in but nothing long and not following my plan for the Pasadena 1/2 in May. Sunday reminded me how much I love to run. For me, watching was fun but I really wanted to get out on the course. I know I am going to run another marathon and I want it to be LA 2013. Time will tell and lots can happen in a year but that is my intention now.

Inspired by the marathon I went out for an easy 4.5 mile run. I held an easy 9:27 pace. It was great running in the footsteps of the marathoners and thinking over my goals. Like with the first marathon I ran, I know I can achieve them but no one is going to hand them to me. I need to put in work and I’m feeling energized and ready to get started again.

Also! There will be a delicious blog worthy recipe on LCC this week (I know it’s been a while). I made it last week and it has melted gouda cheese. What’s not to love about that?

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Pasadena Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon Recap

Hey gang. Remember less than a week after I ran a marathon and I was all “I’m going to bust my 1/2 marathon PR!” so I signed up for this half marathon but then I took a ton of zumba and yoga and stopped running more than 3 miles a week? Yep. Less than a month ago I decided that I needed to get cracking on that training thang. I did a 6 miler, 8 miler, 10 miler and an almost 7 miler. Today, with less training than I’ve ever had going into a race I ran the inaugural Pasadena Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon.

The excitement started yesterday when I went to the expo to pick up my bib. The only other Rock n Roll race I ran was in San Diego and while I loved the race, the expo was mayhem. I braced myself for terrible lines BUT I was so happy when I arrived. The lay out was the same as San Diego but with a fraction of the people!

I was able to zip through and get all the free sample too! It’s called priorities people.

I also peeped at the medals.

People have critiques of the Rock n Roll series but they give fantastic medals! So heavy.

Then I went home and grabbed some friends. None of them were running today but they agreed to carb load in solidarity.

I got noodles with chicken and BACON.

Delicious!

This morning I actually got to sleep until 5 am (which is actually kinda late for race morning). I ate a bagel with peanut butter, as per the usual, and headed out the door to the race.

The race started and ended at The Rose Bowl. I kinda love the Rose Bowl. The first time I ever went there was in 1995 when Northwestern played USC (we, meaning Northwestern) lost. I didn’t get to see the game but I had a vivid memory of wandering the parking lot with my Mom and brother, hearing that Northwestern had lost and dealing with what felt at the time to be a crushing disappointment. It was the first of many to come as Northwestern has a truly terrible bowl game record. Can’t win them all, or any. I’ve been to the Rose Bowl several times since for the flea market they have their monthly or the see UCLA play. I was excited to run a race there today.

Darnell Autry, star of the 1995 Northwestern Wildcats. Source.

The weather today was perfect when we started running but freezing while waiting at the start line! I waited til the last moment to give up my polar fleece and then I headed to the start line and made small talk with some other runners. Before I knew it the race was underway!

I really loved this race. The course was hilly. The first few and final few miles were the most hilly. I hardly noticed the hills for the final few miles. The first 3 or 4 miles were through a residential neighborhood stacked with California craftsman style houses. I really loved this part of the course. After 4 miles the course turned onto Colorado Blvd. which is a Mecca for shopping! Clearly I enjoyed that part. The course also went down Green St. and out and back on several other side streets before heading back down Colorado towards the Rose Bowl. This went on til about mile 9.

Then we ran down my favorite part of the course:

source

Downhill, beautiful views, just gorgeous in every way. Of course what goes down must go up again. The course wound around and then headed back to and around the Rose Bowl. I think I prefer hills to flat running. Call me crazy but I’d rather see an uphill, get the satisfaction of running up the hill and then enjoying the downhill.

I felt good throughout the race overall. At no point did I want to quit or die. I set off at a conservative pace and I managed to hold even splits until after mile 10 (ha, what else is new?). It took about two miles for me to loosen up but after that I was in a zone until about the 10k mark. I took a handful of walk breaks in the second half. I mostly just walked some of the more aggressive up hills. I knew going into this race that this was probably going to be the slowest half marathon I’ve run. I barely trained at all coming off cold turkey not running. I won’t sugar coat it, my tush and legs were sore around mile 6. I was still pretty proud of myself for keeping even splits throughout the race.

My favorite part of the course, as I mentioned above was the Colorado Blvd bridge. It was a gradual downhill and the view was fantastic. After the bridge, however, I turned the cover and was faced with a steep uphill. I thought eff it, and walked up. This was at the 9.5 mile mark. As I reached the top “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston, the dance remix came on my ipod and gave me the boost I needed to get moving again. Woo hoo for running for Whitney! After that downhill the last two miles was around a golf course next to the Rose Bowl. This part of the course was my least favorite. It was totally flat and felt like it lasted forever. I was having motivational issues trying to keep my legs moving. I actually ran past my car at one point, thought “oh, seeing the 26.2 sticker on it will motivate me!” and then I promptly took a walk break.

Around this part of the course a woman I was running near me introduced herself. We’d been giving each other encouragement since mile 9.5. Her name was Christine and she was a god send! Right before mile 12 she said, “I don’t know you but let’s hold each other accountable. After mile 12, we don’t walk”. I agreed. I always intend to run the final mile with no walking but I never actually am able to do so. We actually stuck to it too! I ran the final mile and .1. The best part? Mile 13 happened on a hill. Remember how mile 26 in Chicago happened on a hill? And I swore I would crush it but then of course I was exhausted and walked it? WELL. I redeemed myself a little bit today by not walking on the hill. It’s the small victories.

After I hit the mile 13 sign I sprinted. My legs were quaking but I thought to myself that I’d run the whole 13 mile race to get to THIS .1. It was awesome.

Here are my splits:

5k: 31:06

10k: 1:03:27

10 miles: 1:44:59

Final: 2:20:51

Average pace: 10:45

Again, not my fastest by any stretch but I really loved this race. It was good to get back into distance running. This race reminded me that I love running and 13.1 is a great distance. I can feel my marathon burn out fading away and I’m excited to dig into training again. It feels good to be back. The fact that with 1 months notice I can hop into a half marathon and run at a decent pace makes me proud. I used to be the kind of person who couldn’t run two miles and now I can hop into a half on short notice and THAT is pretty groovy.

After the race I met up with Danielle, her fiancé Tim (who I never met before and is awesome) and my friend Josh for brunch at the Griddle. You know, home of the HUGE pancakes. I got the oat and cinnamon pancake (personal favorite), bacon, hash browns (the carb special!), an ice tea and a mimosa. I actually scored a second mimosa for free! Our waiter noticed my medal, asked me what I had “won” (I told him I only won in my own heart HA!) and he refilled my mimosa gratis! The Griddle FTW!

Overall, this was a great race. I really loved running in Pasadena and I think I will be back there shortly. I’m going to jump into a more intense training plan (speed workouts and hill workouts and long runs oh my!) starting Wednesday with the hopes of getting in shape to PR in May. For now through I am happy to be back in happy racing mode.

Marathon Reflections: Food and Running

Now that I’m a few weeks out from my marathon glory I want to write a little bit about the whole marathon experience. I’ve had some time to reflect on my two great loves Food and Marathon Running. Here are some of my thoughts. I have a lot to say about it. Just to warn you, this post is almost 2,000 words.

BEFORE (training)

During my marathon training I made a serious attempt to keep my diet “clean-ish”. What does that mean? It means not eating fistfuls of cookie dough whenever I get the chance.

In reality this means that I tried to eat sweets in moderation and didn’t eat a ton of processed foods. I made a concerted effort not to overindulge in my meals. While marathon training made me hungrier, I didn’t eat huge meals like I would have three years ago. Instead I focused on eating protein and moderately sized meals. Like this one:

I have to admit, I was worried about marathon training and eating. I know myself and so I know how easy it is for me to say, “I ran X miles therefore I can eat Y and Z”. I definitely did indulge but I made sure not to go overboard. I still treated myself to my weekly bagel and cream cheese the morning after my long runs. I also broke a personal rule and grabbed the occasional bag of Ketel chips from school. Normally I avoid even buying them. In my head, if I buy one once I need to buy one everyday thereafter. This was a common theme in my larger days in college. I would have one bagel one day and then have one every day after with extra cream cheese for three months and wonder why my pants didn’t fit. I am proud that my self control has improved a little bit. I did treat myself during marathon training but it was always within moderation. Honestly, I learned that if my diet were poor my running would be uncomfortable. No one wants to run 16 miles and feel like voming the whole time because they ate too many indulgent treats. But I’m human, I still ate treats. Hence why we call this a “clean-ish” diet.

I did all of my long runs in the late afternoon because that is the time when my body is the best. Normally I do school work in the morning like a beast and by the afternoon running is a great way to clear out my brain. I always made sure I had a lunch with plenty of protein but not too much fiber (because if you run with too much fiber in your system… let’s just say it leads to a less than desirable result). I also drank plenty of water which means I have to front load my insane coffee habit and then drink as much water as possible. I also tried to carry a water bottle with me on a daily basis so I always had water in hand.

On runs 8 miles or longer I made sure to bring Gu. Gu is a gel that you can consume while running (or if your me, while on a walk break). When you run for an extended period of time your body burns energy and you need to intake calories. I always carried vanilla bean flavored gu. I consumed one Gu for every hour of running on long runs. I ran with a watch and normally around the 45 min mark I would rip into my first Gu. I would consume one for roughly every hour thereafter and I learned that it was a good idea to carry an emergency Gu just in case. I tend to get really hungry really easily on runs. In my opinion there is nothing worse than being on mile 15 of an 18 mile effort and wanting to gnaw your arm off because of hunger. I also ran with a water bottle which I made sure to refill frequently. I trained in the summer and early fall in LA so I had some warm runs. My typical running path had plenty of water fountains and I took liberal advantage of them.

Post long runs I made sure to consume something immediately after I returned home. I normally would stretch out, eat a larabar and get into an ice bath if the run was 13 miles or longer. I wasn’t normally very hungry after long runs. I normally finished around dinner time and made sure I ate something reasonably balanced (meaning protein, some type of carb and veggies). Normally I would hit Chipotle or the Whole Foods hot bar to get my fix and then retire to the couch with water or perhaps a beer if my stomach wasn’t bothering me. I would also ice my knees and foam roll my legs as a precaution.

In the most intense weeks of training I noticed I was becoming much hungrier. I tried to eat more tempeh and veggies. My meals ended up being the same but they tended to be a portion and a half. I can’t really speak to weight gain and marathon training. I don’t weigh myself. Instead I take measurements. I noticed that marathon training toned my body up. I also went to the doctor for my yearly check up during this time and I had gained about 4 lbs (yet had still lost a dress size). This got the best of me for a few minutes and then the nurse told me to get over it, I looked fab and was training for a marathon. Any you know what, she’s right. A little muscle gain is worth it in the end and completing the marathon made me love and accept my body in a way I never have before.

In terms of inches: I lost a 1/2 inch from my chest, a 1/2 inch from my waist, a 1/4 inch from my hips (from May to the end of September). My arms stayed the same. I’m going to go ahead and chalk any weight gain up to muscle because my overall measurements got smaller.

DURING (the marathon, post marathon treats!)

During my taper I was still voraciously hungry but I did a good job of not changing my eating habits. It was a bit of a struggle but I managed to stick to regular eating pretty easily. During my taper week I started to consume more carbs. Oh hell, I only consumed carbs. I had white rice for the first time in forever and had a bagel everyday which hasn’t happened since early 2009. It was awesome!

I continued the carb load in Chicago. The day before the marathon I ate Lou Mitchell’s pancakes with hash browns, a larabar, fancy cheese and crackers, pasta with pesto and chicken. I didn’t eat any extraordinary portions. To be truthful, my nervous excitement prevented me from eating very much.


On race morning I still had a nervous stomach and so I only ate half of a peanut butter bagel plus iced coffee and water before heading to the start. Like my two previous half marathons, I had a Nike Prime before the race started.

While racing I consumed a total of 6 gels. This is probably one more than I needed (since I finished in 5 hours and 20 mins) but I was likely under fueled from breakfast (or lack thereof). I carried 5 vanilla bean Gu’s onto the course with me and picked another one up at mile 20-ish because they were available on the course. I also drank a ton of water. I forgo Gatorade while running because it makes my stomach uneasy but I more than made up for it with water.

After I finished I ate a bizarre assortment of food. I had pretzels, beer, milk duds (from Lou Mitchell’s!), pretzels, steak sandwiches, a million Cape Cod chips, brownies, rice krispie treats, more beer, water and cookies. I think I also had a salad my mom made. I wasn’t immediately hungry after finishing but the moment I got home I beasted a rice krispie treat. What can I say? They’d been on the brain since mile 24. You can corroborate that story with my brother because I swear I told him, at that point, I was running for a rice krispie.

AFTER (the past few weeks)

The morning after the race I woke up and was voraciously hungry. I ate a larabar and took a walk with my mom. Then I had breakfast and a huge lunch and dinner while at the airport. I ate consistently for about three hours and just wasn’t satisfied or full. It was to be expected.

Post race I gave myself a week off from healthy eating and working out. This was necessary. First of all, my body was sore. Also, I was very hungry. I will say that even though I was “eating whatever I wanted” my diet was still much healthier and more balanced then it was before I lost weight. There was no binge eating of pizza and no pasta at midnight. That shows me how far I’ve come in the past three years. #pride.

When I say I gave myself a week, I mean I literally gave myself a week. I set a time for my eating to switch back over. I told myself that at noon on Sunday I would change back into a pumpkin and stop ordering milkshakes at McDonalds. It was perfect. I was on the road back from SF and I knew that when I got to LA I would be back into my regular habits. It worked out perfectly with my trip to San Francisco and I’ve been able to stick to it.

A week after the marathon my appetite started to normalize. I’ve been back into regular eating and regular pre-marathon snacking. Lots of quinoa, oats and mango. I was worried if I would automatically gain weight post marathon. I was concerned about my ability to switch back to regular post race. I also was paranoid that my lack of a training plan would cause me to gain weight. If anything, I think I’ve lost a little bit since the race. I don’t step on the scale but I can tell that I haven’t gained and based on photos, I think I may have even slimed down a bit more.

So, that is my marathon journey in food and weight loss. I’ve been posting less on the blog due to school. I hope that even though I’m posting less the quality of my content is the same, if not a bit better.

LA Cancer Challenge 2011 5k

Despite my sore throat I still managed to participate in the LA Cancer Challenge 5k on Sunday morning. Long time runners might remember that I ran the 10k last year. You can read my recap here. Confession: I was an ill prepared blogger and took limited pictures.

I run this race every year in honor of my friend Shahrin and her mom Lily. Lily died last year after a 16 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Every year Shahrin organizes a group of my friends to walk in Boston. I wish I could participate in that walk, but obviously it’s geographically impossible. So instead I participate in the LA Cancer Challenge which benefits the Hershberg Institute. You might remember Shahrin from when I went to her wedding last summer in Boston.

I love this race. It takes place on the VA grounds and because there are large teams of participants there is a family feel. People bring their dogs, dress up in costumes, and have shirts and signs about loved one who had pancreatic cancer. The race is well organized and contained in the VA grounds.

I also had my friend Danielle joining me. It was Danielle’s first organized race ever! Her Grandpa died of pancreatic cancer so it’s a cause close to her heart too.

Danielle and I on Halloween, in the spirit of the weekend, vampire and ballerina.

I woke up with a sore throat and I’ve only run 3 times since my marathon so I had planned to take it easy and run with Danielle. But at the last second Danielle said it was OK if I ran fast on my own and that’s what I did. What can I say? Races bring it out in me. The course was the same as the year before so I knew what to expect. It felt hillier than last year, probably because I moved and my new running routes have fewer hills. I felt great for the first mile and it was downhill from there.

I’ve been noticing that recently I can run for long distances slowly but I can’t run quickly. Especially with a sore throat I felt challenged. My legs never felt tired despite the hills but I did take several walk breaks to catch my breath. This is not my favorite thing to have to do but the fact is that I haven’t trained for speed and I was sick. It happens and I will bounce back. Plus I ran a marathon and it was worth it.

I managed to still finish in 28:50 and a 9:18 pace. Not bad by ANY means but I ran a half marathon with a faster pace. I guess it just highlights what I know I need to work on.

But the best news? I fifth out of 75 in my age division! Woo hoo! I can deal with that.

Overall I love this race and I hope to do it every year where I live in LA. The event is well run and I really love the community feel.

Unfortunately I was not feeling well before the race and the combination of a race plus yoga exacerbated my cold into a fever! I actually took Monday off of school and am starting to feel better finally.

How was your Halloween weekend?

Law School Perks

Sometimes law school is a soul sucking experience designed to make you feel like you’ll never be right again.

Sometimes you get free things branded from West Law and Lexus, the two major legal research engines. For example, t shirts, water bottles, and free copies of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Constitution. Sexy.

And sometimes you win in a major way and you get free food and beer for making it to 3L.

And if you’re really, really lucky your professor will let you get food and beer and bring them into class.

Exhibit A:

Free tacos and beer!

In exchange they wanted a donation for the class gift. I almost asked if I could post date my check for 15 years from now. I restrained myself.

Also!

It wouldn’t be a blog post without a marathon update. No, I am not going show you another picture of me covered in water at mile 19+. But I will show you a picture of the amazing Chicago themed 26.2 sticker I affixed to my car the other day.

Yep. I’m one of those people now! I’m so glad I waited and ordered this Chicago specific one rather than getting a generic 26.2 sticker. It goes nicely with my red car and my Obama 2012 sticker.

I also did an excellent job of getting to Zumba directly after class today. On Wednesday I’m at school for 10 hours and normally am completely exhausted by the end of the day. During marathon training I always took a rest day on Wednesday but it was really nice to get out and get moving. I was still tired at the end of the day but I wasn’t nearly as exhausted as I usually am. I also went on a 3 mile run yesterday, my first since the marathon. I’m really glad I took a full week off after my marathon and I definitely need to train myself off walk breaks if I want to get faster. The temptation to walk was so strong on my run yesterday. Clearly this is a sign that I need to work on pacing and motivation in the future but for now it’s nice that working out is low pressure.

What is your favorite workout that I should try?

so here’s the plan stan

Get ready for a bazillion race photos…

Remember a week or so ago when I ran a marathon?

I thought so.

Post race my Mom looked at me and said, “So you’re going to give your body a little rest now?” And you know what. I am.

The last year has been an awesome running year for me. In the past year I have raced 73 miles! I ran my first half marathon and two others, including one where I ran it in nearly 2 hours.

I also ran my first marathon!

I’ve been running for less than 2 years and I’ve already accomplished some amazing things and I am very proud of myself. You can read my running story here.

I see running, races and fitness as a lifelong activity. I plan to be doing this for the rest of my life and I’m only 24. I have so many long term goals. I want to get faster. I want to do triathlons. I want to run more marathons. I want to go on yoga retreats and practice more. I want to try other fitness workouts like cardio barre and cross fit. There is plenty of time to get to all of these things and I cannot wait to explore them in the future and share them with you on the blog.

One question I was asked immediately after my marathon was “are you going to do another one??

YES. I promise you that I will be running another marathon!

When? After the Bar Exam. If you’ve been reading for a while you know that I am a third year law student which means that starting in May my life is going to become consumed by something called the bar exam. The exam itself is in late July and then I plan to do nothing for a while in August. While marathon training was an amazing self esteem boosting experience it was also stressful and anxiety provoking in many ways. This is not something I want to deal with while preparing for the bar. I will run another marathon but I’m thinking spring 2013, the LA Marathon.

So what is next in the near future?

Well, I took last week totally off. I was sore through Wednesday, went to San Francisco on Friday, walked all over the city on Saturday and traveled home on Sunday. I ate whatever I wanted but made the decision to go back to regular cleanish eating at noon on Sunday (exactly one week after the marathon). I eat chocolate once a day so it’s not really like my indulgent eating was that different than what I usually do but I knew I needed to give myself a deadline on treating myself.

Treat yo self.

Also, I may have signed up for another 1/2 marathon.

I will be running the Pasadena Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon! Now that have been around the block a few times with half marathon training I plan to use an intermediate training plan and working in some speed work. I would love to run a sub 2 hour half marathon. Pasadena is hilly but I’m going to give it the old college try.

The race isn’t until February and I don’t plan to start training until December. What will I be doing for the next month and a half? Well, I plan to try and go to yoga once a week, Zumba once to twice a week and run 2 to 3 times a week with runs from 3 to 6 miles. I went to Zumba and loved it! It was only my second class ever but I love the environment of Zumba. It’s very female positive and I love the fact that even though I’m not very skilled I can still have a good time. What I lack in skill I totally make up for with sass. I love any situation where it is socially appropriate to booty pop.

So that is the plan for now! I plan another marathon post or two regarding issues surrounding marathoning like fueling, my playlist, and post marathon reflections. Is there anything else marathoning related you’d like to read about?

Chicago Eats

I ate a ton of delicious food while I was home in Chicago last weekend. For the most part I didn’t really blog my eats. I wanted to chill out with my family and not worry about photographing everything I ate. There were some important eats that needed to be documented. I also thought it would be a good idea to put some food on the blog before you start thinking that I’ve completely turned into a running blogger.

First, let me introduce you to cider donuts! I woke up Friday morning prepared to carb load on donuts. Runner’s World told me to.

I have been on the hunt for cider donuts since I moved to LA. What makes this cider donut so special you ask? Well, despite the fact that it just looks like a simple cinnamon sugar donut, in reality it is so much more. Yes, there is cinnamon sugar on the outside but the donut is made with apple cider giving the cake itself a little something extra.

See…

It makes the difference. I promise the sugar and the cider flavor are perfection together. I actually ate two because it’s been two years since I was able to eat cider donuts. Every bite was amahzing.

One more gratuitous photo?

Sure!

After eating donuts (and making a pit stop for cupcakes) my Mom and I finally made it to the expo to pick up my bib and peruse the booths.

First we took care of business: picking up my bib, verifying my d chip and taking pictures.

Then we noshed on gratuitous free things. Lara bars for me and peanut butter for Mom. We also picked up a shirt that has a map of the El train and says “run like El“. Best shirt ever? Hell yes.

After we went to Manny’s Deli for sandwiches and potato pancakes. Manny’s was heavily tweeted about by @mayoremmanuel (the fake Rham Emmanuel twitter account which I followed religiously) and was a fixture of my Mom’s working life when she worked down town. I had a huge corned beef sandwich. It was epic!

The next day we headed back downtown to pick up the little bro! The boats were going to winter storage.

After securing the brother we went to another Chicago classic for breakfast: Lou Mitchells.

Girls get Milk Duds at Lou’s. We also ate unphotographed donuts while waiting in line. They we not cider but they were so delicious: simple little donut holes with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

I decided to order the Katherine Classic breakfast: pancakes with a side of breakfast potatoes.

Holy crap so good! Potatoes were perfection and the pancakes oh the pancakes! These were some of the best pancakes I’ve had in a while. So light and topped with butter and a little bit of syrup. Oh my goodness best breakfast in Chicago!

I also had coffee, obviously.

Carb load complete.

You know what happened the rest of the weekend…

I ran a marathon!

Here is a gratuitous finish line photo…

And with my brother…

And nearing the end…

And this is what it looks like between mile 26 and mile 26.2 when you’re crying and about to finish a marathon. In case you were wondering. I know you were.

Did I mention I ran a marathon last weekend? Ha. Get used to looking at them.

As this post demonstrates, I love eating in other cities.

Guess where I’ll be eating this weekend?

Yep, I’m taking my first trip to San Francisco! In addition to continuing my post marathon victory lap I will be eating with my treat soul mates Carolyn and Chrissy. Should be a fantastic weekend!

I am a Marathoner! Chicago Marathon Race Recap

It’s official! I crossed the finish line at the Chicago Marathon after 26.2 miles. I can now call myself a marathoner!

I will start at the beginning. I had a 4:30 am wake-up call at my parent’s house. I barely slept the night before but I rolled out of bed with enthusiasm. The day I’d been preparing for had finally arrived. I stretched out, ate half of a peanut butter bagel, went to the bath room, trimmed my toe nails, chugged coffee, you know, all the race day essentials. I normally start race morning with a tired face but yesterday I was sporting my excited face.

FYI Repping for the summer intern crew with my t shirt

Ready to race!

My Dad drove me downtown. We’re really lucky because he works near the start time. We parked hassle free in his work parking lot and I got to use the bathroom at his office. Yay for not waiting in porta potty lines twice.

I also snapped this pic of Millennium Park (which is just north of Grant Park). It was still dark while walking over to the start line.

My Dad walked me over to the start line. My Dad stayed with me as long as they would let him but I said goodbye eventually and entered the park. 35,000 people were at the start line but it was so well organized. I was able to quickly drop my bag, hit the porta potties one last time and still lined up 30 mins before the start.

One of my favorite things about races is being up early enough to watch the sun rise in some incredible places like Malibu, San Diego, and Ventura. Now I can add Chicago to the list.

I got in line near the 11 min mile pacers. I mentioned before but I did not train for time. I took it easy on my long runs and I didn’t even think about doing speed work. Literally my goal was to finish and not to puke on myself. I figured since I run around 9:30 min miles in halves, 11:00 would be accurate for a full. I started to get nervous so I chatted up someone with an LA Road Runners chip on his shoe. I also saw a man with his face entirely painted like spider man. The girl next to me and I started to guess what would happen to his face by mile 5. There were so many people that it took 22 mins for me to pass the start line. Starting was amazing. There were tons of spectators and the noise in the tunnel that goes under the Standard Oil building (the tallest one in the above photo) was so loud.

My plan was to take it easy for the first 10 miles. The course was crowded which was good because it forced me to go more slowly than I might have otherwise. After mile 1 we passed the iconic Chicago theater, just before mile 2 we passed a water station. There were tons of spectators with great signs and the first 5 miles flew by me. Some of my favorite signs? “26.2 miles = 26.2 cupcakes” “if you have the stamina to run for 4 hours, call me!” “Run like you stole something” and “Run like your mother is chasing you”. I also saw some Occupy Chicago protesters. Not to be political but I’m a big supporter of the Occupy movement and I actually started cheering them when I ran by.

Just before mile 5 we hit Lincoln Park. I really had to pee so I pulled off at the first porta potties. I wasn’t the only one, there was a line which was ok. I caught my breath and talked to a stranger who told me that “sweat is nothing but liquid awesome”. So, so true.

I started cranking again after mile 5. I walked through all the water stations because it was HOT yesterday. I love cold, shaded running with no humidity so this was not my ideal conditions for running but I stayed strong. Just after mile 7 the course turned and headed south. At this point I saw a women laid out on the ground being fed a gel. Up until this point I had thrown my run/walk method out the window in favor of running with walks through water stations. After I saw her it hit me that the weather conditions are REAL and I needed to take it easy. I ended up taking 2 waters at every station and more to pour on my body. I also consumed 6 gels over the course of the race. I started taking walk breaks when I needed them but at that point they were few and far between.

At mile 8 we hit Lakeview AKA boys town! Easily one of my favorite parts of the course! There were out and proud ROTC members which warmed my heart. There were tons of people out partying including drag queens in cup dresses dressed up to by Lady Gaga and line dancers dressed up like cowboys. I loved this part of the course.

The heat started getting more intense after mile 8. There were people out with hoses and I ran through all of them. They also had sponges on the course and tons of water. I cannot overstate how amazing the people of Chicago were and how great the race execution was. It reminded me why I love the people of Chicago and why I am proud to be from there. Miles 8 through 13 are really a blur besides being hot and dousing myself in as much cold water as I could get my hands on.

Around mile 13.1 I knew that I needed to start taking my 10:2 run/walk ratio. I had maintained an 11:40 pace for the first half. I actually had a negative split between the 10k and half way point which I was proud of.

I hit a major second wind between mile 13 and mile 18. I was in my groove and some of my more clutch songs came on my ipod. I was still walking through water stations. I ran through every sprinkler. Trick of the trade: tell the person with the hose that you love them and they will spray you down extra! There was a woman at Malcolm X Community College who literally hosed me down for a full 30 seconds. I was SO grateful. I really liked this part of the course because it went by an area where my Mother used to work that I’ve seen/heard about for years, the Greek Islands, a restaurant my Father frequents, and the United Center (home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks). The cool thing about this course was that I saw many parts of the city and was about to put them together better than I was able to before.

Also memorable, at mile 16 I passed a police station with a large sign with pictures of police officers. The sign read, “These and 500 police officers killed in the line of duty will keep you safe for the next 10 miles”. I nearly burst into tears but I suppressed it and decided to save the emotion for later when I would really need it.

By the time I got to mile 18 I kept thinking about how I was going to see my family at mile 19 and that I wanted to look strong when I saw them. Mile 19 is in Pilsen, a heavily Mexican area and there were TONS of spectators turned out with tons of decoration, noise makers and music. They really pushed me. At mile 19 my brother David jumped in with me. I have never been so happy to see my brother in my life. I needed him to push me. He also had my camera with him and he started snapping away.

Seriously, can you see the pure joy on my face?

I hit mile 20 and all I could think was this is the farthest I’ve ever run before. David kept me motivated and I am so thankful that he was with me that that he is my brother. He kept pushing me but was very supportive at the same time. I cried on him (very briefly) twice and he kept supporting me.

At this part of the course we were South of downtown but had a great view of the city.

I have a confession: after I run 18 miles I start to get a little crazy. Like singing along to the songs on my ipod and quoting lines from Arrested Development. I had warned my bro about this and his reply was something to the effect of “you’re always weird”. Excellent. He played along well because after mile 20 I started singing along to Britney Spears, Eminem, Deadmau5, and David Guetta. Yeah. At one point on the course I was running, and singing the lyrics to “Sofi Needs a Ladder”. I think my brother actually sang along to something like Britney or some rap song (I can’t really remember which it was). My brother even yelled at me to “turn my swag on”. I’m pretty sure everyone who saw me thought I was crazy but that’s ok because I’d run 20 miles. I stopped caring.

And for you Arrested Development fans: I saw a guy with ice and I actually yelled “You can’t have a party without ICE!!!” Yep. I’m that girl.

At mile 22 my brother and I entered Chinatown which was another one of my favorite parts of the course. There were tons of spectators and groups out supporting the runners.

This is my favorite picture that has ever been taken of me hands down. I will love this forever. I look at it and I cannot believe that that is MY back with my back muscles at mile 22 of a marathon. I can still feel how I felt in that moment and I hope I will never forget it. My body felt sore but I felt so mentally tough. At no point did I think I couldn’t do this or that I wouldn’t be able to. I was determined to make it to the end and I knew that I could. I’m proud that I finished but I’m even more proud of myself for never doubting my ability to finish and staying strong. I know that I will take that into everything I do in the future. That picture makes me feel strong, I did it all by myself FOR myself and I never want to let that feeling go.

At mile 23 we were going to meet up with two of my friends from growing up: Brenna and Claire. I’ve known them forever and it made me so excited to know that they were going to meet up with me and boost my spirits for the last 5k.

With my friends after mile 23. David actually stayed in and ended up running 7 miles like a CHAMP!

My friend Claire was a division 1 athlete in college and a great coach. She really pushed me to keep running when I was sooooo wanting to just walk the majority of the last three miles. She knew I had more in me and she wouldn’t let me give less than I had left in me.

Seriously my crew was so awesome. See that girl in the yellow tank top? Looking at us and totes jealous.

By the end of the race I was totally drenched in water. The temps actually felt colder near the finish line because we were running up Michigan Ave and were closer to the lake. It was sweet, sweet relief for the final few miles.

I was taking frequent walk breaks but was always telling myself when I would start running again and Claire held me to it. Seriously she has a talent. I want a recording of her voice in my ipod for future races and long runs. She would not let me walk because she knew I could run. At mile 24 there was a cheer zone and someone on a loud speaker saying, “You are about to finish. THE. Chicago. Marathon!” It made me push harder.

After the mile 25.2 sign I started pumping my arms and running as much as I could. Before we turned the corner onto the uphill that leads to Grant Park and the finish line Claire and David got pulled off the course. Brenna was running behind up and by some fluke she was able to cross the finish line. They kept trying to give her a medal! While she did not accept a medal she did accept a free beer (wouldn’t you?) I had no idea about this until after the race.

I walked up the uphill and pushed to the finish line.

I crossed the finish line with my arms extended, took a heat blanket and started to cry but it was a glorious cry because I WAS A MARATHONER!

It took me 5:22 mins with an average pace of 12:17. I held a sub 12 min mile pace until after passing 30k. I gimped around, got my medal, had three sips of free beer before discarding it and hobbled to get my bag from gear check. I love the lakefront and Grant Park.

I made a call to the friend who inspired ME to start running because I wanted her to be the first to know that I had finished and went to the family reunion area to reconnect with my people.

Pain is temporary but pride is forever.

It still hasn’t totally hit me what I did yesterday. I have a runner’s high and a sense of earned pride. Like I said, I am most proud of myself for staying really mentally tough the whole time. I never hit a wall. I managed to push through the whole thing and I could not be more proud of myself. This feeling is going to be with me forever and this moment can never be taken away from me. I know that I will take it into other parts of my life like studying from the bar and other personal challenges I face. I started running at a time in my life where I was struggling emotionally and yesterday made me feel like I’ve conquered everything and nothing will ever hold me back.

After the race I went home and promptly ate about a million treats that my mom baked, Cape Cod chips and local fall beer. It was everything I wanted and more.

Thank you to all of my family, friends and reads. I have felt so much love throughout my training and especially in the past week. You all are the best ever. Special thanks to my family and friends who jumped in with me. I cannot express how much your support means to me. I feel so blessed to have so many loving and supportive people in my life. I’ll have more posts about the marathon coming up including my future plans for working out (after a well deserved week off!).

Chicago Marathon Training Week 15

Second to last week of training is in the books!

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 4 mile run

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: 4 mile run

Friday: rest

Saturday: 8 mile run at a 9 min mile pace! Finished feeling fantastic!

Sunday: yoga

Total miles: 16 miles

Observations:

  • I really loved this week of taper. I did a few easy runs and I can feel my legs starting to feel fresh again. My 8 miler on Sunday was particularly fantastic. I did my 10 to 2 run/walk ratio and felt amazing and despite all the walking finished with a 9 min mile pace which is faster than my fastest half marathon. My body felt great the whole time, no foot pain, no leg soreness. This taper thing is amazing.
  • I meant to go to yoga on Friday but I went to Mohawk Bend instead. Whoops. It was totally worth it. I had two double hops beers, pizzas, bacon wrapped dates, and a glass of wine. It was so worth it.
  • My excitement level for next weekend is off the charts. I leave for Chicago on Thursday and I’m excited not only to run the marathon but to go home. I haven’t been to my hometown in almost a year.

My plan for the rest of the week:

  • The next several days I’m going to ice my knees, roll my foot on my ball to loosen it up and get organized to go to the race. I already put my body glide and blister preventing foot powder in the mail. I was paranoid that TSA would take them away from me. I planned to carry on all my race day items and I have to carry on all my books for this semester (because law school never takes a break and I’ll have a crap ton of reading to do over the weekend). This is too much for one carryon bag so I made the executive decision to just carry everything on, hence the mailing of anything TSA might take away from me.
  • I plan to do one short run on Monday and maybe a short run or yoga session on Tuesday. I read this month’s Runners World and they said for first time marathoners it’s best to take it very easy in the week before the marathon.
  • Mentally I’m getting prepared too. I am very excited for the race and my trip home. I want to harness that energy and focus. I’m excited to see family and friends before and after the marathon as well as along the marathon course.
  • The blog is likely to be a bit focused on running this week, I promise recipes, restaurants and famers market finds will return in the near future!

Experienced Marathoners: I need you words of wisdom! What advice can you give me pre-marathon?

Chicago Marathon Training Weeks 12 and 13

I have a small cold but I’m a total baby plus Joan Rivers Fashion Police is on so this will be short and sweet…

Week 12

Monday: 6 mile run

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Rest day (felt totally fatigued and sick)

Friday: 18 mile run

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Yoga, 4 mile run

Total miles: 28 miles

Week 13

Monday: 6 mile run

Tuesday: 6 mile run

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: 20 mile run!

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 5.5 mile run

Sunday: Yoga

Total miles: 37.5 miles

Week 12 was a little bit rough. We were having a heat wave in CA which I refused to run in so I moved my 18 miler and choose to do yoga on Tuesday instead of running. I felt truly awful on Thursday night hence why there was a double rest day. What can you do? It just wasn’t happening that day. Not a great mileage week but I loved going to yoga twice in one week. That was fantastic. Week 13 was an amazing running week. I hit almost 40 miles. I already blogged about the epic-ness of my 20 mile run. I wanted to get to 8 on Saturday but I was running late to a friend’s party and a cut it short to drink, eat bbq and stuff my face with cake from Sweet Lady Jane. I’m human. I’m excited to start tapering and I’m starting to get very excited for the marathon! This week really solidified in my mind that I can do it.

I want to do a series of posts after the marathon about training and my experience. I’ve gotten feedback that people want to hear about fueling and I want to address body changes that I’ve undergone in the past few months since I started training. Is there anything else you, my wonderful readers, want to know about regarding marathon training? I’m no expect but I can share my experience with you!