4 Half Marathons in a Month… Goldilocks Style!

Having bombarded Facebook, Twitter and other places online, I promise this is the last time I will mention this: PLEASE consider donating to the JDRF here. This is one of the few, perhaps only, charities that supports Type 1 Diabetes research and patient support. All other charities and funding goes to Type 2 Diabetes, which dwarfs Type 1 research. This is particularly tragic or unfair as Type 1 Diabetes is not preventable, nor is it treatable by simple diet and lifestyle changes, so research is the only way it can be dealt with. I would love to raise $10 for every mile I ran, but honestly I don’t care if you donate via my JustGiving page; I just want money to get to the JDRF. It’s a really important cause!Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 12.15.42 PM

A few months ago, I pledged to run a half marathon every Saturday in October in order to collect money for Type 1 Diabetes (also known as Juvenile Diabetes). I picked this charity in honor of my late Uncle and a friend from secondary school, as well as numerous other friends and acquaintances who live with this condition. Although the races have come and gone, it’s not too late to donate: click here for more information! My initial goal had been to get one race in under 2 hours, but thanks to a hip injury from running in August, I had the opportunity to check my ego, and actually heed DDP’s advice to do all exercise in your heart rate zone, not just DDP Yoga. I switched my 2-hour goal to trying to do at least one race entirely in my heart rate zone. Here’s a recap of the races, and the comedy of errors that they amounted to:

October 4th, Run for the Hills: Not enough sleep

When I ran a full marathon back in May, it ended up being a a grueling endurance test thanks to a distractible barrista at a popular coffee chain that shall remain nameless. Let’s call it Schmarbucks. Thanks to their inability to hear the word “decaf”, I ended up getting 1.5 hours of sleep before heading out for a 26.2 mile run. Shame on me, the day before my first October half marathon I went back to Schmarbucks and ordered a venti decaf Americano with an extra espresso shot. They got 3 of the 4 parts of that order correct. I felt shaky about an hour after drinking it, and pulled the empty cup out of the trash only to find that they decaf box hadn’t been checked. I took some Zzzquil before bed, and then again at 3am when I still wasn’t asleep. I spent the next 3 hours tossing and turning, playing Words with Friends with my European friends, and, most importantly, not sleeping. At 6am, my alarm went off, so I got out of bed, and after precisely zero minutes of sleep, I got in the car and headed to Moraine. Halfway through the race, the Zzzquil finally decided to kick in, and there were a couple of miles where I struggled to keep my eyes open. I have never taken heroin, but I am reasonably sure you get the same high as you get at the turnaround point in a race when you realize you aren’t in dead last place. I somehow made it to the end, where the organizers were cheering people to the finish line and encouraging us to sprint. I had been planning to forgo sprinting the last stretch but there enthusiasm was so infectious I couldn’t resist. On my way home, I bought a Scharmbucks (I can’t stay mad) so I didn’t fall asleep in my car. My husband found me later that day asleep in bed cuddling my venti coffee cup… yes, I have a problem.

Time: 2:21:48.2

October 11th, Prairie State: Too much sleep, too little water

Having proven that I can run a half marathon with no sleep I decided to never, ever test that theory again. The day before the Prairie State half-marathon I didn’t drink any coffee, decaf or otherwise, nor did I trust anyone else to prepare hot drinks for me. Instead, I stuck to camomile tea that I prepared myself. Nevertheless I was nervous about waking up on time as I am not a morning person. It would be particularly embarrassing to miss any of these races as I had made such a big deal about doing them. My husband has dealt with enough of my pre-race jitters that he gets so scared of making noise that he can’t get to sleep, which resulted in him getting in and out of bed a few times as I was trying to get to sleep. Editing out the part of the story that doesn’t reflect well on me, my husband ended up sleeping in the guest room and I was so mad I didn’t get asleep until about 2am. I had my alarm set for 6:30 am which left plenty of time to get dressed, eat breakfast and hydrate properly, drive to the satellite parking, take a shuttle to the race site and warm-up properly in time for the 8am start time. Waking up at 7:38am, which is what actually happened, did not leave me enough time to do all those things. Instead, I woke up, saw the time, screamed the F-word, jumped out of bed and ran straight to the car grabbing whatever clothing and race bibs I could as I passed them, drove in a semi-legal fashion to the satellite parking while getting dressed, ran barefoot to the shuttle where I finished getting dressed (discovering that I had not brought any socks) and spent a very stressful 10 minutes comparing how long Google Maps thought it would get to the race to how long I had left before the start of the race. When the bus finally got to the race grounds, I sprinted off the bus and straight into the start chute as one of the last runners to enter the race, and just kept going for another 13.1 miles. Having not eaten or drunk anything, the first couple of miles before I hit a water station were the worst, but once I got some water I was good. Between the lack of food and the adrenaline-fueled start, my heart rate was a mess so I gave up on trying to stay in my zone but it was a fun race, and it was nice to get back to the first half marathon I ever did.

Time 2:25:15.0

October 18th, Des Plaines River Trail: Too much water

I managed to get just about the correct amount of sleep before the Des Plaines River Trail race, and arrived to the start site at a good time to warm-up before the race. The weather was pretty cold, but tolerable until about 3 minutes before the start of the race when it started raining that very light, cold rain that feels like hundreds of tiny razors. Luckily, the vast majority of the race had tree cover, and it was the most beautiful race course I have ever seen. The trail was lined with whatever type of tree it is (yes, I got my degree from a botany department, can’t you tell?) that has large, bright yellow leaves, and the trail was a carpet of yellow, orange and red leaves. It was like running through a painting. I saw a number of runners taking photos as they ran, which is quite unusual for a race. I didn’t stop running when I took a photo, hence the blurriness. 1614535_10101413629616767_5520314335472699528_oAt the 7 mile mark we found where all the rain that had been falling went when we encountered and underpass with 6 – 8″ of standing water. Some braver runners ran straight through it, but I did the math on how much I didn’t want to run for an additional 6 miles with cold, wet feet, and joined the other runners who climbed along the pile of rocks along the side. This was my favorite race of the month, and between the beautiful scenery and really friendly organizers I will definitely be running this one again.

Time: ??

October 25th, Monster Dash: Just right

The good folks at Schmarbucks once again tried to thwart my efforts to sleep before a race, but luckily, I drank the coffee early enough in the morning that most had been metabolized before bedtime, and the remainder was dealt with by my Zyrtec. During the relatively short bout of insomnia I had that night I realized that the stressful part about this challenge wasn’t doing the races; it was overcoming my disordered sleep patterns and getting to them on time. The morning of the race, I drove out to Chicago and painted my face to look like a Zombie with a mullet wig (a nod to my desire to see Eugene from Walking Dead be dispatched by some hungry zombies post haste). Most people had made some effort to dress up, and the race was a lot of fun, despite being run by the jerks at Team Ortho (long story)! The course started at Avery field and went 6.5 miles south along Lake Michigan which was beautiful. It was a little daunting on the way back seeing the Hancock Building which now looked as if it were about 6″ tall, and realizing we had to more-or-less run all the way back to it. It turned out that the Komen Foundation had a charity walk at the same time, and a lot of Monster Dash runners accidentally took water from their aid station. Luckily, of all charities, we don’t need to feel to bad about stealing their water! I did learn a valuable lesson during the race: if you plan to run in a wig, go ahead a splurge on a high quality one. Otherwise, the second your sweat hits the $10 wig you found on Amazon, you’re going to spend the remainder of the race feeling like you have lice! As this was the last race of the season, I decided to dispense with paying attention to my heart rate and go for pace instead. I got the first 10 miles in under 10 min/mile, and the last 3 miles were a little slower, but overall I was happy to get closer to my pre-injury pace. I had parked in a structure, and on the way back to my car I scared the tar out of a rather large bodybuilder as  I was coming out of an elevator. Once I convinced him I wasn’t actually undead, we had a good laugh about it.

Time: 2:11:27

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I was meant to bookmark the month with a Spartan Sprint but my immune system had other ideas, so I typed this up instead. For my future goals, I am going to try and register for the 2015 Hustle Up The Hancock race tomorrow morning. I have been really looking forward to this, so I hope I get a place….. stay tuned!

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