This weekend, two projects were achieved, Saturday, May 5, 2012, was the 12x12 Project and Sunday, May 6, 2012, the 6x2 Project. This is the second back-to-back marathon weekend of 2012 in attempt to do a total of six this year. Why? To help people have clean water in Africa for Blood: Water Mission. Sign up to be a Community Builder and start making a positive difference today! Kalamazoo race date: May 6, 2012

So after yesterday's marathon I hopped in the car, drove back to Chicago to where I was staying. Let me tell you, that shower was glorious and I even managed to get a nap in! When I first planned these marathons I thought I would have to sprint to Michigan to get my race packet before 6 p.m. And given that I would lose an hour (CST to EST) time was not on my side. BUT then I looked once more on the race website and they had race morning packet pickup! YES! So I could relax in between all the chaos. And by relax I mean driving 200 miles.

After a shower and a little rest for the weary body and soul, I was on the road again! Getting out of Chicago was slow (no surprise) but after that I had clear roads all the way to Kalamazoo, Mich. I arrived around 9 p.m. and was still exhausted. I crashed by 10 p.m. and soon it was 5:30 a.m. Time to run again baby!

I threw on my running clothes, shoes, mixed my Gen UCAN and drove over to the race start so I could pick up my race bib. It was a vastly different morning then yesterday! Beautiful sunrise, few clouds in the sky, no rain in sight. It was going to be a great race day!

Pinned my race bib on, posted a updates (since that's what you do these days!) and got myself over to the start line. I was feeling spunky and ready to run. I have to say that I was very thankful for not feeling the effects of the marathon less than 24 hours ago! Thank you Jesus! I thought knew I could run faster than yesterday, but wanted to start out slow. So I placed myself in the 4:15 pace group. Figured a little company couldn't hurt! I was in great spirits and ready to have some fun! I planned to live update to Twitter and Facebook too. The national anthem was played and the gun went off. Let's run! The pace group leaders were fun and one of them had also run the Wisconsin Marathon yesterday. So we had something in common. I chatted with a few other runners. I was surprised at how many first timers there were and IT MADE ME HAPPY! Several of them asked how many I had run and then when they found out I had run one yesterday they were in shock awe. It was great to share with them how I started running and what I said after I ran my first marathon- "never doing that again!" Funny how life can change, eh :)?

The miles rolled on and I was having a blast. I finally switched over to using my iPhone camera and it was a very good choice. I posted updates, highfived, smiled and was having a blast. I was feeling way to spunky but thankful I was! The course had some rolling hills and they didn't seem to bother me. The race also had some of the best spectators - I love hometown races where everyone treats a marathon as a block party. So. Much. Fun!!

My marathon race fuel is Gen UCAN about a hour before race time and 1 Q Energy Drink, then water only during the race and fruit if they have it. My stomach was growling (didn't eat much yesterday - oops!) and I was on the lookout for some fruit. Around mile 12 I spied some luscious strawberries and I do mean luscious. I hopped up on the sidewalk and quickly grabbed one, thanked the strangers and kept on running. I love this sport!

By Mile 14 I knew I had to break away from the 4:15 pace and run my own race. I had held back long enough. So with that I ran strong up the hill and didn't look back. I started picking up the pace and soon was running in the low 8's. I was happy I was feeling so good and prayed it would last.

As I was running I saw another runner who looked tired so I ran alongside her and started chatting. The gift of talking comes in handy sometimes :) Turns out she was struggling and had prayed for someone to encourage her! Her boyfriend was also running but he was ahead of both of us. We talked and ran for about 6 miles and then her boyfriend had stopped to wait for her (how sweet!) and so I let them run together and I kept trucking along. I was passing people left and right at Miles 20, 21 and then a big hill at around 22 made me want to throw up but I kept my head up and trudged up the hill. I made it up and started breathing again. Legs were still intact so that was a great thing!

Some of the race course had us running against traffic to get over to the (paved) trail section and so I began high-fiving passengers. Talk about a high! That. Was. FUN!

Along the entire course a group of spectators on bikes went to at least 10 different spots along the course. I kept joking with them that I kept running into them. It was awesome. Although I didn't know who they were it was nice to know that I would see some familiar faces in the miles ahead!

By Mile 22 I knew I only had a few miles left and so I pushed a little harder. I kept my sights ahead and told myself to pass the tree or the guy in the red shirt or the lady in a pink tutu. Little things like that keep me going. I was still feeling good for miles that are technically 48, 49 ... It had started to get hot and I was ready for the race to be over. A surprise hill at Mile 25.5 was not welcome and I grunted up it. I could hear the finish line music in the distance and I knew I was almost home. YES! I kept passing other runners and knew my training was paying off big time. Soon I rounded the corner and the finish line was in sight! 4:04:08. A six minute negative split - on my second marathon in a 24 hour span! I was a happy girl. And even happier when I saw a kiddie pool with ice! I quickly made myself at home in the pool of ice amid stares of course. :)

After a post-ice bath photo I made my way back to the car, refueled with Gen UCAN Chocolate Recovery, some nuts but was still starving so quickly searched on Yelp for something healthy. Find a place called Fuel that was a little out of the way but worth it. Then I was driving back to Chicago in time for a quick Action Wipe Shower, a change of clothes in the car and made it in time for church! I always try to make time for soul food when I am on the road!

After church I headed back to my friends and was all too happy for a real shower and bed! 3:30am cometh quickly!

Post script:

I'm not that big on stats, but I was very happy with the last 4.2 miles, so I'll share them with you :)

Mile 22: 8:45 pace/mile

Mile 23: 8:30 pace/mile

Mile 24:  8:07 pace/mile

Mile 25: 8:42 pace/mile

Mile 26: 8:36 pace/mile

Mile .2 7:59 pace/mile