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D Wagner's Blog

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Why I Run...

Posted by D Wagner May 12, 2011

I have been reading many books on running lately and I am currently reading Bart Yasso's "My Life on the Run". I am struck at how inspiring these runners are. Reading through these books has caused me to do a little soul-searching of my own. I am asked a lot about how I got into running and why I run. Anyone who has ever asked me that question can vouch for the fact that there is an initial silence that comes from me and then saying what I believed to be true at the time which is something like..."Oh I used to run and I wanted to get back into it" or.... "I think I was bored one day and googled different races and decided that might be fun".... It wasn't until I did some real ugly deep down soul searching that I realized why it is I do run.


I run for many reasons. I run to give my dad and I a common ground and a way for him to be proud of me. I run from my demons which have consisted of drinking heavily in my past. I run to deal with my past. I run to give my mom and her family the proverbial middle finger for all the times they have thought and said I was nothing. I run because I love the way it makes me feel and look. I run to escape my bad days and celebrate my good days. I run because one of these days I WILL qualify for Boston. Most of all I run because that is something that will never let me down or disappoint me. Most people in my life have either left me or disappointed me in a huge way. Running is very theraputic for me and much cheaper than a therapist!


I think in the past I was ashamed of saying why I run. I am surprised at the amount of runners who started running as a way of therapy from whatever demons it may be that they have. I am not ashamed anymore and I have embraced my life as it is. Running has given me a new outlook on life and in many ways saved my life. Running saved me from my dark days and even darker nights.


So....why do you run???

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Whew! I'm still living off my high from running the U of I half marathon this past Saturday. The weather was pretty good. The only real obstacle was the wind that was blowing out of the E, SE at 15-25mph. I barely felt it. I finished with a surprising time of 2:04:20.


Leading up to the race my training was not where it normally is going into a half marathon. I hurt my knee and was out of commission for about 3 weeks and then I was sick for about a week. So all in all I am very pleased with my time. I went into the race more calm and relaxed than I have ever been going into a race. I did not put the extra pressure on myself of having a time goal for this one. I took off in the 2:05 pace group. Within a mile I passed them and began running my own race. I felt great! I looked down at my watch every once in awhile to see what my pace was and I was averaging anywhere from 9:10 per mile to 9:24 per mile. At mile 6.5 (roughly half way point) I did a body check to see how everything was holding up. I was happy to see that it still felt pretty easy and my body was holding up. At mile 10 I saw my mother-in-law and she handed me my last pack of GU. I started to feel the effects at this point. My legs were getting heavier and it was getting more difficult to propel my body forward but I still wasn't hurting in any way.


Then, I remember seeing the stadium and it feeling like we were running around it forever. All I remember thinking was, "My God, where is the entrance already???". At that point I was ready for it to end. I came into the stadium and crossed the finish line with a smile of my face. I had finished in 2:04:20 which was my 2nd fastest time in a half marathon. I never expected to do so well!


I do have to say that from last year to this year the U of I half marathon/marathon has improved dramatically! They have done such a great job with improving the race. The course was better than I expected and this race will definatly be on my race calendar every year.


Happy Running!

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Well needless to say it has been a long time since I've blogged. I think I have experienced it all in the last few months. I hurt my knee about a month ago and was out of commission for 2+ weeks, I ran the half marathon in Huntington Beach, CA in February sick as a dog, and I've had a few life changes as well. The last few months have been an utter disaster for training. I've been doing well for the past few weeks and I am running the half marathon at the University of Illinois on Saturday.


I recently started a part-time job at Fleet Feet Sports in Chicago. I am really enjoying it so far. It's nice to be around like-minded people and not feel like I am boring them with my running stories. I have been throwing myself back into running and I am now up to about 20-25 miles per week. My spirit is raised again and I am feeling more like myself. It is really crazy how not being able to run can affect you so negatively. I was a real crab to be around! I thank my husband and all of those around me for putting up with me these last few months.


As far as reaching a new PR for this next half, I am not holding my breath. The longest run I was able to get in due to my injury was 9 miles. It would be nice to see something under 2 hours but I will be happy to just finish.


I have also signed up for the Chicago Marathon and I will be participating in the Inagural Savannah, GA marathon this year. I have a lot to look forward to in the coming year and here's hoping that me along with all of you have a safe and injury free running season!


Happy Running!

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Well I successfully completed the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the ING NYC Marathon! Whew! What a ride.


First off is the Chicago Marathon. I had a strong training base going into this marathon. I was as prepared as a I could be. The day of the marathon began well. The temperatures were in the 60s climbing to a very hot 87 degrees! I hung in there until about mile 16 when they put up the "red alert" for the heat. I began pulling it back and ran/walked the rest of the way. I finished with a 5:04:55. I was proud of my time. I wore a yellow shirt with my name sewn onto it and I was absolutely amazed at the cheers I received from the crowd. The crowd support was like nothing I had every experienced in my life. There was only about 1 mile at the fartherest point north where there was not a lot of support. It was a great day! My dad, mother and father in law, aunt, cousin, and my husband came out to support me on the 26.2 mile course. It was everything I had hoped for and more. I choked up as I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line. It was the most amazing thing I had every done and I was so proud!


The following week I rested. I was lucky enough to not have any injuries from the marathon. I was stiff and sore for a few days but that subsided by the weekend. The Sunday after the marathon I completed 10 miles and continued on with my training. I was essentially on my taper for NYC. I added a few runs during the week along with some strength training. The next Sunday I was down to 7 miles with 1 week to go to NYC. I felt great. I was doing some great mileage and felt strong and ready to take on NYC.


Fast forward to the ING NYC Marathon... What an experience! Sorry Chicago, but NYC has you beat in terms of the "marathon experience". The day started around 6:30am when my dad and I went down for the continetal breakfast at our hotel. We then took a taxi to the Staten Island Ferry. After a hug and "Good Luck...Be Careful" from my dad I was headed onto the ferry. The ferry took us right by the Statue of Liberty and that is where I shed my first tears. As we got off the ferry in Staten Island we were hustled along to a line of waiting buses to bring us to the start villages. The bus ride was a long 3 mile ride. I found my start village (Blue) and after a phone call to my dad and my husband I checked my bag and headed towards the corrals.


It seemed like I waited forever for the 1st and 2nd waves to go out. Then, it was my turn to enter the corral and begin the walk to the start. I remember looking up as we approached the bridge and thinking..."Wow, I have to run over that monster!". And then I heard the airhorn go off and the sweet sounds of Frank Sinatra's "New York New York" came over the loudspeaker. Everyone, I mean everyone in the corral started belting it out! What a feeling! And then we were off...crossing the brige into Brooklyn and laughing at a sign that said "GET OUT OF BROOKLYN!"....crossing into Queens where a guy was holding a sign that said "In our eyes you are all Kenyans"....shuffling up the Willis Avenue Bridge and coming around the corner into the Bronx...crossing into Manhattan and hearing the screams from 1st Ave...seeing the first signs of Central Park...passing the Chilean miner....heading down the home stretch....seeing the finish line...tears running down my face...crossing the finish line....


Once I had crossed the finish line a wave of nausea came over me. There were so many runners around it took all I had to keep my breakfast down b/c someone would have gotten puked on! It seemed like it took forever to finally get to my bag, call my dad and meet up with him. My right foot was a bit painful and my legs were stiff and sore. I checked my phone to see what my final time had been and I saw 4:38:33...... I just stared at it for a minute thinking I was hallucinating. Everyone always says that you do not run NYC for time b/c of all the hills but I had just bettered my Chicago time by about 26 minutes. Holy cow!


All in all I loved both marathons but NYC was my favorite by far. I am so proud of what I have accomplished this year. I started the year in Huntington Beach California with a 1/2 marathon, did Chicago's Rock and Roll Half Marathon in August, ran the Chicago Marathon in October, and finished off the year with the ING NYC Marathon in November. I PR'd every race I ran.


I have a deep respect and love for the longer distances. I will run more marathons for sure. Now, to look ahead to next year and see what other states I can leave my mark on.


Happy Running!!

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I got in 8 miles, a 35 minute strength session, and a 30 minute bike ride the week leading up to the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon. I took Friday and Saturday as rest days. I ate a delicious pasta dish the night before the race and completed the Half in 2:03:17! This is my fastest half marathon yet!


This was the most emotional race I have ever run. My nerves were insane! As I stood in the corral with the thousands of other runners I started to feel a sense of confidence and comradery. I even managed to give my fellow runners a few smiles before we were released. I was in corral 8 and as we moved up to begin our start I felt incredible. I was actually able to "toe the line". The adrenaline that is released when the horn goes off is indescribable!


I was blaring "Pump It" by the Blackeyed Peas and then everyone became a blur. I glanced down at my watch and my pace was a very fast 7:36 so I backed it off a little. My first mile split was 8:25 and I was feeling great! The next couple of miles seemed to whiz past and my 5k time was right at a 9 minute pace. So far so good to break 2 hours!


At 3 miles I saw Gerry, Zach and Tami. I gave them a wave and a smile as I whizzed past them. I was feeling great and hoping to maintain this pace. As I rounded the corner on mile 5 and started ascending the hill I started to feel a little out of breath and the sweat was pouring off me. As I ran through the water station I grabbed a cup and poured it over my head to cool my body down a bit.


Now we were heading down the long southbound stretch on Lake Shore drive. The miles continued to whiz past. I took a GU at mile 9 hoping that would give me an extra boost for the next 4.1 miles. I grabbed an ice cold sponge right before mile 10 and squeezed it over my head. At mile 10, just as I crossed the mat that would send a text message to my Dad, Tami, and Zach I felt the dreaded fatigue starting to set in. And then I did the worst thing I could do...I thought to myself "Only 3 miles to go". Ugh! I can't believe I did that!


So I could feel my legs slowing down and getting heavier. I knew that I had to run 9 minute miles or less to break my 2 hour goal. Mile 11 came upon me and I got a second wind of sorts and sped up. I was looking for my family but they were no where in site. Mile 12: the second wind was gone. I was pushing through what people call "The Wall" at this point. In my mind I was saying, "Shoulders down, don't lean forward, head up...." The crowd was back and I was turning the corner to go up the final hill. At this point I am cursing the race directors at how unfair it is to put a hill at the end of the race. Damn them!


I turn the last corner and the crowd is going crazy. I see the finish line and at that point I know I am not going to break 2 hours but I push my legs as fast as they can go and start chanting..."Do it Dana, Do it". There it is, and just like that I'm done. I have so many emotions going through my head. My legs are completely dead. I grab a water and start weaving through the masses. I get my medal, grab an ice towel, pose for my post race picture and slowly start walking out of the runner's area.


It is at this point I realize I did not make a plan as to where to meet the family. I am so tired, I figure that they will find me....eventually. Luckily I spot Zach and he gives me the news that I ran a 2:03:17. I drop my head. Just as I am about to wallow in my own self pity he points out that I ran a faster half marathon in higher humidity and higher temperature and more hills than I did in Huntington Beach. It takes me a minute to understand what he is saying but then I realize that I just ran the fastest and most challenging race of my life.


I immediately call my dad and got a congratulations from him. I spent the rest of the day reveling in my accomplishment.


What a great day!


Now, it's back to training for the Chicago Marathon. I can't believe it is only 9 weeks away!


Happy Running!

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Well, again I have been slacking in the blogging department. I am happy to report I have been staying on track with my training and I have no injuries to report. I am up to running around 25 miles per week at this point in my training. I am running 4 days a week, strength training 2 days per week, and resting 1 day per week. I am very happy with my training group, Chicago Endurance Sports! I have developed some wonderful friendships in the course of my training.


I have also begun seeing a nutritionalist. So far I have dropped from 28.9% body fat to 26.8% in a matter of 5 weeks. I am continuing to drop body fat and I have seen an improvement in my running as a result.


I am running Chicago's Rock and Roll Half Marathon next Sunday (08.01.10) and am mentally preparing myself for the race. This race will show me if my body is holding up and I should be able to put out my marathon pace without being completely wasted at the end of my run.


I am getting massages about 2x per month focusing on deep tissue massages for my legs. I have extemely tight leg muscles that need to be worked on on a regular basis to keep me injury free.


I'm trying to maintain a positive mental attitude and look at each run I complete as a "good run". Some runs, of course, are a lot harder than others and I find myself at times stopping to walk and shaking my head to try and mentally get back into it. I think the mental game of running is proving to be a lot harder than the physical aspect of it. I'm actively trying to be more "zen-like" and not looking at my watch to see how fast I just ran the last split. It is a hard thing to do. I am fiercly competitive by nature.


Until next time....


Happy Running!

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4 weeks

Posted by D Wagner May 30, 2010

The week of May 2nd was my last official "maintenance" week before officially beginning marathon training. I got in 1 strength training day along with a total of 14 miles that week. I seemed to still be in a funk that week. I couldn't seem to mentally engage in the runs. I struggled through them all and started to question my love for the sport.


The week of May 9th I found my zen again! I had a great 8 mile run at the State Park, I-podless, and feeling great. My mother-in-law rode her bike as I ran and I had an extra sense of security. I had a smile on my face throughout the whole 8 miles. It was great!!! I got in 1 strength training day and a total of 4 days of running. This week also marked the start of my "official" marathon training. I ran in Chicago Saturday morning with Chicago Endurance Sports which is the group I decided to train with through my marathon. It was a great first experience! I met some great people and look forward to running with them.


The week of May 16th I got in a total of 13.5 miles and 2 days of strength training. It was a great week and I stayed right on track. I completed a 6 mile run with CES and loved every second. There is something magical about running along the Chicago lakefront early on a Saturday morning. I am definatly happy with my decision to join CES!


The week of May 23rd was an OK week of training. I took 3 rest days and got in 1 day of strength training along with a 30 minute EZ run. I ran the Solider Field 10 mile race yesterday and had tons of fun! My official time was 1:37:44 which is a 9:47/min/mile pace. I was more aiming for a 9min pace but I still felt great about my accomplishment. I only stopped to take some fluids and did not stop to walk. It was a really well organized race and I was proud to have my husband and mother-in-law there cheering me on.


I am happy with my progress towards the marathon so far. I have learned so much already. The most important lesson I have learned so far is the value of "The Stick". I have very tight leg muscles that have led to some setbacks throughout my running and I have learned the necessity to not only stretch but also to "roll out" my muscles on a daily basis whether I exercise or not. The Stick has been my lifesaver. If any of you have not tried it and suffer from stiff, tight muscles I highly recommend it!


Happy Running!

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2 more weeks of good training

Posted by D Wagner May 9, 2010

The week of April 25th I got in 2 strength training days along with a 4 mile run. I ran in the Illinois Marathon 5k that Saturday and my time was 26:41. Not my best but definatley not my worst! For the first 1/2 mile I was unable to get up to my pace with all the zig zagging around the walkers...yes I said the walkers! I'm sorry but common sense would tell you (at least from my perspective) that walkers would start at the BACK of the runners. Hmmmm...apparently I wasn't dealing with very bright people. I was so aggarvated through this race! But, it was cool finishing on the 50 yard line in the U of I stadium! It was also Ann's first race and seeing her face coming into the stadium was priceless. She had such a blast and I am just glad I was there to see it!


The following week I got in a total of 14 miles along with 1 day of strength training. My running for the past few weeks has been difficult. Physcially I have been exhausted and mentally my head has not been in the game. Saturday I went to pick up my training packet from Chicago Endurance Sports. I am super pumped to begin my marathon training program!


Two good weeks of traning and hoping I can continue this trend!


Happy Running!

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2 Weeks of Good Training

Posted by D Wagner Apr 26, 2010

So, I have been slacking in the blogging department. :-) The past two weeks I have stayed on track with my training.


The week of April 11th I got in 2 days of strength training along with 11 total miles. I also got CPR/AED certified so I am well on my way to becoming a personal trainer. I incorporated some speedwork into my runs and also started a new gym routine to break things up a bit. I was scheduled for a 5k on 4-18-10 but overdid it at the gym so decided to sit it out.


The week of April 18th I got in 2 days of strength training along with 13 total miles. I have noticed lately that I am struggling with the runs that I do outside. I don't know if I have grown too accustomed to the treadmill or what my deal is but I am trying to make a conscious effort to do all of my runs outside from here on out. My pace is improving from a 9min/mile down to 8:30min/mile. The pace itself is a good pace for me right now but once again I have to work on my breathing. I find myself out of breath and have a hard time getting a handle on it.


Overall, nothing too exciting in the past two weeks. I am staying on schedule and trying hard to be injury free. Next week I begin my marathon training! I am excited/nervous but ready to start getting into it.


I have a 5k scheduled for Saturday which I am hoping to do well in. I will also see my first marathon start in person at this race as well so I can see what I am in for in a few months!


Happy Running!

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Wow! So much to say about last week. As far as working out/training goes it was a "fair week" I got a long run in last Sunday (6 miles) along with a 3 miler on Tuesday. I have been incorporating core work into my routines the past few weeks so hopefully I begin to see some results!


Ok so the BIG news is I got into the NYC Marathon for 2010! Holy Cow! As you know I have committed to running Chicago 2010 on 10.10.10 as my 1st marathon. The back story to this is I put my name into the NYC Lottery thinking there would be no way I would get in on my 1st try. There have been people waiting for YEARS to get into the NYC Marathon via the Lottery system so my plan was to apply for it 3 years in a row and of course be turned down so in 4 years they would have to let me in per their rules. Well....things worked out a little differently for me. Last Tuesday night I was checking my bank account online and saw that $185 had been taken out for the NY Marathon. I stared at the screen in disbelief for quite awhile. I then realized that the "official drawing" wasn't until the next day (4.7.10). I came up with all kinds of excuses in my head....they just wanted to check everyone's card to see if they had the funds available...maybe they charged you for just being in the lottery....etc...etc...


The next day at work at 11am CST I tried to access the "Live" drawing of names for the NYC Marathon and was unable to get to it. So I went to lunch and came tearing back into my office at 11:30 on the dot to check my profile page that I had set up on the ING NYC Marathon site to see if I had indeed gotten in. I was shaking with excitment as I typed in my username and password and then clicked "Submit". I held my breath as the page loaded....and there right before my eyes were the words Congratulations....Accepted! I rolled back from my desk in disbelief. And then it hit me....I am running NYC!!! Oh God...I am running 2 marathons this year with about 3 weeks in between each other and I have never run a marathon before....


I am still trying to wrap my head around this. I am excited but the nerves have started already. My plan as of now is to run Chicago as a "training run". I don't plan on pushing myself hard at all in this race although I am aware that 26.2 miles will beat you up whether you run or walk. Does anyone have any advice out there??


Ok so on to my other big news...I ran my 1st 5k of the year last Saturday (Ann did not end up running in this one) and I got my best time ever (25:25), I won my age group and came in 2nd overall female. It was a smaller race (48 ppl) and the field was not as competitive as I've seen in races in Chicago but it was an incredible confidence booster for me and was just what I needed!


So, last week was a week of GREAT news and a GREAT run....let's see if I can keep it up!

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Best Week Yet!

Posted by D Wagner Apr 5, 2010

I had a really awesome week last week as far as training goes. I got in a 6 mile long run last Sunday followed by 2 more 4 milers, 2 weight training sessions, and a 10 mile bike ride for cross training. This has been the best week this year for me. I'm hoping I can continue along this track.


Last Wednesday I went for a physical since I will be significantly increasing my training to get ready for the marathon in October. I have mixed feelings around the physical. On the plus side my blood pressure (98/58) pulse rate, and all of my other vitals were great. On the down side the doctor literally spent about 3 minutes checking me out which I was a little disappointed with. It is not that I wanted her to find something wrong but it seemed like she could have spent a little more time checking me out. I just have to have faith that she is the Dr and if she saw or heard something abnormal she would have ordered more tests. 26.2 miles is such an incredible distance that I feel myself getting anxious/nervous already and I really haven't even started training.


I am looking forward to my 5k this coming Saturday with Ann. It will be her 1st 5k and I am going in support of her (and also to see if I can pull out a medal in my age group!). Here's hoping for another great week of training injury free!


Happy Running!

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Another promising week!

Posted by D Wagner Mar 29, 2010

I got in 2 runs last week ( a 4 miler and a 3 miler). I also got in one strength training session. I feel like I am finally getting back on track. I say that while knocking on wood! I felt really energized throughout my workouts last week.


I also did my first volunteering at a race this past Saturday. I manned a water/hydration station for a 50k. It was very different being on the other side of the race! I am so glad I did it! I was amazed at the amount of runners who stopped to thank me for coming out to help them out. It was a great feeling to know that I was encouraging a great group of runners to finish the race. I would definatley do it again!


So, this week I am off to a good start. I did a long run (6 miles) yesterday on the treadmill and I got in a 50 minute strength training session today. Here's hoping I stay on track!


Happy Running!

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Shamrock Shuffle! :-)

Posted by D Wagner Mar 22, 2010

Leading up to the Shamrock Shuffle I got in 3 runs. My first was on Monday (4 miles on the treadmill), 2 mile tempo run on Wednesday and a 3 mile run/walk with Ann at Perry Farm on Thursday. I also got in a 50 minute strength training session on Tuesday.


So...Sunday was the big day. It was overcast most the the day and cold and windy. But I pulled out a 44:31 for 4.97 miles. I had a great time! I even got my picture with the overall winner of the race. I really love running in Chicago and the adrenaline that gets me pumped up.


I did stay after and attended the postrace party which I normally skip. Maggie Speaks was amazing and it was a nice way to unwind after a hard run.


I placed in the top 25% of the runners which motivates me to train a little harder to get up to the top 10%. Overall I had a great race and was very pleased with the day. I am taking today as a rest day to help my muscles/joints heal before I hit the pavement again tomorrow.


Happy Running!

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Last week was not a good week for me. I twisted my knee last Sunday and therefore was out of commission until Thursday which I ran 4 miles. Other than that I took the week to rest. My 4 miler was at the local state park and was surprisingly difficult for me. I had to stop and walk a few times. It was a hard run but I got through it.


So far this week is off to a good start. I ran 4 miles on the treadmill today and plan on getting in a strength training session tomorrow at the gym.


6 days until Shamrock Shuffle!! :-)


Happy Running!

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Great Week!

Posted by D Wagner Mar 6, 2010

Let me start off by saying that I am still recovering from the cold and I had to literally talk myself into exercising every day that I did. So with that said I accomplished all of my goals for this past week! It was tough but I made it through.


I got in 2 strength workouts, 2 runs (4 miles each run), and today a long run of 6 miles which I actually completed outside! I struggled a lot through my long run and had to take a few seconds here and there to walk a bit. I forgot how different it is to run outside versus running on a treadmill. I tackled some hills along my run and was able to break into a sprint towards the end. I am having some soreness in my right calf muscle and some stiffness after this run.


I also discovered a great new running place. Our local state park has a run/bike trail with very scenic views over the river. It will serve as a great place to get in my long runs as I get closer to the Chicago Marathon.


So overall, even though I struggled through some of my workouts I accomplished everything I wanted to and that feels AWESOME!


I also received some really great running related news this week. I made it to a seeded corral in the Shamrock Shuffle. It looks like there is going to be 36,000 people in this race. Whew! In order to get into a seeded corral you had to have finished a race (5k, 10k, Half Marathon, or Marathon) within a certain time and show proof of your time to the Shamrock Shuffle staff. So, I printed out my best 5k time (25:33) and faxed it in and I am now in Corral C and in the 1st Wave Start! I missed qualifying for Corral B by 33 seconds! The corrals go from Elite, A, B, C and then there is a section for Running Club Member and then open runners. I really feel like I am becoming a serious runner now! Ok Elites.....I am coming for you! :-)


Happy Running!

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D Wagner

D Wagner

Member since: Nov 20, 2009

My blog will follow my running journey up to and through my 1st Marathon... Chicago 2010! You will read about my inspirations, PRs (hopefully!), and of course my struggles. So feel free to share your stories as well!

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