Friday, September 24, 2010

Taper Week 1: This is hardly a taper!

So this week begins my three-week taper before the Chicago Marathon. Tapering consists of an overall reduction in training mileage and intensity in the weeks preceding a big race, allowing the body to recover from the stresses induced by months of hard training, so that the body is fresh for race day. My FAST coaches, however, did not get the memo about this.

Lemme tell you what those slave-drivers made me do this week.

On Tuesday, they made me run this crazy modified version of "The FAST", where I had to run 2 miles hard, then go immediately up the Hill of Death, followed by 1 mile hard. And if that wasn't enough, on Thursday, they made me run 1-mile repeats in a dark and scary cemetery and there were bats flying around and owls hooting and zombies trying to attack me! ZOMBIES!!!

Okay, so I'm lying about the zombies. But the owls and bats were there, I swear! And the moon was full, so there were probably werewolves hiding in the trees. I think I did hear some howling...

But bats and zombies and werewolves aside... If this is a taper, why does it feel so untaperlike??? The coaches are trying to kill me!

And can we talk about my toenail?

*everyone shouts "NOOOOOOOO!" in unison*

Too bad - we're going to talk about it anyway. I made it through all of my marathon training without any weird toenail issues to speak of. But on an easy 5 mile run this week, I came home with a sore 2nd toe. Weird. And after last night's FAST workout, that toe is now clearly destined to lose its nail. Are you kidding me? How is it that I can run 22 miles straight with no problems, but as soon as I start my taper, all my toenails start falling off? Okay, so it's just the one toenail, but still!

Now, who here wants to see pictures of my wonky toenail?

*crickets chirping*

Fine, suit yourselves.

Tough workouts and damaged toenails aside, I must say I am very much looking forward to my relatively short long run this weekend. Twelve miles will seem like a veritable breeze compared with last Sunday's 22 hill-tacular miles. However, as my mileage continues to decrease these next two weeks, it is inevitable that I will once again enter a state of Taper Madness. My blog posts will probably start to make less sense, and will likely be punctuated with random outbursts of virtual cackling. I assure you it's all part of a normal taper.


Seriously. It's normal.


Peace. Love. Train.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lucky Ducks and Parallel Universes

Before you ask - NO, I'm not still delirious from my 22 mile run this morning. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But it doesn't explain the title of this post. Trust me.

You see, it was a long run like any other. Except that we started almost an hour late due to Mother Nature's fury (aka, thunderstorms). But once we got started, it was like any other long run. I had the privilege of running with fellow FASTie, Kristi again. This time I didn't bombard her with stories of "Oh that's where I buy cat food" and "Hey, I looked a these apartments when I was apartment-hunting 10 years ago" and "The floor in that McDonald's is really slippery". You're welcome, Kristi!

The first 8 miles passed quickly and we felt strong. It was raining on us a little bit, but at least there was no lightning or torrential downpours. Then Kristi noticed something small and brightly-colored on the road. It was a little rubber duck. Just lying in the middle of the road. Looking lonely and unloved. How could anyone abandon their rubber duck like that? I'll never understand. But I took pity on the poor thing and scooped it up and carried it with me for the rest of the run (yes, I held a rubber duck for 14 miles). And isn't it cute? I like its snazzy giraffe print. It shall henceforth be known as my Lucky Duck.

There were several people who started their run after us. We expected to get passed by a few of them eventually. But we didn't expect them to do it invisibly. People that had been behind us suddenly appeared ahead of us. And it happened twice. At first, we chalked it up to the other people taking a slightly different route, even though it didn't really make much sense. But when it happened a second time, Kristi and I began to wonder if maybe we were disrupting the space-time continuum somehow. Had we entered a long run parallel universe where everyone who was once behind us suddenly was in front of us? I hypothesized that perhaps we were running so fast, our relative time had slowed down, while everyone else was experiencing normal elapsed Earth-time. Those of you not familiar with the Theory of Relativity might want to brush up on this concept. I'm positive that's what happened to Kristi and me.

After about Mile 15, Kristi took off ahead of me because, well, she is a much faster runner than I am and frankly, I was holding her back. I assured her I didn't mind if she went ahead. It was truly awesome of her to stick with my for 15 miles, although I think she mainly did it because she knew I knew the route and she didn't want to get lost. Or maybe Kristi did want to hear more of my awesome anecdotes and I disappointed her by not telling any, so she took off. Yes, I'm sure that's it. *nods wisely*

The rest of the run passed uneventfully, although I did get honked at by fellow FASTie Melody, who happened to be driving by when I was at about mile 19.5. She actually stopped her car in the middle of a very busy road, and stuck her entire torso out of her car window to wave and yell at me. I was glad she stopped her car in order to do this. Otherwise it may have been like *honk honk wave wave crash*. Seeing her gave me just the pick-me-up I needed to sail through the last 2 miles. Thanks Mel!

So there's the run in all its glory. People who live and run in the area will immediately recognize that we pretty much ran from one side of Peoria to the other and back. That's not something people do every day. I feel pretty accomplished, despite the fact that it's not my first 22-miler. It was certainly my fastest 22-miler, though.

And it was all because of my Lucky Duck. Oh, and because they told me there would be coffee and bagels at the finish. Mmmm.... coffee...

Peace. Love. Train.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I was dead... but I got better!

And this is why I was dead:

Look at the green graph. That's the elevation plot. Check out that crazy sawtooth-looking stuff in the middle. That's the Hill of Death six times. SIX TIMES.

Let me tell you something, boys and girls... When you run the Hill of Death six times, it truly lives up to its name. Coach Brad's instructions for our workout were simple: Run as many repeats of the Hill of Death as you can possibly do, and when you think you can't do anymore, do one more. After my third round on the hill, I really didn't think I had anymore in me. I felt sluggish, tired, and heavy. Then Brad told me that Collin, who is new to FAST and happens to be an 8th grader, was planning to run five repeats. Well crap. I couldn't let myself get bested by an 8th grader! (I do realize that many 8th graders could easily outrun me... but let's stick to the topic at hand, shall we?) So I plugged on, despite the fact that my legs felt as if they were made of lead.

After my 5th hill, I met up with Collin and casually asked "So, how many'd you do?" You know, just to make sure he hadn't run a bunch more when I wasn't looking. Turns out he had done five too. Well, I would've been content to let it go then, but then Tim came sailing down the hill on his tenth repeat. TEN! Five repeats seemed pretty wimpy at that point. And many of my fellow FASTies were busting out six and seven hills. It made me feel oddly left out.

So I turned to Collin and said "Alright, let's do one more. We can do one more, right?" He agreed, and together, the 8th grader and I charged up the hill a sixth time. We huffed and puffed and probably both felt near death (or at least near puking), but he didn't fall behind, and neither did I. After we rounded the final turn, I wheezed "Almost there!" and he grunted in enthusiastic agreement. And before we knew it, we were at the top. Woo hoo!

Then, that little whippersnapper took off down the other side of the hill at breakneck speed and left me in the dust! Hmph. Kids these days!

But when I reached the bottom of the hill, we high-fived on a job well done, and he thanked me for helping him get through that last hill. I, in turn, thanked him for getting me through the last hill. Teamwork made us victorious, and we celebrated that victory together. Okay, so I celebrated, and Collin was like "yeah, cool. whatever."

And then I died.

But I got better!

I never would've imagined I could run six Hills of Death in a row... especially on a night when I just wasn't "feelin' it". But a little peer pressure goes a long way in FAST. There are a lot of things we do in FAST that I would probably never do if left to my own devices. And if I was left to my own devices, I would still be running 33:00 5k's and 6:23 marathons. So I conclude that a little death by hill repeats never killed anyone... at least not permanently.

Peace. Love. Train.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Everybody loves a maintenance mile!

Well, everyone except for the people who have to run the maintenance mile. But everyone who doesn't have to run the maintenance mile loves it!

What exactly is a maintenance mile, you ask? Well, my friends, it's a special kind of surprise torture reserved for the fastest runners in FAST. It is a post-workout, balls-to-the-wall, give-it-all-you-got, run-til-you-puke one mile time trial. Doesn't that sound like FUN? And the best part is that you never know when it's coming - the coaches don't tell anyone about it until after the main workout is complete and everyone is already fatigued.

So last night, after we had all run 3 x 1 mile progressive repeats through the cemetery, Coach Brad broke the news to the fastest FASTies (Nikki and Tim) that they would be doing a maintenance mile. Ha! *points and laughs at Nikki and Tim* Hahahahaha! Thank goodness I'm among the slow FASTies! We had the privilege of watching this maintenance mile take place. Coach Brad's instructions were that Tim would be given a 30 second head start and Nikki would have to try to catch him. (Nikki is generally faster than Tim, so this was a fair advantage.)

We all gathered round as Tim took off and then 30 seconds later, Nikki took off. They disappeared into the trees of the cemetery and we anxiously awaited their return. Would Nikki come around the corner first? Or would it be Tim? The suspense was killing us. We bit our nails in anticipation. Okay, not really. We pretty much just stood around and chatted about this and that and the other. But we didn't have long to chat because soon Tim came blazing around the corner. After he finished (at a ridiculously fast pace which I can't remember but I know we were all pretty awed by it), Nikki came blazing around the corner. After she finished, she very nearly earned the puke crown. Nearly. But not quite.

Meanwhile, the rest of us stood around and cheered and thanked the powers that be that we didn't have to run a maintenance mile. The workout we did was hard enough, thankyouverymuch! And here is said workout...

The goal in the mile repeats was to gradually accelerate through the repeat so that the pace at the end of the mile was significantly faster than the pace at the beginning. The tricky part of this exercise is that the one mile loop is mostly downhill for the first 800 m, and mostly uphill for the last 800m. So one actually has to run faster on the uphill part, which makes it that much more challenging. While it may have been tempting to jog the first 3/4 mile and then just sprint the last 1/4 mile, so it looked like we were getting progressively faster, deep down we all knew better than that. And also, Coach Brad told us not to do that. Drat. The recovery between repeats was however long it took to walk back to the one mile start and grab a quick drink.

All in all, a very good workout even though it was a little shorter than recent workouts. I will gladly accept a shorter workout if it means I don't have to run a maintenance mile. And you know that just because I said that, Coach Brad is going to make me run a maintenance mile one of these days. And that happens to be the day I join the FASTie Protection Program, change my name to Kara Radcliffe (or maybe Paula Goucher) and move far far away.

Peace. Love. Train.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And I didn't even taper!!!

This morning, as you may remember from my last blog entry, I ran the 2010 Chicago Half-Marathon. As you also know from my last blog entry, I didn't taper for this race because my coaches felt it unnecessary, seeing as it would just be a training run for me rather than a RACE race. However, we all know by now that I can't really "do" races as training runs, so do you really think I ran this morning's race at a leisurely pace?

Um. No. *looks guilty*

Indeed, I ran a PR by over 6 minutes, with an official time of 2:13:20. And I didn't even taper!!! Just imagine how awesomely stellar my performance could've been if I had tapered. But we'll never really know, and my coaches have to live with the knowledge that they may have prevented me from, I dunno, winning an age group award or something.

Okay, okay, you all can stop laughing now. Yes, it's true that in order to place in my age group, I would have had to run about a 1:20 race. I'm not sure any amount of taper can take nearly an hour off of someone's race time. But a girl can dream, right? The fact is, I'm really pleased with my new PR, especially since I really didn't expect to go sub-2:15 today.

So let's get down to the nitty gritty... the full race report!

The Health & Fitness Expo was at Navy Pier, which is a really neat place to visit and have a fun day. But for herds of runners who are just trying to run in and grab their race packets really quick, it was the most stressful and difficult place they could possibly choose. The traffic is madness, there are pedestrians everywhere, it's difficult to figure out where to go, and parking is a huge challenge. But we managed to navigate all those difficulties with as much patience as we could muster, and were able to pick up our race packets. The t-shirt this year was really nice - a bright kelly green long-sleeved tech tee. I love that the Chicago Half always prints runners' first names on their bibs. It's a nice personal touch. My husband experienced a bit of a glitch with his race number and even though he registered months in advance (just like me), his bib did not have his name on it. So we remedied that later by writing it on with black pen.

After getting our packets and walking around the expo to scope out the goods (I got a tank top, a t-shirt, and three new headbands - score!) we were starving, so we decided it was time to carb-load. Now, you and I both know that you don't really need to carb-load for a half-marathon. It certainly doesn't hurt, but most people aren't going to run out of muscle glycogen in 13 miles, so it's just not necessary. But any excuse to eat pasta is a good excuse, as far as I'm concerned. Fortunately there was an Italian place right there at Navy Pier (Capi's), so we were able to fill up on yummy things like spaghetti pomodoro...

...Which was very tasty. *burp*

We headed to our hotel, the Hilton Chicago (which I definitely recommend as a nice place to stay downtown), and got settled into our room. It was time to rest our feet and legs and wind down for the night. I laid out my running clothes, pinned my bib to my shirt, and set my alarm for 4:15. It was going to be an early morning!

My race garb

In the morning, I went through my standard pre-long-run routine of eating oatmeal, a banana, and a cup of tea. I got dressed and made sure I had all the necessary accouterments for my race (Garmin - check, Sharkies - check, headband - check, earbuds - check, iPhone - check). We had to catch a shuttle bus to the starting line, so we headed out onto Michigan Ave for a brisk morning walk. When I say "brisk", I mean "freaking cold". I've run the Chicago Half three times, and this morning was by far the chilliest one. I thought that was a good sign, since usually this race ends up being rather too toasty for my taste.

The shuttle service was well-organized and definitely an easier way to get to the starting line than pretty much any other method. The bus-drivers were a little crazy (one of them pulled out right in front of an ambulance that had its lights and siren on), but we survived.

Waiting in line for the shuttle bus

When we got to the starting line, it was about an hour until race start, so we did the typical pre-race routine of peeing seventeen times. Because it's better to do as much peeing as you can before a race, so that you don't need to stop to pee during the race. Peeing costs valuable race time!

Finally the time came to line up at the start. I placed myself behind the 2:10 pace marker, which I realize was a little ridiculous, but the 2:20 marker (where I probably should have seeded myself) was so much farther back! I would've had to walk like a whole block more. *whine gripe groan* If I'm about to run 13.1 miles, I think I'm allowed to be a little lazy beforehand.

The sea of people ahead of me at the race start. The actual starting line isn't even visible from here!

Soon, we were off. It took me about 10 minutes to cross the starting line, which was not bad in this race of 13,500 people. I settled into a comfortable pace, content to let people pass me. I told myself that if all went well, it was likely I would be passing a lot of those people in the later miles.

Miles 1-3 are through the park-like areas around the University of Chicago. There are lots of trees and shade and it's a very easy part of the race. I kept my pace in check because I knew I would need my energy later on in the "concrete miles", which I'll explain in a bit.

After Mile 3, the course turns to head north up Lakeshore Drive. The view of the lake is fantastic. The running is not. Oh yes, it's flat. But, and that's a huge but, there is no shade, there is very little entertainment, and the road is grooved concrete and in many places it is severely banked. These are the "concrete miles". For anyone struggling with IT band problems, this course is a nightmare. Fortunately, I don't have issues with my IT band, but my hubby does, and he definitely felt it on the course today.

Shortly after 8 miles, the course goes up an exit ramp, onto an overpass, and turns back down an exit ramp to head south down Lakeshore Drive. So the course is, except for the first three miles, an out-and-back course. In all honesty, it's kind of boring. I was glad to have my iPhone with me so I could listen to music. If I was a better multi-tasker, maybe I could've pulled out my iPhone and done some Facebooking, or gotten caught up on emails while I ran, or played a few games of solitaire. Ah well, maybe some other time.

Remember those people who passed me in the first couple of miles? I started passing them after Mile 3. And in the last three miles of the race, I was flying past other people. My effort had increased, but I wasn't gasping for air or feeling like puking or anything like that. It was, after all, just a training run. I just have a natural tendency to speed up the farther I run. It's a strange tendency, I know. But it works well for me. As I rounded the final turn, I could see the finish line ahead, so I kicked into another gear and passed dozens more people. At this point, I was gasping for air, but I still managed to give a thumbs up to some of the professional photographers. Hey, you gotta look good in your race pics, right? I crossed the finish line not really having any clue what my time was, because I really didn't keep track of my time at all during the race. I just ran what felt right. As it turns out, 2:13:20 was what felt right - a vast improvement over my previous best of 2:19:36. I collected my medal (oooo, shiny!), and post-race food (of which there was lots!), and we caught the next shuttle back to the hotel. Incidentally, my hubby also ran an awesome PR, despite his IT band issues. And don't we look so cute with our His & Hers PRs???


So to sum up... it was a well-organized race and I'm happy with how I ran it. But having experienced the long and difficult "concrete miles" three times now, I think I can safely say I've had enough of this one.

Here's my run data. My heart rate was all wonky for the first mile, not because my heart was actually wonky, but because my monitor gets wonky in cold weather - something to do with static electricity.

No race report would be complete without discussion of post-race refueling. And what kind of fuel does Chicago do best? Deep dish pizza, baby! We went to Lou Malnati's for some deep dish and I must say, it was the perfect post-race lunch. I gobbled down my personal pizza in about 5 minutes (I was that hungry and it was that good). *burp*

"The Lou": spinach, mushrooms and roma tomatoes with mozzarella, romano and cheddar.

Now, I know what you all are thinking: So, 2:13, huh? That's pretty close to 2:10. Yes indeedy. Methinks it's time for a new half-marathon goal. But I think I'll have to taper to make that goal.

Peace. Love. Train.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Crimes Against Running

As a citizen of this Land of the Free, I feel it is my right... no, it is my DUTY... to report a horrible injustice. You see, my husband and I are running the Chicago Half-Marathon this weekend. Our FAST coaches have instructed my husband to taper for this race by reducing his training mileage and intensity this week. Upon asking the FAST coaches if I should be tapering as well, since I'm running the same race, they instructed me to run a bunch of crazy-hard stuff that left me gasping for air and begging for mercy.



How is this fair???

Well, I'll tell you how it's fair... It's NOT fair, is what it is! And We The People of FAST should take a stand against running crimes and demand equal treatment of runners. Unless, of course, all the runners are being asked to run crazy-hard stuff. In which case, I am absolutely okay with being treated differently.

Okay, so really the bottom line is that I want to be lazy when I feel like being lazy. And "tapering for a race" is as good an excuse as any to be lazy. But our coaches know better. They know this weekend's half-marathon is nothing more than a moderately-paced recovery-distance training run for me, whereas my husband has ambitious goals for this race. Therefore, he gets to taper, and I, sadly, do not. Damn those coaches for being so smart!!!

So what have they been making me do this week? Well, first they made me run up the Hill of Death three times... In the middle of slightly-longer-than-one-mile repeats. And if that doesn't sound wonderful enough, did I mention my legs were still pretty tired from the 21 miles I had just run two days earlier? So it felt like I was like running with cement blocks tied to my feet. I guess that was the coaches' not-so-subtle way of telling me that I was not going to be tapering this week.


I don't even know how to properly describe that workout, other than "tough". The repeats were an unusual distance (longer than a mile, but less than a mile and a quarter) with an unusual recovery distance (more than half a mile, less than three quarters of a mile), because that's just how the route went. The goal was to be able to run the last repeat as fast as the first one. And by golly, I did. In fact, I got faster each repeat. So take THAT, coaches! That'll teach you to infringe upon my right to taper!

Then last night, while my tapering hubby did whatever ridiculously easy thing the coaches told him to do (man the water jugs, I think), I was forced to do 5 x 1000m repeats through the cemetery. Hmph. I was so flustered by the iniquity of it all, that I accidentally hit the Stop button on my Garmin before the first 1000m repeat, thus not registering any data for that repeat. There is simply no worse feeling for a geeky runner than realizing that data has been missed.

I'll be honest. I was tempted to run an extra repeat just to collect the data. But then I would've still been upset about having run 6 repeats, yet only having 5 repeats worth of data. Trust me when I tell you that this is pretty much par for the course for how an engineer's mind works. For those of you who are not engineers (that's most of you), count your blessings. Those of you who are engineers... well, you understand what it's like. And you have my deepest sympathy. So while the data says I ran 4.4 miles, I actually ran 5.1-ish.

Oh, and I almost forgot... After all the repeats, fellow FASTie Julie (who happens to be Coach Maggie's sister) made me... yes, made me... run up a very steep grassy hill. You know, because "it'll be fun!"

Here's some unsolicited advice: if another runner ever says to you "Hey let's do *insert crazy activity here* - It'll be fun!", run quickly in the opposite direction and don't look back. You'll avoid the crazy activity, and as an added bonus, you'll get in a little extra speedwork.

I wish I had followed this advice. Julie peer-pressured me into running up that hill and it was terrifying. There were tree roots, acorns, clumps of grass, holes in the ground, rocks, and sticks everywhere. It was a veritable minefield of potential ankle-breakers. Fortunately, nobody got a broken ankle... but still, I should not have run up the hill. It's risky business so close to the marathon (which, by the way, is exactly one month from today - eek!). But more importantly, despite what the coaches think, I am tapering for the half-marathon this weekend and tapering runners don't run up steep hills. You hear that, coaches? Tapering!

*sticks tongue out at coaches and runs away at an easy pace*

Peace. Love. Train.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

20.71 miles inside a runner's brain

Miles 1-2

I hope this run goes better than last weekend's long run. At least the weather's a lot better. It feels almost... dare I say it... cold. Not that I'm complaining. Glad I wore my arm-warmers. Wow this road has a lot of potholes. There go all the fast runners. Now it's just me and the road. My shorts keep falling down. This is going to get annoying. Hey, I hear someone coming up behind me. I'm not being stalked, am I? I've got a fanny pack and I'm not afraid to use it! Oh, it's just Cathy!

Miles 2 - 6

It's really nice to have someone to run with. Too bad she's only running with me until Mile 6. What's with all the sirens? Hey look, there's Frank! Wow, his shirt is really bright. My husband would like that shirt - he likes bright shirts. Has it really been 3 miles already? I think I need to pee. I should suggest that we stop at this McDonald's up here. Whew, I'm glad she agreed. The floor in here is really slippery. Wouldn't that be ironic - getting injured by slipping and falling in a McDonald's while on a 20 mile run. Ahhh, I feel much better now. Onward! Oh that's what all the sirens were about - car accident. Those computer parts are still lying on the side of the road. Wonder how long they've been there. Oh look, it's Steve. Nice of him to man the water stop here. I think I need to take off my arm-warmers soon. There goes Cathy. On my own now.

Miles 6 - 11

Here come the other Stashies. Let's see... it's about 3/4 mile to the turnaround... so I'm about a mile and a half behind them. Oh look, geese! Oh look, cows! Yep, definitely time to lose the arm-warmers. I'm hungry. Look at Steve reading his newspaper. This is a great song. I really don't like that the guard rails of this bridge are so low. It's a long way down to the pavement below. Think I'll run a little faster across this thing. Huh, are those branches from an artificial Christmas tree? People throw the strangest crap out of their cars. Christmas is just around the corner... is it too soon to start shopping? Hey who just honked at me? Oh it's Coach Brad! Okay, the next water stop is supposed to be on Bacon Dr. I wonder if that street is named for the food or a person... Kevin Bacon? Does that make people who live on that street only one degree separated from Kevin Bacon? Wow, that squirrel is really going to town burying his nut. Dig, squirrel, dig!

Miles 11 - 15

Here comes the hilly part. Look, a CD. Do people even buy CD's anymore? I think my toe blister is getting bigger. This big long downhill part is great. But it means I'm going to have to run up it when I come back. I hope I don't get lost in Weaver Ridge. The sidewalk is ending. Don't trip, don't trip, don't trip... hey, I didn't trip! Look at all these people out playing golf. I really don't like golf. Oooo, these houses are so pretty! I wonder what it costs to live on a golf course. More than I can afford, I'm sure. Do you suppose these people get lots of broken windows from errant golf balls? Who pays for that - the bad golfer? The golf club? The homeowner? Oh hey, I've caught up with Louisa, Yvonne and Sue! Wow, I'm faster than I thought. Oh. Nevermind. They ran an extra 3/4 mile. Okay, so I'm not as fast as I thought.

Miles 15 - 20.71

Ugh. Gotta climb that hill I had so much fun running down earlier. So.steep. My feet are tired. Good grief, what is the deal with this wind? When I turn the corner I'll be out of the wind. Oh what a beautiful car! '57 Chevy. Pristine. Love that color. Only 5 miles to go. I can go 5 more miles. Don't trip on this sidewalk. Pick up your feet. Hey who just honked at me? Oh it's Cathy! I wonder where she's headed to. My shoulders feel tense. Relax. Relax. Relax. What is that guy doing by that car? Looks suspicious. Just look ahead and keep running. Hey this Subway must've been a gas station a long time ago. It's been a Subway as long as I've lived around here. I wish my shorts would stop falling down. My feet hurt. Last water stop. Hey it's Cathy again! I really needed that encouragement. I love my running friends. Ohhhh this water is soooo gooooood. Less than 3 miles. It's so close I can taste it. Too bad there's a lot of hill yet to climb. Why is there a big huge trash bin in the middle of the sidewalk? I've never been to the state fair. I'm sure I'm not missing out on much. Except funnel cakes. mmmmm... Hey is that Chocolate Mike up there? Why is he walking? I hope he's okay. It's good that he's still moving forward. Run, walk, crawl... whatever it takes. Whoah, I think I'm going to hit 20 miles in under 3:40. And I did! And it's less than a mile back to the club now. I should probably just use the rest of this as a cooldown. But I want to finish strong. I've got another 3/4 mile in me. Cooldown-schmooldown! Let's do it. OOOOO great song! I cannot wait to get out of these shoes and into some flip flops. There are the railroad tracks. Almost there. Power through. Hey there are all the Stashies cheering for me! Think I'll skip to the finish. ouch ouch ouch ouch. Okay, maybe not all the way to the finish. But it was fun for a little bit! Yay, I did it!

Now that was an awesome run. :)

Peace. Love. Train.