Chicago Marathon 2018

October 9, 2018 — Leave a comment

Chicago Marathon 2018, my 6th Chicago Marathon and 12th marathon overall is done!

First, the stats:
Overall Time: 5:37:30
Average per mile: 12:53
Air Temp: 59-62, occasional light rain
Start Line Cross: 8:53 AM
Finish Line Cross: 2:31 PM
Potty Breaks: 4, all in first half, all #1, one accident
#Times I saw my crew: 3

IMG_0066I feel great about this race. I don’t think any of my other marathons compare to the high and the sense of accomplishment that I felt yesterday. This was an average Chicago time for me – some have been slower, some have been faster. I was 1:09 slower than my PR. None of that mattered, though. I started wanting simply to finish feeling good. And I did that.

I did have a rough time goal of 5:45. I ran close to the 5:45 pace group for the first seven miles, but I was feeling like that pace was just slightly slow, so I went ahead.

First, What I Think I Did Right
1. Galloway Training
Learning how to legitimize walk breaks for more consistent performance has been a fun journey. My results this year prove that for me this method beats “banking time” or hammering a faster first half. It feels so good to finish still feeling good with fairly consistent pacing throughout the day. I imagine that as I continue to train, some form of structured walk breaks will be a part of my training.

2. Nutrition, Hydration and MORE BANANAS!
I worked on reasonable carb loading throughout the weekend, and I hydrated effectively for several days leading up to Sunday. I carried my water bottle and refilled it at aid stations as needed. I took more GU on the course than had in other races, and I consumed 4 bananas – 2 pre-race, one at mile 8.5, and one more in pieces as they were offered. I tried hard to stay ahead of nutritional need. I think it helped the energy stay even.

IMG_00693. Reasonable Corral Placement, Pace Group
I was in the last corral of the last wave. I declined the opportunity to run in the second wave with the charity runners. I don’t love the feeling of people needing to pass me. So, I was truthful when I registered about my predicted finish time. I also found a 5:45 pace group that was committed to structured walk breaks. I recommend running with a pace group. It is the best way to relax and trust the process. As it turned out, I stayed a few minutes ahead of my group.

4. Ran With a Friend
I was thrilled to learn that my friend Cynthia Sandusky was running in the same corral with me. We found each other and planned to kind of stick together. We ran side by side for the first 18.5 miles, taking our walk breaks together – except for my potty breaks. I took one around mile 3, and spent the next 3 miles catching up. Running with someone makes the time go by faster, and it allows for encouragement. We committed to each other that if one of us slowed, the other would go on. She pulled back a little before 19, and I knew it was OK to go ahead and finish at my pace.

0vIC41iwTxKIL3V+%vcZ9w5. Name on Jersey
My charity, Team World Vision practically insists on this. I’ve always felt a little awkward about it. However, I submit because I’m a rule follower. Here’s the thing, though. Even though it is a little cheesy, there is nothing like the crowd support that results from it. People were calling me out all day, by name, encouraging me. I could see the adrenaline result in my pace from time to time. Over a dozen times, groups of people would chant, “Greg! Greg! Greg! Greg…” These were funny moments. At one point, a couple of people behind me asked me if I was some kind of celebrity. I turned to show them my shirt, and we all had a good laugh. At one point, a guy behind me said his name was Greg so he wanted to stick close to me for the crowd support. Chicago rivals New York in crowd support, and it makes a huge difference. It feels good to be constantly encouraged and cheered on.

6. HOKA shoes
I’m really glad that the trend has swung back so hard to cushy shoes. My friend Jarod Root introduced me to these shoes when I was dealing with Plantar. I think they got me back to running. No disrespect to all the minimalists out there – it’s all good – but I love my HOKAs. I’m open to something better coming along, but I sure do love these shoes.

7. Affirmations / Mantras
I tried really hard to only think positive thoughts, like, “You’re doing great. You can trust your training. You are strong,” etc. When I got to the last 10K, I counted down first the miles, “Only 6 more miles, Less than 6 miles,” etc. When I got to the last 30 minutes, I counted segments down. Since I was running/walking in 5-minute chunks, at 30 minutes, I had only six segments left. Then 5. Eventually, “C’mon, Greg, you’re on your last segment.” I said out loud, “You’ve got this” probably 100 times throughout the race, mostly in the last half.

IMG_00728. Taper and Rest
I followed my tapering instructions as per my plan. On the day before the race, I stayed off my feet as much as possible. We ate lunch out, a few blocks away from the hotel. Then, we returned, rested, ordered Uber Eats (spaghetti), watched a movie, and went to bed. In past years, we’ve spent much of Saturday walking around the city. I think it is better to be as fresh as possible on race morning.

I was fortunate to know the course since this was my 6th time to run it. There were minor changes this year. I think the changes were good. Mostly, the West side of the course was shorter or broken up more.

What Didn’t Go So Well
1. Nerves. I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous about a marathon. I really had to try to calm myself down on race morning. When I entered the start corral, it started raining. I felt oddly discouraged about that. It wasn’t until well into about mile 6 that I was able to calm down and enjoy. Part of that was related to the next point…

2. Hydration / Potty Management
Fortunately, I had no digestive issues during the race. That was good. However, I had consumed quite a bit of water that morning. As it turned out, there was a little confusion about the amount of time it would take to get into the start corral. For instance, it looked like we were merely lining up at a security gate, In fact, I was actually in a bag check line that was moving slowly. I didn’t have a bag, as our TWV tent offered private gear check. Consequently, I wasted 15 minutes that I would need later.

By the time I got through security, it was already time to enter my corral. I had to urinate, so I got into one of the long port-a-potty lines. I waited and waited, really needing to go until they announced that the start corrals were about to close. There was no way I was going to get to use the bathroom before the start corral closed. So, I entered the start corral and got lined up.

I decided that I would simply have to find the first available toilets on the course or wait to find a tree in Lincoln Park, about 4.5 miles in. Normally, hundreds of male runners find trees in that area.

I really needed to go, so running and walking were both pretty uncomfortable. By mile three, it was nearly excruciating. My back was hurting. I told Cynthia that I was going to have to peel off at the next toilet and then catch up to her later.

When I exited to the toilet, there were only four people in line ahead of me. I was initially encouraged by this. But then, when my body realized I was close to relief, the need to go became more than urgent. I danced, contorted, and tried my best to hold it for another minute. Unfortunately, I had passed the point of no return. I realized my effort would not be enough. I apologized to everyone around me just as the fountain erupted. So I watered that street right out in front of everyone. People politely looked away.

It. was. humiliating.

Just then, a toilet became available, and I went in to finish. Gross.

I managed to catch up to Cynthia and my pace group just about the time I needed to go again.

I made four potty stops in the first half of the race. I obviously stopped taking in liquid for a bit to try to adjust. My body was clearly plenty hydrated.

fullsizeoutput_d14Those are really the only things that did not go well. I ran consistently. I am proudest of that. There was only a 36-second variance in my slowest and fastest splits. I usually feel good with anything under a minute. My halves were within one minute of each other. That is very consistent. I feel great about this.

I finished feeling good. Ready to stop, of course, but I never hit the wall. In all but one of my other 5-hour-plus races, My first half has been quite a bit faster than my second half. This race proved that a slower start really does make a difference. I proved it to myself.

No finish has ever felt better to me. I was very emotional from about mile 20 to the end. When I saw the turn onto Roosevelt ahead of me, I knew I had it. And when I saw my beautiful wife Marla and best friends Mike and Lisa standing there waiting for me to make that turn, I felt better than ever. For a moment, I felt like there is nothing I cannot do.IMG_0068

Chicago is my favorite for many reasons. That corner. That hill, that final downhill to the finish line is worth every mile of training and every bit of pain. Crossing a marathon finish line is one of the best feelings there is.

IMG_0070I am so thankful for my family and friends who constantly encourage me and cheer me on in my marathon endeavors. They are the best. I don’t know how people do it without a lot of support. My first call as soon as I get my medal is always to my daughter Clayre, who got me into this mess in the first place by talking me into running this race in 2010. I usually can’t say much when she answers the phone. I mostly cry, and try to say, “I did it!” And she says she is proud of me.

Thanks for reading. I will try to keep you updated on more adventures in running.

The Big 2-0! Week 17

August 5, 2018 — 1 Comment

Week 17 of training called for a long slow distance run of at least 20 miles. I was pretty anxious about this one since it has been nearly 4 years since I have run at least that distance (and that was during a marathon). The last successful 20-mile training run for me was on September 14, 2013. In addition to that, I have had to cut my last two long runs a little short for various reasons.

Because of a family birthday celebration, I didn’t get to bed early enough. Consequently, I only got about 3.5 hours of sleep before needing to get up and get ready to run.

fullsizeoutput_bc8My original plan was to run three loops, all beginning and ending at my house. The first two loops were to be about 8 miles each, leaving a final loop of 4 miles. My intent was to have a smaller amount of miles to run on the third loop when I knew I would be getting more tired. The reason I like to begin and end at my house is to trade out water bottles, use the restroom if necessary, and change wet shorts for dry shorts on the really hot mornings. I also take only enough GUs for the loop I have to run.

During the first loop, I began to think this was going to be a really tough day. As I passed the 6-mile mark, however, I began to feel more alert and alive. I was comfortable with where I was. I stopped at the house at 8 miles, used the restroom, changed my shirt, and traded out for my next water bottle.

About 3 miles into the second loop, I began to feel pretty solid. I had the idea that if I extended this loop by a mile or two, my third loop could end up begin really short. That was an attractive idea. My only issue was that I would need to refill my water bottle. I decided to go ahead and extend my outbound by a couple of miles, thinking that I could refill my bottle at the Whataburger at Main and I-35. This idea seemed pretty good to me. So, I went for it.

I had been working hard on this run doing a few key things:

  1. Forcing a slow, steady pace (2-3 minutes slower than my short runs) reserving energy
  2. Working on posture, form, and breathing
  3. Using positive affirmations to keep my mind right.

Until this run, I had never really tried to concentrate on positive affirmations. But I was determined to finish the training run all the way, no matter what. So, I tried it. I talked to myself, out loud over and over. “I’m doing great. My legs feel good. I am fully capable and prepared for this run. My legs are strong, and they will carry me all the way today. This walk break is perfectly timed, and it is just long enough to refresh me for the next running segment. My pace is perfect. I’m doing an excellent job of maintaining a steady pace. I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing.”

I think this made a tremendous difference in transferring the anxiety I had about this run into something positive. I’m going to seriously utilize this technique from now on.

I was very thankful that my running buddy Steve, who is recovering from an ankle injury, decided to find me at around mile 16 to simply encourage me and see if I needed anything. He ended up bringing me an extra GU and some more hydration. I appreciated this very much. He is a true friend. I’m looking forward to running together again soon.

I felt very accomplished at the end of this one. I am close enough to marathon distance now to see it again. I have two more long slow distance runs before the big day, along with some track workouts in between.

Please visit my fundraising page and either donate to my race or sponsor a child through World Vision. I am nearly halfway to my goal of $3,000 raised. Please note, if you sponsor a child, you will need to also complete this very short form so that my fundraising is credited properly. If you have any questions, please let me know!


Well, well, well…

A month went by without my posting updates. That went by fast. I’m going to try to catch this think up, bit by bit with a little additional information thrown in as I think of it.

Where am I in the training plan?
I just completed Week 16. That means the marathon is 10 weeks away from the Sunday I just passed.

What’s left on the training plan?
Three more long runs 20+ miles each, depending on how far I can take it), five more tempo-type runs (mile repeats or “magic mile” repeats, and one plain 7-mile jog. Those are the weekend runs, of course. The weeks don’t change that much except for the last couple of weeks leading up to the marathon. That is a “taper” time, where I will run less weekly than I have been running. The idea is to come down off of the aggressive plan to allow the body to get ready for the big day.

How am I feeling?
Mostly confident. The majority of my runs go well. Each really long run has really felt long…my biggest fear right now is hitting the wall, of course. And since I’m training differently than I ever have, I don’t have a baseline comparison. I am feeling stronger, and I know that my endurance is building.

What about weight?
My weight has been coming off according to plan, losing 8-10 pounds monthly. Each loss makes running a little easier. I still have a ways to go, but I’m feeling great about my progress this year. I’m feeling even better than I think I have resolved to work on the issues behind the weight gain…which is harder in some ways than just doing some kind of diet plan. I will post some observations soon. Right now, weekly, I experience a pleasant weigh-in with lots of non-scale victories.

How is Steve?
Steve may be out for four more weeks. He’s hating that. His ankle is improving. He’s more mobile now. Not ready to run yet, but he is making progress daily. I’m looking forward to running some with him soon and continuing the training cycle with him after Chicago.

This weekend will bring a 20+-mile run. I’ve been mapping it out into three segments that begin and end at my house so that I can refresh water, potty if necessary, and change shorts if it is a very hot morning.

More later, but there is the update for right now.

A Week with Ups and Downs!

Look at that – I made that blue.

Bad news first. Steve suffered an injury on Tuesday morning. We were nearly done with a very routine run, and in the last few steps, an old injury tried to happen again. He had a tear in his right calf years ago, and he now felt it pulling as if it was going to maybe tear again. I could tell it was painful…and frustrating. He hobbled home, went to the doctor, and determined it needed rest, ice, medication, etc. But mostly rest. He could barely walk on it.

So, that was a pretty big “down.” I did the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday workouts alone. This was interesting. I’m really used to running with my buddy, so it felt pretty strange.

FullSizeRenderOn Sunday, the task was 5 miles with the “magic mile,” which in Galloway talk is basically a timed mile at a faster-than-usual pace. This is easily done on a track, so we met at Briarhill for this one. Steve walked the whole time I was doing the running workout. My plan was to do 2 easy miles, a third “magic mile,” and two finishing miles. I posted the picture because I thought it was funny. Track workouts look funny to me. You can see when I decided that a bathroom stop was no longer optional!

I decided during the pace mile not to look at my watch at all. Just did not want to deal with whether I was doing well or not, etc. I just ran a little faster without sprinting. My magic mile came in at 9:47. I was encouraged by this. My last two miles got a little boring, but that’s what it’s like to run around a track for nearly an hour.

I do another magic mile in a few weeks. I’m anticipating that I’ll be a little faster. Within about 6 weeks, I should be able to predict a reasonable estimation of what my marathon time should look like.

I keep saying that I will write on pace and time. It’s been a journey this time. I’ve had to do some work inside with what I’m thinking and feeling. I don’t feel like getting into it today.

Overall this week, I felt good and strong, but I missed my running buddy. He’s going to take most if not all of this week off as well.

This Saturday, 17 miles. At White Rock. Should be fun.

Rather than combine two weeks into one, I’m going to post back to back. These were fairly significant weeks.

Week 10 was routine, but it included the new distance of 15 miles! We ran on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, with our long run on Sunday. We also completed three cross-training workouts with Camp Gladiator. On Wednesday, we did the GC camp for an hour, followed by 35 minutes of running. This was a new feature of our training. It was tough, but we got it done in an effort to increase our cross-training sessions.

I saw some improvements in my work at CG this week. I think the consistency is paying off. In addition to this, I started a 30-day, 100-squat challenge on Sunday, June 10. I committed to doing 100 squats per day for the 30 days. I could feel some extra strength where I needed it, even in my running (and getting up and down in and out of chairs).

IMG_3664We weren’t as lucky with the weather on this long run as we were on our 13-miler. We started at 5 AM, and by 7 AM, the sun was out, the humidity was up, the wind was calm, and the temperature climbed. What you see on the app is the starting temperature. This began to really affect us around mile 11 or so, though our split times don’t really show it. During the last mile, we extended a couple of walk breaks and stopped twice to let a lady who was watering her lawn completely hose us down. Unfortunately, we were already drenched, so our clothes became more heavy, and the last remnants of Body Glide disappeared from where I needed it most. I’ll spare you the gory details.¬†IMG_3665

However, we finished on our feet, and that’s always a victory! I went inside and took a cold shower before heading out to pick up the thermos and make the now traditional Sunday Einstein’s run. When I came back out to get in the car after my shower, it was…cloudy and a little more windy. Of course!

This day was Father’s Day. My family treated me to being kind to one another for most of the day, and they took me to and tolerated my annual Long John Silvers meal. Yes, only once per year. I’ve somehow never lost my taste for those diamond-shaped filets (?). I kept it in the 800-calorie range, and enjoyed seeing most of my kids and all my grandkids.

The squats were a little harder and slower, but I got them all done!

This was a good week. Not even halfway through training yet, and feeling strong. I don’t dread getting up to work out or run. I’m feeling much more healthy and alive than I was at this time last year. Though the upcoming marathon still intimidates me a bit, I’m choosing to trust the process and enjoy the journey. Really. It’s not always easy. But it is worth it.

The next several weeks involve “easy” weeks and “long” weeks. This was an easy week of 15 miles total. The coming week is a longer week, with a total mileage of 25 miles. In the coming weeks, we will have totals up to 50 miles.

Last week, we completed four runs and two cross-training workouts. Saturday was a rest day. This week we will do the same plan, but add an additional cross-training work out on our shortest run day. We will see how it goes.

We worked on breathing and running form this week. We’re also getting more dedicated to proper post-run stretching, as well as doing some yoga-type stretches throughout the day.

On the weight front, I was pretty unnerved last week to step on the scale and see that I had gained a little less than a pound. That really bugged me, but I decided to refrain from pushing the panic button. Instead, I reviewed my food logs and looked for things that might be improved. I reminded myself of the principles I now try to live by, and I committed to better planning.

This morning at my weekly weigh in, I had lost over 2 pounds, so I’m glad I didn’t fall into trying anything radical. I did have one wheels-off eating experience at night last week. I caught myself and regrouped. It was weird – it was one of those times when I thought I “should” be hungry based on how long it had been since I had eaten anything. I didn’t have a plan, and I felt cheated – like I wasn’t getting everything I imagined should be coming to me. Bottom line – I ate when I wasn’t hungry, and I immediately regretted it. This would have been a perfect time to dig in and resist the urge to eat when I’m not hungry. I didn’t pass the test. However, I didn’t get into any kind of spiral either. Rather, I moved on from it.

IMG_3451-EFFECTSThis bridge is on the running¬†trail between my house and Steve’s house, so we cross it a lot. I like this picture of it. It reminds me of the journey I am on. I started crossing that bridge in January, when running for 15 minutes with walk breaks seemed really difficult. I cross it now, anticipating an enjoyable run of an hour. It’s the same bridge, but I have to keep moving across it. It’s been a part of the journey nearly every day for nearly 6 months. It will continue to be. Same basic decision daily. Slow and steady progress.

I forgot to post last week. Oh yeah, Memorial Day and all that. Hope yours was good.

Week 7 felt very successful to me. I had plenty of energy on all of the runs. We were rewarded with a short “long” run of only 5 miles, which anymore feels quite short. I did cross training at CG twice. The only yuck factor for the week was that the Texas heat is upon us. High humidity and warm mornings. Sweatfest.

While I’m here, and while I have the benefit of knowing that week 8 went well as well, I’ll risk documenting why I think things were easier for me. First, I’ve continued to lose pounds, and every pound makes a difference in the “pounding” that I have to take. Second, I think the cross training has been very helpful in strengthening my body all over. The squats and lunges, and even the sprinting have all helped. I completed 5 weeks at CG, going only twice per week, and even that little bit has helped to strengthen everything I use to run 4 times per week. Finally, I gave in to a bit of a mix in my macros…[STOP] Let me explain.

First off, talking macros annoys the crap out of me. It is also a potentially dangerous trigger for an overeater. I don’t want to get into this too much right now, but put simply, if your problem is overeating and/or eating for the wrong reasons and/or compulsive eating and/or food addiction and/or compulsive dieting (that should cover lots of us), then diving into nutritional analysis, calorie counting, elimination diets, and micro tweaking are potentially dangerous. Why? Because they are all forms of continuing to love and focus on food. They’re sort of the other side of the coin. In other words, I can continue my love affair with food as I think about it all the time, analyze it, dissect it, weigh it, etc. etc. So, I gotta watch myself. My goal is to relax about food, enjoy food as God intended, eat when I’m hungry, and stop when I am (or should be) satisfied. My plan includes being mindful and intentional about eating and getting to the bottom of issues rather than soothing stuff by eating. If this makes no sense to you, you probably don’t have the issue that many of us deal with, so skip this and go have an ice cream or something. I won’t and don’t argue this anymore. [END RANT]

Back to reluctantly jacking with macros. CG suggested that I up my carbs a little. These days, that kind of advice sends shivers down the spine of just about everyone. However, I agreed to do so. I’m not putting the numbers here, because you will lose focus if I do. Suffice it to say that I increased my carbohydrates a little bit, to more than I was used to, trying to be somewhat healthful in my choices. You know what I mean.

Here’s what I found. I had increased energy and better endurance on runs. And, I continued to lose pounds. When running, I just felt better. I was afraid that upping my carbs was going to equate to a gain on the scale. So far, not true. I know not all carbs are equal, so please know that I’m keeping them as healthy and varied as I can.

That brings me to Week 8
IMG_3577-2During week 8, we increased our run time on the run/walk method to 6:1, and continuing to make one of the runs non-stop. This is for the purposes of varying things and building endurance. This week’s long run was 13 miles. Honestly, I was a little nervous about the 13 miles because I struggled a bit in the last mile and a half on the 11-mile run. However, we committed to running slowly, and we had to slow down a few times in the early miles. We GU’d three times, and we had hydrated well for the previous three days.

We both got through the 13 miles feeling strong. Ready to stop at 13.1, but not feeling spent. We both felt we could have run a little faster, and that is exactly what we set out to do. For me, the last mile and a half was fine. I was glad to be done, but more than that, I was proud that we achieved our goal. We were patient, and we hit our marks. We were blessed with a slightly cooler morning and glorious cloud cover. That makes a huge difference. I got through this one still anxious about dietary changes but committed to continuing the plan.

fullsizeoutput_ae7I’m going to post up a link on Facebook today with my fundraising link and put it out there that I’m really doing this. I’m going to appeal for money over there only once per month. I’m going to direct people who are truly interested to come here so that people don’t have to hide or unfriend me because they get sick of hearing about running.

This next week, we have an easier week with a shorter long run. Looking forward to a good one. I hope that you have a great week as well. If you want to talk with me about anything you’ve read here, I’d love to have that conversation. DM me or get in touch with me. I’m not hard to find.