It’s Race Weekend!

…And just like that, I’m one day away from diving into Lake Michigan for a casual 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.

Seven months ago, I began my half Ironman journey when I made the irrational decision to hit the submit button on Active.com. I had survived two triathlons the previous summer and figured it made perfect sense to race double the distance. (Warning:  Ironman 70.3 races seem more appealing in the dead of winter, whilst one dreams of summer days, than when the race is staring you in the face.) Maybe, maybe not kidding. 

The day after securing my spot, I jumped into the pool for my first swim in months. I struggled through 50 meters and was out of breath. I questioned my endurance.

I joined CompuTrainer classes to help my cycling game. An hour felt like a year, and I was certain my booty couldn’t sit on that rock of a seat any longer. I questioned my strength.

As spring (read:  above freezing temps) started to roll in, I began my long runs outside. The cold hurt my ears and lungs, and I felt like quitting more times than one. I questioned my drive.

But I never gave up.

I read this quote from Chrissie Wellington (4 time Ironman World Champion) and thought it was fitting for everyone focused on a big race:

Everyone gets nervous before a race–it’s human. I would be worried about any athlete that didn’t. It’s a sign of how much we care. The key is to trust in your preparation. You have done all you can, so focus on that fact. You will remain the same person before, during, and after the race, so the result, however important, will not define you. The journey is what matters.

And what a journey it has been. A whole lot of early mornings, rainy rides and runs, three flats and two wipeouts have led me to this weekend.

I’m so excited to see what this Ironman 70.3 thing is all about. It might not be pretty, but I’m determined to cross that finish line with a smile (crawling counts).

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend! I hope to have a recap (filled with happy memories!) up next week.

Have a great weekend!

Meredith

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ET Batavia Triathlon Recap

Ever since I was little, I’ve been afraid of storms. I’ve come a long way from hiding in the basement when the wind blows, but the threat of severe weather still freaks me out. The last place I want to be with a humongous black cloud overhead is in a wetsuit about to jump into a quarry. But guess where I was this morning? In a wetsuit about to jump into a quarry. I debated skipping the race, but I paid $85 for this thang I’m no quitter.

Where's Waldo? This pic is blurry, but I thought it was pretty funny. You can see the fear through my smile. Haha!

Where’s Waldo? This pic is blurry, but I thought it was pretty funny. You can see the fear through my smile. Haha!

Swim – 400 meters

Before the race, I was standing by some big dogs in transition who declared they weren’t wearing wetsuits. I agreed that a wetsuit was silly for an eight minute swim…then I started shivering. I made a last-minute decision to wear the wetsuit, and holy smokes, I’m glad I did.

With storm systems in the area, race officials delayed the 6:30am start for an hour. By the time I entered the water, I was stiff and had forgotten how cold it felt two hours before. The initial chill took my breath away, and I struggled to calm down. The swim route was supposed to be 2 laps around the quarry. (Side note- One side was so shallow everyone had to walk. Weird.) Unfortunately, swimmers were pulled from the water due to lightening, so I only finished one lap. I was bummed to have missed the second lap, but safety is most important. I thought the race was over, but thankfully a nice man yelled, “Go get your bike!” The swim was called off, but the rest of the race could proceed as planned.

Bike – 14.7 miles

When I got to transition after the swim, everything was soaked. I threw on my wet cycling shoes and helmet and headed to the bike out area. Despite the pouring rain, the ride was awesome. There were a few rolling hills, but it was mostly flat, smooth roads. Riders were pretty spread out on the course…until I ran into my competition at mile 7. We were about the same pace; I was faster on the flat stretches and he zoomed past me on downhills. (I’m a cautious rider, especially on wet roads.) After passing one another 5 times, we were cracking up and joked that we would finish 1 and 2. My pace was 18.7 mph. Considering the conditions, I’ll take it!

Run – 4.1 miles

Making it to the run is always a relief. The tough parts are over, and I’ve officially made it to the last event. In T2, I put on some dry socks, my running shoes and headed out…with my helmet on. Luckily I caught myself before leaving the transition area. Whew! That would have been a funny site to see. The run was along the Fox River on the Kane County Fox River Trail. It was a  lovely route- scenic and shaded. There were beautiful houses along the river, and gazing at them kept my mind off the fact that my legs wanted to fall off. My pace was 8:47/mile. This is almost 1:40/mile faster than my comfortable pace!

All smiles (I think?) as I near the finish line.

All smiles as I near the finish line. Photo courtesy of my fiancé. He was such a trooper to wake up at 4am and stand in the rain all morning. I’m one lucky gal.

My thoughts?

Aside from the storm clouds, cold water and rain, I really enjoyed this race. It was well organized, the volunteers were great (and such troopers for being in the rain for hours!), and the post-race party had delicious food (priorities, people). I do wish there was a different option for the swim but understand swimming locations are limited. I’ll definitely be back again next year…Hopefully on a sunny day!

Proof that I survived!

Proof that I survived!

Hope you all had a good weekend!

Soldier Field 10-Miler Recap

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I loathe winter. There is nothing pleasant about snow, cold, ice, or my attitude during those silly months. When summer days roll around, one would think I’ve never seen the sun. I can barely contain my excitement when temps are above 70 degrees.

The Soldier Field 10-miler just happened to be on one of the first glorious days of summer. I’d never done the race, but I signed up thanks to the recommendation of friends. I was planning to run 10 miles for my half Ironman training this weekend, so it was perfect timing. It’s always more fun to run with friends (and have a beer waiting for you at the end).

My two cents on the race…

The Good

Umm…Everything? Seriously, this was a great race.

  • Parking was free and close to the race start. I exited the parking garage and there was my corral! Magic.
  • There was a nice tribute prior to race start honoring the fallen men and women that have served our country.
  • We were in Corral 8, but we only waited about 15 mins before go time. For the numbers of runners, I was impressed by the short wait time.
  • For the first 4.5 miles, we headed south on Lakeshore Drive. There’s something cool about running on this always-busy highway.
  • Heading to the finish line on Soldier Field felt awesome. I was smiling from ear to ear when I ran under the tunnel and onto the field.
  • Military personal were giving out the medals after the race. Many finishers were shaking their hands and thanking them for their service. It was moving, and one of the best race finishes of my life.
  • Post race beverage was 312. ‘Nuff said.
The finish line! Geesh I am really a sad photographer (but you get the point). It's ON Soldier Field, and that is neat.

The finish line! Geesh I am really a sad photographer. But you get the point. It’s ON Soldier Field, and that is neat.

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Two of my favorite people! Only a few more weeks until summer marathon training begins. Looking forward to spending every Saturday morning with them!

The Bad

As we were heading south on Lakeshore Drive, I noticed a few runners heading north on the Lakefront path. I told my friends that it didn’t look too congested…then I realized those speedsters were the elite pack. Ahh, someday. Maybe. Probably not. For the other 99% of the runners, the path was tight. I was dodging people the final 4 miles. One path and 10,000+ people. Yeah. Tight squeeze. I realize it would be difficult to keep LSD closed for the whole race, but I would love to see an alternative, more spacious route in future years.

The Ugly – Nothing at all!

Overall, I was impressed with this race and will certainly run it again. My average pace per mile was 10:16. Not my fastest race ever, but I finished strong and felt great.

Hope you all had a great weekend! Happy Memorial Day. XO

I Hate Losing

My last name is McLuckie, and I tend to be a lucky person (knock on wood). My luck took a turn for the worst on April 28 when myself, along with 30,000+ Chicago Marathon lottery entrants, had a stint of very bad luck.

This is what happens on the day you don’t get into the Chicago Marathon:

-Check email 150 times in search of the glorious Chicago Marathon lottery status email that says “Approved”.

-Text family things like, “OMG! I’m so nervous.”

-Read Chicago Marathon’s Facebook page and feel envious of the “I got in!” posts.

-Receive the dreaded Not Selected email at 4:45pm. Start pouting at work, and tell your cube mates that it’s the worst day ever.

-Text your family and friends 100 crying face emojis.

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See what I mean? I’m not sure how the crying happy tears guy snuck in there. This was no laughing matter!

-Leave work hoping that your run will make you feel better. Eat a bug and see a squirrel get hit by a car on this run. (Turns out, squirrels don’t listen to your warning yells.)

-Talk to your running friends that make you feel much better about the situation.

-Decided that you’re still going to participate in summer marathon training with your favorite CARA running group.

-Fall asleep feeling excited to try a new marathon in a new city.

I’m actually looking forward to cheering on all of you lucky runners! Until next year, Chicago.

XO

-Do you guys have any fall marathon recommendations? 

On the Bandwagon: Shamrock Shuffle Recap

You’ve probably read 30,000 Shamrock Shuffle race recaps, but I couldn’t resist making it 30,001. I’ll start from the beginning, but I’ll attempt to keep it short and sweet.

There are two things that get me out of bed in the morning:  Black Friday shopping with my cousin and running. Our alarms went off at 6am, and I was out of bed and dressed, with brushed teeth and braided hair, by 6:10. This gave me plenty of time to give Daniel the “you better hurry up” glare, pace downstairs, and shout the ten minute warning (twice). I may be late for some of life’s activities, but I will never miss a race. We arrived in the city 45 minutes before we were supposed to meet my CARA friends. Whoops.

Now, onto my Shuffle thoughts…

The Good  

Shamrock Shuffle will forever be one of my favorite races. It means we’ve survived the frigid winter and have lived to see another race season. Plus, Bank of America knows how to put on a fabulous, organized race. No lines for porta potties or gear check is nothing short of a race miracle. There was also minimal waiting once in our corrals. These closed at 9am, and we were off shortly after the 9:15 wave start.

This is one of the only races Daniel and I run together, and his slow jog is faster than my sprint. I tried to keep up (while muttering a few choice words under my breath), and it paid off. I was shocked to discover that we finished with a PR. My comfortable pace is 10:20/mile, so it felt like we were flying!

Boom!

Boom!

The Bad

Daniel declared, “I’ve never liked city traffic!” during the first few minutes of the race, and I had to agree. The first mile was so crowded, so we bobbed and weaved the entire mile. We had to work extra hard to get that PR, which is a bit frustrating.

The Ugly

30 degrees and windy. SO WINDY. I think I jinxed all 35,000 of us by commenting on how lovely the weather usually is on race day. Sorry, guys.

The wind was manageable until we reached the corner of Franklin and Van Buren where wind gusts of 20+ mph took us by surprise. I actually blew into a man. I apologized, had a little laughing fit, then got my sh*t together before I became really out of breath. Here’s to hoping it’s warmer and far less windy next year!

After the race, we treated ourselves to a yummy lunch and adult beverages. The end.

 

Fun fact:  this is the fifth year in a row we’ve run this race. Clearly, we have a signature pose:

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Babies! Shamrock Shuffle circa 2011

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2012

 

2013

2013

 

2014

2014

2015! Showing off our medals.

2015! Showing off our medals.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!

Monday Motivation on Tuesday

I had the best intentions of making ‘Monday Motivation’ a thing. But then I fell asleep, sitting straight up, with my computer in my lap. Monday + Life:  1, Meredith:  0

I thought I’d share some recent adventures that have motivated me to get my booty in shape…

  • Volunteering at a half marathon, in the frigid month of January, can actually be fun. On Saturday, I volunteered at the F^3 Half Marathon with my running friend, Christine. The sun was shining (whaaat?!), and it wasn’t unbearably cold. We rocked the mile 4/10 Gatorade station and screamed words of encouragement to the 2,500 runners. (It appears cheerleading was good for something!) There was the cutest 5-year-old in our group. I’m pretty sure he now holds the record for most Gatorade given out in one race (although he dropped about as many cups as he handed out due to his little mittens). Even the fast runners slowed a bit to say hello and take the drink he was offering. It was so darn cute. We received lots of ‘thank yous’ from runners as they passed, and it made volunteering in the cold well worth it. The event made me miss racing like crazy (c’mon spring!), and I rekindled my friendship with the treadmill on Sunday.
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Took a quick break from filling cups to pose for a photo.

  • I’ve fallen in love and found my newest obsession. In this post, I shared my interest in Computrainer class, a cycling class that allows you to train on your actual bike. I’ve now survived two classes and already feel much more confident on my bike. I know that I’m getting stronger with each class, making it worth every penny. It appears cycling is a male dominated sport, as I’ve been the only gal in class both times. Sadly, this makes it really hard to avoid coming in last place win the race.  I’m coming for ya next time, bros!
  • I can’t move my arms. Or my shoulders. Or my back. The fiancé and I decided to do some strength training on Sunday. I’m such a sucker for cardio that I avoid weights at all costs. He’s been hounding me to change my ways, and I think it’s finally working. (Only took a few years.) Here’s a quick back/bicep workout. We did 3 sets x 10 reps of each exercise:
    • Curls
    • Pull-ups (on weight-assisted machine)
    • Deltoid Flies (on Deltoid Fly machine)
    • Lat Pulldowns (on Lat Pulldown machine)
    • Lower Back Extensions (on Low Back Extension Machine). I held a 25lb weight, but increase/decrease weight as necessary

Onto another week of running, riding and strength training.

Thanks for reading! XO