Chicago, thanks for letting me use you for better things to come…

When I signed up for Chicago it never crossed my mind that I might run it as a training run. First of all, it’s hard for me to run any race, no matter the distance, as JUST a training run. If I’m scheduled to run a race, I want to race! Second of all, when it comes to the marathon the longest training run I’ve done has been 24 miles and I often wondered if that was too long! I’ve never considered running a marathon inside of marathon training.

However, two weeks ago the thought did occur to me so I decided to bring it up to my coach, Carla Hastert. My email to her went something like this, “Would it be a good or bad idea to actually run chicago w/no expectations but just as a training run for CIM? I feel like chicago is my nemisis. But, maybe its not smart to run it even as a part of training. Just a thought though.”

After a couple of days she decided it would be okay. Our only concern was that I had to stick to our “race plan.” If I ended up pushing too hard and trying to “race,” I would blow it for CIM and not be able to recover in time.

This is how she wanted me to run; miles 1-3 were to be at a 7 minute pace, 4-20  she wanted me to run a 6:45 pace, and then the last 10k I would ease back down to 7-7:05 pace. Carla, told me if I ran the marathon according to plan I’d finish in 3 hours or just under.

This was one of the most relaxed marathons I have ever run. In fact, I didn’t feel any of the normal race jitters or anxiety I usually have before a big race. In my mind, Chicago was just my weekend long run. The other nice thing was not having the Olympic Trial time of 2:46 breathing down my back. My goal was simply to run the paces I had been told to run and cross the finish line. And that’s just what I did. I crossed the finish line in 2:58:21. I think my first 1/2 and second 1/2 would have been pretty equal. However, around mile 3, I started to have some stomach issues and by mile 15 I decided to stop. I felt pretty good from 16-19, but then at mile 20 I had to stop again. This would have been devastating if it was my goal race but since it wasn’t, the fact that I had to make 2 stops in the 2nd half wasn’t that big of a deal.

All in all I felt like I ran relaxed, didn’t “push” myself, and stuck the workout. 2 weeks before Chicago I was at 94 miles, the week before Chicago I ran 100 miles (including a long run of 22 miles the Sunday before the marathon). So, being able to run on semi-tired legs and hit the paces I needed to do has helped to build my confidence for CIM when I intend to RACE the marathon.

My Dad’s advice after hearing I ran such high mileage and didn’t taper for the marathon…”Now Suzanne, you should really back off two weeks before CIM, don’t run that much. It wouldn’t be smart and you don’t want your legs to be tired.” Thanks Dad! Planning on doing just that.

My friend’s comment (you know who you are) “I thought you were done with marathons and sticking with 5 and 10ks?!”

My Mom’s comment, “Now Suzanne, is it really that smart to run a marathon in October and then run another one in December. In fact, I thought you said you were done running the marathon?” Mom, once a mileage junkie…always a mileage junkie!Image


Results of the 38 mile FUN run!

Because I knew a couple of people who were running one of the Kettle Moraine Endurances races the challenge entered my mind, “Could I run more than a marathon?” Especially when, in the last couple of months,I haven’t been training specifically for the marathon and/or beyond. Why not try it? Originally I inquired about running the 100 mile run or the 100k, but than thankfully, somewhat of my sanity came back, and I figured that would be too much mileage without proper training and I could very well end up injured.

So, my thoughts turned to the 38 mile FUN run. Since, I just celebrated my 38th Birthday a few days ago I thought it would be interesting to see if I could get through a 38 mile run. When else would I get the opportunity to run my exact age in miles!? ( :

Yesterday afternoon, on a whim, I drove to La Grange, Wisconsin, thinking I was going to start the run at 8pm and hope to finish between 2-3 in the morning. Sleep a couple of hours in my car and then drive back home. However,  When I arrived I was told I could start before 8pm and opted to begin around 6:20 in the evening.

I was equipped with everything I needed. I had just had a full bottle of UR Driven (my all natural sports drink sponsor) about an hour before I started and a protien shot. I also was carrying a water bottle of UR Driven, endurlytes, my head lamp, and one tiny, tiny light on the top of my shoe. Since, I was carrying a bottle in one hand I opted to leave my hand held flash light in the car in order to leave my other hand free. (Dumb idea)

I started out at a nice controlled pace, running alone, although I was passing runner’s going in both directions, so not entirely alone on the course, but running by myself the first 16-17 miles. I felt great. I kept consuming the UR and taking my endurlytes and did not concentrate on the distance I had accomplished and the distance I had left to go.

I finally got to the check point on Highway 12 where my drop bag was located. I decided I felt great. I didn’t need to mess with my shoes, socks, or clothes, so all I did was mix up another bottle of UR and was about to go on my way when one of the crew manning the aid station asked if I had a light. “Sure do! My head lamps wrapped around my water bottle right now, but I plan on using it pretty soon.” In which he responded, “You’re defintely going to need it.” He told me the trail was going to become more technical, with lots of rocks and roots sticking out of the surface. He said, I needed to be sure to pick up my feet and watch my footing carefully! “Will do!” And I set off again.

At first the trail wasn’t that dark but I could feel the dark encroaching on my quickly and figured I better put my head lamp on and be ready for the blackness. The light immediatly came on and just as immediatly went out. What the heck!? This lamp was brand new with brand new batteries in it. It can’t possibly NOT work. I checked it at home and it worked. I checked it in the car and it worked. However, lesson learned, I needed to check it at the aid station before I went out into the dark, wooded path. At least then, if it didn’t work I could have put in my back up batteries.

And now, all of a sudden,  I’m alone and I’m in the forest, and it’s going to be dark, and I’m ALONE. Ok, don’t panic, turn the tiny tiny light on my shoe, at least that’s something.  Even the smallest light can brighten the darkest night, right? Well, not so much. I told myself, just think of Katniss, from the Hunger Games, running through the forest, unafraid yet sometimes very afraid..and, oh, wait she’s equipped with a bow and arrows. I’m missing the bow and arrows and that’s just not good. I’m not as cool and calm, I’m more of a nerd so forget that image. : )

Anway,  it was frustrating because I definitely had to slow my pace and be very careful, making sure I was seeing the trail markings on the ground and hoping that I would soon come upon somebody with a light. And with about 2 miles to the aid station I did just that. He was running the 100 mile run so I did have to slow my pace quiet a bit, but that was okay. I’d rather take it slow, be able to see, and not get injured! When we came to the aid station he sat down for a well-deserved rest and I was anxious to get going again. That’s when I saw Alec (who was running the 100 mile run) and Brian (who also came out on a whim to help pace Alec and get in some mileage.) I hung back with these guys until the next big aid station and was very thankful when Alec gave me an extra head lamp. Alec told us we could both go ahead and he would be back to running shortly after we set out again.

The rest of the run Brian and I talked the entire time. In fact, I don’t think there was ever a lull in our converstation. And what was more amazing is that we kept feeling good. I figured as we drew closer to the end, mental and physical fatigue would eventually start to set in. But, it never did and when we saw that we only had 5 miles to go, then 3 miles, then 2, and finally 1 we wondered how on earth we could still be talking, smiling, and laughing. It was incredible. I certainly didn’t feel like I had just finished 38 miles. The only thing I can attest this too is that I went out at a very easy comfortable pace and never became depleted and I stayed properly hydrated and fueled the entire race.

I’m not sure if finishing with such a good feeling will be in my favor. Because of course, I’m already thinking that If I can do 38 miles and feel that good, why not try 50, and if I can make 50, then whose to say I can’t do 100! Hmmm…..I’m always up for a new challenge!

Here are the results from the 38 mile run. It kills me that I had problems with my head lamp b/c if I didn’t I might have been able to beat the first place male finisher. Well, I guess he just better watch out next year…( ;

Passing the Torch…The flame has been ignited

Last year around this time I was able to talk two of my kids into running a mile race.  At first, they resisted, but when they found out Jay Cutler would also be running the same race they agreed to it. My other two kids were smart enough to realize that even if they didn’t run the mile they would still get the chance to see Cutler and get his autograph. Duh!? The mile wasn’t a prerequisite to meeting Cutler.

Anyway, the result, they hated running the mile and they would NEVER run another race again. What!? How can you say you hated running? It’s the best thing ever. “Mom, it hurt! It wasn’t fun!” “No, no, you guys don’t understand the hurt, the pain, that’s part of the fun!! C’mon, you gotta be kidding me? How could you NOT think it was awesome!?” “NEVER again Mom! We won’t do it.”

Great! There went my chance at helping my kids develop a love for running. What was I thinking? Starting them off with the mile probably wasn’t the best thing. I should have worked them up to the 1600. Starting with the 100 meters, then the 200, then the 400, 1/2 mile, and then finally the mile. Well, I screwed that up.

So, of course now anytime I run a race that has a kid’s run I’m always trying to talk at least one of my kids into running it. The answer is always, “NO Way!” ” But, I swear, you don’t have to do the mile, you can do one of the shorter fun runs! You’ll love it! I promise!” “Yep, we remember, that’s what you said last time and we DIDN’T love it!”

Okay, so if my kids aren’t going to love running, I’ll just have to work on my neighbor’s child. She’s around our family so much I call her my “adopted child,” and what’s even better, she likes to run. In fact, she’s even asked me if I’d train her for a mile race or a 5k. You bet ya!

Earlier this week, I signed up to run a local 5k, but unfortunately, I’ve been fighting asthmatic bronchitis and it doesn’t want to go away. 5ks and asthmatic bronchitis don’t mix very well, but I had already registered for the race and figured I’d go, maybe pace a friend, and if I was really lucky talk one of my kids into doing the fun run…the kid’s mile or the kid’s 100m dash.

No luck, but my adopted daughter, Emily, was all for it. And because, she was interested in the mile, my two girls, were by NO means, interested in that distance, but decided to try the 100 meter dash. Finally! Finally, at least two of my kids were going to give running another shot!

Emily, did great in the mile! And I was able to run with her, cheering her on and encouraging her to keep going! I was very proud of my (adopted) daughter! She placed third in her age group!

And, then there was Rachael, who stood on the starting line to the 100m race with a determined face to fend off the competition and run her hardest. Well, she won her heat! And she told me, she didn’t even have to run her hardest because she knew she was going to win it. How’s that for confidence!? Go, Rachael!

And Leah, who has told me she will never be a runner because her love is gymnastics, stood at the start, looking more nervous than confident.  But, as soon as it was go time this girl ran! Wow! She ran faster than I’ve seen her run before. So fast in fact, that she blew all the other little girls away and I wouldn’t be surprised if she could also beat her older brothers!  And at the end, what did she say? “That was awesome, so much fun! I want to do it again? Can I do it again! Did you time me? What was my time!”

Needless to say, I was happy, not because they won and I just might happen to have a couple good sprinters on my hands – but because they liked it!! I don’t care if it was just 100 meters they liked it! And now they think running is fun and want to do it again! Awesome!

Who knows, maybe next time it will be a 200 meter race, and then a 400, 1/2 mile, and maybe, just maybe, they may ask to try the mile again. If not, that’s okay. I’m just glad that today they enjoyed it! And I feel that the spark has been lit – and you know what they say about sparks…it only takes one spark to start a fire! ( :

“Miles & Trials: Running Towards 2012” Trailer

Survivor 20k

Pads 5k Run – Sept 2011

At about 2.5 miles I TORE my calf muscle. I jogged into the finish realizing my goal race (Chicago) and hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials was probably not in my future. I still won the 5k though.

Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon 2011

Last year, in the midst of running high mileage, while training to qualify for the olympic marathon trials, I ran the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. The race was August 14, 2011 and we were very lucky to get a beautiful morning with ideal race conditions.

Earlier in the week, I had debated about going to Wisconsin and doing a much smaller half marathon. I wanted to run a descent half, but I also didn’t want to feel the pressure to “perform,” which sometimes happens at bigger races. The reason being was I had put in two weeks of 100 plus miles and the week leading up to the Rock N Roll Half, I was already over 80 miles.

I was feeling pretty trashed and figured I wouldn’t be able to run as well as I knew I could under different circumstances. However, after talking to one of my training partners, I was convinced that on August 14th, I would just “suck it up,” ignore the pressure, put on my game face, get in the zone, and run.

I drove to the race by myself and I didn’t have any expectations. I warmed up a couple of miles, did some strides, and took my place on the starting line. I figured that once I started the race I would know, within the first few miles, if I was capable of racing or if this was going to end up being a good, effort training run.

I started off feeling great and thought I’m just going to keep running this pace until I’m forced to back off. I didn’t look at my watch. I didn’t pay attention to my splits. I just ran. I was in the zone. In fact, so in the zone, I was almost worried the effortless pace was going to come back and bite me.

Races like this don’t come around too often. There’s nothing more exhilarting then feeling like you could keep going forever. There’s nothing better than running hard, yet feeling like you aren’t putting forth any effort whatsoever. And, there’s nothing like watching the miles fly by wondering how your body just keeps going.

On August 14th, 2011, this is just what happened. I will admit around mile 10, my quads started to ache with the pain of 100 mile weeks creeping up on me, and the head wind going into the last two miles wasn’t as comfortable as the first 11. But, I knew at that point I could still over-power my body with my mind and finish strong. I was surprised when the finish clock came into view and I realized I was going to run a sub 1:20!

It was a great feeling to come to a race with tired legs and without any expectations, and end up running a 1:19:51, a new half-marathon PR. Not, only that, but during the race I ran a faster 10k and 10 mile time than I had ever done before! The 3rd place finish, in a race that big, and a nice cash prize made it even better. ( :

In 2012, I hope to run better than a 1:19:51 and set a new 1/2 marathon PR.