Welcome Back IRL racing- Philadelphia Marathon recap

After almost 2 years, I finally happy to toe the line at my first marathon since the pandemic wrecked havoc on the world and running community. The race…Philadelphia Marathon. I was scheduled to run this race last year and deferred to this year, rather than getting a refund. I admit I was still a little nervous knowing I would be in the presence of thousands of other runners, not knowing if they were has vigilant as I was in trying to stay safe during the pandemic. My worry eased a bit, when we received an email from the Philadelphia Marathon about 6 weeks prior to the race that they were requiring all runners to have proof of vaccination to participate. For those that didn’t want to do that, the option was provided to go virtual or defer to 2022.

Now that I decided to run the race in person, the decision loomed on whether my family would make the trip with me. We ultimately decided that they would not because my son is only 4 and we wanted to protect him. Although I really wanted them there, and ultimately I think it played a part in how I ran the race, I think it was the right thing to do.

The marathon was on Sunday, I decided to arrive on Friday evening so that I had a day to just relax and rest my legs heading into race day. The half marathon was ran Saturday, so I was able to walk a block from my hotel and see the runners come through. After cheering on the runners, I took the half mile walk to get to the expo. They seem to have a good system in place for entry, with one line for runners with their vaccination cards and another for the runners who uploaded their cards to Crowdpass ahead of time(i was the latter). I also made the decision to purchase my items online, so all i had to do was pickup them from the store. The expo itself, left much to be desired. It was very small for a race this size but I am sure Covid restrictions paid a part in how many vendors were allowed in the establishment, etc.

Race morning arrived, I woke up about 3:30am to begin preparation. Temps were in the high 30s, so I opted to bring a throw away jacket since my legs rarely get that cold. The race provided shuttle buses from several locations downtown, one being about 50 yards from my hotel. I hopped on the shuttle that left about 5:15am. All runners were required to mask up on the bus. We arrived at the starting line about 10 minutes later and got through security without issue. 

Race began promptly with the elites being sent off a couple minutes after the wheelchair participants. My wave starting around 7:15am. It was good to see so much crowd support out there, it is probably one of the things I missed the most during covid shutdown. One thing I noticed around mile 4 was…there were way more hills than I was expecting. The Philadelphia Marathon promotes itself as “flat and fast”, but it was anything but flat. Luckily, where I live is lots of hills so I was trained for them…I just hoped I didn’t have to run on them in the race. Lol. The hardest point of the race is probably the miles 19 through 21. This is because this part of the race is a run out and turnaround to head back to finish line. So, you are heading towards mile 20 and you see runners coming back on mile 24-25. The last 3 miles were tough as they were mostly uphill, but I endured and finished with my second fastest marathon time of 3:45(I ran a 3:41 2 years prior). I feel subconsciously, I did not push myself the way I would have if my family was there. I don’t think I wanted to risk anything happening and not having any support there with me.

All in all, it was a great race weekend and Philadelphia did a good job in managing it safely. Thank you Philly and welcome back to IRL racing.


Redemption is Sweet-Richmond Marathon Revenge

I received Gatorade Endurance products to review as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro(ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

If you have been following my blog you know that in August, I started what I coined as the “Redemption Tour” with the help of Gatorade Endurance. Quick backstory… In November of 2019 I set out to run the Richmond Marathon. Everything is fine leading up to the day of the race. The day before I usually carb load at a local Italian restaurant and I choose one that had a good rating, Bombalini. I woke up the next day with food poisoning and extreme GI issues. I tried to rehydrate as much as I could but I only made it through 14 miles of the race before taking a nice ride in ambulance for dehydration.

Fast forward to this year, and I was determined to redeem myself. I trained my butt off, which consisted of me getting up at 3 and 4 am to get runs in. I felt ready. To avoid a similar fate from last year, I drove 15 minutes out of the way just to go to an Olive Garden to get my pasta. Woke up race morning with no issues and was ready. My bib simply said “TK’s Back”. It was a chilly 39 degrees but I still chose to go with shorts and short sleeves because I knew I would warm up.

At 7:45am we were off. I didn’t look at my watch, just trusted my body and settled into a comfortable pace. As I was running, the course was coming back to me from the year before. Going over the bridge at mile 8, which is where I had to start walking for the first time in 2019. When I got too mile 14 and recognized the exact spot I had to stop and sit, my stomach tighten up and I just ran harder. I knew that was a mental hurdle I had to get over and I did with no problem. During that mile A spectator read my bib and all i heard was “TK’s Back! Hell yeah he is!” I smiled and thought to myself “damn right” At mile 20, I noticed I was on pace to PR and by a good bit. I was determined to finish strong, I was down to my last Gatorade Endurance (Apple pear) after downing ones at mile 7 and 14. I tore open the last gel at 22, hoping it would get me through the last 4. Richmond Marathon is unique in that the last mile is a steep downhill and I took advantage. Still had fuel in the tank so I went full throttle and crossed the finish line with a time of 3:41:29… that’s a 16 minute PR. I relished ringing the PR bell and smiled knowing redemption was mine! Gatorade Endurance kept me energized and with no signs of cramps. Great product.

Redemption Tour Update-Gatorade Endurance Fueled

Disclaimer: I received Gatorade Endurance products to review as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro(ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

I decided to check in since I am coming up on the half way point of my training for Richmond Marathon aka the Redemption Tour. If you missed my previous post where I discussed why I am choosing to tab this training The Redemption Tour, here is a quick summary. In 2018 I trained hard in hopes of completing the Richmond Marathon, which at the time would have been my 4th full marathon. I have done about 30 half marathons but I usually limit my full marathons to 1 a year, just because of the time commitment to training for one. Everything went well all through training but the day before the race I went to eat at a local Italian restaurant with great reviews and I woke up race morning with food poisoning. Although I tried to drink as much gatorade and water as I could, the GI issues were just too extensive and I became extremely dehydrated at mile 14. I was unable to finish and was transported to ER via ambulance. Although I was able to find another marathon to run(Kiawah Island) a few weeks later and PR, I still have unfinished business with Richmond.

So here we are at the halfway point of my training for Richmond Marathon 2019, and things are going well. These summer NC days have been extremely hot and humid, but with the help of Gatorade endurance, I have been able to endure. I’m training 4 days a week currently and averaging about 40 miles each week. Typically if my run is an hour or less, I take 1 gatorade endurance gel and my water bottle filled with gatorade endurance mixture. For 2 hours, I add another gel and for anything 3 hours plus, I take 3 gel packs. By far my favorite gel flavor is the Apple Pear, and my favorite powder mix is the watermelon. I love how the taste is not overwhelming but still flavorful.

With all the heat and humidity, we have to remember to stay very hydrated. Gatorade Endurance has been great asset to have at my disposal. Average days have been in the 90s with 90 + % humidity. Only good that about this heat is it is great for burning calories and it has keep my weight down.

Looking forward to the second half of training, cooler weather and updating you after a successful Richmond 2019.

Vuori Shorts Review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Vuori shorts as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro(ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”


Vuori is a new company to me and might be new to you as well. I am always willing to give newer brands a try, so I was pleased to have received a pair of shorts in our swag bag from The Running Event. Vuori was born in California, and its products are functionally built to move and sweat in, but designed with a casual aesthetic aimed to transition effortlessly into everyday life. 


The shorts I received were the Vuori Trail Shorts. Per their site, the trail short is their lighest weight all-purpose athletic short.

      Elastic waist band

      Coolmax anti-odor liner

      Athletic fit

      Front Pockets

      Back zip pocket

      Stash Pocket in liner

      Fits to Size

      7” inseam

I can’t say enough about these shorts. Their description is right-on, these shorts are super comfy and very lightweight. I took a few runs in these shorts and I could barely tell they were even there. The weight allows for these shorts to just flow freely and gives you the feeling like you are running faster.(that’s half the battle right?) The pockets are a welcome benefit, you can hold car key or stash one of your gels. 


I LOVE LOVE LOVE these shorts. Not only the these shorts but all the products are soft and comfy. We got a chance to look at many of their products during TRE, and everything felt amazing. Do yourself a favor and go to their website and get yourself some Vuori. You will NOT be disappointed.

Boston Marathon-like -Run Sunset Beach Half Marathon recap

I recall watching this year’s Boston Marathon, and seeing how those runners fought through some of the worst conditions to accomplish their goal. Downpour, plus 30 degree weather, could not have been fun. Fast forward to this past weekend, when I was set to take on Run Sunset Beach half marathon in sunset beach, nc. The whole week leading up to the race, I was watching the radar and each day I saw rain percentage stay between 80-100%. I started to mentally prepare myself for possible rain and hope the rain would hold off until after the race was over.

I arrived at the expo Friday and all the runners were talking about was the possible rain the following day for the race. The percentage had changed to 40% but the possibility was still there. The resort we were staying was about 1.5 miles away from the start, so my plan was to walk to start.

This would allow my family to sleep in and not have to worrying about getting up at the crack of dawn to drive to the shuttle pick-up. Race morning I got up, got dressed and started my trek to the start line. I could tell it had rained over night, but there was no rain as I started my walk. By the time I got about half mile in, it began to drizzle and by the time I got to start line, there was a light rain. It was not bad, considering it was still warm(high 60s, low 70s). The race was set to start at 7am, and at 6:30am it was still just a light rain. All the runners were optimistic that the rain would not get any worse……well we were all wrong. As soon as the speaker announced that it was 5 minutes to the gun, the rain showed up.

The gun sounded and off into the rain we went. The rain was steady with big raindrops. The first mile of the race takes you over a large bridge onto the outlet and as we hit the bridge, the rain showed no mercy. It was so hard, that you could barely see in front of you and it was stingy your face as you tried to maintain your pace. I could hear other runners yelling out some choice words as the battled the uphill bridge mixed with the downpour. For the first 6 miles, the rain did not let up at all and we were running through puddles that came up over my shin when stepped in. After the first few miles you get used to being drenched, even though running in soaked socks is not fun. Outside of the rain, the race itself was well organized. There were water stops every 1.5 miles, and even an ice pops stop between miles 10 & 11. I finished the race and finisher’s medal was SWEET!!! The medals for this race series are called BAM(big ass medals) and they earned that title. I finished top 3 in my age group.

Thank you Sunset Beach, next up in the series is Holden Beach.

Mic Drop-Race Review of the Final Rock and Roll Raleigh Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Rock and Roll Raleigh Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro(ambassador), and check out BibRave.comto review find and write race reviews!”

Before I get into my review of the race, I wanted to share some thoughts about this race as it’s time has come to an end. Being a native North Carolinian, I was pumped when the Rock and Roll Marathon Series brought a race to Raleigh in 2014. I told myself I would run this race every year it was here, it is only right. You can imagine the heartbreak when I learned that after this year, Rock and Roll Series would not be returning to Raleigh. You may ask, why would a popular race pull out of a beautiful city after only 4 years.. A few different factors played a part in the decision.

1.    Participation dropped. The inaugural year in 2014, I remember talking to a police officer at the expo and he told me there were over 15,000 runners expected, from every state and several countries.This year there were only about 6,000. The inaugural year they had both half and full marathon distances, but through the years the marathon became less possible and it was dropped completely off this year’s schedule. This year only had half marathon, 10k, and half marathon relay(latter two were added this year)

2.    Businesses complained every year. Some local businesses, along with several churches in the downtown area would complain every year about the road closures. I guess it didn’t help that the races were on Sundays and always appear to happen around Easter time.

3.    Runners Complained. If you have ever visited Raleigh, NC you know that it is not the flattest place. There are hills on top of hills on top of hills, but don’t runners enjoy a challenge? Apparently not. The first year there were unfortunately 2 runner deaths on the course and numerous complaints about the marathon route. The next couple years they changed the route but the participation never fully recovered. They later added a 5k on Saturday to start a remix challenge weekend

I, like many people of the local running community, are sad to see the race go. For a lot of them, this race was their first half or full marathon. Bittersweet indeed. Now for the final review of Rock and Roll Raleigh.

I decided to make my trip to the expo on my way home from work on the first day it opened. I got there around 5:30 and it was a pretty quick process to get my bibs and shirts. (part of it was probably because it was the first day and a lot of out of towners hadn’t arrived). I had already told myself that since this was the last year, I wanted to buy something to commemorate it’s final year. For the inaugural race, I bought a hat, that I still wear during runs so that was my first choice. They had hats, but sadly he hats did not have the year listed on them, only “Rock and Roll Raleigh Marathon & Half”. I got one anyway. I also purchased one of their 13.1 shirts that listed all the males or females that were running the half marathon. I thought that was cool idea, it who doesn’t like to see their name in print? As far as vendors, it was pretty light for an expo. The venue was huge but the vendors only took up about a quarter of the space. The vendors they did have were of quality, so you could still find some nice things.

Raceday #1
It was a remix challenge weekend and an extra medal was up for grabs, so you know I had to accept the challenge. Up first was a 5k on Saturday morning. It was a little chilly and rainy for a spring morning but we can’t control the weather. The 5k took place on Dorothea Dix campus, so both spectators and runners had to catch shuttles to the location. Having ran on this campus numerous times, I knew we would be in for some hills. I fought through the hills to a 19th overall finish and 2nd in my age group. Local news station even got me crossing the finish line. I had several people tell me they saw me on the 6 o’clock news.

Raceday #2
Finally it was time to toe the line for the RnR Raleigh half marathon for the last time. I wasn’t sure how I would feel at the start knowing that this would be the last opportunity for anyone to run the Rock and Roll series in NC. The weather was in the mid 30s, which in my opinion is perfect for a race. I was also eager to see this new course they had been advertising “supposedly” with less hills. Before I knew it, the horn sounded and we were off. Running through all the government buildings of downtown, running past the huge globe of the science museum and past numerous local establishments. After mile 2, I began to realize something…..THEY LIED ABOUT THE HILLS. There were just as many hills, if not more, than previous years. The whole race you felt like you were either going uphill or downhill, and I noticed the hills starting to get the best of some runners. I managed to keep a steady, I knew a PR on this course was not going to be in reach. Throughout the race, I noticed friends from my running family lined up and screaming their support. When I hit the mile 13 marker, I knew this journey was almost complete….BUT not before an uphill to the finish line. Smh. My finish time was 1:48:13 2 races, 3 medals and years of memories

Final Thoughts
If it was still an option, I would recommend everyone running it at least once. Yes, it is a challenging course but everyone should enjoy a little challenge. I will definitely miss this April race, and glad I was able to participate in it every year it was here. I can only hope, another race can step in and fill the void the Rock and Roll Series is leaving. Now I just have to wait for all my results to hit Athlinks. Join athlinks if you aren’t already a member, all race stats in one place. http://www.athlinks.com Rock On!

Fast, Flat (they say) & Fun-Tobacco Road Half Marathon Review

“Disclaimer: I received an entry to Tobacco Road Half/Full Marathon  as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find and write race reviews”

At last…we met again. I ran Tobacco Road Half Marathon for the first time back in 2016, so I figured it would be fun to revisit it. Plus it is a local race for me, and I always try to give all my local races a little love. So how did I fair….let’s find out.


The expo was modest size compared to some other races I have attended but it was well-organized for the most part. The had a long table with printouts has you walk up to the expo entrance to look up your bib number. Once you enter, bib pickup for the marathon and half marathon were clearly marked and there wasn’t a huge line waiting. I was running the half marathon, which was coined he Feetures Half Marathon. One of the perks for running Tobacco Road, was that every runner was to receive a free pair of feetures socks….well I didn’t get mine. This is one of the areas I think needs to be improved upon in the future. I spoke with other runners that didn’t get their socks, and it was due to it not being clearly marked and directions given once you picked up your bib. It would have been better if the individuals handing out the bibs would say something like “don’t forget to get your socks, they are located ….”. I didn’t recall seeing a sign, but I found out later that the table for the socks was beside the t-shirt pickup for the marathon. Apparently I walked passed it to pick-up my half marathon shirt, but as I mentioned, there was no clear signage there. I will be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit salty about missing out on the socks. Lol


Parking Passes are GOLD. The marathons start/end at a baseball park and parking is extremely limited. Mix that with the fact the park is located in the middle of a residential area, there is not any parking for spectators. If you plan to run this race, BUY A PARKING PASS EARLY. I was lucky enough that someone gave me one of theirs. The parking pass allows you to park about 100 yards from the start. They warn runners with passes to be parked by 5:30am(race starts at 7), yeah that is an hour and a half before the race but you can hang out in your car while you wait or hit up the potty before it gets crazy. Those runners that don’t have a pass and spectators, have to get to the race via shuttle. The last shuttle leaves at 5:30 for runners and it is about a 10 minute ride to the start.


The Tobacco Road Marathon bills itself as being “Fast, Flat and Fun”, and for that reason it is usually a popular race. It is especially popular for marathoners looking to BQ, they say it is the perfect race. A quick sidenote, the winner of the marathon ran a 2:32 Sunday. Besides the BQ hunters, half marathoners also have a great shot of setting new PRs.


90% of this race takes place on the American Tobacco Trail. The trail is mostly paved with some areas being tightly packed gravel. While the race is billed as “flat”, that is not entirely true. You are running on a road for the first 3 miles before you enter the trail, and that road is definitely not flat. Once you enter the trail, it is majority flat with a few small humps(not really large enough to call hills) sprinkled throughout. You are on a flat surface for a while until you exit out of the trail back onto the road at mile 10. From there you have to fight through the same hills you fought at the beginning of the race before finishing into the park.

Water Stops

There were plenty of water stops throughout the race. I would say they had a water stop every 1.5-2 miles. The water stops were equipped with water and some also had Gatorade.


I can’t stress this enough…if you are a runner that feeds off of crowds/spectators, you will NOT have much of that for this race. This is the main reason, Tobacco Road isn’t one of my favorites races. Yes it is flat(mostly) and fast but I feed so much off of crowds, and you don’t get much of that with this race. I mentioned the race is mostly on a trail, and there is just no place for spectators to camp out. All you see is trees, other runners and the volunteers at the water stops. You will find a handful of spectators that will be cheering at openings when the trail crosses over the highway but that is about it. You will also see a few scattered spectators on the road portion(first & last 3 miles). Outside of that, the most spectators you will see are going to be on the final stretch heading into the finish.

How Did I Do

I really didn’t come into this race with any huge expectations. I only signed up 3 weeks prior and I was under the weather for a week between then and the race. My training wasn’t what I am used to, I typically train 4-5 days a week but I was only running 3 leading up to the race. The weather was almost perfect, low 40s I think. Once the race started, I didn’t feel too bad. I was clocking either 8 or sub 8 miles throughout,  but I also realized I wasn’t pushing myself very hard. Majority of the race, I found myself wedged in between the 1:40 pacer and the 1:45 pacer. I was nursing a cough and it began to bother me at mile 11 so I lost some momentum. Around mile 11.5/12 I was passed by the 1:45 pacer. So with that, also went my chance of PR. I stayed within striking distance of the 1:45 guy but I made the mistake of not checking my watch. As I was coming around the final curve and could see the finish, I saw the clock say 1:44. That means that 1:45 pacer was ahead of pace and if I had pushed, I probably could have PR’d. My PR is 1:43, I crossed the finish line at 1:44:34. With being sick and lac k of training, I was proud of my finish and who knows, maybe I will be back to fight Tobacco Road again. For now I’ll just sit back and wait for my results to hit Athlinks. http://www.athlinks.com


If you are looking for a PR, this is your race….ESPECIALLY if you are trying to BQ. It is mostly flat and you will put up a fast time. Just make sure you have some good running music, unless you like to listen to the trees.

Chicago Marathon-All the Love & Support You Can Handle

For the past 6 months I have been hard at work training for one thing….The Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I ran this race in 2016 and got a 45 minute PR, but since I was unable to get into NYC Marathon this year, I decided to give Chicago another go. I will say, the city as a whole really embraces this race, plus it is one of the World Majors.

I am a mentor for my area Fleet Feet, so it was cool that 4 other mentors were actually running Chicago as well. Of course I was the only one that decided to fly in on Saturday, when the race was on Sunday. All my other mentor friends flew in on Thursday and Friday, but I stuck with Saturday since I could avoid having to use a vacation day and Monday was a holiday. We flew in early Saturday morning, and hauled a Uber to our hotel. We stayed on the Magnificent Mile in the middle of everything, which was probably one of the best decisions I made. It was about 1.5 miles away from Grant Park and only blocks away from numerous eating establishments. Of course we arrived at the hotel at like 9am, so of course the room wasn’t ready. The bellman was nice enough to secure our luggage, and we decided to go ahead and head over to the expo to pick up my bib/packet. A welcomed change this year was the free shuttles that had leaving every 15 minutes at various points around Chicago, to take the runners to the expo and bring them back. We didn’t have that last year, and I think it caused a big headache with people trying to catch Ubers & Taxis. We arrived and the packet pick-up lines were well organized, I only stood in line maybe 10-15 minutes to get my bib. I walked into the expo and immediately walked up on a long line of people waiting to take a picture in front of the Chicago Marathon sign. I guess these individuals were unaware that the same sign was in 2 other locations within the fair. Nevertheless, I headed to the back to pick up my bag and participant’s shirt. This year’s shirts were blue, compared to last year’s neon yellow. There were so many brands selling Marathon branded gear: Nike, Skeechers,North Face,etc. I got a nice jacket from The North Face last year but this year nothing really stood out. Nike was the official sponsor so of course they had tons, but the amount of people in their area was ridiculous. I was fond of the half zip pullover they had that came in gray or red, but I didn’t want to stand in line. Luckily my hotel was about 2 blocks from the Nike store so I decided to wait and go to the store after we got back. We walked through the expo a little while gathering samples before heading back to the shuttles. We got back and it still was only about 10am, and the desk clerk said they would need at least to 1pm to get the room ready. We were hungry so we walked over to the dunkin donuts to great a breakfast sandwich and kill some time. We finished and it was right around quarter to 12, so we decided we would just go wait in the lobby for the remainder of the time. At about 12:15, I took a chance and walked up and asked if the room happen to be ready. Desk clerk looked at me and said our room wasn’t ready but since we were waiting, he would upgrade our room for free to a junior suite that was available. SCORE!! Thank you Inn of Chicago.

We relaxed in our room for a couple hours before heading out to find some lunch. Decided to hit up the California Pizza kitchen that was like a block away. I had some interesting tequila lime chicken pasta. Afterwards we walked to the Nike store…..AND IT WAS A MADHOUSE. There were so many people in there, they apparently had the same idea I did. They had Djs on several of the floors so the music was blasting everywhere you went, but it was definitely a fun atmosphere.  I went up to the running section to find the half zip pullover and they didn’t have my size anywhere. I was told it would be easier to order it online. I did manage to go ahead an purchase my “Finishers” jacket. I have a rule, I purchase the finisher’s stuff, but it stays in the bag until I complete the race. Runner’s Rule! Back to the hotel for a little more relaxing before dinner. We decided to head to Labriola for dinner. Good thing I made a reservation because the line was ridiculous when we arrived. All the runners trying to carb load. I settled on the “Worlds Best Spagetti and Meatballs” entrée. While it was pretty good, I don’t know I would go as far as to say it was the world’s best. Lol, just my opinion. We were back to the hotel by 9:30, I laid out my gear for the morning and was in bed by 10:15. The big day was a few winks a way.

I woke up on race morning around 4:30. I did all my race day routines, including writing all my mile inspirations on my left arm so I could see them each mile I complete. After getting dressed I grabbed by bagel, honey stinger and Gatorade, and headed out. The walk was about 1.5 miles, and it was kinda chilling out. After I was a few blocks in, I started running into more and more runners making the same trek. The starting gates opened up at 6, and I arrived around 6:30am. My corral wasn’t set to start until 8am, so the waiting game began. A lot of people were taking pictures of the sunrise over Lake Michigan or of the buildings that had messages using the office lights. One simply said “26.2”, which I thought was great. Around 7, I decided to go get in line at the bathroom. The lines were CRAZY, and I started hearing the phrase “PR the bathroom” being uttered because the start was approaching fast. I finally got through the line and got into my corral around 7:45, 15 minutes to spare. I started to prepare my running playlist I had coined for the marathon. I specifically chose a 4 hour mix, because I was going to try and finish under 4 hours. So if I was done while the playlist was still playing, I had completed my goal. We just had one problem, THERE WAS ZERO SERVICE IN THE CORRALS! This was not good. I had a few songs in my music folder but definitely not enough to last a full marathon. My hope was that I could start with my music library and hopefully by a mile or 2 the service would be available and I could start my playlist.

8 o’clock rolled up and we were off. I was being really cautious not to start out too fast and burn myself out. My pace seemed to be great but at about half mile in, I hear some familiar come through my Aftershokz. It was a lap indicator, I know we hadn’t traveled a mile. The familiar voice announced to me “Mile 1 5:38”. Oh hell no, that is wrong wrong wrong. So, apparently the service was interring with the garmin watches as well. From that point I knew I had to ignore the mile marks from my watch and only look at the time elapsed to gauge my pace. We reached the first water stop around 1.5 in and I pulled out my phone to try and fiddle with it to see if I could get my playlist up mid-run. Service was back and I ran on. I was doing super, hitting all my mile marks at desired pace or under. I was passing runners that were in corrals ahead of me and was passing several 3:55 and 4:00 pacers from other corrals. I was feeling great and was moving great with no issues. Around 11 oclock and I would say mile 18, the sun started to creep out. We knew it was supposed to warm up, but everyone’s hope was to get close enough to the end before the sun could take it’s toll. I started to hit every water stop and alternate between Gatorade and water to try and stay hydrated, I also was downing gels and energy blocks. Around mile 24, I began to feel something funny in my left calf. It felt like the beginning of a cramp but I wanted to fight through and hopefully keep it at bay. I couldn’t stop, I was still on great pace to finish under 4 hours and moving wonderfully. The heat had picked up quit a bit at this point and everyone began to slow down a bit. You could see it on all the runners faces, the sun was taking its toll. At mile 25, it happened. I got a cramp! The first time I have caught one in the middle of a race before. I tried to gingerly run through it, I went as long as I could before I had to stop and try to work it out. After a couple of minutes, it felt like it had passed so I started to run again. After another half mile it came back, and I was forced to stop again. I was beginning to get worried at this point because I was watching the time elapse creep up on my watch. I had about another mile and half to go, and about 17 minutes to do it. It was just not meant to be. I still had a chance up until the last 200m of the race, before I caught another cramp and had to stop. I hobbled across the finish line devastated, with a time of 4:01:13.  Although it was a 16 minute PR, all I could think about was how close I was to breaking 4 hours. 1 minute and 13 seconds! The force all the runners through the finishers areas, they don’t want anyone to stop. I got my medal, some water and a couple snacks. I was almost to the end of the finishers area when I just had to sit for a minute, I had no choice. As soon as I sat down, I got another cramp in my calf. As I was trying to work that one out, my other calf got a cramp too. So I am sitting there in serious pain, and another runner tells one of the volunteers I need help. Someone comes over to help stretch me out, but the problem was I was laying directly under the sun, no shade in sight.  He gets cramps out and I attempt to stand again, both cramps came right back and back down I went. I had not choice, they ended up bringing over a wheelchair and loaded me up to take me to the medical tent. First time being in there, but I immediately noticed it was much cooler in there. They put me on a cot and checked my vitals, everything was good. They asked me a bunch of questions I guess to make sure I was in the right frame of mind, and I got everything correct. I got loaded up with Gatorade, water and bananas while I laid there. They even massaged out my calves for me. After about 20 minutes I thought I was well enough to make another go at getting out of there. Walked super slow another mile to get to the runner’s meetup and finish line festivities. I was in no mood to celebrate so I hobbled on out the gate  and caught a ride back to the hotel.

I showered and gave myself a little while to be disappointed over missing my sub 4, then I headed out. I limped to the Nike store, where they were doing free medal engraving. The line was long, but it moved relatively fast and only took about 10 minutes for the engraving after you gave it to them. After getting my medal done, it was off to a post-race party with my Bibrave pro family. It was a great event, and was nice to meet a lot of fellow pros in person. We had food and drinks, and took lots of pictures. Absolutely love my bibrave family. Couldn’t leave Chicago without getting some deep dish pizza so on the way back to the hotel, we stopped and got some Lou’s to-go.

The next morning’s trip to the airport went well, and we got there in plenty of time. Turns out 4 of my fellow mentors were on the same flight, along with some other runners. Everyone was wearing the medals proudly. We all talked about our marathon experience on the way back, and before we knew it, we were landing back at home. As a whole, my experience at the Chicago marathon was unbelievable! While I am disappointed I missed my sub 4, I am grateful for the experience and being able to experience it with lots of my running friends. If you haven’t done Chicago yet, you is most definitely a MUST. It is flat for the most part with a few small hills sprinkled throughout. 40,000 runners and over 1 million spectators, the love & support is everywhere.

Chicago Marathon Recap

Sorry I didn’t post the last couple of days but I was getting my mind right for the task at hand. Yesterday was the Chicago Marathon. Before we even got to start, we had to walk 1.5 miles, so our legs were definitely warmed up. The temperature was almost perfect for running. Low 50s at the start. I wrote everyone that inspired me on this journey on my left arm and assigned each of them a mile. It was a source of encouragement. We started out and I settled into a pace my body seemed happy with. As the race goes on, I glanced to my right and I see a 4:25 pacer.  In my mind I’m like “holy %*|”. I decide not to focus on him and just continue to run my race, but I kept seeing him periodically. One of the best moments was running past a retirement home and seeing all the Senior citizens in the windows waving and all the runners waving back. The crowd support was amazing for this race, the whole 26.2 miles. Before I new it, I was a mile from finishing. I crossed and looked down at my watch….I almost busy into tears. My first marathon time was 5:02, and this one…. 4:17! I shaved 45 minutes of my time, and I could hardly believe it. For 18 weeks I bust my butt training and it paid off. Thank you for following me on this journey. I will continue to post as I run more races. 

inspiration arm