Wednesday, October 21, 2009

“That’s the dumbest thing in the world!”

“That’s the dumbest thing in the world! I don’t understand what would posses someone to do that… humans just weren’t meant to do crazy stuff like that.”

Those are the words directed at me by an executive at the company I work at! Normally not something you would like to hear from someone who has the power to fire you… but I was quite pleased. This is how he responded when he found out that I had run in the Chicago City Marathon! Boo Yah!

It was AWESOME, and an extremely fun experience that I’m very grateful I was able to do. I signed up for the race several months ago with my brother Brian, and his wife Natalie. Of course, back then it seemed like SUCH a good idea (at mile 19 I was reconsidering that line of thought… hahaha)

I started training for it seriously ever since early July. The run I actually counted as my first “training” run was with Naomi’s brother Jake when we visited Family in Utah. He totally ran circles around me that day without even breaking a sweat, which helped motivate me to train!

Brian and Natalie, I believe, were the true studs of race day, mostly for their training! Natalie is a mother of two, and had her last child just a smidge over a year ago! From giving birth to running a Marathon in a year! She’s an animal! Brian was able to get all of his training done while simultaneously working 70+ hours a week at an internship with Goldman Sachs, then while a full-time MBA student at the University of Michigan. I sometimes complained about trying to find time to fit in all the training, but he really put me to shame!

So here is the final tally for my training. Note that I only started keeping track of workouts in July. I actually was quite active in working out since I got out here to Chicago, but I hadn’t started any sort of scheduled or structured training until Jake kicked my rear in Utah.

Total Distance Run: 434.2 miles (including 1 marathon in Duluth, MN, and one Ragnar Relay Race in Wisconsin)

Total Distance Biked: 75 miles (mostly on the stationary bike at the gym during lunch…my Dad does this distance on his bike in one day!)

Total Distance Swimming: 8,500 meters (again, at the gym during lunch)

Total Distance Rowing: 24,200 meters (at the gym during lunch)

I did all my training for this race with 2 goals in mind: #1 I wanted to finish the Marathon below 3:30:00 (approx 8 min/mile pace) and #2 I wanted to run the entire thing without stopping to walk!So now it’s on to race day!


This was a SWEET idea. Nike gave out these temporary tatoos with pace split times on it. The listed split times are the splits to complete by a certain time (in the case of my arm, 3:30) At every mile, I could look down at my sweet-looking fake tatoo and compare my time with the split time. It was a sweet idea!

Thanks to Brian and his SWEET connections, we managed to get an apartment in downtown Chicago about 3 blocks from the starting line (Seriously, they don’t come any closer). What that meant for us was that we got to relax the night before the race. After getting downtown, picking up our race packets and visiting the race expo, it was back to the apt to chill for the rest of the night! Wow. (My last Marathon with Becca, Naomi and I drove 8 straight hours to get into Duluth, MN, went to bed at 2:00AM then woke up at about 5:30 to go race… you can imagine why I appreciated the setup we had!)

Race day was cold. So cold, in fact, that I had to wear a long-sleeve t-shirt over my running shirt while we all huddled like cattle at the starting line (they even call it a corral!) So we were all shaking like crazy, partly from being nervous and partly from being freezing!

The gun went off, and we waddled patiently to the starting line until the crowd thinned out and we could actually begin a gait similar to that of running!

Miles 1-3:

This was the time where I was just in awe of my surroundings. It was a blur of runners packed in all around me, literally tens of thousands of spectators on the side of the street and waving signs and yelling encouragement. It was so packed with runners, that I had to slow it down several times, mostly when bottlenecks invariably developed along points where the road got skinnier or the spectators started bunching in. Somewhere in this time-frame I warmed up enough to ditch the long-sleeve t-shirt into a garbage can on the side of the road. I felt good during this portion, just mostly jittery and excited about the whole experience!

Miles 3-13.1:

This part of the race was what I call the “super fun” part of the race! I was giving high fives to kids on the side of the street, playing the air guitar with one of the live bands, pretending I was an airplane so the crowd would cheer more. Oh, and I think I gave a high five to Elvis in there too somewhere. This part was also very scenic as we made a u-turn north of the city and run for quite a ways due south towards downtown. It was really neat to turn that corner and see the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) way off in the distance and watch as it got closer and closer then finally I was right underneath it and ran right passed it! It was gorgeous, and I probably strained my neck because I was looking up so much at all the cool buildings! I cruised along at a very comfortable pace and was quite pleased to see my split time as I came across the half-way point. I noticed that if I was able to keep the same steady pace through the end of the race, I could beat the 3:10:00 mark, which incidentally is the time I would have to beat to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon. Once upon a time (actually 3 days before the race) Naomi’s sister Becca promised me that if I qualified for Boston she would buy me a milkshake. We had a good laugh at that thought, as I’m sure we both thought she was joking (I certainly did), but when I crossed the mid-point and saw that it was possible, I saw visions of M&Ms and cookie dough chunks in a swirl of frozen dairy goodness dancing through my head and I decided to try!!

Miles 13.1-18

This part might be considered the “doldrums” of the race. We hooked in downtown and started running due west, and the scenery became much less spectacular. Add that to the fact that this was the portion where the amount of spectators dropped off significantly, and it was a definite quiet section of the course. I still felt great though, and continued comfortably at a pace that would earn me a milkshake.

Miles 18-21

This was the point when the pain started. At first it was just a mere twinge in my right hamstring. Getting a warning like that It’s like watching a wall of rain from a rainstorm barreling your way. You get some warning, but you’re still going to get soaked no matter what you do! The good news about this was that I had expected this to happen, and was ready to adjust my running style ever so slightly to slow the onset of the dreaded seizing of the muscles. Making this change slowed me down just slightly, but kept my muscles happy enough to keep going nicely. This was the point in the race that I new I was going to accomplish my first goal (finish by 3:30:00) and my second goal (not stopping) was firmly in my mind. I did NOT want to stop to walk or stretch muscles. That single thought and my goal was pretty close to the only thing that I thought of for the last 5 miles.

Miles 21-26

I honestly don’t think that the last 5 miles of a marathon can be adequately described to anyone… it must be experienced. This was definitely the grit-your-teeth-and-find-out-what-you’re-made-of portion of the race. It was tough. Starting at about mile 21, the torrential rainstorm of seizing muscles finally caught up to me and started sending daggers of pain all up and down my legs. It started in my hamstrings, and worked its way to my quads then finally tried attacking my calves. The only thing I can think of saying is “ouch” (repeated about a thousand times). It was in this portion where I noticed that I was really slowing down. The pain made it pretty tough to keep up my previous pace, and well, I guess running that far can make you pooped!! Now after saying that, I can also say it was my favorite stretch of the race. It seemed like there were a million people on the side of the road. And people cheering at you has a way of giving you a shot of adrenaline that gives you enough energy to go just a little bit further. It was mile 25.6, by the way, where I finally saw Naomi! She is favorite spectator by far!! It sure meant a lot to me to see her, and it was exactly what I needed at that point to propel me to finish the longest 0.6 miles of my life!


Miles 26 – 26.2

We rounded Roosevelt Rd and made the final turn into Grant Park and the chute into the finish! Normally you don’t look at 0.2 miles and think that it’s a long way. But wow. Someone said it best: “the 1st half of the marathon is 13 miles…the 2nd half of the marathon is 13 miles, and the last half is 0.2 miles”. It was crazy and I was never more pleased to cross a finish line in my life!! Here are my stats and split times:

I did a little playing around with my splits and pace times and came up with some additional info:


Now, notice 2 things: #1, I finished with a time of 3:13:26, which happens to be exactly 127 seconds too slow for the Boston Marathon qualification. DANG! I was SOOOOO close!! #2, you can see how I really slowed down there at the end. It pretty accurately shows the amount of pain I went through escalating through the end of the run. Ouch!

So I was very happy to have completed my two goals, a little bummed that I missed out on a milkshake, but content, because I literally had nothing left at the end of that race!


It was awesome, and like always…

respect the last 5 miles.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Days 10-14 of Jennie and Naomi’s Great Adventure!

Day 10: (Saturday, October 3rd)

Saturday morning we got up early and headed over to see the local glass blower before the first session of General Conference came on. Then, back to our hotel to stream Conference over the internet. After that we drove up to Smugglers Notch and took a short hike. We got back just in time for the second session of Conference, after which, we went over to a Thai restaurant and had YUMMO sushi and curry!

Here is a video of the glass blower in action! It was so awesome to watch him at work!

100_4563This is the finished product of what the dude was making in the video. Who knew!?100_4562Here are some other pieces of the glass blower’s work in the store next to the workshop.100_4567This is what the drive to Smuggler’s Notch looked like. I guess there are mountains on this side of the United States after all!100_4584Me and Jennie about to enter the wet, cold, caves!100_4585The glacial rock formations that were everywhere made up the caves. It was really neat to see these giant boulders sticking out all over. They looked so out of place and made me wish I could go rock climbing again!100_2681Water was streaming out all over the place. It was very moist and beautiful.100_4589 More rocks and trees from the “Notch”

Day 11: (Sunday, October 4th)

On Sunday we woke up early to bike the famous Stowe Bike Trail before we had to head south to watch Conference in Rutland, Vermont. On the way to Rutland, we stopped at some waterfalls just off the road. After we got to Rutland and watched Conference in the chapel, The branch president invited us to stick around for their potluck lunch! We were so grateful since we didn’t want to shop on Sunday and were planning on eating chips and M&M’s for the rest of the day! We stuffed ourselves silly and then continued to drive south to Manchester to watch the last session of Conference before bed and then our long trek back home!

100_4621Here we are leaving our inn in Stowe 100_4600The bike trail weaved over a small river several times. The bridges and views were phenomenal! 100_4601I’d like to say it was a good work out, but we stopped several times to take pictures.100_4605We were lucky it wasn’t really raining this morning. It was misty though, and that kept the other tourists away. We had the whole trail to ourselves! 100_4615Look! Someone lives back there! LUCKY!100_4620A newly harvested corn field in front of the misty mountains100_4633The awesome waterfall! Not as big as Stewart Falls but gigantic compared to Waterfall Glenn!100_4639A small waterfall next to the big waterfall…I can’t actually remember what the name of the waterfall is…My bad!100_4644 Pretty water…ahhh…so relaxing!

Day 12: (Monday, October 5th)

On Monday we woke up early and started our long drive home. The day before, one of the branch members in Rutland had mentioned off hand that me and Jennie had seen all the Church history sites except for the ones in Harmony, Pennsylvania…so…we took a small detour and checked out Harmony before heading to Cleveland to drop off our bikes and then to Michigan to crash at Brian and Natalie's before grabbing Brooklyn and heading back to Chicago.

100_4647A monument in Harmony, Pennsylvania telling about Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery getting baptized and the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.100_4660The Susquehanna river where they think Joseph and Oliver were baptized.100_4650Joseph and Emma’s first son Alvin was born and died here. It took us a while, but we finally found his tomb stone as well as the markers for Emma’s parents.100_4648These stones are what’s left of the foundation for Joseph and Emma’s home. When they were living here, Emma actually helped scribe for Joseph while he was translating the Book of Mormon!100_4656Another view of the river, right behind the Smith property!

Day 13: (Tuesday, October 6th)

On Tuesday we woke up and had yummy pancakes with Brian and Natalie before packing up and heading back to Chicago. When we got home, we took awhile to veg before Kevin got home from work, then Jennie treated us all to Carrabba’s for dinner and one last good bye before she headed back to Utah the next day.

100_4663The COOL side of the table! WOOHOO!100_4665The CUTE side of the table! …Yep…Kevin gets to be cute too.100_4668Family picture. Umm…Brooklyn kind of likes being the center of attention!100_4661 She gets it from her Aunt Jennie!

Day 14: (Wednesday, October 7th)

Jennie woke up, packed her bags, and abandoned me…I cried for the rest of the day (this is not an exaggeration) …I’d like to blame it on the pregnancy, but pregnant or not, I would have cried all day anyway!

Thank you Jennie for the best trip I’ve ever been on and for being my bestest good friend in the whole wide world!!!

Also, a special shout out to Brian and Natalie…THANK YOU SO MUCH for watching Brooklyn while I was on my trip. As much as I missed her, it was the biggest blessing in the world to travel without a toddler in tow! You guys are the best!

The End

Friday, October 16, 2009

Days 7-9 of Jennie and Naomi’s Great Adventure!

Day 7 Continued: (Wednesday, September 30th)

After we visited Niagara Falls, we drove to Palmyra, New York. Because it was still pretty early in the day (and because it wasn’t raining) we decided to hop on our bikes and peddle on over to the Joseph Smith Sr. Farm and the Sacred Grove. We were also able to see the Palmyra Temple on this visit. It was awesome!

100_4391Dressed in our super groovy bike gear!100_4392Our awesome trusty bikes! Jennie made me ride the purple one. I felt like Rainbow Bright! 100_4396“If any of ye lack wisdom…” Yeah! That happened here! AND this is where the angel Moroni instructed Joseph about the plates!100_4398Smith Family Farm Property100_4402Frame Home that was being built by Alvin Smith before he passed away.100_4403This is actually the Young’s barn! BYU relocated it piece by piece to this property!100_4406The box on the dresser is one of the many places where Joseph Smith Jr. hid the gold plates!100_4432The Sacred Grove! So beautiful and quiet. Worth the stop for sure!100_4438More Sacred Grove100_4440There was a lot more that just trees in the Sacred Grove. PRETTY!100_4400Right across the street from the farm is a perfect view of the Palmyra Temple.

After we saw the farm and the Sacred Grove, we biked back to our hotel and jumped in the car to drive over to the Hill Cumorah!

100_4446At the top of the hill is a statue of Moroni100_4448The Hill: It looks pretty mellow, but it is quite the hike!100_4461 A statue at the base of the Hill Cumorah

Day 8: (Thursday, October 1st)

After a good night’s rest, we woke up early to catch a few more sites before our long drive to Vermont. We visited the Book of Mormon Historic Publication site, ate some fudge, and then checked out the Peter Whitmer Farm.

100_4465The Store Front for publisher E.B. Grandin100_4467A bible and 1st Edition Book of Mormon done by E.B. Grandin100_4469What the B.O.M. would have looked like before publication100_4474Where all the hard work was done!100_4489The Peter Whitmer log cabin where the Church was officially organized!100_4491Translation was done in this very room!100_4493Standing at the door of the Whitmer Cabin where the 1st and 2nd General Conferences were held!

After we finished the sites, we headed for Vermont where we would find our Bed and Breakfast late at night just before eating at Subway and watching Memoirs of a Geisha in our comfy beds!

Day 9: (Friday, October 2nd)

In the morning we looked out the window and noticed it was our first sunny, rain free day of the trip. So, we grabbed our bikes after breakfast and hit the roads to see some of Vermont’s famous covered bridges. Then we packed up and headed for Stowe in upstate Vermont where we would tour the Ben and Jerry’s factory and stuff ourselves silly with ice cream!

100_2629Our super cute Bed and Breakfast100_2635The road we were biking to find bridges100_2631Coming through the bridge on my bike! Woohoo!100_2642Unfortunately, some of the bridges had weight limits and I had to stay off. 100_4504Waiting for cars to come through since only one vehicle can fit at a time.100_4520The inner workings of a covered bridge100_4530Driving to Stowe. The whole state looks like this…except with more trees. I can’t believe people live out here. There doesn’t seem to be any place to work besides Ben and Jerry’s! 100_4537The Ben and Jerry’s Souvenir Shop where we bought fun stuff for Kevin and our friends and lots of ice cream for US!100_4539A brief history of Ben and Jerry’s100_4540Some of the most beloved ice cream flavors100_4545Our favorite flavor and what we managed to stuff ourselves on all night long! Ahhh! Life is GOOD!

Well it looks like I’ll need one more post to finish up our trip so for now, To Be Continued Again…