Chicago Marathon 2013

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-10-2013-05-2008


In October 2012 my friend and running buddy Martha Hall ran the Chicago Marathon. It was such a great event for her, she asked me if I would like to run it with her in 2013. What an honour to be asked to participate in one of the five biggest marathons in the world by a friend who considered me worthy of accompanying her on such an adventure.

Right now I have to explain that Martha and I have known each other over 30 years. Though we lost touch after school, our lives have had parallel experiences. Via the gift of social media, we were able to reconnect with each other back in 2009 as I was recovering from the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life; Lyme disease. When I hatched my plan to run the New York City Marathon, Martha was immediately on board. As a marathon veteran, she convinced me that I could run a marathon, though I had so many doubts. Having Martha run my first marathon with me was one of the most special gifts life has given me, my loving and supportive family being the best gift ever, and amazing friends another. I owe my whole marathon tutelage to Martha, the good folks at Marathon Training Academy (Angie and Trevor Spencer), and of course, my running posse, AKA, the Real Runners of New England.

So, yes, I was delighted at the prospect of running the Chicago Marathon with Martha and experiencing this incredible event as well as visiting a city with magnificent beauty and incredibly friendly people. And so, with my running posse, training began at the end of June 2013.

As any runner will tell you, training comes with it’s ups and downs, sacrifices and rewards. This was the 4th marathon I trained for (I’ve run 3, had to pull out of the 4th due to injury). Feeling my fittest in the years since Lyme disease wracked havoc with my body, I decided that I should train at a level that I felt would push me a bit. I added a bit more speed workouts and cross training workouts to my weekly routine. It was all going so well. Sixteen weeks of training seemed to fly by. Then came the taper. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I guess it’s called “taper psychosis” and I had it big time. All of the sudden, I felt as if many of my Lyme symptoms were returning; joint aches, upper shoulder and back pain, sore feet and headaches. Doubt consumed me for the first time; would I be able to actually run at all on marathon day? The two week taper dragged on, and though I ran short distances during that time, I struggled to find my groove. I started to wonder if the goal I had set myself at the beginning of my training would be achievable.

Arriving in Chicago, we headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and acquaint ourselves with the information necessary for a successful run. I was fortunate enough to qualify to be in the first wave, starting in corral C. My goal was to run a 3:35 marathon and as such I decided for the first time to try running with a pace group.

Marathon morning arrived. With the usual dose of nerves, what I like to call “jelly belly”, and dressed in my signature Brooks Running attire (lyme green nighttime mesh hat, lyme green Epiphany short sleeved top, Infiniti shorts, low cut Brooks versatile low-cut socks and my lyme green Adrenaline GTS13) I headed out for the short walk from my hotel to my corral. The one thing I forgot was the closing time for my corral. Arriving at 7:15, I forgot my corral closed at 7:20am for a 7:30am start. As it turned out, I made it into my corral with one minute to spare and no chance of lining up with my 3:35 pace group. I was on my own. However, this is what my training prepared me for. You see, all throughout my training, though I did run with a group of other women and men, they were all much faster runners than myself. On my long runs, I’d start off with the group, but after about 10-13 miles, would have to fall back and run the remaining distance by myself. I felt prepared for the challenge of taking on the marathon alone, relying on my Garmin as I had done on so many other runs.

In a big marathon like Chicago, you forget what it will be like to run with so many people. You forget that it may take several miles to find your space to run your race. However, by mile 8 I was able to do this quite comfortably. I have to say as well that the race support at Chicago was phenomenal!!! The supply of fluids and fuels all along the route was amazing. The volunteers were friendly and helpful and the crowds were wonderful. Running in such a supportive atmosphere made the run go by quickly. The course was great as well with may turns so as not to get bored running in complete straight lines. I reached mile 13 at 1:47, as I had done in so many training runs. Miles 13-20 seemed to fly by. At mile 20, like most runners, I was starting to feel fatigued, but I knew I had enough left in the tank to finish. At mile 21 I saw some friends of mine who live in Chicago; what a tonic to see friendly faces cheering you on. From miles 23-26.2, I had to dig deep. I started to really feel leg fatigue, though my breathing remained easy and calm. I finished at 3:42:46, and though I did not meet my goal of 3:35, I had a good, strong race that didn’t leave me too fatigued. The best part of the whole run, though, was that for the very first time in my marathon history, I did not have blistered feet!!! That, and during the run, none of my Lyme symptoms occurred and so far, so good. I’m back to cycling, lifting weights and doing shorter runs and feeling great. Who could ask for more?

Below is a video recap of the marathon experience filmed on my iPhone spliced with photos also taken from my iPhone. Enjoy viewing!

Chicago Marathon 2013 from angela coulombe on Vimeo.

The Evolution of a Runner – having the balls to finally look the part

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-10-2013-05-2008


A few years ago, when I first started “running” (after a long struggle with Lyme disease), a friend came to cheer me on at a race. His comments were, “You don’t wear anything to run in that distinguishes you from other runners. I couldn’t spot you in the race. You’re going to have to wear something brighter next time so I can see you.”

I find this funny now, but when I first started running, I didn’t want to look like “a runner”. I didn’t want anyone to think I could run or had any ability in the running stakes. If I could have run in just pajamas, I would have done so, but feared that too might draw attention to me. Instead, I opted for a pair of long black trousers I’d worn through my last birth (call them maternity trousers, but they did a great job doubling as dance slacks and running trousers), a natty t-shirt and cross trainers. I figured with this look, no one would recognize me as a runner (I just looked like a weirdo instead). This strategy worked well, in fact, too well. You see, what I’ve learned via experience is that it’s really not a good idea to wear long black trousers in 90F weather to run 6 miles at noon. I know, trust me; it’s not a good idea.

Typically during summers in Maine the temps can range from 70-100F, but rarely do they reach over 80F for prolonged periods of time. It does get super humid, though, making long runs unpleasant unless you’re well ventilated and in the right clothing. On one lunch-time run I discovered this first-hand. I’d headed out in my chosen garb; the long black trousers, the t-shirt, the cross trainers, to run 6 miles around Back Cove, a pleasant loop around a body of water in Portland, and back to the office where I work. It was in the 90s, it was humid and there was very little breeze. I had no discomfort until the last mile. At that stage, my trousers were wet with sweat; in fact, I was soaked from my head to my toes in sweat. I had to stop, but when I stopped, my hands started swelling up. I had no idea what was happening. I thought I was experiencing the first signs of a heart attack or something more sinister. I was afraid and I could only think of getting out of the sun and getting some water. I made my way up the street looking for any establishment that might be open that could help me. I convinced myself I was dying, holding on to hot brick walls for balance, as I made my way up the street.

The first establishment I came to was an employment center. Confident I’d found help, I opened the door and approached the reception desk, asking if I could have some water. I was shocked when the reply was, “We don’t have any water.” Again, thinking I was dying, with full-on panic in my voice I asked, “Is it okay if I just sit in that chair over there with my head between my legs so I don’t pass out. I think I’m having a heart attack, I’ve just run all of Back Cove and I think I’m over heated and my hands are swelling and I think I’m having a heart attack.” That got a reply. The man behind the counter jumped into action, not only offering me water, but offering to call anyone I might need to contact so they could come help me before I died in the job center. I told him I was supposed to be at a meeting at my office in less than 15 minutes, so if he could phone my office, let them know I was somewhat detained and that I’d be there as soon as I felt it was safe to walk without passing out, I’d be there.

When I’d recovered sufficiently to leave the employment center and walk back to work, I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window. I looked terrible. I looked worse than terrible. I looked freakish and bloated and red all over. Okay, that was no excuse for someone making a snap judgment to let me die before I explained my appearance, but still, it got me thinking. Why was I wearing clothes that were dragging me down and now, potentially, life-threatening? It was a turning point.

lymerunner-224x300When you’ve gone all non-running clothes, transitioning into what I would refer to as proper running clothes, (you know, wicked tops, shorts with built in undies, being fitted for proper running shoes, etc), can be very intimidating. It can really move you out of your mental comfort zone, though, as I’ve discovered, move you into a physical comfort zone. Making the transition from heavy cotton to Lycra can be very, well, disturbing, if you’re at all body conscious, and let’s face it, almost every women I know is just a bit (especially me!!). And with so many brands of clothing out there, how do you choose one brand over the other?

I guess my answer was made for me when I got fitted for my first pair or proper running shoes; a pair of purple Brooks Ravinas that I fell instantly in love with!! The rest of my relationship with Brooks Running is history. When I ran the New York City Marathon in 2010, I wore Brooks tops, capris and shoes (picture left). I also ran for all of those battling Lyme disease under “Lymerunner” a persona I have taken on since.

brooksgearSince becoming the Lymerunner, it seems only right that I should start to wear more Lyme green (pictured right). I can’t be happier with Brooks. The clothes are light weight when needed, warm when needed, they fit me just right and I love their comfort. Brooks service is second to none. Ordering online is a breeze, delivery is efficient and nothing pleases me more than receiving my goods a week later, knowing I’ve got top quality gear to wear on my next run.

TrifortheCure1NationTri1I guess in a way Brooks has made it much easier for me to now not only look like a “runner”, but to perform like one. Over the years, wearing Brooks gear, I’ve been able to achieve new PRs and even qualify for the Boston Marathon, which I’ll be running in 2014 (picture left: 2013 Tri for A Cure with Joanna Connor and Annette Coulombe, picture right: The Nation Tri, PR of 45:00 for a 10K in 91F heat).

JoanBennoitI’m looking forward to continuing to wear the Brooks brand as I work on improving my running, setting new goals and achieving new heights (picture left with Joan Benoit Samuelson August 2013). I’ll continue to support my Lyme buddies by wearing my Lyme green tops, and just in time for winter training, I’ve purchased my new favourite piece of Brooks gear, a new Lyme green, rain proof, wind proof, glow in the dark winter training jacket. Bring on Boston and don’t ever say you can’t spot me in a crowd of runners!!!

brookscoatSo that’s my evolution. Thank you Brooks Running for bringing it about!!! (picture right, my new winter running coat, bought especially for those morning winter training runs in preparation for the Boston marathon 2014). If only all evolutions could be so simple and effective!