Tag Archives: Expectations

Expectations for the Louisiana HALF Marathon

This was the Hudson River a couple days ago. Brrr!

Long time no see!  I wish I could say that since my last post I’ve been busy running and getting super fit and being showered with puppies and lottery winnings, but alas, I’ve just been lazy and eating a lot of holiday candy.  As the weeks since the NYC Marathon ticked by I thought to myself, “well, it’s not like I haven’t run many a marathon undertrained…” and then “wow, this will be the least I’ve ever run in the 2.5 months before a marathon…” and then “oh god what am I doing?”  But then I got sick after Christmas, and when the congestion wasn’t letting up, I finally realized I had a marathon problem.


On advice from my cute PT, and because I’m not totally crazy, I’ve dropped down to the half marathon for this weekend.  Why not just skip this race entirely if I’m not going to be able to cross off a state? Because I did that sooooo much back in 2016 after I broke my ankle that it pained me to think I’d have to start 2018 the same way.


So while it will be a bit of a hassle to get to Baton Rouge (super early morning train to Newark, flight to ATL, then flight to BTR), and the whole weekend will cost more than it should (since I’m staying for 3 whole nights because I’m doing the “Deja Vu” double race – 5K on Saturday and Half on Sunday), I decided it was still worth going for my psyche, and to get in a couple of nice outdoor runs after we’ve had such bitterly cold temps in NYC, and because I’m always jealous of the half marathoners finishing so early that I think I’ll enjoy being one of them, especially since the race bib comes with six (6!!) servings of food and/or beer and I’d love the time and energy to enjoy those things.  Five beers and one food, please!*


So, even though the forecast for the weekend says it will be about the same weather in Baton Rouge as New York City, I’m surprisingly looking forward to the trip – maybe even more so because I don’t have to run a full 26 miles.  Granted, 13 miles will still be quite a challenge in my current state of fitness, especially if I decide at the last minute to go all out for the costume contest (ack, why didn’t I realize there was a serious costume contest before today!  is there any possible way I could win??).  I’m also really looking forward to the amazing medals (bottle openers AND spinners?!?!) and the silly crawfish tray award, which I assure you will be piled with lots of foodstuffs but almost certainly not crawfish.


Have you ever dropped down a distance for a race?  Did you run during the extremely cold temps?  What was the best thing you ate over the holidays?  Share in the comments!


*This is decidedly not the breakdown I will be doing.

Expectations for the Delaware Marathon

My new Pop Tart case, balancing out becoming "Enlightened" and the "Inner Peas" I might get from the other foods.

My new Pop Tart case, balancing out becoming “Enlightened” and the “Inner Peas” I might get from the other foods.

The Discover Bank Delaware Marathon is this Sunday, and food is on my mind!  Most of my marathon preparation involves not so much running but rather the buying and packing of food.  I finally got a Pop Tart container so my Pop Tarts won’t get smashed in transit – I’m a little too excited to see if it works.  I also got a bunch of other new-ish snacks to take with me.  Since it’s a short visit and Wilmington is only a 2-hour train ride away, most of my luggage will be food for before and after the race.  I can even pack liquids!


The Delaware Marathon started 13 years ago because Delaware didn’t have a marathon.  (There were a few marathons before 1998, but nothing between 1998 and 2004.)  Now there are several marathons in the second smallest state, but it goes to show how much running has changed in the last 10 years, and how it might change in the future.


This year there are 459 full marathoners registered, 1101 halfers, and 938 people in the two relays – a 4-person relay and an 8-person relay.  Yes, an 8-person relay!!!  That’s less than 3.3 miles per person!  Man, I’m gonna be so jealous of them…


The course is two loops, so it’ll be my first looped marathon course.  They describe it as having some flats and some hills, so I’m anticipating it to be overall a little flatter than Central Park.  We’ve had over a week of rain along the East Coast, but it’s supposed to clear up a bit on Sunday, with highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s, so it should be pretty good weather for running.  I’m planning on wearing my yellow Marathon Maniac t-shirt for the first time, along with inappropriate hot pink gloves and rhinestones for fun.


Since Garmin Oz was less than 3 weeks ago, and I’m fighting off a sore throat that’s threatening to turn into something worse, I’ll also keep open the option of only running one lap.  Surprisingly, the organizers have said it’s ok to make that race-day decision!  They said you’d still get a time and even a half marathon medal, if available.  Crossing fingers I won’t have to do that, but if I do, it won’t be the end of the world, and luckily Delaware is so close that I can easily return next year.


But back to what’s most important:  The food!  The organizers said that “[b]efore the race, there will be coffee, rolls, spreads, bananas, water and Gatorade,” which is already a lot.  During the race they’ll have Gatorade and gels, but more importantly there’s “a Cookie Stop at Mile 8 & Mile 20.”  Awesome, right?  But check out what they’ll have after the race:

Please plan to visit the FranksWine Champagne Tent for a complementary post race glass of champagne!   Also, your hospitality wristband will entitle you to 4 beers from our Michelob Ultra / Shock Top Beer Garden.  Your post race meal will feature BBQ bourbon pulled pork, chicken, or burger sliders, pasta salad and fresh fruit from 2 Fat Guys Catering; Seasons Pizza; Bananas from Shop Rite; soft pretzels from the Pretzel Boys; Herrs Snacks, Hy Point Dairy Farms chocolate milk; Canada Dry beverages; Vitamin Water and Smart Water.  (emphasis added)

5 alcoholic beverages and enough food for several full meals?!  No wonder I signed up for this race…


My biggest (recurring) fear is that all the food will be gone by the time I finish, since I’ll be one of the last finishers on this 6-hour time limit course (and there are so many halfers and relay runners!).  If that happens, I will be sorely disappointed (and plain sore), but I’ll try to console myself with the full pantry of snacks I brought from home (not to mention the plethora of restaurants in the downtown and riverfront area).


The race also gives out a ton of swag:  For marathoners, “a gender specific  technical running shirt … a Headsweats running hat… and a special finisher’s medal from Crown Trophy.”  Everyone will get a personalized race bib, free online digital photos, and other goodies in the race bag (including a “Memo from a Delaware Marathoner” memo pad and a Delaware Marathon Pint Glass).  Expect all my memos to be from that pad from now on.


Delaware has only 1,982 square miles of territory (according to the race info packet – online sources have it range from 1,954 to 2,491, with many answers in-between).  I don’t know how they’ll fit all that food into less than 2,000 square miles, but I’ll help them get rid of a lot of it.


Have you ever visited Delaware?  Are you incorporated there?  What’s your favorite snack?  Share in the comments!

Expectations for the Garmin Oz Marathon

The cables for the cable cars at the cable car museum in San Francisco.

The Cable Car Museum in San Francisco.

I’m on the road in California right now, heading to Kansas tomorrow to run the Garmin Oz Marathon on Saturday.  As per usual, I’m undertrained and planning on taking the race as slow and easy as the 15 minute per mile pace time limit allows (about a 6:30 total time limit).  But this time I’m also coming off more than a week of travel to California, where I went to a reunion and then enjoyed the sunshine and the free Cable Car Museum in San Francisco.  Needless to say, I did not get much sleep during the reunion, did not do any running, and have eaten a lot of “I’m-on-vacation-so-it-doesn’t-count” food (cheese-stuffed burritos and paninis on campus!  steak tacos and steak-steak two nights in a row!  two different kinds of peanut butter chocolate caramel fudge from Pier 39!), so I’m not feeling like a runner, let alone a marathoner right now.  But maybe an elaborate costume will help?


Because I’m a crazy person, I decided at the last minute to change my costume from the Tin Man to the Wicked Witch.  Why?  Because although I had visions of wearing shiny silver lame while running in the search of a heart, I realized that I would probably pass out from the heat before making it 26 miles dressed like a baked potato.  So, I thought maybe I’d just wear grey, but without the shine I don’t think it would read very well.


My sister mentioned going as the witch, and I realized that’s who I should have been going as all along.  Why?  Because even without Wicked the book/musical, she’s the best character.  All she wanted was her dead sister’s shoes.  Dorothy, besides being super twee and annoying, literally murdered the witch’s sister and then stole her shoes with the help of Glinda, who, after first taunting the witch, callously remarked that the witch must only want the shoes because “their magic must be very powerful.”  Yes, that must be why I want my grandmother’s hand-crocheted afghan – for its powerful magic.  Jeeze, Glinda, you are a monster.


Now, just because the Wicked Witch of the West is the best character doesn’t mean I necessarily want her on the medal or shirt.  But, since she is the theme this year, I might as well embrace it and go ugly.  Not sure if or how I’ll do the green face makeup yet, especially since the forecast is calling for highs in the mid to upper 70s that day and I expect to sweat my usual buckets, but I’m hoping the witch hat fits over my running hat with all the Gu’s tucked inside and gives me extra shade to boot.


Since this will be my 23rd marathon, I wasn’t particularly nervous about the distance until I watched this (8-minute long!) fly-over of the course.  Never has 26.2 miles felt so far before…  (And here’s a map of the course with the new start/finish at the Embassy Suites Hotel.)


At least I’ll have a full day before the race to explore Olathe and/or Kansas City (so hot right now, just profiled in the WSJ), so I might check out the trampoline place or watch a movie at the fancy IMAX dine-in theater, or just do my favorite activity of wandering the aisles of Target.  I was interested in touring the Shatto Milk Company but it’s north of Kansas City and over an hour drive from Olathe, so I’ll probably skip the cows this time.


Finally, I’ll pull back the curtain, as it were, on a little blog drama, and probably thereby break all the etiquette rules of blogging, but since I have no ads and make no money on this blog (yet… ever?), being very open/honest is one of the few perks.  Back in January I had a brief correspondence going with the Manager of Sports and Events of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce.  He saw my post about the Garmin medal unveiling and he liked it (despite it being negative?  Or did he not notice?), and said they were interested in comping my admission to the race in exchange for a blog post.  I was very excited, told him my annual site traffic, and asked for details.  He first gave me a list of topic ideas for content, then said they’d want to review anything before I posted it (both my “expectations” post and my race recap itself), and then said my eligibility for a free entry depended on that post’s traffic.  I was not thrilled with any sort of content managing or pre-approval of my posts (especially for a small reward like a single free entry), and before it got too complicated I told him again my average post’s traffic (spoiler alert, it’s not that high).  After telling him my stats I never heard back from him (not even to say “thanks but no thanks”).  So, no filter, baby!  I can pan this race as much as I want!  Well, I would have done that anyway, but now I can really nit-pick anything wrong with it.  (I am, of course, joking – I will be as biased or as unbiased as I am on this or any race.  Freedom of the uncompensated press!)


Do you go to your reunions?  Do you let yourself slack off on vacation or do you try to stick to your schedule?  Who’s your favorite character from the Wizard of Oz?  Did you notice my various Wizard of Oz-themed puns?  Share in the comments!

Expectations for the Little Rock Marathon

I hope this is the last time I ever have to say this, but I’m really not ready for this marathon.  I’ve run a total of 11 (eleven!) miles since the Mississippi Blues Marathon 2 months ago.  Eeeeshh.  I’ve gone to the occasional rowing and spin class (thank you, Class Pass!), but I’m also coming off a bout of the flu that knocked me out for a little over a week (I got the shot but still got sick).  So, yeah, I’m pretty psyched that this race has a cut-off time of 8 hours so I can walk the whole thing, if it comes down to it.

So many pace teams!

So many pace groups!

I was supposed to run Little Rock two years ago but my flight got cancelled and the only other flight would have gotten me into Little Rock very late after the packet pickup was over.  It was a blessing in disguise because that year they had a storm and “re-routed” the course for some people – there was confusion as to whether the race was actually cancelled or not, and it also depended where you were on the course, but I know I would have gotten pulled off, probably around mile 18, and I would have been so pissed.


This year, I’m flying in a day early and running the 5K on Saturday before the marathon on Sunday.  Ostensibly this was to avoid another travel snafu but probably it’s more because I wanted an additional medal.


So, my expectations regarding the race(s) are pretty limited.  I have no expectation on my time, and I don’t even have a good guess as to how long it will take me.  (6 hours?  6 and a half?  More?)  I think the course has some rolling hills plus one long hill from mile 18 to 19, so I’ll probably be walking all of that.  The weather looks pretty good – clear and 50 to 70 degrees.  I splurged on the VIP tent for pre- and post-race, so I hope that’ll be worth the $25.  They’ve teased the medal (click here for a photo) and while it’s large, it’s mostly cut-out (they said to reduce weight) and not that cute… But this is the year of ugly medals, so at least it’s got that going for it.


I’m looking forward to a big expo and seeing Little Rock for the first time – there seems to be an abundance of tasty restaurants, but I also packed this most delicious bread.  It’s the milkshake of breads in that it’s delicious, melts in your mouth, and is calorically dense but nutritionally devoid.


Or like the cotton candy of breads... either way, delicious.

Or it’s like the cotton candy of breads… either way, delicious.

See you in Little Rock!


Have you ever visited Little Rock?  Are you surprised to learn this is only the 14th Little Rock Marathon?  Do you think the Bachelor producers made Ben tell that second woman he loved her?  Have you ever tried that delicious pull bread?  Share in the comments!

Expectations for the MS Blues Marathon

The Mississippi Blues Marathon Route (courtesy MSBluesMarathon.com)

The Mississippi Blues Marathon Route (courtesy MSBluesMarathon.com)

Despite having run 3 marathons in the past 3 months, I’m pretty relaxed about this 4th marathon in as many months, mostly because the time cutoff is 7 hours, which means I can walk a lot.


However, in writing this post I discovered a note to myself saying the marathon is “hilly!” so my anxiety about this race just ticked up a bit, and my expectations of walking ticked up a lot.  I’ve also only run three (3!!!) times in the last month, the longest being 6 miles.  Definitely hoping to coast on my prior marathons and it won’t be pretty…


Speaking of not pretty, I was really excited for the medal, which has always been a super cool huge guitar, sometimes with a swinging pick, but they unveiled the design for this year, and I am disappoint.

Ugh, and the shirt is white.  :P

Ugh, and the shirt is white. 😛

I mean, seriously, look how amazing the medals are from prior years, and compare it to this year’s.

So cool and huge!

So cool and huge and sparkly!

I don’t want some dude playing my guitar, even if it is BB King.  And it’s not even BB King, it’s his legless torso with a pained, ghostly rictus.  It’s a weird, ugly medal that will grimace at me until I replace it with another Mississippi marathon medal (which will be never).  (I originally said “stare” at me, but his eyes are closed in sad resignation at this unappealing homage.)

I mean *really*

I mean *really*

Despite gas being only $1.90 a gallon (!!!) in downtown Jackson, I’m skipping the rental car since the hotel, expo, start, and finish are all within a few blocks of each other (and the rental car, with taxes, fees, and parking, will end up costing about as much as a taxi to and from the airport, but with a taxi I won’t have to worry about driving, navigating, or refueling before the return).


Forecast varies with a 30 to 80% chance of thunderstorms, so that’s not great, but temps will be in the 50s to mid 60s, which is ok.  I’ll be doing my anti-rain dance on Friday as I eat the first of potentially many fried chicken sandwiches, as there’s a Chick-fil-A directly across from the hotel.  Since I didn’t grow up eating Chick-fil-A and we only recently got a single location in NYC, it’s a “novelty” fast food restaurant for me, and thus anything eaten there doesn’t count.


Have you ever run the Mississippi Blues Marathon?  Do you hate this year’s medal?  Do you love Chick-fil-A?  Share in the comments!

ClassPass & Expectations for Philly

Philadelphia marathon course map 2015

I’m running Philly!  Oh, is this not news?  It’s news to me, since I was on the fence due to my most recent injury (tendonitis).  I’ve been not running for what seems like ages now – my last long run was my last marathon on October 4th!  I finally went out yesterday to test my legs and see if the pain cropped up around 1-2 miles as usual, but it held off, and I had an exceedingly pleasant 6-mile run.  So, I decided to at least try running Philadelphia this weekend!


Of course, my left knee decided to hurt after the run, and I know that I’ll be feeling the pain both during and after the race because my legs are not in condition to run 26, but at this point that’s just part of the game.  If I only ran marathons when I felt 100%, I’d run one marathon every 5 years and die before reaching the 50 States never run a marathon.


As much as I hate to admit it, I think two things really helped me somewhat recover from this injury (or at least not exacerbate the injury into something more serious) – not running and cross-training.  Yes, the dreaded cross-training!  I really don’t enjoy cross-training, as I enjoy being lazy and cross-training eats into my lazy time.  But I was getting pretty depressed about not being able to run, so I bit the bullet and signed up for ClassPass.  (I am not employed or paid by ClassPass in any way, even though it’s about to sound like I am…)


(Cue Stefon from SNL)  New York’s hottest club is ClassPass.  ClassPass is that thing where you can take unlimited gym classes at various participating studios for $130 per month (with tax, in NYC – other cities slightly cheaper).  It has everything – spin, yoga, barre, bootcamp, Zumba, HIIT, rowing, strength-training, open gym time.  You’re limited to three classes per month at any given studio, so if you really like barre at PureBarre and nothing else, ClassPass wouldn’t be for you.  But if you’re interested in trying a variety of different workouts at a variety of studios, it’s great.  They also allow you to go to classes in various cities, so if you travel a lot you can still get your classes in.


There’s mild controversy surrounding ClassPass, mostly because they raised their prices by 25% “without warning,” and some think it’s bad for small studios (in that it supposedly robs their customer base), but as a newcomer to the service I’ve been loving it.  I definitely wouldn’t have signed up for the various classes at the various studios without it (thus helping and not hurting the studios, since I’ve now been exposed to their services), and I’ve definitely been getting some good workouts without running (although they do have some running classes, which I’m dying to try when I feel better).  However, I’ve heard that some of the more popular classes get filled very quickly at popular times (like after work), so if you’re not going at random times like I usually am, you might have more trouble booking.  If you’re interested, I’d say check out what classes are available in your area (which you can do before signing up), and decide whether it would be worth it for you.  Right now, it’s been really great for me, and ultimately I hope it improves my running.

Philadelphia marathon elevation profile 2015

Will I notice all those little jagged bits or not?

So what are my expectations for Philly?  The weather is supposed to be great for running, if not a bit cold (cloudy, in the low 30s to upper 40s), and the course is relatively flat-ish.  I’m loving the 7-hour time cutoff (that’s 16 minutes per mile).  I hope it doesn’t actually take me 7 hours, simply because I don’t want to be on my feet that long, but I’m glad I won’t have any time pressure.  I’ll be aiming for 12:30 – 13 minute miles, taking more walk breaks than usual to rest my undertrained legs (so a 5:30 to 5:45 finish, give or take some minutes).  I expect to be a little cold, to be surprised how many people there are, and to eat a half-decent cheesesteak the day before the race (and maybe another after).


We got our final confirmation emails today, and I have to say that reading that email with all the final details actually made my palms sweaty and my heart race.  I am not immune to race-day nerves, apparently even 6 days before race-day!  But the interesting thing in the email is that they’ll allow runners to make a race-day decision to drop down to the half marathon and still get a finishing time and medal (without penalty or problem).  They don’t allow people registered for the half to run the full, but dropping down is ok.  So, if I do have a major problem on race day, I can always drop down (but don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be pretty upset).


And what am I wearing?  A Rocky-inspired grey running outfit, with red headband & white half gloves, but sans the bulky sweatpants because I just couldn’t last in those.  Here are all the running scenes in Rocky.  I’ve only ever watched the first movie, so this is my take on the running scenes totally out of context – the first is the classic and has a lot of other training in it, the second is a ridiculous long running one where a mob of kids chase him through the streets of Philadelphia, the third must be set in California or something and the ending is hilarious and the best, the fourth is in Russia maybe and he runs up a snowy mountain, the fifth is very short and has one kid in it (his?), and the sixth is where he’s old and has a dog.  I can’t wait for numbers seven through fifteen!


Have you ever visited Philadelphia?  Have you seen all the Rocky movies?  Did you even know there were 6 Rocky movies?  Share in the comments!

Packing “Light” for a Fall Marathon

Yes, this is packing light for me.

Yes, this is packing light for me.

I haven’t done a normal marathon packing post in a while, and since I have four fall/winter marathons coming up, all (?) of which I’ll be traveling to without renting a car, I thought I’d share my experiments with packing “light.”  For this trip, I’m flying out to Minneapolis on Saturday morning, running the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, and flying back on Monday night.


I plan on visiting the Mall of America (to ride a roller coaster!) on Monday before my flight, so I’ll have all my luggage with me then (they have lockers for rent at the mall).  I’m also using the metro system a lot (to get from the airport to downtown (where my hotel is, not far from the marathon start), from downtown to the expo and back, and probably from the marathon finish back to downtown (unless I use one of the race’s buses)) so I decided to go with a small roller bag plus an expandable briefcase-style bag that will slip over the rolling bag’s handle for ease of carry.  I considered using my normal roller but I wanted to see how two smaller bags would work, and I also considered using just one large backpack and skipping a roller altogether, but I thought I’d get tired shlepping all my stuff through the airport and on the trains.


Ok, so what’s all in the picture above?  Starting from top left and working (sorta) down and across:

Packing stuff left side

  • Lipault Wheeled Pilot Case – fits two packing cubes, all my toiletries, socks & underwear, massage tools, two sandwich Ziplocs of gels/gummies and Clif bars, and a Garmin watch in a case.  Unfortunately it does not fit my shoes along with all those other items.
  • Nike Studio Kit 2.0 (almost invisibly sitting on top of the roller case) – to use as my “purse” but it’s big enough to fit my kindle, tablet, papers/notebook, snacks, etc.
  • Herschel Supply Co. Packable Daypack – to bring to the expo so I can carry all the expo goodies back
  • Socks and underwear (in Ziploc bags)
  • Hoka One One Clifton – I just got these but they’re actually the Clifton 1 from last year – I loved them in the 10-Miler and hopefully they’ll hold up for the full 26.2 (and beyond!)
  • Road ID (on the shoes)
  • Adidas Adipure Slides – This is the most important new thing I will always pack – slides!  I realized after South Dakota that once I was back in the hotel room, I really didn’t want to put my sneakers on after the race, so I actually just stayed in my room the whole afternoon.  Slides won’t hurt my toes post-marathon, and they can also be used as slippers so your feet don’t have to touch nasty hotel carpet (but can be used as actual shoes unlike slippers).  The Adipure slides are very lightweight.
  • CEP calf compression sleeves – just in case it’s really cold the morning of the race (it effectively transforms my capri running tights into full length tights, although it looks terribly dorky)
  • Garbage bag
  • Assorted head and neck warmers (e.g. Bondi Band, Buff, headband)
  • SPI Running belt
  • Hat (black and grey) – from Target, I think
  • Gloves (pink) – also from Target, I think
  • Oakley sunglass case & glasses (on hat) – I’m actually packing my training sunglasses instead of my fancier photocromatic ones because for some reason I want to wear them.  I got them years ago, but I think they are the Radarlock version?  Or maybe the Radar Path Asian Fit?
  • Packing stuff middle“Regular” sunglasses (on American Flag soft bag – great deal on Amazon – ‘MERICA!) – to wear while not running (I could have downsized here and just brought a single pair, but I splurged and am packing two).
  • Gas Cap Hat
  • Clothes – Zoot Sports IceFil shirt (in case it’s hot), long-sleeved pink shirt (for expected temps), white rain jacket (stained, to toss), pink rain jacket, CW-X Stabilyx 3/4 tights, “Everything Hurts And I’m Dying” cotton t-shirt and comfy black pants to wear Sunday night/Monday, pj shorts, cheap grey fleece to toss, and grey sweatpants & animal-print fleece for bag check (to wear after race).  The weather is supposed to be perfect running weather (partly cloudy and temps in the 40s to a high of 60) so I’m not packing as many “contingency” clothes as I sometimes do.
  • Koss Fitclips headphones
  • Charger and cables
  • Kindle and Samsung Tablet (Galaxy 4)
  • Footstar massage ball and a massage tool (I got the tool at some expo and it doesn’t have the brand on it – sorry I can’t remember! You could try this or this.)
  • Garmin 620 – with charger in a hard sunglasses case (otherwise I find the buttons get pushed in transit and the watch does weird things and dies).  BTW it’s been finding satellites much faster recently in NYC – more satellites up there now?
  • Pink flower, blue flower, and hot pink long gloves (back up at the top of the photo) – I don’t have a great costume for this race, so I’m just going with a pink theme.  No real reason.
  • A. Saks Expandable Tote Bag – only $35 on Amazon right now, this bag will swallow everything you own, so you have to be careful not to overpack (to leave room for Mall of America goodies!).
All packed up!

All packed up!  It’s a surprising amount of stuff, even still!


Also, yes, I PACK my marathon shoes.  A lot of space could be saved by simply wearing them, but after I was vomited on twice on airplanes, I pack my precious, precious shoes.


The Twin Cities Marathon elevation chart.

The Twin Cities Marathon elevation chart.


And now for my expectations!  I always try to include my expectations because I think a lot of how someone feels about a race depends on what they were expecting.

  • I’m expecting it to be “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.”

    Twin Cities Marathon elevation miles 20 to 23

    A three mile hill!

  • I think the course is mostly flat to rolling, except for a crazy 3 mile hill between miles 20 to 23!
  • Potentially cold (temps in the 40s at the start), but secretly I’m expecting it to be perfect weather.
  • Easy walk from my hotel to the start, but I’m expecting a long wait for the bus or train back to the hotel, so I’m checking sweatpants and a sweatshirt so I don’t freeze while waiting.
  • I’m aiming for 12-13 minute miles (ideally between 12:00 and 12:30 – or a 5:15 to 5:30 marathon), but I’m not sure how realistic that is considering my training (longest run was a single 16-miler at a much slower pace) and recurring knee pain.
  • And finally, I’m a little worried I’m sick – I’ve felt bad all day today, with a headache that won’t go away and a slight loss of appetite (only slight – I’m not dead!).  I even took a nap but the headache didn’t go away.  So…. yeah.  If I’m sick, I’m sick, and that’s gonna suck and change all of my expectations.  Hopefully I’m just tired and can go to bed early tonight and feel better for my big travel day tomorrow…


Have you ever visited the Mall of America?  What’s your favorite flavor of Clif Bar?  Do you have any packing tips or tricks?  Share in the comments!

Expectations for the Wisconsin Marathon

Central park cherry blossoms 2015 April

A beautiful day for an ugly run.  (Pretty stranger lady for scale.)

I’m supposed to run the Wisconsin Marathon in 2.5 days, and in typical fashion I’m not ready.  Today I went for my final run before Saturday’s race and it was pretty terrible.  I hope it’ll be further evidence for my good run/bad run theory, but I think it’s just because I’m out of shape.

Wisconsin Marathon outfit and jelly belly coupon from Kenosha website

The only fashion in which I’m ready is my fashion.

I’m still very tired from Ecuador – tired like I’m ready to sleep at any given time of day – and part of me wonders if I’m sick.  Also, the elevation or something really worked my body hard since I’m 4 to 5 pounds lighter than I was when I left (and it’s not just water weight because I’ve been back for 3 days now and hydrating plenty).  I certainly wasn’t dieting – I ate copious amounts of chocolate (and ice cream and potatoes and cheese…) while I was there.  I’m a little worried it was muscle that I lost, and that’s the only weight I don’t have to spare.

Central Park tulips east side April 2015

One more picture of beautiful spring flowers because it’s freaking gorgeous outside and I want to share it.

Thus I expect another slow, partially (greatly?) walked marathon.  My longest training run was 14.5 miles a single time – not quite as bad as my training for Houston, but really lacking overall, partially because of the weather, partially because I was lazy, and partially because my knee pain started flaring up again.  Looking back at the dearth of my Garmin entries makes me question my status as a runner, but also makes me want to improve on my running frequency.


For the race itself, I expect a fairly boring, tedious course.  It loops back over and crosses itself many, many times, meaning I’ll be watching all the fast people and half-marathoners finish while I have another some-teen miles to go.  They don’t allow pace groups and they hint that there is zero on-course entertainment, so I’m strongly considering wearing headphones for the first time in years.  Since the relatively small race (about 850 full, 2000 halfers) isn’t sold out, I’m expecting to be pretty lonely at the back of the pack and might need some tunes for company.


So you might be wondering, “why the heck did you chose this race to begin with?”  Besides needing Wisconsin, and besides the beer and brat they promised at the finish, I wanted to do a race on my birthday, with the idea that running would help chase away the specter of death that haunts any birthday after 21.  I was really hoping for a medal with the day and date, but it looks like it’ll only have the date and I’ll have to rely on my increasingly faulty memory for the day.


Also, let’s not forget the fun that the Kenosha area promises – a Jelly Belly Factory, a Scandinavian bakerymultiple breweries, ice cream and popcorn stores, and outlet shopping!  And if nothing else, I have the Wisconsin Marathon to thank for bringing to my attention the Kenosha visitor’s website with this awesome list of things to do for foodies (they have TWO supper clubs and TWO drive-ins!).  I’ll be sure to pack on those 4-5 pounds I lost somewhere in South America, and treat myself to multiple birthday presents at outlet prices.


Have you ever run the Wisconsin Marathon?  Have you ever visited the “real” Jelly Belly Factory southwest of Sacramento?  How much ice cream and candy can I eat this weekend and justify eating because of my birthday?  Did you register for the Philadelphia Marathon today before the price goes up on Friday?  Share in the comments!

Chicago marathon handbook and costume

Expectations for the Chicago Marathon

Chicago marathon handbook and costume

My Chicago Marathon handbook with some of my costume…

My Race Participant booklet arrived in the mail, and I’m increasingly nervous/excited for Chicago this Sunday!


In mid-September, before the Blerch half, I spent too many hours reading other blogger recaps of the Chicago Marathon.  Besides noticing that almost all running bloggers are women, here are my expectations for Chicago:


  • The expo is huge but well-organized (and there is little to no chance I leave without buying something).
  • It sounds like a lot of people take public transport or even cabs to the start, so I will look into that option (although sounds like catching a cab at the finish is very difficult).
  • The weather can range anywhere from upper 40s to 90s – and this Sunday’s forecast is 50/50 on rain, temps ranging from 49 to 58.
  • Garmins will not work well for at least the first several miles due to all the tall buildings.
  • Congestion on the course is not so bad (although most were running around 4:00, so who knows what it’s like in the back of the pack where I will be).
  • The marathon route offers a good tour of the city.
  • There are nice, long fluid stations with almost a a full city block of Gatorade followed by a full block of water (the perfect arrangement).
  • There are lots and lots of spectators and they are very loud.  This will be an interesting change for me since most of my recent marathons have been relatively small and/or with sparse crowd support.  I’ve decided not to wear headphones and almost want to bring earplugs (sometimes noisemakers can be too loud), but I probably won’t.
  • The flat course causes cramping (something I’ve been anticipating since even considering Chicago, so I’ve been trying to train more on the flats than usual but still am probably going to suffer some new malady from the repetitive flats).
  • The slight hill at mile 26 seems shocking in comparison to the rest of the flat course.
  • I expect to finish in about 6 hours, give or take a little (hopefully take).  I will be walking a lot, but not quite as much as in Hatfield McCoy (crossing fingers!).
  • You get a fun box of packaged food at the finish (like at Disney).  You also get one free beer!
  • The finish party area is a long walk from the finish line (like .8 miles).
  • Kinda ugly medal but last year’s shirt looked good.
  • I won’t make it out of Chicago without eating deep dish at least once.


Check out Runner’s World Magazine’s Chicago Marathon Coverage for more info and tips, including a nice video overview of the course (caution: video will automatically start playing).  I had to do a separate Google search to determine if “360 Chicago” (formerly John Hancock Observatory) is actually different than “SkyDeck Chicago” (aka Willis (formerly Sears) Tower) and not just a different “experience” at the same location.  It is, in fact, a different building and view.  I might try to do one of those on Saturday, and/or the Art Institute.  Luckily I already have tickets to Second City for Friday night, so I’ll be doing at least one iconic Chicago attraction, besides the pizza.


What are your expectations for Chicago?  Have any advice about Chicago, running or otherwise?  Do you think that the woman on the cover of the 2014 Participant Guide knows she’s on the cover of the 2014 Participant Guide, and do you think she’s super psyched or embarrassed?  Are you excited The Walking Dead is also premiering this Sunday?  Share in the comments!

No airports nearby Hatfield McCoy marathon

Hatfield McCoy Miniseries Review & Expectations for the Race

No airports nearby Hatfield McCoy marathon

This informs everything.  (From Hatfield McCoy Marathon’s FAQ.)

I just finished watching the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries starring Kevin Costner (the guy from Waterworld), Bill Paxton (the guy from Twister), and a bunch of other people who look familiar but I couldn’t place until IMDB (Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games, Sam from The Big Chill, Col. Jim Faith from MacGruber).  I wasted 4.5 hours of my life (it felt like much longer) so that you won’t have to.


MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD so if you feel like watching it (available streaming on Netflix) instead of reading my charming review, skip the next 5 paragraphs and go straight to “expectations.”  I don’t know if the miniseries is historically accurate, and there seems to be debate about what actually happened, but I do know this miniseries is boring and makes everyone involved look like terrible people.


The miniseries starts out mildly interesting, with a Hatfield and a McCoy fighting side-by-side in the Civil War (for the south, of course).  But within a few minutes Kevin Costner Devil Hatfield (his real name) deserts his troop in the middle of the night, and thus begins the story of the Hatfields looking like the absolute worst.  Now, both families come off looking terrible, but the fact that the Hatfields look so bad compared to the idiot McCoys should tell you just how bad the Hatfields come off.  I think that within the first 30 minutes various Hatfields (1) kill a slew of Yankees & then desert the army, (2) murder unarmed Yankee prisoners, (3) murder a McCoy sleeping in a cabin, (4) steal a pig from the McCoys, and (5) generally lie if not commit outright fraud, all before the McCoys even bother escalating the feud into something to actually get worked up about (e.g. murder).


Then there’s a stupid love story of a (hot) Hatfield boy impregnating loving a McCoy girl.  Despite repeatedly confessing his love for her and even getting shot & kidnapped by her brothers (separate events, oddly enough) and then saved from certain death because of the acts of the McCoy girl, the Hatfield boy ultimately won’t stand up for her in front of his father and thus becomes a certified douchebag.  Later he marries a different McCoy girl cuz lol why not yolo.  This is where the miniseries really gets really dull and confusing and I started only half-watching.  Little did I know that the stupid love story was the most entertaining part.  It gets super boring with lots of murders and stuff, back and forth, I can’t even care.  And when I can’t care that three young men get tied to trees and shot in cold blood, there’s clearly something wrong with the storytelling.


The third and final episode features a big shootout, but it’s all so stupid that I think that even if I had followed it closely it would have made about as much sense.  After the big battle there’s some pointless trial and everyone gets life in prison except the mentally challenged boy who gets death by hanging, because of course he does.  By the end I don’t even know who was killing who and I didn’t care.  I guess that was the point (to show how a feud benefits nobody), but it was all so stupid it was just a big waste of time.  If you need to watch a stupid miniseries to know not to start a blood feud with another family, then you shouldn’t have a Netflix account.


The show portrays both families as so stupid that I was seriously embarrassed for America as I watched this.  If this is what the world thinks of us, well, I’m going to start wearing a maple leaf when I travel.  It also seemed like literally everyone in the town was either a Hatfield or a McCoy, and except for that one pair of star-crossed lovers, the families did not “intermingle” if you know what I mean.  The amount of inbreeding that must have happened makes what Adam and Eve’s kids must’ve done look downright kosher.  The best thing about this show is that there were a lot of good-looking actors in it.  Either inbreeding creates really gorgeous people, or this was not historically accurate casting.


For the Hatfield McCoy Marathon, all the runners randomly get assigned to either the “Hatfield” team or the “McCoy” team, and whichever team has the lowest average time “wins” that year’s race.  I definitely feel more sympathetic to the McCoys (as a Yankee lawyer who doesn’t steal pigs or murder), but since I know I’ll have a terrible finishing time (if I finish at all), I also won’t mind being on the Hatfield team, just to bring them down as a McCoy mole.  The saddest thing is that it will take me much longer to finish the race than it took to watch the entire miniseries, and yet it might be easier to run 26 miles than watch that junk again.



hatfield mccoy marathon course elevation

No total elevation change given, but it’s safe to say “a lot.”

I have a lot of expectations for this weekend’s Hatfield McCoy Marathon.  Many are from reading other recaps about past HMMs, some are from the race’s own website, and some stem from my own unrelenting injuries and lack of fitness.  Let’s get started.


  • It will be a tough course.  It’s a small group of runners (meaning I will be alone for most of the race), it’s rural (so not a lot of spectators), and hilly (mile 6-7 is up “Blackberry Mountain” and features about 500 feet in elevation gain, or roughly a 9.5% grade for an entire mile).  Many bloggers commented that because much of the course is on the edge of the road, it’s sloped enough to aggravate your IT band.  This is great news, since I’ve already developed every other runner injury (runner’s knee, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis), so why not throw an IT band injury on there?  There’s also a couple miles near the end that are on a dirt road that might be pretty muddy due to all the rain this week.  The Weather Channel lists this as one of the top 15 toughest marathons in the world.  I hope that, as usual, the Weather Channel is wrong.
  • It will be hot.  Highs are forecasted to be in the mid-80s, and there are thunderstorms in the area all week, so it’ll be humid, too.  Plus, I will be wearing what amounts to almost a full-body compression suit because of my injuries, so I won’t exactly be dressed for a hot day.  Luckily, there will be water stops every mile, and I anticipate dumping a lot of water over my head.
  • It will be my slowest marathon ever, if I can even finish.  I am not in shape to run 26.2 miles.  I’m not in shape because I’m injured, and I can’t escape my injuries without getting in shape.  I’m stuck in a pretty bad Catch-22 right now, so until Yossarian comes to save me, I’m just going to hobble along.  This is my first serious DNF possibility, which will be a bummer, but I’m trying not to dwell on that too much until it happens.  My shin splints and knees feel (not great but) ok, but my plantar fasciitis is acting up enough that I finally booked an appointment with a doctor, but that’s not until later this month.  While I’ve definitely been undertrained in the past, I’ve never been this out-of-shape combined with injury combined with extra weight, so the only reason there’s even a possibility that I finish is that there’s no time limit.  (Shotgun to my head, I’d guess I’ll either DNF or finish in 6:15 to 6:30.)
  • It’s a great race.  Everyone raves about this race.  Everyone.  I can’t seem to find a bad review of it.  I don’t know if that’s because it only attracts the kind of people who find running 26 hilly miles in 85-degree humid conditions fun, or if they put moonshine in the water cups, or if people are just worried that if they say anything negative the Hatfields will set fire to their homes while they’re sleeping (true story), but it seems universally loved.
  • There will be a lot of 50-staters and Maniacs.  It’s officially a 50 States Marathon Club reunion race (my first!) and there’s a long list of people going, plus it’s a popular race with Marathon Maniacs, so basically everyone running will be dressed in red/white/blue or yellow singlets and be much, much faster than me.
  • There’s a Hatfield McCoy skit (with costumes!) at the pasta dinner.  The expo/free (for marathoners) pasta dinner/show all takes place at a local high school, and runners rave about the whole experience.  I’m pretty excited for it.  There also a free post-race meal for runners.  Two free meals?  Amazing.
  • There is a literal shotgun start to the race.  And no chip timing.  And a semi truck waiting at the top of Blackberry Mountain.  And the “world’s smallest” horses.  And costumed volunteers.  And potentially an opportunity for an airboat ride after the race (separate from the marathon, but still!).
  • A medal and moonshine jar await me at the finish.  If I can make it…


Did you ever watch the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries?  Would you rather run a marathon or have to watch that miniseries?  Have you ever gotten a DNF in a race?  Share in the comments!