Reflections of my first marathon

15 Oct

I finished! I finished my first marathon! Yes my first, the first of many. When I ran my first half in 2012, I decided that I could never run a full marathon because running for over 5 hours seemed painful and loooong.

Well I did it! How did I decide to do it one of my sorority sisters sent me a link to join a charity team for the 2013 Chicago Marathon… So I decided to do it… why not! Worst come to worst I will walk run it.

The charity team I joined was Girls in the Game Chicago they are an organization out of Chicago. There mission is to empower girls to live healthy and active lives thru programming. Running and fundraising with this organization meant a lot to me during my undergrad I became an Hermana of Alpha Sigma Omega LSI one of our missions is to empower women. This charity seemed very fitting so I signed up. I was overwhelmed at first by my fundraising goal. I devised a plan and went with it. I reached my fundraising goal within a couple weeks of hitting social media outlets. It’s not to late to donate!!

Fundraising for this cause was fun and inspiring, receiving the email that someone had donated was very rewarding. On days that I didn’t want to get out of bed and strap on my shoes, I would tell myself that I couldn’t give up because I have so many people that have donated and I was running for the girls, I couldn’t possibly give up.

During my training I decided that I was going to run most if not all of the marathon. I may have decided this going up hill… bad idea.. never make decisions while going up hill. My training went well with some days that runs were cut short. I followed a training schedule from Hal Higdon I was diligent in making sure I got my runs in. I was very fortunate that a friend of mine ran just about everyday with especially since I needed to start running at 5:30am. Why so early ?! I work 2 jobs a full time job and a part time job, my part time job varies in hours from 5-20 hrs per week. I am very grateful and feel so blessed to have a boyfriend that is so supportive helping me with everyday chores, and pushing me, especially with calling me every morning to wake me up for my runs and work outs. He is a keeper!!

The week of the marathon I started to become nervous and anxious. We had received our packet pick up pass a couple weeks ago in our participant guide, I waited until Tuesday to open it, why?! It made me nervous just to think about it, I opened and immediately felt overwhelmed with all the information, I reviewed what I need to and ignored the rest. During this week I went to bed early because I knew I wouldn’t sleep very much a couple nights before. On Friday I started getting even more anxious, I use to run with my Nike+ sportband and it had gone out a couple of weeks before and I was using the Nike running app on my phone. Well on friday I had the instant need to go out and buy a new sportband for the marathon to help track my pace since using my phone would probably not work if my phone died mid run. I knew of 2 places that might have them so I went to the closest store and they were OUT!! So I went where I should have gone in the first place, the local running store. It was meant to be I went and they had, their employees are also very knowledgeable and gave me some tips and help my anxiety decrease a smidgen.

The expo was very large and overwhelming especially for a first timer however the packet pickup was smooth. There were all kinds of vendors but all I wanted to do is eat and relax and hope some of the anxiety dissipated.

Its Marathon Day!! I was focused to get there and wait. I stayed with Sofia and Tanya, at Sofia’s Mom’s apt. We dropped off our bags with our charity team at the Hilton, which was awesome because we did not have to wait in the huge line. They also had food, their hospitality was awesome! Sofia was in wave 1, I was in wave 2 meaning I didn’t start until after 8am. I decided to head out to the corral when Sofy headed out, I was in my corral by 7:15ish, I just wanted to get there and wait.

And I waited, meanwhile I looked for my cousin who was also running it and was in the corral next to me. I talked to a girl next to me about our goal time, and did what I do best while standing in one spot, people watch, I checked out their outfits and watched people run to their corrals.

They start opening ceremonies, the national anthem was sang, a fighter jet flew above us and the elite runners and wheelchair athletes started. My corral didn’t take off until 8:15! The girl I was talking to earlier was next to me and she decided that we would run together sort of… well since I got there so early, and have major anxiety of not being where I need to be when I need to be, I held it until we started, so I had to make a pit stop before we even started, so I stopped and she kept going, I never saw this girl again, no hard feelings on my part I knew I was going to run this alone.

The first 13 miles went smoothly I was right on schedule, I got past 20 miles and felt tired but I kept going. I do stop at all the aid stations and take a lil bit of water and put the rest in my water bottle thing, I ate my chews. I was really starting to feel fatigued the last 6 miles, I stopped at my last aid station around mile 22. I realized at 5K left to that if I stopped it would be very tough for me to start again I decided I had enough water to go to the end of the race. So I just kept going, they mentioned the hill at the end of the race at mile 26 was uphill, I had some fear but I trusted my training would help get thru it. Mile 26, I see the hill and I pick up my speed, why?! because I have conquered hills worse then this one and I really wanted to pass the guy in front of me. There is something so gratifying when sprinting up a hill, (at this point I don’t know if what I was doing was called sprinting :D). Crossing the finish line was one of the most amazing things I had done.

If someone would have told me 2 years ago that I would be crossing the line of my first marathon 2 years later I would have straight up laughed in their face and said they were out of their mind!! Maybe I am the crazy one for doing this but I did it and I ran most of it except for pit stops, I didn’t meet my goal time but there will be more… Yes I am doing it again!!

I am so happy that my first marathon was the Chicago Marathon and that was able to share it with one of my running inspirations, Sofia. We ran thru 39 neighborhoods, my two favorite neighborhoods were Pilsen and Boystown. Pilsen was my favorite mainly because they were playing banda, the music I grew up with I was kinda dancing as I ran. Boystown was so lively, I loved the enthusiasm. Chicago truely shows that it loves the runners with all the support.


Thank you all for your support!




3 ways to become a fast(er) runner!

28 Aug

Great tips! Great blog!

Eat Pray Run, DC

First things first. I am by FAR nowhere near a speed demon. I am still actively working on improving my running form, becoming a stronger runner and yes, getting faster. But because I would like to run faster, I’ve actually tried to figure out how to do so, with varying degrees of success. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. Please add any tips you have in the comments!

  1. Fartleks. If you are anything like me, your first question is what the heck is a fartlek and why on earth would it make me faster? Fartlek is a Swedish word that roughly translates into speed play. Essentially, it’s unstructured speed work. What that looks like for me is typically “okay, I will sprint to that tree, then jog to the next tree.” Rinse and repeat. It’s not easy, but it definitely works. And it’s kind of fun because…

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Week 14… Curiosity… Killed my thighs!

19 Jul

Curiosity killed the thighs…

During the last couple weeks I had been tempted and curious to run along the road in the state park that connects to my daily path.

On Wednesday, I ran what I needed to and turned around to reach my 7 miles. This was uphill! Both ways!! Well not really but holy hills! As soon as came down one you had to go up another.

On Saturday I had to run another 7 miles during the run I was debating whether to run around the whole park. Ummm…. My curiosity beat my aching thighs after 3.5 miles I reached the top of the hill and decided to keep going to see how long it was…. Well all the way around is about 8 miles not too much over the 7 BUT when it’s hills and a planned 14 mile run the next day not the best idea. I felt great after my run but the next day I paid for it.

The long run was shortened by about 6 miles. At mile 5 my hip starting giving some problems so I had to walk back home and cut it short.

On Sunday I will be running in the Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon with my sister and her friend. I want to beat my last time. So I had to turn around so as not to injure myself even more. Wish me luck!

Are any of you running in the Chicago Rock N Roll?

I will report back soon!

Anna D.

Weeks 16 & 15…. I have been busy…

18 Jul

Wow! Its been a while…

I do have some stories. Between wardrobe malfunctions, almost beating wonder woman, and moving.

Week 16

I work 2 jobs and along with that I am the crazy person that signed up for a Marathon 🙂 so doing laundry isnt usually at the top of my list until this happened. I have/had a pair of work out capris that sort of fit me. What I don’t get is how they are tight around the thighs but at the waist they tease you!! Yes these capris tease you…. I had worn them before and noticed it but thought I am only going 3 miles shouldnt be that bad.Well… I would take five steps and I was mooning everybody mmm maybe just the one car that was out that early. I decided I would speed walk the rest of the way get in at least 30 mins of cardio and run after work since I didnt have to go to job 2. BAD IDEA! I dont like being hot and it was like a sauna. Lessons learned: Have a big enough supply of clothes and run in the morning.

This is the same week we had to turn in my boyfriends apartment, on saturday I was scheuled to run in the Dirty Girl with a couple of ex-workers/ running buddies/ friends. I unfortunately could not go, I woke up early that morning to get things done before I had to leave and realized that Jacyn wouldnt have been able to get everything done by himself especially since he spent most of the day before cleaning and moving on only a couple hours of sleep, I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that needed to be done.

Week 15 I beat wonder women (almost!!)

4th of July week! This is an annual 8K race that happens every fourth, its organized by the 

, this organizations mission is to teach young parents to build strong families. I ran this last year and finished in 55min, I was bound and determined to beat my time. So as usual I pick someone I want to pace or beat. I picked a women dressed as Wonder Woman, I have a pet peeve and that is that I do not dress up for races, meaning I refuse to wear a tutu or antenna headbands. My thing is that I am there to run, not play dress up. I totally understand why some people do it but do not agree.

I find Wonder Woman once the race starts AND she is fast but I am determined to beat her, I get a little past her and I THINK I have a good lead on her but I was sadly mistaken at the turn around I spot her so I speed up but she is just too fast and catches up to me, I think she could sense that I was trying to beat her. She comes up right next to me and asks me if I would like to pace eachother, she asks me my goal time and I say to beat 55min, she told me hers was 45mins. I thought maybe not a good idea but I am going to try. So we ran along side of each other for about 2 miles by the end of the mile 3 my thighs were on fire, that was the fastest I have ever ran continously. We were half a mile from the finish line and my legs just couldnt push any longer, so I ran the rest at a semi-comfortable pace. I finished in 46 mins! Shaving 9 mins off from last race. I didnt beat Wonder Woman but I did beat myself and that is my goal for every race, I came in 30 secs after she did so I guess that isnt that bad 🙂

This weeks long run was a tough one since I was still recouping from my “battle” with Wonder Woman. 13 miles!! I thought no big I have done 13 a handful of times I can totally do this. I ran most of it with an ex-worker and now running buddy, who I later found out had never ran 13 about half way thru the run.

Week 14… to come!

Signing off,

Anna D.

Week 17… Beat a PR!!… Again!

24 Jun

Week 17! Only 16 weeks to the Chicago Marathon!

This week started I with tight calves but I still ran 24 of 27 miles. I have noticed that I am getting faster and it’s getting easier to get out of bed. Through my social media surfing I saw an iPhone alarm picture and I adjusted to fit what I want it to say, here is my version!

This actually works!! Try it!

The highlight of the week was running in the 2nd annual Chicago Womens Half Marathon on Sunday for my long run. I have been waiting to run in this all year especially since I was running it with my sorors and over 2,000 women and maybe 5 men.

Would I do the Chicago Womens Half again? ABSOLUTELY! It was one of the most organized races I have ran in and the fact that about 99.9% of the participants are women is amazing! Plus proceeds go to Go Red for Women! I highly recommend it.

Running has given me my life back and sharing this passion with my Hermanas was an even better gift and will continue to be as we share a commitment to be healthy and active women, I have been a proud Hermana of Alpha Sigma Omega LSI. since Fall 2006. Before I joined this organization I knew I needed something and when I came across this sisterhood on Northern Illinois University’s campus I felt at home and so I began my journey to becoming an Hermana of ASO. We continue to support each other even past graduation or even as sisters from different chapters. One of my very intelligent and awesome sisters, decided we needed a forum where we can support each other with our running and active lifestyles and from there she started a Facebook page dedicated to running. So of course as women do, we had to get matching somethings as a sign of our solidarity and in my opinion we looked really cool and ready to rock that half.

For weeks we have been toying with a shirt design, actually it’s 2 other womyn, but I very willingly gave my opinion. Here is a picture of the 5 of us in our running shirts before the half. Thanks to Sofia for the picture.


As I mentioned in my last blog my goal was to finish in 2:30 and I did!! I finished in 2:30:13, which is also a new personal record. This race was a very challenging for 2 reasons for me:
1) I messed up my knee the day before and 2) it was hottt!

So what had happened was… I signed up my boyfriend and then later convinced my little sister to do Sharefest with my high school friend and I. Sharefest is a community wide volunteer event that usually lasts about 2 weeks and they revamp a public school, Sharefest was especially important this year because the school they had chosen was my high school, so of course I had to do it!!

Well what I decided that morning was NO LADDERS! Why?! What if I injured myself?! WELL within 5 mins of being assigned the lower trim painting I knelt right on a rock, I worked thru the pain and discomfort, the whole time I am thinking, ” why didn’t I look before I stabbed my right knee on a ROCK?!” As the day went on the pain intensified and I was so mad because this was the race where I was going to beat my pr and finish in 2:30!

After painting the cinder block walls of my high school, we rushed home to get ready for our journey to Chicago for packet pick up and picking up my cool new Tigriiis Running Shirt and getting to our final stop of the night, to stay with my soror and close friend and old roomie. Have I ever mentioned that I absolutely hate driving into Chicago especially when there is construction, oh well, it was definitely worth it 😀

I of course did my usual pre-race ritual: laying out my clothes and pinning my bib to my shirt. I also did 2 things I never do before a race and that is rub tons of medicated ointment on my knee and learning the train system. Yikes! Not from Chicago and I do not ride public transportation in my own city. I went to bed worried that the next day would really suck 1) knee still hurt like a mofo 2) hott 3) the CTA!

Morning comes, my boyfriend and I board the train and I figure we are good on time since I see other runners with bibs, so…. then I confused the name of the stations and we get off at the wrong stop! We waited for like 10 mins for the next train, we finally get to the corrals and I find my pace area with about 5 mins to the start line.

And we are off, I break into a sweat within a couple of mins. The alert level was high for the race which meant that it was hott! I started at a good pace feeling some discomfort in my knees and my energy starts depleting by 3 miles, so I have a snack!! I took advantage of all the water stations to keep hydrated. Half way through I decided my goal will be to at least beat my last time because I was so exhausted and my knees and shins were killing me. I would stop briefly to give my body some rest. I want to say at about mile 10, I see familiar faces, some of sorority sisters where at the sidelines cheering us on, which helped push the rest of the way. I am so blessed to have such a great support system. I get to mile 13 and see that I am not to far from my goal, so I book it! I cross the finish line at 2:30:13! A new personal best!

I am so proud of Sofia and Tee Kee who not only beat their own PRs but are also running the Chicago Marathon and running for the same charity. And I am so excited for Jesse Jean and Patti who ran in their first halfs, it takes a whole lot of courage to sign up for a race and I can’t wait to see them continue their journey to healthy lives.

After the race my knees were killing me, the more I waited around the more my body ached, knees, shins, hips and exhaustion won. But I was still thinking I could have totally beat my time by more. Oh well, I guess I now have a new goal for the next half, the Rock n Roll half marathon in July.

Would I do the Chicago Womens Half again? ABSOLUTELY! It was one of the most organized races I have ran in and the fact that about 99.9% of the participants are women is amazing! Plus proceeds go to Go Red for Women! I highly recommend it.

Why am I doing this to my body?
1) I love running
2) running adds years to your life
3) I run for those that can’t
4) I run with the hope that I might inspire someone to get off their butts and live an active life

I will continue to keep running and pushing myself because I have made a commitment to a great charity Girls in the Game for the 2013 Chicago Marathon, please support me by donating, every little bit helps.
donate here!

Thank you!

Until next week,

Anna D.

Week 18… The marathon journey has started!! yikes!

17 Jun

Marathon training is on like donkey kong!

Week 18 wasn’t everything I hoped for but I did accomplish running 20 of 25 miles. I missed a day because I decided to do a 15K race on Saturday instead of doing my long run on Sunday. Sunday came and I woke up really tired and had some anxiety about my recent move since we just got our keys for our new place on Friday and well this girl has lots of stuff. So I spent my Sunday off moving and packing and dinner with my dad for Father’s Day.

Why didn’t I just start moving on Friday night or Saturday night? Well… I work 2 jobs so in between full time job and part time job I have to fit in running and working out and rest periods to recoup.

Back to the training, the week went well I got rained on a couple times and I ran a couple with my boyfriend. On Saturday was the fun stuff, THE LONG RUN, I love long runs. I ran The Biggest Loser 15K in downtown Rockford and along the Rock River. I have ran this course a couple times during training and the Rockford Half Marathon. I always set a goal before races, my goal for this race was to finish in 1:45.

Right before the race I realized I hadn’t figured out my pace for this one, I did the math on my handy dandy pace app, 11:16!! Umm I wasn’t sure if I could do this, but decided I should try.

AND we are off! If you had done a race you know that the first mile is always your best mile mainly because your heart is pumping, legs are twitching, you got your awesome playlist going and you had pinned that person you are going to beat! Ha! First mile went well and out of no-where I had an idea (all great ideas come when running, this is where the marathon idea came from!) I decided that I am going to run every mile at the pace in which I start that mile. To my surprise it worked! I came in 9 mins below my goal at 1:36 with a pace of 10:20!! I was 13 in my age bracket but honestly I do these races to beat one person and one person only and that is ME!!

I am looking forward to week 17 of my training, I will be running in the Chicago Womens Half Marathon for my long run. The best part is that I will be running along side some of my sorority sisters. The training only calls for 11 miles but this is one of those halfs that you have to do it at least once. The charity the proceeds go to is the Go Red for Women movement.

My goal for this half is to finish in 2:30 shaving 10mins off of my last half marathon and going at 11:27min mile pace. Yikes!! I have to get faster!

Below I will post pictures from the race and my training schedule if anyone is interested in running one with me, I am following a Hal Higdon training schedule with some modifications of my own.

Toodle-doo for now!

Anna D.







16 Jun

A couple weekends ago I ran in The Rockford Marathon Half-marathon, I ran this the weekend after running the Literacy Council’s half marathon. AND I beat my time by 20mins!!

So what had happened… (I love starting stories like this) I did this race last year and finished a lil over 3 hours, this year I was bound and determined to finish in 2:30-2:45. This race proved that my non-stop training and cross training helped me improve as a runner. If you read in my previous posts I talk about my pit stops, I have learned at what point it’s absolutely time to stop. I ran most of it meaning I would briefly stop at the water stations. I also tried the GU gel stuff, this is a bad idea if you are not use to running with this since it could increase the number of pit spots ;D but surprisingly my body adapted to the gel.

At mile 12, my body was so tired and sore and all I could think of was once I am done I can have a banana and water and once I am done my boyfriend will be at the finish line waiting for me.

On the final stretch I saw some familiar faces some people from my spring half marathon training group, which pushed me to finish running, this training group has helped me be the runner I am now with not only running but education about running. I trot along really wanting to stop I kept psyching myself out “you are almost done just walk the rest of the way, you will still beat your time” but I realized I wouldn’t be happy with my result so I kept running.

Mile 13! Is right at the bridge and only .10 to the finish, I decided that I was going to sprint to the finish. I started on my sprint and I see more people from my training group and I spot my boyfriend and I see the clock and I think I want to finish under 2:40. So I book it!

I finished 20 mins before last year! My new goal is to finish the women’s half marathon in 2:30.

My boyfriend and good friend also ran in the Rockford Marathon they did the 10K, this was their first 10K. I am so proud of them, Jacyn just started running and is doing great and Gloria keeps on plugging at her running. My goal now is to get them to run the Rockford literacy council half in the spring. Pictures below!

My sister and I decided to do the Color Vibe 5K with our 13 year old little sister. This race is just for fun and I recommend it for teenagers and groups that want to do something fun together. There are pictures below too!

I started my marathon training this week will post about that later today!







The Literacy Half Marathon

18 May

Last Saturday I ran for the second time in the Literacy Councils Half Marathon and participated in the spring training. This being both programs 10 year anniversary.

The Training Program
The training program is phenomenal, they have volunteer coaches for every fitness level and its a great way to make connections with people that have a common goal, finish a half marathon. The training starts 12 weeks before the race which is usually the second week of May. The group meets twice a week but you do have homework on the days the group does not meet, they give a schedule and an explanation of the workout as well. During the first part of the training and on all Tuesdays we run on the roads and the 2nd half we run on the trails that we will be running on during the race. The scenery is beautiful. Will I do this again? ABSOLUTELY!! Do I recommend it for a beginner? Heck yes!!

I started barely being able to finish a whole mile running and after tomorrow I will have 5 half marathons under my belt. Beating my times ever time. It is a well known fact the group activities keep you accountable and motivated, this is the group to do it with. PLUS you get a really cool sweatshirt when you sign up and let’s not forgot to mention the gathering after both training days.

The Rockford Literacy Councils Half Marathon
The race begins and ends at Vasa park and winds thru the Kishwaukee River gorge and Blackhawk Springs. I really liked the course, there are volunteers at random points that tell you which way to go and cheer you on. This will definitely be an annual race for me. My goal is to get my friends and family to do it with me.

I beat my time but not the time I wanted to finish. I will race again next year and beat my time and finish when I anticipate it. I love the feeling of beating my own time.

Towards the end of the race, my friend was there cheering me on and my boyfriend was also there to push me to the finish line. Once I got to the finish line there are more people from the training program. One of the perks of running races is the food at the end, this one had red lobster and beer!!

I highly recommend this race!!

And we get this really cool race shirt!!


I will later report on the Rockford Marathon!

Happy Trails!



13 May

Wow!! It’s been a loooooong time!!!

What have I been up to?!

I started a second job at the end of August so that and a full time job has kept me busy. 2 months ago I decided I needed a career change so I took a position with a Statefarm agent. The process of working in an agency has also taken some time with training and licensing. I will proudly say that I am licensed in the state of Illinois with property, casualty, life and health lines.

I have not forgotten my goals but realized that I needed to take care of my career first.

What have I been doing?!
I focused on weight training at the beginning of the year once February hit it became spring half marathon training season. Which has begun to be my favorite part of the year! Why?! Because I love running and there is nothing better and more motivating than close to 100 ppl that have the same passion. I train with a local training group ran by Runner’s Image, the local running store, the couple that coordinate the group are great coaches and bring on coaches that not only are volunteers but know their stuff. The half marathon and the training group proceeds go to the Rockford literacy council. I love reading and their no bigger joy to me then to be able to help raise funds to something as vital as reading.

I have ran in some races I started out with the Rockford Shamrock Shuffle 5k, The Arny Johnson 10 mile, the Red Shoe Run 5K and this past weekend I ran in the Rockford Literacy Council’s half marathon. My goal for all these races was to beat my times from the previous year and I can proudly say that I have.

What’s next?!
This weekend I have signed up for the Rockford Half Marathon, goal to beat my time of course. My boyfriend and good friend will be doing the 10k.

In June I have a race just about every weekend I start with the Color Vibe, followed by the Biggest loser 15k, another half the Women’s half in Chicago and topping it off with a dirty girl 5k.

I have more races I plan on doing, I will post on the Upcoming Races page.

You did what?!

So…. I decided that I wanted to do a full marathon… Why?!… Why not?!

I will be running in the Chicago Marathon in October and I will be running with the Girls in the Game Charity team. Meaning I will be fundraising with a goal of $600. Please support me as I run for Girls in the Game.

From here on out this blog will be dedicated to my marathon training, races along my path to the marathon and my journey as I shed more lbs.

Photos! Below are photos from my races so far this year and a progress picture.

Please share this blog with friends!!

Anna D.




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