Tips for running the Chicago Marathon (or any large race!)

Tips for running the Chicago Marathon (or any large race!)

Shout out to anyone who has a fall race coming up or if you have already completed one! Hopefully after race day, you’re not left with too many regrets or “I should have done this…” situations. Post Chicago, there are definitely some things I wish I would have done (#1!!) and some things that really helped me throughout the race.

Here are some tips for running the Chicago Marathon or any other large race:

  1. Put your name on your shirt! – This is my biggest regret of my marathon, because people all around me were getting cheered on because they had their name on their shirt. Especially with the number of spectators at Chicago (1.5 million+ !!), it would have been so fun to have had my name yelled along the way. I don’t care how you do it; iron on letters, duct tape + sharpie, an old race bib.. just do it!
  2. Get water from the cups towards the end of the table – there are going to be a lot of people who are trying to get water and they stop right in the beginning. Go to the end of the table and you’ll be way less congested.
  3. Have your spectators hold an object taller than everyone else – my amazing aunt walked around all day with a turtle balloon tied to her wrist so I would be able to spot my family quickly! The only tricky part was the wind, because she said sometimes the turtle wanted to smack people in the face… Other great ideas would be an open umbrella, a fat head, or I even saw someone tie a stuffed animal to a yard stick. Hey, whatever will get your attention right?
  4. Know where your family, friends, S/O’s are going to be – if I wouldn’t have known that my family was going to be at miles 4, 11, and 19, then I would have missed them in the crowds!  It’s also really fun to know where they’ll be, because then it gives you something to think about while you’re racing, which can be huge mentally. It is for me at least.
  5. Read all of the ridiculous signs and interact with the spectators – some of my favorite signs from the Chicago Marathon: “smile if you masturbate” “you’re hot… single?” “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 26.2” “let’s get drunk”. It is so much fun to not only read all the hilarious signs, but then to laugh and point at them which gets you engaged with the spectators. It’s nice to share a laugh or smile with someone when you’re basically not interacting with people for hours while you’re running.
  6. Wear sunscreen – Yes this is for any race haha not just a large one, but considering I forgot it seems important to add to this list. Now I am sporting a sexy tank top tan. Luckily it’s fall so no one will see…

Ok guys that’s about all I’ve got for you. I’m heading to the IU football tailgate tomorrow and then the Colts-Patriots game is on Sunday night! Have a great and safe weekend, I hope the weather is as gorgeous for you as it is here!

What are your tips for running a large race?

2015 Chicago Marathon Recap

2015 Chicago Marathon Recap

You guys, I am a marathoner!

Oh my gosh I don’t even know where to start.

I wanted to wait to get this post up because I didn’t want to be completely clouded by “I just ran a marathon and I’m on cloud 9 syndrome”. Although that is still going on pretty strong ; )

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The weather was absolutely gorgeous for the race! It was around 55 degrees when we started and perfectly sunny. Although it was hot when we finished (70-75 degree range), for most of the race, one half of the street would be shaded and the other half would be sunny. So it was nice to take advantage of the shade when I could.

Miles 1-4: We crossed the start line a little after 8:30 which was frustrating, because they told us it would be at 8:10. We were so antsy and anxious in the corral! I totally understand though, there were a shit ton of runners! Waiting that long in the corrals though only heightened my nerves. Once we finally got started, my dad and stepmom were at like mile .5 and after running past them, I was teary eyed immediately. Starting the race and seeing loved ones was just emotional overload for me I guess : ) Luckily, the tears didn’t last long, because hello I was running a marathon! I don’t think that I stopped smiling for the first couple of miles, because holy shit I was actually running a marathon. I was doing it!

5-12: Lol I was still cheesing because I still couldn’t believe I was actually running a marathon. Around mile 9 or 10, we ran past a retirement home, and all of the seniors were sitting by the windows waving and smiling at us as we ran by! They even had a banner up that read, “We couldn’t run this year, but maybe we will next year!” It was seriously the cutest thing and made me so happy.

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Miles 13-16: I put my headphones in at the half marathon point, and turned on my trusty One Direction. Once I hit 13.1 I was mentally boosted, because every step from there on out was towards the finish line, not away from it if that makes sense. After crossing 16 though, my mental game really started to suffer. Like hard.

Miles 17-21: Absolutely the most mentally tough miles I have ever run. I felt so close because I was in single digits of miles left, but I still felt so far away. Getting through 17 & 18, and knowing that I would get to look for my family at 19 was huge and the only thing mentally keeping me in the game. When I saw them waiting for me at mile 19, I dropped “f-this” 3 times. I was going to try and pull my brother into the race with me, because I needed some “you got this kid” motivation, but he was too far back for me to get him. It seriously took everything in me to keep going.

I just kept telling myself that I would be so much more disappointed in myself if I walked rather than continuing running. Walking was not what I wanted to remember from the race. I saw a sign that said, “Will you remember quitting or finishing more?” and that was the kick in the ass I needed. I would have remembered quitting so much more because I would have been so disappointed in myself for not pushing through.

Miles 22-25: Once I got through 21 and hit the 22 mile marker, things just started to lift up mentally. Physically it was a different story haha, but nothing completely unbearable. I was cramping right above my right knee, my feet were hurting pretty bad with new blisters and callouses, and a random part of my arm was chafing a bit. But after hitting 22, I kept telling myself that it was just a 5K, because getting to 25 was basically like I was finished (it’s those mental tricks that keep me going when I race).

Mile 25.2: There was sign that said “1 mile left!” Running past that sign, it really hit home that I was going to do it. I was going to finish a marathon. I really started to tear up here and had to reign them in, so I could try and breathe normally!

Miles 26 – 26.2: Ok so like running a marathon isn’t hard enough, the last .20 miles of the race are on an uphill!! Well just .10 of a mile is the uphill, but still! It is a .10 mile run up the hill, a left, and then a .10 mile run to the finish. And there were so many people walking up the hill, but there was no way in hell I was walking when I was so freaking close to the finish. Making that final left turn and seeing the finish line is a feeling I don’t think I will ever forget. The sense of excitement, pride, accomplishment, and joy is something I have never experienced before, at least not like that.

I feel so fortunate that I never really “hit the wall” physically. I never felt like my legs were really heavy or like they wouldn’t be able to take another step. Besides the cramping from 22-25, my legs felt great! I credit that a lot to the fact that I walked through every water station. I would run up until the person from whom I took water from, drink my water or Gatorade cup(s), and then continue running. I also was running such a controlled and slower pace that I think it really helped save my legs.

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Yes, I could have run faster, but for my first marathon, I really wanted to focus on having fun and enjoying the whole process. I figured there were going to be a lot of more marathons in my future so why make myself miserable for the first one?! And I had no idea the mental hurdle I was going to face from 17-21, and I am so glad that I wasn’t physically hurting, too.

When I crossed the finish line, honestly I was so damn happy just be finished running. It wasn’t until probably an hour or so later that I was like “f@$! I just ran a f@$!ing marathon!!” To say that I am proud, accomplished, proud, excited, and so f-ing proud would really sum it all up nicely. Knowing that I worked so hard towards something and for something long, and then have all of that hard work pay off, is so amazing. Even if you would have asked me last year about running a marathon, I don’t think I would have said yes or thought I could do it. It has made me realize that I am tough, dedicated, and hard-working.

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Chicago Marathon, thank you for a great race, great volunteers, great spectators, and a fucking great first marathon. This will not be the last time we meet.

Official time: 4:52:04 ~ 11:09 pace

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OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon Recap

Good morning lovely people! Hope you having an easy, relaxing morning, and that you are having as beautiful weather as we are here!

So remember on Friday, I mentioned that I made a last minute decision to run in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, which essentially is the race to kick-off the opening of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS)! Opening day is always the first Sunday in May aka the following day after the race. There were over 22,000 finishers yesterday!

This post is going to seem negative and overall have a blah feeling to it. So don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did this race, (I never have run in it before), but I definitely went into it with the wrong mindset. Coming off a PR in my last race, I was feeling real good and thought maybe I would PR this course too since it was going to be so much flatter.

Wrong.

I was waaaay too cocky with that thinking and got burned out by the end. Going into the race, I was so mentally unprepared which made me make not very smart racing decisions. My legs were absolutely shot, because I ran 4 fast miles in the middle of the race. I seriously paid for that later. Like I have never wanted to walk so badly during a race, like ever. Lessons learned here for myself: 1) don’t get cocky and 2) don’t run your fastest miles from 4-7.

I honestly have never been so happy to finish a race before. Gear up for a long post! Sorry about that…

Start:

I got into my corral, about 3 minutes before the gun went off. I’m never this late getting into corals, but it kind of worked because I never had a chance to be nervous.

Miles 1-3:

Just trying to get into my groove while enjoying the crowd and the bands that were playing. I kept telling myself to find my pace, find my pace, find my pace. Good miles, and I felt like mile 4 happened before I knew it.

Miles 4-7:

Like I said, these were my fastest miles. This is when things started to go downhill. Womp womp.

One really neat part about this race is that we get to run a full lap on the IMS!! So around mile 6, we entered and ran around the IMS! Like I got to run where the cars race. Thinking back, it is really cool, but this was a really hard part of the race. No crowds, no bands playing, SO HOT (black asphalt, no shade), and running the curves (they were angled upwards and hard on my ankles).

I did kiss the bricks though. How many people get to say that?! I’m telling myself me and Tony Kanan kissed : ) (for non Indy Car fans, he won the Indy 500 in 2013, and is clearly my favorite driver)

Miles 8-12

We left the IMS and headed back into downtown and things went even more downhill for me. My legs felt like straight lead, we were running directly into the sun, and soooo many other people had started walking, which was not helping me wanting to continue to run.

I had to use every ounce of self motivation not to walk. Miles 9,10, and 11 never seemed to end. I actually ended up walking through these water stations.

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see the Mile 12 mile marker. However, once you turned the corner after the mile marker, you could see the finish line. Basically the worst thing ever. It was so close but so far away.

The only redeeming factor, was just how many people lined the last mile to cheer. I mean it was PACKED. It was really cool!

MILE 13 AKA FINALLY FINISHED

Leading up to the finish, these were the mantras that got me through:

“mother of god”, “you can walk when you’re finished” “do not start walking this close, do not start walking this close” “SMILE”

Obviously all I wanted to do was walk bahaha.

Official time: 1:55:27 ~ 8:49 pace

Final thoughts

Overall, great, great crowd support, really flat, and there were tons of water & Gatorade stations (my life saviors!).

Despite my lackluster performance and overall feeling, I would 100% do this race again. The reason I didn’t have a great race, was completely my over confident thinking pre-race.

Thanks for the miles 500 Festival!

The 10K that never happened recap

The 10K that never happened recap

Welp. Here’s a first for me.

I ditched my race.

WTF.

I blame it on a number of factors:

1. The weather. Rainy and cold. Like cold because it’s raining, you know what I mean? I think because I’ve been spoiled with sunny racing weather, this really just brought me down. Ok it kind of looks like the sun is going to come out. BUT IT’S NOT. Gray gray and more gray.

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2. This would be the 3rd weekend in a row I would have had a race. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea. Oh right, because it was February when I signed up and I was miserably antsy for spring weather.

3. I only spent $17 on my entry fee, since it’s a small, local race. Also, it’s going to a good cause (deaf children).

4. The race started at 9:30. That was too much time for me to contemplate skipping. Had it been 7:30 or 8? My brain wouldn’t have even thought about skipping.

5. My bed is comfortable as shit. Does breakfast in bed ever get old?

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And there you have it! I can officially add “race skipper” to my title! Ellen Rae “Race Skipper” Schroeder.

Wait.

Never mind.

I shouldn’t be proud of this. Is this wrong that I feel like a badass a little bit for ditching…?

OH WELL. Life will move on.

I do feel guilty that I’ll probably end up running this morning anyways, so like why didn’t I just go to my damn race?

OH WELL. Refer to #5 up above.

How could I leave once my doggy joined me?

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Mill Race 1/2 marathon recap

Mill Race 1/2 marathon recap

WOOHOO! I officially completed my 2nd half marathon on Saturday with a time of 2:01:55! Yes, I’m bummed I didn’t get sub-2 hour, BUT I shaved 3 minutes off of my first 1/2 so I’m obviously still really proud! And hello, I completed 13.1 miles, another obvious reason to be proud.

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Mile 1: 9:29 mile

Just like any other run, I never really get in a groove until a couple miles in. At this point, I was enjoying the sunrise, everyone’s energy around me, and also thinking how excited I was to be doing this again!

Mile 2: 9:34 mile

OH. MY. GOSH. At exactly mile 1.5, we all got stopped by a train. This was certainly frustrating and everyone around me was full of groans and annoyance. I think we had to wait an extra minute (it could have been worse) but it just was aggravating! You know we had just started running and I was still trying to find my groove, so this did not help me. And then since we were all waiting around, it was so congested once we started running again. Another ugh moment. I was so happy to be done with this mile.

Mile 3: 9:25 mile

As we were crossing the 5K timing mats, the elites were on the other side of the road crossing the 10K mats. A lot of us around that point started cheering and clapping for them, because it’s so amazing! It’s unbelievable how fast and talented those men and women are.

Mile 4: 9:18 mile

I ate my first Clif ShotBlok (Black Cherry) because I wanted to fuel every 4 miles. I didn’t feel like I needed one now, but I figured if I waited until I “needed” one, then it would be too late. I also was thinking about how I was (basically) 33% of the way done woo! And yes, I run with chapstick because my lips get so chapped.

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Mile 5: 9:12 mile

I started chatting up a random women on the course since I tend to get a little friendly and cheerful when I run. I’m glad I did, she was super nice! Other than that, this was a pretty unmemorable mile. However, this is also the first time I saw my brother and my mom, which was exciting! Look at this ridiculous sign that my brother made for me! He put it on a skinny wooden board, so he could hoist it high over his head for all to see. (Palm to forehead.) It made me laugh though, which ultimately made me happy.

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Mile 6: 9:18 mile

We had just turned left onto what I think was a state highway, so it was just a straight, seemingly never-ending road. We also passed a bakery, and while I love donuts, the overwhelmingly sweet smell made me a little sick to my stomach. Boring time in the run, not going to lie.

Mile 7: 9:07 mile

Blah, more straightaways, no greenery, very unmemorable. I actually missed the 7-mile marker (I don’t know how) but I was so happy when I saw the runners ahead of me turning left!

Mile 8: 9:10 mile

Second ShotBlok time! Since I had missed the 7-mile marker seeing 8 was very exciting! We were finally back with some trees, grass, and other greenery around, which made things more enjoyable to look at.

Mile 9: 9:08 mile

I actually ran into a “friend” I made at the starting line (we had never met before this point) which was a nice surprise. We chatted for about .5 mile before I ended up taking off ahead of him. Right at the 9.5 mile marker, was the split between 1/2 and full marathon. I was so happy to be on my side of the road : ) One cool thing about the marathon though, is that they get to run on the airport tarmac! How neat would that be?

Mile 10: 9:10 mile

This is when I put my headphones in for the first time, and looking back, I wished I would have waited a little bit longer or even just left them out completely. I don’t know they just kind of were being a nuisance and it was fun to hear the crowd and their cheers. At this point though, I keep thinking how I only have a 5K left, which made things much more bearable! (There was a really funny sign I saw earlier that said, “It’s only a 5K with a 10 mile warm-up!” That’s another thing I was thinking about at this point haha.)

Mile 11: 8:50 mile

I had told my mom and brother that I would want them around this point, since this is when I tend to start dragging and it certainly helped. Funny story, my mom tried to start talking a video of me, but she had the main screen of the phone pointed towards me, so the camera lens was facing her! Very technologically challenged.

Mile 12: 8:40 mile

I was seriously really ready to be finished at this point! But to my complete surprise, my dad was walking down the sidewalk! I saw him first, so I yelled his name out and it was seriously the best pick me up ever. But honestly, after those initial 5 seconds of seeing him and running past him, I already forgot and remembered that I couldn’t feel my legs and was ready to be finished. Haha sorry dad.

FINISH LINE: 2:01:55! Average pace of 9:13

First thought ~ YEAH I DID IT! YOU GO LEN!

Second thought ~ Water. Now.

Third thought ~ I’m not sure I can feel my legs.

Fourth thought ~ When can I do that again? : )

 

Overall, this was a great course! Flat, shaded, and very pretty. The City of Columbus is so cute too, and the crowd support was great.

Also, the medals & shirts were very cool, a total plus.

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I absolutely would love to sign up for this race again next year. Thanks for the miles Mill Race!