Lucky # 21- Chicago Marathon 2015

Drinking a cup of coffee on my porch on a crisp and cool morning here in North Carolina, every thought in my head revolves around Chicago.

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As I listen to the birds, thoughts are swirling in my head about what to pack.  At long, long last, after seven days straight at work, I am finally on mini vacation!  I ran my last taper run last night, and my body feels good.  Today is all about the preparation.  Laundry to do, packing must be done.  I think I am actually going to run in my race shirt from last years Chicago Marathon.  Why not?  I usually don’t repeat races, so it would be a great chance to get some use out of it.

Our plane takes off tomorrow morning bright and early so today is all about tying off lose ends, packing and relaxing my feet.  Two days without running will get me to the starting line feeling fresh and motivated.  I haven’t decided if I will head straight to the expo once our plane lands or if I head there later in the day.  Starting in Corral C, I can’t wait to pick up my bib!  The Chicago Marathon Health and Fitness Expo is truly an amazing experience.  If you ever need to get motivated to run 26.2 miles, visit this expo!

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Since I ran Chicago last year, many of the “first time running a race” logistical nerves aren’t with me this time around.  I now know the city, know where I’m going and know how to navigate where I need to be and when.  It will be much more calm this time.  It’s probably why I haven’t even started packing yet.  This marathon gig, this destination race gig is so much more comfortable now.

I never quite know at the beginning of each year, how my race schedule will develop.  Of course I have certain races already paid for and a good rough sketch of the year ahead, but how those races pan out always depends on health and injury, work schedule, travel budget, etc..  Then you have to factor in races where just to get in you have to enter a lottery.  You can never plan too far in advance if you’re even considering an event on your calendar that requires a lottery to get in.  I was lucky enough to make it into Chicago again (two years in a row), and I never even started second guessing myself on if I should run it again.  Once I knew I made it into the race, I signed up for the race.

The Chicago Marathon on Sunday, will be my 21st marathon!  Lucky 21!  I can barely contain my excitement!

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I have been so blessed all throughout this marathon running journey I’ve been on.  I do feel very lucky to even have made it to my 21st marathon.  It’s only fitting I get to call this Chicago Marathon my 21st.  Back in Myrtle Beach 2012, as I toed the line for my first marathon, a thought of ever reaching twenty more marathons never even crossed my mind.  I am so fortunate that my, now 45 year old, body has withstood the test of marathon running to this degree.  It’s time for the dealer to shuffle the deck, and deal me my Blackjack in Chicago!

The Long and Winding Road

It just occurred to me.  My trip to Denver this past weekend could easily fill about five blog posts.  The trip out there alone could have been one post, but I chose to abbreviate it to just the hightlights and combine it with my first race recap.  It certainly was an epic first day!

From the time my plane took off in Raleigh until I had finished a Half Marathon in Aspen, the time span was a mere 17.5 hours. Crazy!  It was all worth it though.  Nearly four hours on the plane, four to five hours in the car, three hours of sleep and a race.

Ok, deep breath.  Moving on.  Like I said in my previous post, I had an expo to get to four hours away, so hanging out after the race for more than an hour was really unrealistic. Since I had come into town the night before along a different route, I wanted to take the shorter route back to the Denver area.  This meant driving from the race finish in Basalt, through Aspen and on through Independence Pass.

Once I started driving this route it became abundantly clear to me that I was actually glad that I hadn’t tried to drive this route the night before.  It was a winding road to say the least.  It was incredibly high up in the mountains, and barely one lane in spots.  It WAS beautiful though, just incredible.

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Little did I know that I would be driving along The Continental Divide.  I guess I really haven’t given much thought to what the Divide really is, so I’ve had to read up on it.  Yes, there is still snow up there.  I didn’t stop to take many pictures, but what a great place to do some sightseeing, hiking and even rock climbing.  I saw a ton of folks doing each of those things.

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The Continental Divide- the principle, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas.  The Continental Divide extends from the Bering Straight to the Straight of Magellan, and separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean.

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It was an amazing drive!  I still can’t believe the elevation of over 12,000 ft.  Maybe that’s why my ears kept popping.  Eventually my route took me back down through the Rockies and on into the Denver area.  I desperately needed a shower, so finding my hotel was the first order of business.

I stayed in Westminster, CO, about a 25 minute drive from the Revel Rockies race expo in Golden, and about the same distance to where I needed to catch the race buses in the morning in Morrison.  After a quick shower and a few minutes to relax I got back in the car and proceeded to the expo.  I completely forgot to take one single picture at the expo, but it was easy to find, and laid out perfectly.  There weren’t a whole lot of vendors at all, so after grabbing my bib, bag and shirts, off I went back to the hotel for some much needed rest.

Although there were many options for group dinners with other ambassadors, run groups, etc., I was so overtired, I just needed some quiet time, and an early bedtime even more.  I grabbed some food from a local restaurant and ate it in my hotel room.  Starting to fade very early in the evening, I mapped out my drive for the morning, got my gear ready to go, and set a very, very early alarm.  Like, isn’t 1:50am a bit too early?  Well, with needing to be at the parking lot for the busses leaving for the marathon between 3:30-4:15am, I felt this would be best.  I think I was fast asleep by 9:30pm.  Wish it had been even earlier.

I’ll end this post with a photo of my team and race shirt.

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Race Day post coming soon…….

November Goals

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My my goals for this month are pretty simple….

Successful completion of two marathons in 14 days, and then relax through the end of the month, enjoying the holiday with family.  I will start ramping back up a bit on December for next year, but that’s another post altogether.

Full on taper mode has been a little tough, but I have to remind myself that the rest is good for me.  Coming off of my 5th month in a row with running at least 100 miles, the focus is now just on two races.

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My next marathon is on Sunday.  Just two short days away.  I am heading out to the expo in a few hours.  Bib #462 for my 7th marathon.  I will also be volunteering my time at the Expo at the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore Estate booth.  I am heading there to meet with the event director, and help spread the word locally about this one of a kind boutique marathon.  As an Ambassador for that event, it will be great to talk about the race with folks coming in to pick up their packets for the race this weekend.

Marathon #2, in Las Vegas is on November 17th, just two weeks from this Sunday.  I am looking forward to that race for a bunch of different reasons.  The challenge of two marathons in two weeks especially.  How will my body hold up?  I know I’ve put in the work, now it’s time for the payoff.

November – a month of new experiences, two new races, and one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced.  I am embracing November!