Race recaps (these are all really old!)

Race recaps (these are all really old!)

Eds. note: these are all really old race recaps. I’ll figure out a way to better organize these, but if you’re looking for race recaps from specific races, you’ll be better off doing a keyword search from the homepage of my blog. Sorry for the inconvenience and for being a pain in the ass. ūüėõ¬† Love you!


Marathon #12: Marine Corps Marathon.  October 2009.

More than a week now has passed since I ran the beloved¬†MCM. ¬†You can thank schoolwork and my not feeling 100% for my delay. ¬†In true Erin form, though, we can’t have a race without a lengthy race recap, so here goes.

The MCM experience was not only a race but also a little mini vay-cay for my parents, C, and me, as we all ventured down to DC the Friday before the race and stayed through the Tuesday afterward.  We stayed in Crystal City, which ended up to be pretty cool since we ran right outside the hotel around miles 22-24 of the course.  Prior to race day, my family and I took in the sights a la a bus tour.  It was a blast, and we got to see a lot of DC (and the respected monuments, of course), in a relatively short amount of time.

Race day morning was a bit chaotic.  Instead of taking the Metro, which was only a few blocks from my hotel, I decided to take the pre-race shuttle.  Long story short, I got there with about 2 hours before the race began, and by the time I got on the shuttle, got off the shuttle at the starting line, and dumped my stuff at packet drop-off and got in line for the port-a-potties, I had BARELY enough time to run to the beginning of the start line and begin to run a marathon.  Yea, it was that sort of chaotic.  When I realized I could hear the national anthem being sung as I was doing my business in the port-a-potty, I realized that time definitely was not on my side!

At any rate, the race began in lovely late-October temperatures, probably around 40s or so. ¬†The first 13 miles or so I thought were somewhat uneventful, though still pretty scenic. ¬†We ran through a lot of different wooded park areas (and some neighborhoods) in VA before cutting across the river and running through DC. ¬†It’s a bit misleading to say that you can see the monuments while you run because you can… but not really. ¬†Granted, you can see the Washington monument pretty much anywhere in the DC/Arlington metro area, but we ran by many of the other statues and monuments only briefly… if we ran by them at all. ¬†(for some, we actually seemed to run BEHIND them. ¬†I got that impression from the Lincoln monument, anyway).

A big bonus to the race was catching up with long-lost Boston training buddy of mine, Rob, and his newly-announced fiancee, Magda. ¬†The three of us ran together from about miles 6-8, through what looked to be the hilliest parts of the course. ¬†Seeing the two of them was a great pick-me-up! ¬†Later in the course, around miles 17-18, I got to see two college gal-pals of mine, Kelly and Bridget. ¬†They both gave me lots of good tips prior to my trip, so I was just tickled when I saw them on the course cheering me on. ¬†Then, toward the end of the course, in the very colorful Crystal City, I saw my parents and Connor hanging outside our hotel. ¬†It was great to see them, too, for I know that I was almost to the homestretch and that we’d be reunited soon.

Seeing all the Marines and other military women and men was both cool and a bit unnerving. ¬†Granted, they were doing a top-notch job at the water stations (I was routinely called “ma’m” and told that I was doing a “good job, ma’m”), but it was still a *different* sight than what I’m used to, living in Chicago and all. ¬†There were good portions of the course that I truly didn’t care for, especially when we were running on a highway to get back over to Virginia from DC and vice-versa. ¬†If memory serves correctly, I think we did this once or twice at the beginning of the course and then again at the end, toward miles 20-22 and then 24-26. ¬†All in all, though, the race was well done and a pretty cool experience overall.

And how did I run? ¬†Great, considering. ¬†The primary goal of the day was to run sub-4. ¬†If I felt great, I’d shoot for 3:50. ¬†If I felt like a rockstar, I’d shoot for 3:40. ¬†I lined up with the 3:40/3:50 pace area and never found the pace group leaders, so I just ran my own race. ¬†All told, I clocked in around 3:57 and felt great. ¬†The slowest splits (towards the end, and when I was ingesting fluids and drinks) were in the high 9s, but I never broke 9:59. ¬†The course was hilly, but not too bad, and definitely not hilly like Akron or Boston. ¬†I think if I had done speed work over the summer and trained for the race like I had trained for the springtime races, I could have done better. ¬†But for now, I’ll gladly take a 3:50. ¬†I have been thrilled, and I feel elated to see that 3 of my 4 marathons this year have been sub-4: 3:47, 3:39, and 3:57.

The MCM was a great way to end my racing year and also a great little mini-vaycay for my family and me. ¬†Put it on your list of races to run someday. ¬†I don’t think you’ll regret it.

What’s next? ¬†Not certain. ¬†I’m signed up for Boston in April, and though I’d like to run another marathon prior to, I need to build up my savings account (having used a considerable portion of it for my upcoming travels to Kenya and the DR). ¬†We’ll see. ¬†Until then, I’m just reveling in the love and joy that is running… for no other reason than to simply do it.

Marathon #11: Akron Marathon: September 2009

Marathon #11: check.

Akron’s the hometown race for me (well, that and Chicago).  After running it and bonking in 2008, I knew quite well, going into the 2009 race, that I should respect, if not fear, this race.  Knowing that, and the fact that I’m still running the MCM in late October, I really didn’t have a hard-and-fast goal for Akron.  Initially, I was shooting for a solid 3:50, intending to run it with a pace group, but when the pacer never showed up at the starting line, the plan went to the wayside.  Instead, I wanted to do a flat 2hour first half and around something similar for the second half.  And that I did.

The cool thing about running the hometown race is that my family lives there, and that my parents grew up in Akron, so they know the city like the back of their hand. ¬†This meant that I got to see my parents twice on the course ‚ÄĒ once in Firestone Park and again outside Stan Hywet Hall ‚ÄĒ and any marathoner (or runner, for the matter) can attest to how cool it is to see friends and family out on the course. ¬†My sis, bro-in-law, and new 10-week-old nephew were also right out on the course, but unfortunately, I missed them. ¬† Everybody got funny pictures of me running, so that was kinda cool as well.

All told, I ended up running the first half in about a 1:59 and the second in 2 and some change, finishing in a very comfortable, relaxed 4:17:59.  It’s definitely not the fastest (or slowest) marathon I’ve run, but honestly, I felt great.  I had some bad memories I needed to bury from last year’s race with this year’s run, like when I bonked and started run/walking through Sand Run or the west side of Akron, and this year, I felt like I was a social butterfly, chatting up all the other runners I came upon.   Some were having excellent races; some weren’t.  Some were from out-of-town, and some had grown up their entire lives in NE Ohio.  The Akron race gave me an additional dimension to my race experience that I hadn’t really had before: really soaking up the experience with other runners.

With the only exceptions being when I was ingesting gels or drinking water or Gatorade, I ran the entire race course, and two of the last three miles were among the fastest of the second half of the course (and one was pretty close to one of my fastest mile splits that day).  Running the Akron race this year was an exercise in running for the sheer joy of running.  Though I kept my splits the entire time, I often considered shedding my watch and just having a ball with the race.  It was that sort of rockin’ mental day.

Additionally, the day brought with it a constant misting rain, which I never really felt but only noticed because the ground was wet from about miles 19-on, but by the time I finished the race, I was soaking wet from sweat and rain.  As always, the Akron fans were great; the volunteers kicked ass, as usual; and of course, the RD shook all our hands at the race finish.  All these folks withstood the rain to cheer on a bunch of runners who came to overtake their streets and neighborhoods for a few hours on a random Saturday in September.  That just kicks ass; there aren’t two ways about it!

For as tough as the Akron course is‚Äďand in my experience, the course is tougher than Boston‚Äďit really is a second-to-none event. ¬† Moreover,¬†Akron 2009 was the first race I‚Äôve finished where I honestly felt as though I could have kept running. ¬†This makes me entertain thoughts of pursuing an ultra in 2010‚Ķ but I‚Äôm still not completely sold that I could do it. ¬†Thank you, Chris McDougall, for putting another thought into my head.

Marathon #10: Rockford Marathon: May 2009

I guess I’m a creature of habit.I had to do a repeat from 2008, apparently: train really hard for one marathon (2008-Nashville; 2009-Boston),be entirely disappointed with my race, and then try, try again a month later and be pleasantly surprised with my results (2008-Madison… BQ #2; 2009-Rockford….BQ #3).

Jest aside, the Rockford race was a good time. Thanks to post-Boston fatigue, a death in the family, lots of travel, mounting grad school work, and a dash of laziness, I hadn’t trained much between the races (which were almost exactly 1 month apart). However, I wasn’t antsy in the days leading up to Rockford as I was to Boston. The fact that I was running the hometown race in my in-laws’ city, and the fact that it was a quick trip from Chicago, I think all compounded to ease my nerves a bit.

The race itself: very different. Like Akron‚Äôs race last September,¬†Rockford runners could elect to run the full, the half, or the marathon relay. There were only ~1k runners, with only ~300 of those running the full. We shared the course with the other runners and ran through ‚Äėhoods in¬†Rockford I had never before seen, despite my growing awareness of the city since 2002 (when C and I began to date). We ran an abbreviated bit through downtown, past some museums, alongside some very quaint neighborhoods, through some forest preserves, alongside a river, and at one point, it was just me and the woods. This is what made the¬†Rockford race so different than the other 9 marathons I‚Äôve run: at many stretches in the latter part of the race, I was the only runner I could see or hear. There were stretches where there weren‚Äôt any signs, or cones, that would indicate which direction I should travel; I had to only follow the path (and believe you me, I was hoping against hope that I wouldn‚Äôt have an Erin moment and wipe out, or somehow get distracted and get off the path, because surely no one would ever find me again!). In many ways, the¬†Rockford marathon was the most peaceful race I‚Äôve run. It was just my thoughts and me, hanging out, strolling through the city. Couple that with a gorgeous springtime day ‚Äď a girl can‚Äôt complain.

The ‚Äúehs‚ÄĚ ‚Äď blue powerade (nasty); the fear of getting lost in the second half of the course (I almost veered off twice). The ‚Äúwows!‚ÄĚ ‚Äď the great volunteers and aid station leaders; the spectators, sparse as they were, who traversed the course (including my in-laws and Connor- yea!!); and the awesome, hand-colored signs that the¬†RockfordPublic School kids put in the runners‚Äô goodie bags, wishing us luck (mine said, in circa 1st grade handwriting, ‚Äėgood luck! I hope¬†you guys win!‚Äô I plan to laminate it). Let me assure you that I was happily surprised with this race.

‚Ķand perhaps the biggest surprise? Because of the size of the field, I finished 3rd in my age group (F 25-29), I BQed for 2010 (3:39:11) and was only about 70 seconds off from my PR, and I placed in the top 10 of the female finishers (8th or 10th, depending on your source‚ÄĒthe data‚Äôs kinda flaky).

I‚Äôve done the mega-huge (Boston, Chicago), the medium (Akron, Madison), and now the little. And they‚Äôre all lovely in their own ways ūüôā

Next up: a summer of shorter races… 5ks-halfs… followed by Akron in September and MCM in October.

Peace, love, and happy trails to you … Erin
PS– Big thanks to Ed’s friend Christine, who gave me an extra gel on marathon morning when I managed to somehow lose mine between the parking deck and gear check.¬† Also big thanks to Melissa who taught me how to eat properly before a marathon so I didn’t crash and burn like I did in Boston.¬† And of course, big thanks to all of you for putting up with me and this strange hobby of mine ūüôā

Marathon #9: Boston Marathon: April 2009

Hi, folks:

Forgive my laziness with this mass message, but I thought I’d respond to your very nice, very thoughtful messages regarding my Boston experience in one shot! I’ll try to be brief, but ya’ll know that’s not my strength…

Where to begin? Well, most of you know I BQed in 2008: once in Austin (February) and again in Madison in May. I feel like this Boston experience has been a long time comin’. Training through this horrific Chicago winter (surprise, surprise) was character-building, as one might expect, but fortunately I did so with a great group of people I met through the Road to Boston training program, a business owned and operated by a fellow Blue Demon alum who has run the past 29 (now 30) consecutive Boston marathons. I felt like I was in good hands all season long.

Anyway, Boston itself was awesome. This was Connor‚Äôs and my first time in Boston, so naturally, we kept comparing it to Chicago ūüôā There was definitely tons of excitement and anticipation in the air, and it seemed like everyone was there for the marathon, though the Bulls were also playing the Celtics in a playoff game on Monday, their hockey team was playing a big game, the Red Sox had a game on Marathon Monday, etc‚Ķ needless to say, the small city that is Boston was packed.

Prior to Marathon Monday, Connor and I went to the race expo, picked up my bib and timing chip, stood in line for probably about 60-90 minutes to get an official BAA marathon jacket, and recorded a super cheesy message on a DVD I purchased to commemorate my first Boston (at both my parents’ and C’s insistence!). We had pre-race dinners with my running partners, got a behind-the-scenes look at a bakery that never closes (no joke, it’s open 24/7/365), and felt like we took a step back in time by staying at the Omni Parker House hotel that claims that it created the recipe for Boston Crème Pies, Parker House rolls, and other wild things (did I mention it’s haunted? And that JFK proposed to Jackie there?).

Marathon Monday‚Ķ oh boy, where to begin. Marathon Monday‚Äôs on Patriots‚Äô Day, a hugely celebrated holiday in the commonwealth. Well, again, because of my membership in this training program, I got the luxury of riding in a chartered bus to Hopkinton, a teeny tiny village where the race begins, and staying on it until I had to go to my corral.Most other participants rode in yellow schoolbuses and hung out at the Hopkinton HS, outside, when it was about 30-40 degrees out. My day began at 5:30, though I didn‚Äôt start running until 10:30. After much deliberation of ‚Äúdid I eat too much? Did I eat enough? How many more times can I go to the bathroom?,‚ÄĚ I made it to my starting corral, the beginning of the second wave, with about 5 minutes before the gun went off. That was a little too close for comfort. Anyway, the race course takes participants through about 5 or 6 teeny villages before entering Boston (strange, but yes, most of the Boston marathon isn‚Äôt in Boston), and with Patriots‚Äô Day, kids had off from school, so families lined the streets for the entire duration of the pretty rural, non-descript course. This year was the 113th running of the race, and to give you an idea of how permanent this race is for Bostonians, in theory, you could run the race any day of the year, since all the mile markers are painted¬†directly on to the interstate 135, where we run. I thought that was cool as hell. Everything I was told about the course was true‚ÄĒthe screaming Wellsley girls that you hear before you see (because of how the road dips)‚Ķthough I didn‚Äôt stop to kiss any of them, the Boston College boys offering beer, brats, burgers, etc. (and good God those guys were loud!!), the Newton Hills from miles 17.5-21, Heartbreak, the huge Citgo sign, etc‚Ķ everything I read about, I saw, I felt, I experienced. It was otherworldly.

How‚Äôd I do? Eh‚Ķ not as well as I wanted. The lofty goal was to re-qualify again, which necessitated me finishing in sub-3:40 (3 hours, 40 minutes, 59 seconds). I was on pace, or ahead of pace, for the entire race. I was feeling pretty good, I was comfortably dressed, the 10-15 mph headwind I was running into didn‚Äôt bother me (since that‚Äôs usually about what the windspeed is on the lakefront, when I run into work), so I was optimistic that I‚Äôd be able to BQ at Boston‚Ķ something that was pretty much a pipedream for me in the first place. Then the weirdest thing happened: with only 5k left ‚Äď a measly 3.1 miles ‚Äď I felt like I was going to fall asleep¬†while I was running. Honest to goodness I felt like if I stopped moving ‚Äď and I felt like I needed to, else I‚Äôd keel‚ÄĒI‚Äôd instantly, nearly ‚Äúnarcoleptically‚ÄĚ (for lack of a better word) fall asleep then and there. So ‚Äď with a lousy 5k left, not even the shortest distance that I run to work from home in the a.m‚ÄĒI had to start run/walking. I took food from strangers, I tried to drink more water or Gatorade, I did a slow shuffle, I tried to at least get through the downhills without much effort, but something spent me in a way that I have never been spent. And mind you ‚Äď I‚Äôve hit the ‚Äúwall‚ÄĚ in other marathons or shorter races before, but this feeling was nothing like that. In my humble, non-scientific estimation, the best thing I can figure is that I didn‚Äôt ingest enough calories earlier in the morning, between 5a-10a, before I began running. On the course, I did my usual bit of gels, Gatorade, and water, but I think I was probably too worried about ingesting TOO much and getting some serious runs that I didn‚Äôt consume enough in the first place. Talk about frustrating! And to add insult to injury, I think about 28 of the 30 or so people in my group all re-qualified, if not set PRs on Monday‚Ķ so naturally, I‚Äôve totally felt like the fat kid in gym class who no one wants on her team b/c she‚Äôs not ‚Äúgood enough‚ÄĚ or whatever. I know I‚Äôll get over this silly self-inflicted goal and pressure, but since the race, I keep playing over the hypothetical¬†what if scenarios‚Ķ what if I ate more‚Ķ what if I took more gels‚Ķ what if I went super super slowly for the first 17 miles‚Ķ etc. All told, I finished in ~3:47 and some change ‚Äď thus, not even 8 minutes over my lofty 3:40 goal in the first place! Ah, well. It was an experience. And definitely an ENORMOUS honor to even be in Boston, to be able to say that I’ve run in the world’s oldest race, in the first place.¬† I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… it was otherworldly.¬† And to boot, Monday‚Äôs race was better than any of my 3 fall marathons from 2008 and about the same that I ran around this time last year in Nashville (give or take ~2 minutes).

The good things? There are always other marathons. I got to experience Boston on a good day, free of torrential downpours, a nor‚Äôeaster, blazing sun, etc. The weather’s always a gamble on any marathon race day, and Boston in April is certainly no exception. I met some awesome people this past winter through my training group. And, of course, the novelty of random people asking me ‚ÄúDid you win?!‚ÄĚ never gets old ūüôā

Next on the calendar is Rockford on 5/17 ‚Ķ followed by a summer of shorter races ‚Ķ and then we‚Äôre back to Akron‚Äôs marathon on 9/26, followed the MCM on 10/25. I don‚Äôt know if I necessarily want to run Boston again‚ÄĒI haven‚Äôt made up my mind‚ÄĒbut I definitely think that it‚Äôs worth doing, at least once, if you enjoy marathons in the first place. There‚Äôs simply nothing like it.

Marathon #3: Austin, TX: February 2008 (first ever BQ) … taken from an email I wrote immediately after the race

Subject: The briefest post-race rumination you’ll ever read from me…

Yes, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I falter terribly when it comes to written brevity.¬† There is veracity to this email’s subject line, though, as you’ll soon figure out…

As many of you know, this past weekend I ran in Austin’s AT&T¬†marathon on 2/17.¬† This was to be my third¬†marathon (Chicago in October¬†2007, Charlotte in December¬†2007, and now Austin in February 2008), and as many of you know, living in or being from the midwest, this winter has been especially treacherous and increasingly challenging to train in and finish a long run feeling like I had gotten a “good” run in… sans snow, ice, falling, etc.¬† (I’ve bruises on either leg that attest to my lack of gracefulness this winter!!)

But alas, not all was lost.¬† At the start line yesterday, it was a balmy 40 or 50 degrees (which, to Texans, was frigid, as many were donning full-length tights, long-sleeve Under-Armour shirts, hats, gloves, etc.), and an hour or so into the race, the temperatures climbed to a lovely, if not perfect, 60 or 70 with a great breeze.¬† The course was hilly– thank god for the Home Economist run in Barrington on Sunday mornings– but Austin was an “honest” course, no doubt.¬† A finer moment of mine yesterday included a nice, hearty groan going up one of what seemed like a million hills…

I could ruminate for a long time and give you the play-by-play, mile-by-mile of my strategy, the art of running, and the sheer race day magic, in addition to all those fun details about what was going through my head, but the long and short of it is… I had set a goal time to finish in 3:46 (3 hours, 46 minutes), shaving a healthy amount of time off my 3:52 finish in Charlotte.¬† I’m ELATED to announce that I shaved about 14.5 minutes off my Charlotte time and in fact, finished in 3:37:52… three hours, thirty-seven minutes, fifty-two milliseconds (right?¬† milliseconds are the next unit of measurement after seconds?)… thus qualifying me to run in the Boston¬†marathon (sidenote: Boston is the only¬†marathon for which marathoners must “qualify.”¬† Your qualifying time is based on your age and gender.¬† For 18-34 year-old women, it’s 3:40:59 or faster.¬† Boston is also the oldest¬†marathon in the USA).¬† If you have heard me remotely talk about mymarathon training since I began with Team in Training around this time last year, you know that qualifying for Boston was a pipedream of mine, and one that I most definitely did not think I could accomplish until later in my running career.¬† I could tell you so much… there are so many fun stories from yesterday’s race… so if you want them, just ask… but as people who are near and dear to my heart, because we have run together, because we are friends, because you have supported me, whatever… I wanted to share this very special accomplishment of mine with you.¬† I will plan on running in the Boston 2009 race because my nextmarathon is in late April (in Nashville, the country music¬†marathon for which I am serving as a mentor for Team in Training), just a couple weeks after this year’s Boston.

Thank you for all your support… and what’s also fun is that the man I ran about 17 miles with yesterday, Kelly, referred to me as “the most popular girl on the course” because I was proudly donning my purple TNT gear and many course spectators cheered me on by either calling me out by my first name (which was printed on my bib), my maiden last name, Mink (which was ironed onto my TNT singlet), or by simply saying what we all know so well… GO TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!¬† (and TNT family, you can guarantee that I’ll be relaying this story in more detail to my mentees… gotta love those crowds)

Lots of love, see you all soon, and I hope you’re doing well.¬† Take care.

My very first marathon: LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon: October 2007 [yes, the very hot year whose marathon was canceled because of the heat! ¬†This recap is taken from an email I wrote the night of the race]…

Subject: A Message from a (Marathon) Mortal

“Due to the rising heat index and higher than expected temperatures, LaSalle¬†Bank¬†Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski and Medical¬†Director Dr. George Chiampas, in cooperation with city officials, have¬†implemented a contingency plan, as a precautionary measure, to effectively¬†close the¬†Marathon course at the halfway point. Runners who have not reached¬†the halfway point by approximately 12:00 p.m. will be diverted back to Grant
Park via Halsted and Jackson. Jackson will be closed to automobile traffic¬†and the participants will be provided with additional support along this¬†route. Participants who crossed the halfway point prior to the shut-down¬†will continue to be fully supported along the standard course to the finish¬†line. Participants are asked to take advantage of medical personnel, cooling¬†buses, runner drop out buses, water, Gatorade and other means of support en¬†route back to Grant Park.”¬† (chicagomarathon.com, 10/7/07)

Dear family and friends — those who have been so unyieldingly encouraging¬†and supportive of me throughout my¬†marathon training and fundraising¬†experiences —

I’m writing to you tonight to a) let you know that I’m ok (more about that¬†in a minute) and b) share some brief ruminations that I thought about in my¬†little 26.2 mile jaunt through the lovely City of¬†Chicago this morning.¬† To¬†begin, three phrases immediately come to mind as I try to describe my “first¬†time” this morning with running a¬†marathon (thus breaking my proverbial¬†“marathon virginity” … everything seems to be funnier with a sexual¬†connotation attached to it… at least according to my runner buddies): 1.¬†life-changing (as I expected it would be); 2. the hardest thing I’ve ever¬†done in my life; and 3. unbelievable.¬† I’ll try my best to make this brief,¬†but ya’ll know brevity generally isn’t my thing, but I’ll try (and I’m¬†tired, which may make this a bit more concise than it would be otherwise).¬†ūüôā

1.¬† Life-changing:¬† I’ve been training and fundraising for this very special¬†day since about early February of this year– roughly 9 months.¬† A lot¬†happens in 9 months.¬† As many of you know, I was drawn to TNT and the LLS¬†because of Traci Ackron’s mom, who has been battling non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma¬†throughout the entire time Traci and I were in college.¬† On Saturday night,¬†TNT sponsored a very special, very emotional pasta party/dinner at a¬†downtown hotel, and I finally had the opportunity to meet Traci’s mom.¬†That, in and of itself, was an incredible, extremely honoring and humbling
experience.¬† I had finally been afforded the opportunity to meet the woman¬†(and several of her daughters) whom I had heard so much about over the past¬†4-6 years.¬† As I’m sure Traci will relay to you, the simple fact that she¬†was well enough to travel to come support Traci this weekend was amazing–given what her health had endured in the past years.¬† Throughout my training¬†and fundraising processes, I’ve learned how so many other people’s lives¬†have been affected by blood-related cancers (either they, themselves, or¬†their friends or family members), and all of their stories have only¬†reinforced in me the beauty and preciousness of life.¬† Every day, I know, is¬†a gift, and what I choose to do with each day’s opportunities is a conscious
decision that I have the power to make.  My runner buddies, their stories, and their experiences have definitely influenced the way I view my own life and what I hold dear to me.  Needless to say, this experience has definitely helped put things in my own life into perspective.

2.¬† The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life: According to a fitness
calculator I consulted tonight, I burned about 2500 calories today.¬† That’s¬†more calories than I consume in a given day.¬† Of course, running a¬†marathon isn’t exactly child’s play, but with 90+ degree F weather, compounded with¬†the midwest’s finest humidity, it made for a very, very hard run.¬† The¬†disclaimer message above was what was relayed to us during the race.¬† (This¬†point coincides with #3).¬† Around mile 25, I ran into my coach, Jeannie, who¬†informed me that the race had been canceled.¬† I had to do a double-take¬†because earlier in the race, around mile 24, a¬†Chicago cop had said¬†something like “stop running, the race is closed, stop running,” and I¬†thought I didn’t hear him correctly.¬† I thought to myself, “How could the¬†city ‘close’ the¬†Chicago marathon when there are 45,000 people out on the
course?¬† Did I hear that cop right?¬† Am I delirious?”¬† A couple miles later,¬†though, my coach had briefly told me that if the runners hadn’t yet reached¬†a certain point in the¬†marathon, they were being instructed to either run or¬†walk the rest of the course as a “fun run” (thus, not trying to run or walk¬†the course competitively), or to just hang out at the aid station and wait¬†for the buses to come get them.¬† Connor later told me that for about 2 hours¬†straight, there was a constant drone of ambulances, which is really, really¬†scary.¬† Tonight I had heard that 3 people had died in today’s race, but I¬†don’t know that anything has been confirmed yet.¬† It’s scary, scary stuff,¬†to say the least.¬† Anyway, because of where I was positioned at this point
in the race, when my coach told me about the¬†marathon being canceled,¬†fortunately, I was able to finish the darn thing, but many, many people were¬†not.¬† It was just too hot and too dangerous.¬† With any¬†marathon, there are¬†always some risks involved– exhaustion, muscle strains and pulls, etc.–but with excessive heat in the picture, you become extremely vulnerable to¬†heat stroke or heat exhaustion, regardless of how much water or sports drink¬†you consume.¬† And any medical practitioner will tell you that heat¬†exhaustion/stroke are not illnesses that you want to mess around with.

3.¬† Unbelievable:¬† Much of my sentiment re: this statement coincides with¬†what I outlined above… the city canceling the race… the ridiculously hot¬†weather (last year’s runners were wearing hats, gloves, etc. because it was¬†so cold)… and the simple fact that the day for which I have trained for 9¬†months has already come and gone.¬† I feel that I’ve learned so much about¬†myself, my life, and what I hold dear and true to me in these past 9 months¬†that my love and regard for running that I had initially thought died with¬†my high school track career has been resurrected.¬† Running is one of those¬†weird, semi-personal, semi-team sports, and I find that I like that¬†balance.¬† The camaraderie of getting together on Saturday mornings with¬†people who are committed to the same cause as me, who also look forward to
sharing their weekly updates with each other, has been just remarkable. ¬†Whether it’s been running by the extremely large elk at Busse Woods (which,¬†if you haven’t seen elk before, I highly recommend going out there… it’s¬†pretty cool), or seeing deer on the Lake Forest College campus south quad at¬†5 am, or counting wildlife that I pass each morning on the bike trail that¬†cuts through the North Shore (bunnies and squirrels are especially popular),¬†I can’t speak enough of this experience and all that it has meant to me. ¬†The introspective component of this experience, to me, has been just as
meaningful as the relationships that I have forged.

Much of this experience has ridden on your support of my efforts and
fundraising, and it is for you and your support that I am entirely indebted¬†and eternally grateful.¬† Thank you for helping me and encouraging me and¬†indulging me and, especially for those of you who have been around me for¬†the past week, for listening to my extremely nervous¬†marathon banter ūüôā¬† You¬†have been phenomenal and so important to me, and I simply can’t thank you¬†enough.¬† While today wasn’t my best, in terms of my time and not hitting my¬†goals as I wish I would have, I realized (in my 16 mile-long monologue),¬†sometimes it’s simply not about the time.¬† It’s about the experience and the
reasons why we run.

And if you’re wondering… yes, I am doing another¬†marathon, and relatively¬†soon.¬† If you’re going to be in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, 12/7,¬†I’ll see you at the silly-themed NASCAR/Indy-Car Thunder Road¬†Marathon.¬† If¬†not, I’ll catch you on the flip side and tell you all about it afterward. ¬†I’m eyeing Austin or LA for next year, too… in addition to an Ultra (I’ll¬†start with a 50k)… but we can talk more about those plans later.¬† ūüôā

Finally, I have to make a quick shout-out and thank-you to my colleagues and¬†awesome fiance who came out today and supported me in the horrendous heat.¬†Alli, Erin, Jenn, Teryn, and Laura, thanks for trekking into the city¬†today– and I’m glad that I was able to find most of you early into the¬†race.¬† The “Erin Mink is my Hero!” sign made me smile… and it made me¬†crack up when I came home tonight and found it on my apartment door.¬† I have¬†a feeling it’s going to make its way into my office tomorrow morning ūüôā ¬†Mike, great job rockin’ out in front of Hull House this afternoon.¬† From the¬†brief moment when I was in front of your band, ya’ll seemed to be enjoying¬†yourself.¬† I’ll have to make it a point to check out one of your upcoming¬†shows.¬† The “Rock On Erin Mink” sign was most excellent, too.¬† Connor, thank¬†you for being there from the beginning… you’ve heard more of my banter
more than anyone else about this silly race ūüôā¬† And finally, to my family¬†and friends scattered all over the country, thank you for the text messages,¬†phone calls, and emails today making sure I was ok.¬† I love you all!

A¬†marathon down, a wedding to go…. ūüôā


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