enjoying every second of life and running


Halloween Weekend

It’s been a crazy busy Halloween weekend. Friday after work we got supplies for Halloween and got ready to run the Screaming Pumpkin Marathon. This course is hilly 6.55 mile loop through a cemetery that has rocky, broken up path. The course opened at 6pm and you could start the course anytime and try to finish as close to midnight as possible.

Rob and I arrived at 8pm, figuring an easy pace will bring a 4 hour-ish marathon with some time cushion for the grinding hills on my recovering hamstring.

Dressed and ready to roll. I went with adidas Bostons for more support, capris, long sleeved shirt, Boston jacket, gloves, hat, head lamp, glow stick, glow stick necklace, and headlamp. It was in the 40s when we started, but I get cold easily so I opted to over dress. This turned out to be a good idea because around 11pm the temps dropped into the 30s, a light drizzle and light breeze started.

This race is mostly folks doing a relay so there was a lot of bonfires and tailgating as people waiting for their runner to return. Rob and I got started and immediately noticed that glow stick necklaces and running don’t mix. After they bounced around and hit us in the chin repeatedly we had them off within .25 miles.

The course is unlit and very dark. The direction is marked by glow sticks lining the way, keep the glow sticks on your right and you are heading the correct way. I have to say that running in the pitch black with only glow sticks light the way was a very cool look. Since the course is very hilly you would see handfuls of runner lights bouncing up and down the cemetery at different points in the distance. Such a cool thing to see.

We had no timing devices, but we are familiar with this course from the half marathon and there are some parts of the road spray painted with mile markers. So it was amazing to see how the miles seemed to quickly pass by.

The road was very uneven and rock in parts, which is hard to manage in the dark. They had marked as much of the course as they could with red glow sticks to note places to avoid, but Rob and I found some locations they missed. We each tripped a handful of times pretty hard, luckily neither of us falling to the ground. The bad part was the tripping would cause my leg to pull back funny, upsetting my hamstrings but at least I never face planted.

We were back to the chip mat at 6.55 Miles and time felt like it was flying by because we were so entertained by the course. We were running very easy and were able to just pass the time chatting. On our way back into the cemetery and up to the first hill the coolest/scariest thing was a very large deer passed right in front of us. It was freaky cool to see this large dark mass pass right in front of us because it was scary at first to try and figure out what it was in that split second.

This would be a good time to mention that our headlamps may be decent enough for our street lit neighborhood, they were not match for the complete darkness of this run. The light was just soaked up in the darkness and the headlamps were really more for identifying us to other runners than lighting our path, which made tripping all the more likely. I had no idea that our headlamps weren’t the best until we saw examples of other runners who had heavy duty lights. IF there is ever a true night race that we run again, we will need better headlamps and perhaps little flashlights.

Into the next set of hills around mile 8-ish Rob had a very bad trip that rolled his ankle and made a popping sound. He was stopped instantly and assessed the situation. We walked a bit and it was hurting badly. He wanted to continue, but now his  ankle would be in pain the rest of the way. We slowed our pace and stopped anytime the pain was too much. My hamstrings weren’t loving all of the hills either so taking it easy was fine by me. The second loop, even with the injury stop somehow felt like time went by faster.

Into the third loop of the course and the temperatures drop. Rob feels like his ankle is swelling and he is tolerating the tightness and pain. We are only around mile 15, so much more to go. We start to question if it’s worth it since we were out just for the fun. The fun was quickly fading.

Back for our final lap, time passing slowly since we are taking it super easy. 19.55 miles and back out we go. However Rob’s ankle is hurting even on the flat portion of the course. Around mile 20 or 21-ish and we start weighing if it’s worth tackling the hills again. His ankle is so sore that we could get into the deepest part of the course realize he can’t go on and not make it back in time, are we willing to take that risk. Rob would do it for me, but it just wasn’t worth it. We decided to bag it and walked the mile back to turn in our chips. We made the right call. As we were walking back Rob’s ankle began hurting worse that walking was a challenge, there was no way more hills would have helped.

We are happy that we did get to have a hilly long run at night. However it wasn’t worth Rob’s ankle injury or the risk of falling multiple times. I think we will stick to this course in the daylight. If we ever do another really dark race we will make sure that we have better lights and that the path is more paved than rock.

We headed home to finally have dinner and weren’t in bed until after 2am, what a long day!

Saturday was a lot of Rob icing his ankle and then we joined ORRT to help with a local 5K. Me faux running through the finish chute. Yeah I’m easily distracted from my duties.

The kids run was an obstacle course and we got to pass out candy and prizes. Then for the 5K we managed the finish chute and announced awards. Afterward we headed home so Rob could get back to icing his ankle. The swelling has reduced so I hope a few more days of rest and ice will get him back to new again.


Marathon for Fun

Have you ever done a marathon (or other distance race) for fun? Maybe just get in miles or just to get in a hill workout?

Rob and I are doing a marathon for fun this Friday. Not just any marathon, a prediction marathon called the Screaming Pumpkin that starts at night and ends at midnight! You start anytime after 6pm, your start time is based on your guess to complete the marathon by midnight. You get no timing or electronic devices during the run. The course is chipped, but you have no clock for reference. The person who finishes closest to midnight without going over wins! What a fun concept!

And this course is no joke. It’s a hilly 6.5ish mile course that we will run the 4 times until we get to 26.2. This course is the same as the IVS Half Marathon, which for now Rob and I view as the most challenging set of hills we have faced.

Plus it will be DARK, in a cemetery, and they will have people dressed up and scaring us. There will be glow sticks in the ground guiding our way and marking any bad road conditions. We will have glow sticks with us running and headlamps (if they allow them).

Runners are encouraged to dress in costume, but I think Rob and I will be going as plain old runners. We will also be running the course at an easy pace, just really enjoying the adventure.

We have to work Friday so we will also be running the marathon after a long day at the office, making it all the more interesting. I’m going to need some coffee to try to keep perked up!

Last night we went to pick up our packets and race goodies. This race has some great swag. They gave us Mizuno winter gloves and we got to pick the size that fit us, not a “one size offered” situation.

And a very cool long sleeved tech shirt, with women’s cut option.

AND a Mizuno winter jacket! It is very nice and comfy! The zipper is orange, but the flash made it look more yellow in the picture.

The logo up close.


2011 Rock and Roll St. Louis – Half Marathon – 1:43:09

This race I was on the fence about running from up to the moment we woke up to get ready.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I have been dealing with tight hamstrings, especially on my right side, for about a week before the Chicago Marathon. I ended up having hamstring issues most of the marathon. Since then I’ve been trying to follow the scheduled recovery period as my legs would allow. I was feeling optimistic since I was noticing improvement. Eventually my left side was pain free and just my right hamstring was sore.

Friday I was feeling better and went out for my planned 8 miles easy and was going to do pick ups afterward. I found out quickly that I couldn’t even finish 8 easy without foam rolling. How was I going to run a half marathon in two days feeling like this?

I iced my leg often Friday. Saturday I even sat on an ice pack on as we drove to St. Louis. I also did an ice bath at the hotel that night.

FR Tip: If you are at a hotel and plan to take an ice bath, use the gear check bag as your ice container for the ice machine, it holds a lot!

I knew HM goal race pace was out of the question. I was more worried could I make it 13 miles without making my injury worse, especially when 8 easy Friday was such a struggle. I awoke to a leg that was improved, but not 100% I planned to run the race and be conservative with my stride. I knew I could get out there and within a few miles I could be regretting my decision.

As far as my tummy goes the day before the race I had gluten-free cereal, salad from Panera with no dressing and a strip steak with cream spinach for dinner. I know it’s TMI but magic happened, thank goodness! So I was happy to expect tummy issues wouldn’t be a concern.

I got ready and hugged our pug Coco before heading out. 🙂

We stayed in a hotel close to the start/finish area so we were able to easily warm up before getting into the corral. Rob and I spent some time determining how much of a stride I could take to try and save my hamstring. I would try to make an effort to take smaller steps and lean forward to keep my hamstring as happy as possible.

The weather was perfect! 55 degrees and zero wind, mostly overcast, the sun only came out for short moments.

By mile 2 a young lady says to me “Hey didn’t you race Washington?”. I say “no”, thinking of Washington D.C. first and wondering if Rock and Roll has a race. I didn’t catch at the time she meant Washington Cherry Festival in Washington, IL. Then she says “but didn’t you run Rock and Roll Chicago and IVS Half Marathon?” Then I’m like “yes, yes I did!” She responds “I thought I’ve seen you at those races, you and your husband race a lot.” No denying my addiction for racing. 🙂 She asks if I ran Chicago Marathon and is suprised to see me out. I tell her about my hamstring and my conservative pace. I try to catch her name and I think it was Vanessa. I tell her about the running blog, so if you do read this please post and say hi. I hope you had a great race!

The miles passed by easily. The course is hilly throughout and noticible to me since we live in a very flat area. I enjoyed every moment running with my conservative stride. I was able to say “good morning”, “hi” and wave to many people on the course. I even saw two pugs at different points on the course and told the owner my love of pugs and that we had a sweet pug Coco. 🙂

The course went south into some beautiful neighborhoods. It was just an absolute perfect day. As we came into the finish it was on an incline which was an interesting, punishing twist. I finished with a 1:43:09, which I’m very happy with considering I wasn’t certain I could even race at all and my leg didn’t feel any worse! I easily found Rob and he also had a fun race, finishing with a 1:32!

This was one of the better organized Rock and Roll races. There were a lot of bands throughout the course that sounds really great. The waters were iced and there was plenty of fruit afterward. The medal was large and seriously heavy.

Afterward I had another ice bath and am still feeling like things are improving, thank goodness! I would definitely consider coming back to do this race again.

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Making Adjustments


Wednesday (10/20):


Thursday (10/21):

6 Miles Easy (Treadmill, 49:50, 8:19 Pace)

Friday (10/22):

4 Miles Easy (‘Hood, 32:09, 8:03 Pace)

4 Miles Easy (‘Hood, 35:57, 9:00 Pace)

My right hamstring was starting to feel better this week, that is until Friday’s run. It was supposed to be 8 miles easy with pick ups afterwards. The first two miles my hamstring was only slightly tight and felt improved, but two more miles and the range of motion was shortened and more painful. I went home to foam roll and then try again the last four miles at an even easier pace. The pain was still there and my stride is shortened. I’m definitely not in race-mode, I’m forced into a recovery-mode. It’s so frustrating to have my left side feel so free and ready to race and my right side to be barely able to hold an easy run.

Luckily I don’t have bruising so I may not have a severe pull, which takes longer to heal. I am icing often, but will need to make adjustments to my upcoming race plans. This includes determining if I could even run Rock and Roll St. Louis Half Marathon this Sunday at all.

On another note, Coco had a bad reaction to new allergy medicine and is not feeling well. She’s been very sick and back to the vets office. We were able to get her on the mend and keep our plans to travel to St. Louis. Rob would get to race and my race would be a last-minute assessment by how I felt race morning.


Movie Night


Monday (10/17):

5 Miles Easy (Treadmill, 42:21, 8:29 Pace)

9.2 Bike Easy (Trainer, 40:00, 13.8 mph)

Tuesday (10/18):

4 Miles Easy (Treadmill, 35:14, 8:49 Pace)

Tonight after work Rob and I helped out with Often Running’s movie night. Every year they host a running movie at the historic uptown Normal Theater. This year’s movie was Lady Warriors. ORRT accepts food donations for the mission as admittance. The area school track and cross-country teams attend with their coaches, some of them who are on ORRT. The make up most of the crowd, but the community and the local running club also attend. adidas sponsors the event which means lots of cool freebies for attendees (socks, shirts, headbands, etc.) and drawings for free shoes.

After the movie part of our team walked over to Medici for a drink before heading home.

It was such a nice night, I just wish it was the weekend!