Category Archives: chicago marathon

Selecting a race: best and worst race experiences.

First up, workouts from last week’s Brooklyn Half “training:”

brooklyn half training

Selecting a Race

With a good chunk of races occurring in the fall (especially here in the Northeast), it’s about that time of year to pick a goal race if you haven’t already done so (like myself, whoops – I’ll get to it). Even if you’re not looking for a goal race but just a race in general, there are a few things to consider.

For me, the biggest factors affecting my race experience are:

  • Family/friends/spectators along the course
  • Course route
  • Organization (before, during, and after the race)

It’s these 3 main things that have made my past race experiences either positive or negative.

Best Race Experiences

Chicago Marathon

  • So much about this race felt EASY (not including the running, although, I did have a good day and the running felt great too).

chi marathon

  • Getting to the start line was EASY, finding my family along the course was EASY, it was EASY for my family to see me in THREE(!) different spots and barely travel a few blocks, getting my medal/food/foil was EASY, finding my family after the finish line was EASY. Chicago, you are doing it right.



  • It’s no surprise that Disney puts on great races. Everything is so well organized and free race day transportation makes getting to and from the race simple. While the routes do travel on local highways, they also include multiple character stops and the chance to run through Disney parks before they open. Also, it’s very easy to convince people to go to Disney World so you’ll either have a running buddy or a gang of spectators just for you.

NYC Marathon (2010, 2011, 2014)

  • This race is obviously near and dear to my heart but, I promise, this race is incredible no matter where you are from.

  • It’s my local race so whenever I’m running, I have people to look for throughout all 5 boroughs. I’ve learned as a New Yorker and a 4x NYCM veteran that choosing the ferry for race day transportation is the best option if you enjoy sleeping and not being cold on Staten Island all morning. The course offers amazing views of the city and runs through so many different types of neighborhoods and let’s not forget the spectators who are ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, be prepared to get choked up multiple times during these 26.2 miles.

Worst Race Experiences

Las Vegas Half-Marathon

  • I ran this the first year it became a nighttime race and it was a fiasco from start to finish (and beyond). I’ve since heard that Rock ‘n Roll has improved upon the issues from that first year but my experience was enough to make it so I’ve never run another Rock ‘n Roll race.

vegas half

  • The corrals were not managed properly, the course was not well lit in certain areas, there was a WAIT to cross the finish line (yes, you read that correctly), there were no signs in the finish area, I couldn’t find my family or the buses for a significant amount of time post-race, and I later heard that they ran out of water and medals for those finishing later. Eek.

Philadelphia Marathon

  • The only reason I was calm during the security line nightmare at the Philly Marathon was because it wasn’t a goal race and I knew I had Nicole with me for the entire 26.2 no matter when I crossed the start line.

philadelphia marathon finisher

  • Long line story short, the security line for runners barely moved, many runners missed their start time, and when the race started, it seemed security “gave up” and just started eyeballing and patting down runners as they walked ran through to try and get to the start line.

NYC Marathon

  • Are you confused? Wasn’t this on my list of best race experiences? Well, yes… and I want to put it out there that I truly believe that the NYC Marathon is one of the greatest marathon in the world (I’m only slightly biased, right?), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can’t be improved.

4:11:09 (9:35 pace) - 13 minute PR

  • NYRR has done a lot to try and improve the finish line/post-race experience but the truth is, it’s still a bit of a mess. You can help yourself out by electing to not check a bag but even then, it’s one of the worst ways to end such an overwhelmingly incredible marathon. The walk out of the park is extremely long and the ponchos aren’t handed out until the very end. In 2014, I was freezing and on the verge of tears by the time I had my poncho and was able to make my way to my family.

I’m still in the process of finding a goal race for this year (and also mulling the idea of not  having a goal race). At this stage in my running game, I find myself getting pickier when it comes to which events I choose to spend my money (and time) on. I see an intense search in my near future.


What have been your best/worst race experiences?

Any race suggestions for me?

Visit Eventbrite for local events (remember my race day factor #1!) or to create your own event, visit Eventbrite’s Event Management page.

Happy running 🙂

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Filed under chicago marathon, half-marathon, ing nyc marathon, marathon, new york city, philadelphia marathon, previous posts, running, walt disney world marathon

Well, what’s next? DISNEY!

First up, workouts from last week:


Okay so I ran a marathon a month ago… now what?

I’ve taken the past couple weeks to lay off the mileage, rest, and switch it up with some other workouts.

oh hey mr big

I’ve been going to Soulcycle at least once a week (during training I’d go once every two weeks IF that) and have gone to multiple classes at the gym, such as Sports Conditioning, Body Sculpting, and Street Zumba.

But now… now it’s time to pick it up just a little for my half-marathon winter “training” schedule because this girl is HEADING BACK TO DISNEY!

gonna find Prince Charming this year though.

gonna find Prince Charming this year though.

I had so much fun last year that I’m doing it again and bringing more people with me! My parents, brother, godfather, aunt, and cousins are all making the trip down south to the happiest place on earth and I am the happiest runner around.


My beautiful cousin, Liz, will be running the Disney Half with me.  Remember when Liz rocked DC last April?

Because this is technically my “off” season and I really don’t want to burn myself out, I’m taking this “training” very lightly.  I have no real goal for this race other than to PR in number of pictures I take over the course of 13.1 miles.

For this reason, my “training” will:

  • Have pretty low weekly mileage and no planned speedwork (if it happens, it happens… I’m just not planning it).
  • Have one less day of running per week than my typical half training cycle.
  • Focus on strength and cross-training (Sports Conditioning, Soulcycle, Zumba, and weekly strength training at home).
  • Keep me happy (and warm mostly warm) during the next 8 weeks.

Disney Half-Marathon “Training” Plan:

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 7.11.51 PM

It makes me SO HAPPY to have a workout schedule again.  Obviously, getting to color-code them makes me giddy as well.  Don’t judge.


Have you ever run a Disney race?  Did you dress up?  I’m debating it…

Do you color-code your training schedules?


Filed under chicago marathon, half-marathon, marathon, walt disney world marathon, weekly workout wrap-up

a new PR and lies I tell myself during a 5k…

Last weeks’ workouts:


This past weekend, on my favorite weekend of the entire year, I ran a race I was supposed to run last year, NYRR’s Dash to the Finish Line 5k. Officially, this was my second 5k (the “fun run” during BC Reunion weekend doesn’t count).  I ran the Run of Champions Giants 5k back in June and hated it was happy with an automatic PR.

5ks are exhausting

Even Big Joe B is exhausted by 5Ks

I was excited about this race.  After last month’s marathon, I was excited to run a race that would last less than 30 minutes.  This was gonna be fun!

That was lie #1.

I met up with Katie and Breanne at 42nd Street early Saturday morning and we headed over to the Start Line near the UN.  It was a beautiful morning and I only needed a light “throwaway” shirt.  I keep a bunch of throwaway gear in a shelf above my refrigerator (hey, it’s NYC and space is limited).  I’ve got a ton of old race long sleeves and a bunch of old sweatpants (mostly from my hs ex-boyfriend… gotta love the HTHS wrestling sweats!) that I keep just for throwaway purposes.


We separated at the corrals, ran, and met up with each other after the finish line. Upon finishing, we all agreed upon one thing: 5Ks are awful.

Breanne once told me that “during a 5k, if you feel like you’re gonna throw up the whole time, you’re doing it right.” Even after I heard this, ya know what I did? I signed up anyway! WHY WOULD I SIGN UP FOR SOMETHING IN WHICH I’M SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE I WANT TO VOMIT FOR 25 MINUTES?!?

I should know better. I like distance. I don’t want to run so fast that I want to throw up. I want to pace myself. I enjoyed every second of my 26.2 miles through Chicago last month… and I enjoyed zero seconds of Saturday’s 5k… except for maybe the second in which I crossed the finish line and knew it was over.

So I’m done with 5ks… for now.  I’m sure at some point I’ll sign up for another one.  And when I do, I want you to refer me to this post.

Lies I Tell Myself During a 5K

LIE #1: This is gonna be fun!

Does this look like fun?



No. That looks miserable. Now, THIS looks like fun:

now THIS is fun! ChiMarathon <3

marathoning fun!

LIE #2: I can sustain this pace for the whole 5k!



LIE #3: If I ever do another 5k, I’m not racing it, I’m just gonna do it for fun.

Oh yea?  You think you’re gonna be able to casually jog a race and your competitiveness with yourself is going to magically disappear while you trot for 3.1 miles?

You really are delusional.



So, while I realized that 5ks are truly not my thing and that I’m going to stick mostly to distance races in the future, I did enjoy getting to cross that beautiful NYCM finish line on marathon weekend.  And I can’t complain about my new PR – 26:37 (8:35 pace).

winner winner chicken dinner

Congrats to all race finishers this weekend! Stay tuned for my NYCM cheering adventures!

Do you prefer shorter or longer distances?


Filed under 5k, chicago marathon, new york city, PR, weekly workout wrap-up

Help me fly, nana: Chicago Marathon 2013.

Chicago, IL. October 13, 2013.


Since I’m a prepping lunatic, it took me approximately 2.3 minutes to get ready in the morning because I had everything out and ready before I went to bed Saturday night. I slapped a pacing tattoo on my forearm (it still hasn’t fully faded – whoops!) and was out the door and walking to the start line by 7am.

chi marathon start

Can I just mention how amazing it is that I didn’t have to leave my hotel room until 7am and I crossed the start line by 8:06?  For NYCM, I wait approximately 4 hours on Staten Island before I get to run.  Chicago, you rock.

Once through security and into the start area, I had just enough time to use a port-a-potty, finish my pre-race fueling (banana and some Nuun – a roll with peanut butter was polished off at the hotel), get in my corral and locate the 4:25 pace group.

While standing in the corral, I struck up a few conversations with other runners and my nerves started to ease.  With all 3 of my NYC Marathons, I woke up on race day with a kind of calm.  This year? Not so much.  I was so nervous and it made me even more nervous because I knew that I had never experienced this feeling the morning of a marathon in the past.

tweeting nerves

Before I knew it, I was jogging towards the start.  Right before I crossed the line, I spoke aloud to my guardian angel for the next 26.2- “help me fly, nana.”

Miles 1-6

My plan for the race was to try and stick with the 4:25 pace group for most of the run and then see if I could pick it up later.  I tried.  I tried so hard to stick with the pace group but with the crowds, it was almost impossible.  I knew I would be able to see my family around the 2 mile mark on my left so I wanted to run along the left side of the course.  It was rather unfortunate that the pace group was running on the right so it made it even more difficult to try and keep with them.  I kept losing sight of the pacers and began slightly freaking out. My brain was screaming, WHO’S GOING TO PACE ME? I CAN’T DO THIS ALONE.

chi marathon

I saw my parents right after mile 2 and had two conflicting feelings:

  • Now I can run on the right with the pace group until mile 13!
  • OMG I’m not gonna see my family again until mile 13!

Mile 13 felt so far away.  I did my best to keep myself in the mile I was running but it was hard because all I could concentrate on was seeing my parents again.

chi marathon

I lost the 4:25 pace group at the water/Gatorade station at mile 4 and completely panicked.  That voice creeped up, “I CAN’T DO THIS ALONE.” It was a few minutes before I felt myself relax, allowing myself to realize that I trained for this, trained to run a marathon at this pace, and didn’t need a pace group to keep me moving.

Miles 6-13.1

While the day started out the perfect temperature, by this point in the race I realized that it was just a little too warm/sunny for marathoning.  I didn’t want to start taking Gatorade until the second half of the race but found that I had no choice once I felt my mouth getting dry and lips getting chapped, and wiping my hand across my thigh proved that I was already salty.  By mile 9, I started alternating Gatorade and water.

chi marathon

It was right around these miles that I realized that I had yet to walk through a water/aid station.  I slowed down to a jog but never once did I walk to drink (as I did at every water station in previous marathons).  I actually think this was a benefit to me more mentally than physically.  Mentally, not walking hammered it in that this was a race, my race, and I didn’t need walk breaks, I needed hydration and fuel.  I could walk if I needed to later on, but not while I was still feeling good.  Not so spoiler alert: I never once walked throughout the race. I ran through every water/Gatorade station, squeezing the cup and trying to get as much as I could in my mouth and not all over my chin/shirt.

Also, let me just say, the crowds were incredible during these miles.  The crowds were deep, the music was loud, and there was lots of screaming, bell-ringing, dancing, singing, etc.  Chicago was out in full force and it was fantastic.  There were some funny signs (“you run better than our government,” “smile if you’re not wearing underwear,” “you’ve got stamina – i’m single and supportive!”) that definitely gave me a chuckle as I passed.

chi marathon

I ran along the left side during these miles, anticipating seeing my family. Running along the side makes it easier for people to cheer for you and scream your name.  I did my best to acknowledge those who screamed for me without wasting too much energy.  A simple hand lift seemed to work really well.  Not expecting to see my parents until mile 13 or soon after, I was shocked when I heard mama screaming from behind me around mile 12.  I did turn around and wave but mom’s camera caught me in a hand-in-the-air-looking-like-I’m-flapping-my-wings pose:

chi marathon

Again, my thoughts conflicted:

  • Next time you see them, you’ll have less than a mile left!

Miles 13.1-20

These miles are pretty much a blur.  I spent the majority of this time freaking out that I had gone out too fast and I was going to bonk so badly. With every mile I ticked off, I would think about which mile I’d hit the “wall.”  I kept thinking about when I was going to feel crappy.  “WHEN IS THIS GOING TO SUCK?”

Miles 20-26.2

Once I hit mile 20, I knew that it was only a matter of time now until my legs cramped up, my muscles refused to move, and my brain got all fuzzy and loopy (remember that time I ran the NYCM and asked my friend what I was doing? Also, jack-o-lanterns.).

chi marathon

At mile 21, I said “this is it, it’s gonna hit soon.”

Mile 22 – “okay here comes the wall.”

Mile 23 – “this has GOT to be it.  the wall is coming now.”

Mile 24 – “huh. no wall. 20 more minutes. FCUK YES GET ME TO THE FINISH LINE.”

chi marathon

Throughout these miles, I was about 1 minute faster than my pace tattoo for a 4:25 marathon.  I knew I had at least a sub-4:30 coming my way when I was expecting to hit a wall.  It was at mile 24 when I realized that I hadn’t yet hit a wall, I still felt good, and I was going sub-4:25.  Now was the time to race.

chi marathon

I knew my parents and John would be between 25 and 26, so I ran alongside the left to try and spot them.  I figured they would have an easier time getting a good spot closer to mile 25 so I searched the crowd intensely for them during this mile.  Everyone who screamed my name at this point got no reaction from me.  WHERE IS MY FAMILY?!? THEY ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO MATTER RIGHT NOW.

It took me a moment.  I saw the sign.  I saw “DErunnerNIAL.”  It just took a moment to sink in… that’s me! That’s them!

chi marathon

I felt so damn amazing that I started pumping my fist and screaming “YEAH YEAH YEAHHHH!”  My pace picked up and I was flying so high that I barely felt the uphill on the bridge to mile 26.

Once I made that last turn, I saw the 4:25 pace group up ahead… and I ran my heart out to pass them.

chi marathon finish

Take a second, scroll back up… and look at my face. No words necessary.

chi marathon

Official time – 4:24:01 (10:04 pace)

16:46 PR & a negative split


Immediately upon crossing the finish line (after stopping my watch, obviously), I burst into tears.  This was expected as my whole training cycle had turned me into an emotional blubbering fool but I’ve never cried after a marathon finish before… so it still felt slightly weird to have tears running down my face as I was draped in aluminum foil and had a medal put over my head.  Everyone in the finish line area was incredible, making sure that us runners had everything we needed and congratulating us at every chance.

With ease, I was able to grab a box of food, a bottle of water, and start munching on a banana and sipping on the sweetest thing I’d tasted in the longest time, a giant cup of 312.

I moseyed out of the finish line area (slowly, oh so very slowly) and met up with my cheer squad where I was able to FINALLY sit down.

chi marathon

I truly believe that running brings out the best in people (in runners, spectators, and supporters), and the outpouring of love that I received during and after the marathon proved just that… and it completely warmed my heart.  Thank you.

And a big thanks to nana for helping me fly… and for giving me a cute shirtless boy to run next to for a few hours (Maria and Sam, don’t act like you didn’t notice).

chi marathon

Chicago Marathon 2013 – CHECK


Filed under chicago marathon, marathon, PR