I started my run with Houston Fit. We ran from the park to the GRB on Allen Parkway/Lamar, stopping at Sabine for cold water and gatorade (thank you coaches!!!). It was the usual hot, muggy weather and I was hating life by our 2nd 1 minute walk break. I was already breathing hard, extremely sweaty and wondering if I was going to hang for a full 20. This was about the same time we saw Channel 11's Lisa Foronda. As we started getting closer to downtown, we began to notice a nice breeze which gave us a little boost. I ran the entire run with Francis, who I trained with for the 2003 NYC Marathon and Coach Joanne ran with us for a few miles as well.
Upon arriving at the GRB, we did our customary touching of the wall and made our way back to Sabine. We crossed the bridge, taking a few minutes to enjoy the pretty new blue lights and headed back on the Memorial side. We were a bit stumped when we reached the Waugh (aka bat bridge)/Memorial intersection. We stopped to figure out the "clover leaf" we were supposed to run and ended up asking another runner for directions. Basically, here is how you run the clover leaf:
- Go underneath Waugh Dr. and cross-over on ramp to get on the clover leaf
- Run on the inside & run each circle clock-wise
- start by running down the first turn and cross underneath Waugh Drive on the sidewalk
- Run up the grass on the other side which will take you back up to the top of the bridge.
- Cross the bridge and run down the Northeast curve and cross underneath Waugh on the sidewalk
- Run up the final curve (Northwest) and cross back over the bridge.
Got that? After the clover leaf, we ran across the footbridge at Jackson Hill...okay, by then we were walking up hills. Then, we followed Jackson Hill to Blossom (hooray for more water & gatorade!), took Blossom to Crestwood, Crestwood to Memorial Dr back to the park. Knowing that I've been a slacker lately, I talked my good friend Marlina into meeting me at the park for 2 more loops. I figured if I had someone with me, I would have to follow my plan to run 2+ loops around the park. Sure enough, Marlina was there and ready to run. Unfortunately, by this point, I was doing my best survival shuffle and not quite making the full five minute run segments.
The 1st loop wasn't too bad. I did walk more than I should have, but finished feeling relatively good. 16 miles down...my longest run since the Austin Marathon in February! We went for one more loop and I will admit, I did walk quite a bit. I felt bad making Marlina walk so much, but she was a good sport about it. We were lucky, because Luke's Locker was there with cold water & gatorade...thanks Luke's!!! Marlina is great at making interesting conversation, so that certainly made the loops go faster. We finished our second loop and ran a bit farther to get back to our cars.
Afterwards, I was tired, hot and sweaty, but overall not feeling too shabby. My legs were tired but strong. I noticed through the entire 2nd loop that my shoulders were really sore...probably because I tend to slouch when I'm tired. Overall, I wish I had not walked so much on that 2nd loop and I was still a little bummed that I was a bit short of the 21 miles. To make up for it, I ran a little over a mile on my treadmill when I got home...I know, I'm a dork! It's all psychological I think...the more miles I run during training, the more prepared I "think" I am.
So, the really long runs are over for me. Now, it's time to enjoy the taper (thanks Erin for putting that into perspective for me, it helped)!! Chicago will be my last marathon for awhile or at least until grad school is over in 2008. My goal from here on out is to just enjoy the rest of my runs and savor the moment I cross that finish line! I can't wait!