Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Xsport Rock 'N Roll Chicago Half Marathon Recap

This summer Chicago has had about 2 weeks of hot temperatures.  The Xsport Rock 'N Roll Chicago Half Marathon was going to be run on the tail end of it.  I know most of us runners had been stalking the weather reports hoping for a break from the heat.  We didn't quite get the break in heat we were hoping for but it was better than the Burgers and Beer 5K

The race started at 6:30 a.m. and I was in Corral 20. 

I woke up around 4 a.m. and the mangie was NOT interested in going for a walk. I actually had to drag him out of my bed to go walking!  That NEVER happens!!  

For any of the Grant Park races I always park at work and walk over.  I knew it wasn't that far from the start because the map had shown that we'd run past my work building at about the .5 mile point.  

It was crowded but everything seemed really really spread out.  I managed to find a porta potty near the after party stages and vendors that had NO wait.  Score!

Then I met up with my half marathon training buddies.

For 7 weeks Amy sent out a weekly email detailing our training for the week.  We basically did a training program that included 3 runs per week: Tempo Run, Speedwork or Hill Repeats (this rotated) and then the Long Run.

Of course this being Chicago basically our only hill opportunity was Cricket Hill.   We did our speed workouts at the Lakeshore Track off of Chicago Ave downtown.  Track workouts are TOUGH but I do have to say I always enjoy the accomplishment afterwards!!

So the three of us lined up in corral 20 but basically everyone kept pushing themselves forward and I know we started ahead of the 2:15 pacer (who was positioned at the front of corral 20).  We only had to wait about 20 minutes before we started which was a nice surprise.  Honestly after long waits in other races with a later corral I was happy not to have to wait 45 minutes to an hour!

The race started out exciting enough as we ran along Columbus crossed the River and turned at Grand. We basically made our way West until about the 4 mile mark and started heading East.  We hit Michigan Ave around mile 6.5 and since this was the most crowded area with spectators and cheerleaders this was DEFINITELY my fastest mile.  And then we hit the dead zone and then came the wall out in the bright sunlight.

Michigan Ave. ALL the way down to 31st street was really really boring.  And then once we hit 31st Street we basically came out of the shade for the first time all morning. And did I mention at this point it was probably nearing 9 a.m.?  So yeah it got hot and it got unbearable.  Also the water stations along this stretch were TERRIBLE.  The tables had empty cups.  So we had to pick up an empty cup and hold it out and hope we got some Gatorade and/or water.  A friend was running a slower race in a later corral and she told me she didn't get ANY Gatorade until mile 12!

I don't really blame the volunteers at all for this mess.  I mean for THAT many runners yeah it's gonna be hard to keep up.  The Race Organizers should have made sure they were equipped to handle it all!  Also there were no sponges until Mile 12 and at that point it was almost too late.  There were a TON of hoses along the way but I am not sure if they were official hoses or not but I definitely ended the race with soaking wet shorts (not pleasant for the after race).

There were medical tents along the way so I grabbed ice from the bags they had laying in front of them and stuffed ice in my sports bra.  That actually helped a lot, but being able to get more than 1 cup of water at each aid station would have helped even more!

The race did offer a ton of splits which is nice especially for a person like me who forgets her Garmin a lot (or in this case it went haywire for the first few miles).

  • 5 km
  • 10 km
  • 10 mile

  • 31:53
  • 1:03:13
  • 1:42:32

  • Pace
  • Chip Time
  • Clock Time

  • 10:16
  • 02:14:30
  • 02:36:38

So I got a new PR!!!  And this is the first race I can confirm that I actually did negative splits!!!  

Would I do this race again?  Probably not.  I don't like the middle of summer unpredictability of the weather.  And also next year I am shooting for the Half Ironman Racine which is the same date!  ;)

Xterra Big Elk Half Marathon Race Recap

Most people that know me know that I'm addicted to races.  So the minute I realized I was going home to attend the Firefly Music Fest I started searching for races in the area.   Half Marathon was my favorite distance and I was excited to find Exterra Big Elk Half Marathon.   Of course it took me awhile to commit to running when I looked at the course elevation chart!  

That's pretty scary for this city girl that lives in Chicago!  About half of the runners were doing the loop twice in order to complete a full marathon.  I had briefly considered doing that but I hate loops.  *spoiler alert a GREAT decision on my part to only do the half!!

Here I am all smiles this was right before the course pep talk.   The race was sponsored by Power Bar and they explained that there would be at EVERY age station just about every 2.5 miles.   OK at a lot of races you are lucky to get a SINGLE energy gel.  And usually these are located at around the mile 9 marker.  But I was about to get them offered to me at 6 different spots??  That's a lil bit weird??

Here I am starting the race all smiles!  I told my mom to come back in 3 hours.  She hadn't even actually showered yet when she dropped me off!  

The course starts off with only a little bit of time before we switched into single trail.  A few people in the race commented that they were surprised we didn't have a longer wide trail to help it thin out.  I'm not sure how these people ended up finishing the race that I was so slow at points I was running on my own with no one else around! 

The trail was really windy and luckily we were downhill for the first few miles.  Those were my favorite miles as there is nothing more exhilirating than running downhill and having to concentrate on nothing but the person's foot in front of you.  It's like a total roller coaster and you have to be careful and dodge mud, roots, bushes etc.  

But still I looked at my watch and noticed that close to 35 minute had passed and I hadn't even gotten to my first aid station yet?!  Suddenly I realized why they were giving gels out at EVERY station.  We were going to need them!  

Side note: hot gels in the summer taste WAY better than frozen gels in the winter. 

Garmin says the rest of my mile were at a pretty steady 13 min mile pace.  There were A LOT of hills that were just basically like stairs because of the tree roots that we had to climb.  There were a few spots where we were out in an open field trying to get to the other side and the trail that was waiting for us.  Those spots were the worst because we were out in the heat and not the shade.  Towards the end of the race I'm pretty sure the temps got close to 80.  

Well right around mile 7ish me and a group of people came upon what we thought was a repeat aid station.  Actually it wasn't we'd made a wrong turn and gone the wrong way.  So now not only had I been out on the course for over and hour and a half but I was back at mile 5!  Luckily instead of having to continue on the course again at mile 5 the aid station lady called and got us a short.  It still added at least a 1-1.5 miles to our course.  Garmin says I ran 14.25 miles.  Is that an ULTRA half marathon?  

By the end I was pretty delirious.  It was hot.  I'd gone through my water bottles 4 times.  But at least every aid station let me refill!  The last station had Swedish Fish (my favorite!) so that was a nice surprise.  Also one of the stations had pickles my EVEN MORE favorite.  If you haven't ever had a pickle on a hard long sweaty run, please try it out!!!

At the race they had tons of snacks and even jars of Biscoff.  I have no idea what Biscoff is so I gave that to my mom.  They had piles and piles of Power Bar gels to give out too!  I love trail running because there are ALWAYS yummy snacks!!

Official time: 3:08:26.

Would I do it again?  YES!  I mean it would be nice if I could train for the terrain but I liked the change of pace even if I was really really slow.  Also the medal was really sweet AND we got a Tshirt AND a hydration backpack!  How cool is that???  Definitely well run race.  Can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tomato Blast! (My worst idea ever!)

I am a sucker for a good Groupon.  Most people know that about me.  So back in March when I saw the Groupon offer for the Tomato Blast I bought it right away.  I mean who cares if the event was 4 months away?!  It was going to be fun!!

And obviously Shruti had the same exact thought!  Since she bought it too.  

We took a cab over to Soldier Field only to realize that it would have been cheaper and easier just to drive and pay for the parking.  And the Tomato Blast wasn't actually in Soldier Field it was basically in a parking lot outside of McCormick Place!  So that was kind of annoying.  After that long walk we got there just as the tomatoes were about to start blasting.  

And they were just letting everyone in!  It was sort of chaos!  I didn't want them to forget about my free beer.  Luckily we found a guy who looked us up on a list and then gave us our beer tickets.  But then I realized that there was no way this beer ticket would survive.  I mean people were throwing a lot of tomatoes.   But Shruti was confident that if she put them in her pocket they'd survive.....

**Spoiler Alert** They did!  In line at the beer tent, yeah it was really cold and gross to be covered with tomatoes!  

Basically there was a bunch of tomatoes flying EVERYWHERE.  And these were hard ripe tomatoes!!   I totally have a bruise on my arm.  The ground ended up being covered in what looked like marinara.  
And when we were done we thought we would never be able to convince anyone to take us in a cab!  And we were sort of right.  It took us at least an hour to FINALLY flag down a cab.

Would I have liked it better if it'd been hot out?  Probably I mean they had a huge hose to wash everyone off but since it was already freezing I didn't want to be in even wetter clothes!  I had brought my backpack so I was able to change in a porta potty.

The most fun though was when everyone started dancing like crazy.  I am always up for a good dance party.  If no one had danced at the end I would have REALLY hated it.  As it is I doubt I'll EVER partake in a tomato fight again.  I see on Yelp I'm not the only disappointed one.

Weekly Recap W/E 7/27

Week ending 7/27 was a busy busy week and I think I might have burnt myself out.  As a consequence week ending 8/3 is going to be REST REST REST.


Rock N Roll Half Marathon- PR CITY BABY!!! 2:24:30!!!


A.M. Bootcamp  I woke up with stiff legs but being able to sprint in the bootcamp class actually helped my legs (I thought).

P.M.  Swim (got my ass kicked up by super fast Heidi!!)  and TRX strength.  I did a few lunges and my quads were SCREAMING.  At this moment I knew I had pushed myself too far.


A.M. 20 mile bike ride.  Normally I do a Tuesday morning bike/run brick but my legs were so dead I only wanted to ride.

P.M. CARA Pub Run.  Was running late so ran about 5 miles on my own.  This felt great as the weather had actually cooled off!!!


A.M. Bootcamp

P.M. Beginners Group leading so about 2ish miles run/walking


A.M. My first mile repeats at the track followed a swim in the lake.  Unfortunately I must swim the slowest mile ever because I ended up getting a parking ticket :(

P.M. Undie Dash 5K!




12 mile long room with the training group.

Yeah I think I did too much.  And I just felt physically awful the entire week.  So this week I'm resting and catching up on laundry!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Borgess Kalamazoo Marathon Race Recap

March 26th, 2013 will forever be remembered by me as the day I got my MRI test results.  Officially diagnosed with stress fractures in BOTH legs.  Sentenced to the bench for 6 weeks.  Yeah and my marathon was to be in 5 and a half weeks!  So yeah, kind of an upsetting day.

So for 5 weeks I didn't run at all and then the Ravenswood 5K happened and I tried to test out my legs. At that point I was 4 and a half weeks into not running.   And I ran it and I can't say it was pain free or anything.  But it didn't hurt.  (Yeah I know that makes no sense.)  And I also ran 33:38 which actually wasn't that bad!  My last mile was even a 10 minute mile (but it hurt I just wanted to be done).

Right and did I mention that my Mom was already scheduled to fly in to be there for my first marathon. And that she is sort of naive about injuries so she didn't really know it was probably a bad idea for me to go and run the Kalamazoo Marathon.  But I did.


The Borgess Kalamazoo Marathon has this totally cool 50 state program.  Basically if you are the 1st person from your state to register then you get a free registration and a free pair of New Balance shoes!

To be honest the shoes are pretty useless to me since my Physical Therapist says they give me NO support and she basically forbid me to do any physical activity in them.  Still it's pretty sweet of New Balance to hook us up in a cute pair of sneaks!

Oh have I mentioned that I had NO idea that Kalamazoo was in the Eastern Time Zone?!  We left Chicago at 3:30 a.m. in order to get there in time for the 7:20 a.m. race photo.  Well we thought we'd be getting there 6ish until suddenly the clock in my car had jumped an hour ahead!!  My mom literally dropped me off and I ran into this photo just as they were taking it!

The race started at 8 so just before about 500 of us marathon runners lined up at the start.  I lined up at the way way back since I had no idea if I would be able to finish much less actually hold a pace!  In the back were a bunch of Marathon Maniacs and Mittens Challenge runners.   Even though this was my first marathon I felt an instant kinship with these guys.  We would struggle though it together.   Maybe one do I'll be a Maniac too!

Usually one way that I count down the miles is by counting down the water stations.  They had advertised aid stations at least every 2 miles but I really think they came every mile and a half!  There were so many spectators from the town that had set up their own homemade aid stations there was always some sort of support.  My faves were the Girl Scouts with cookies and the Boy Scouts with popsicles!  And there were at least 3 guys with pickle jars and a lady with orange slices!!   There was a homemade neighborhood Baconville and even an Elvis that you could stop and take your picture with!

I don't know the area at all so it's hard for me to describe the course very accurately.  Basically we seemed to go from the course start into town and then basically around the outskirts of the whole town. I'm imagining we crossed into nearby towns as well.  There were a lot of neighborhoods that we ran through and I always enjoy that.  Most of the race I was running behind an older man that had a sign on his back about the many many marathons he'd run in the last year.  I wanna say it was at least 50.  He was running with two local ladies and they were giving him the tour of the town.  He also used a walk/run method so a few times I got ahead of him.  And every time he caught up to me.  He definitely finished faster than me but I'm not sure what his exact time was.

This was the first race I'd ever run wearing an iPod.  Now I am not an iPod user AT ALL.  In fact I basically just grabbed my Shuffle and uploaded random songs (for the first time) the night before.  So I had no control over my playlist.  Thankfully I have a good mix of upbeat Pink songs and downbeat Regina Spektor songs.  I really enjoyed listening to the music but at the same time I haven't even used the Shuffle since.

Garmin says I hit the Half Marathon point at about 2:32.  I remember thinking that I had a chance to finish right around the 5 hour mark.  I like to think that I'm half marathon ready at all times, considering just 2 weeks later I ran the Chi Town Half in 2:27 I'd say I did stay half marathon ready despite not running for 5ish weeks!

After the half way point Garmin says that most of my mile splits 12s and 13s.  I'm quite proud that none of my miles were 14 minute miles!  And I'm proud of the random mile 2 surge I had (it was the Egg McMuffin I swear!!) that got me a 9:59 mile!

Around mile 24 I was really starting to cramp up in my thighs.  For the first time I thought that I might not actually finish the race.  I grabbed 2 water cups at this aid station.  I can't believe I didn't run with a water bottle during this race actually.  This is the moment where I definitely reconsidered whether or not I should have attempted this marathon.

I got pretty delirious from this point on til the end.  You can see it in my eyes in the pic below.

At the last .4 mile or so a 10 year old chubby local girl came up to me and asked my permission to run with me.  I have to be honest if she hadn't shown up at that moment I don't think I could have gone on. She pushed me til the last turn, then she told me I had to do it on my own.

So I did.

1st Marathon DONE.

Would I do this marathon again? YES.  The crowd support and the aid stations were AMAZING.  I can't imagine a better first marathon.  And of course I have to go back again and obliterate that time.  I'm capable of much faster than that!!!!

Chicago Undie Dash 5K Race Recap

Somewhere back in April (and I was probably drunk) Jamie got me to agree to sign up for the Chicago Undie Dash 5K with her.  And then she bailed.  And I still ran it!!

I managed to coerce not one but two of my Marathon Training Group Buddies to head downtown on a Thursday evening and run in their underwear!  Well for Adrienne and I underwear=shorts.  In our world capris=shorts!!

This was my first time wearing just a bra and I kinda liked it!  But when I did get a bit sweaty I had nothing to wipe my sweat on!

I'd say there were about 300 runners total.  I'm just guessing maybe there were more!  I was surprised by the turn out and though that there were some GREAT costumes!  Too bad we were so boring!!

The race started right on time at 6:30.  Gear check was a breeze despite the fact that basically EVERYONE had gear to check since not everyone arrived in their undies ready to run!

We started out really close to the docks and lake but then ended up higher so we actually ran long grass for a bit.  This made it so while it was an out and back course we weren't all trying to fit on the same lil Lakefront Path.  We reached the grass about a lil over a half a mile in and I'd say this was the point where the crowd really thinned out.  This only made us run faster because if we were with a crowd we at least felt a bit covered!!

The path curved so we ran underneath Michigan Ave basically right to the bridge by the Metra Station. This is actually the first time I'd been on this portion of the path!  It felt a lil exciting since it was a new direction that I was not used to!

The water station was located about a quarter of a mile before the turn around which was nice because it meant we hit that station twice.  Hills kill me and somehow the few hills in Chicago seem to kill me every time!  From the water station to the turn around on the bridge it was basically all up hill, but at least every hill if usually comes with a corresponding downhill.

The path back towards the start definitely felt like it was slightly downhill.  Maybe it was psychological because the weather was nicer, but to compare Burgers and Beer 5K the return bath was along Columbus Dr. and that felt way more torturous!

Before we knew it we crossed the finish line together.  The race wasn't chip timed but Garmin says we crossed in 10:17!

Now the post race party was a BIG disappointment for me!  Apparently I signed up so early that I'd read all of LAST year's party details.  These details included a free Mike's Hard Lemonade as well as an after party on a boat!  Now they communicated to us that they would no longer have the party on a boat but NOTHING about no free drink!

In fact this is cut and paste from their website:

Post Race Party Details!

How much do we like to party?  
We have outgrown the boat, that's how much.  

Don't Fret! 


Enjoy a lakeside, "hilltop" party only 200 meters from the finish line. Music and dancing? Of course!

Party goes until 11PM  
Additional food and drink available for purchase.   
Spectators can come too. Just $5 at the door.  

Additional food and drink makes it sound like you got a free drink at least!!  And I hope no one paid $5 at the door!  It was a big open space with a band and some tables and then food and drink for purchase.  

Bottom line I'd only run this race again if I really really wanted to run in my "undies" again.  And while the pink free race shirt is pretty cute....SHOULDN'T THEY BE GIVING US FREE UNDIES???

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Trying to Find Balance

It's really tough when triathlon training to find the time to actually take a rest day.  I mean I know there are specific training schedules out there but I never seem to be able to follow them.  Too many other things get in the way and I miss a swim on a Wednesday and have to shift etc. etc.

And then I have too many friends that are training too. I'm constantly getting IMs or emails about working out!  One friend wants to strength train, another a track workout and a third wants to swim in the lake!  How do I choose? How do keep it all straight?

I'm the worst at saying "No".  Now I'm roped into running the Undie Dash 5K and I'm not even comfortable with undies!!

Usually my lack of clean clothes will dictate a rest day.  Since I'm so busy I have very free time and have to squeeze the hour and a half to do laundry SOMEWHERE.  Plus it's been so hot and sweaty that my clothes STINK!!!

Mondays nights and Tuesday mornings I have Tri Club, Tuesday Nights Pub Runs, Wed Nights Beginners Group Leading, Thursdays Bowling, Fridays Beach Volleyball, Saturdays Marathon Training in the early A.M. and Kickball in the afternoon and finally Sundays is Softball.  I haven't even mentioned that I actually work Mon-Fri from 9-6!  And instead of staying super busy with a lot of fun, I usually end up missing things!  Either from other commitments or being just plain tired.  So really I'm just half assing about half of my commitments.

It's not good.  And I need a break.  How do you find balance??

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Weekly Recap w/e 7/20

It a very hot and kind of miserable sort of week!  :(


Volunteered at Fleet Feet's Hydration Station.  The weather didn't feel too bad from where I was standing and since I was at the Randolph St Station didn't get to see as many runners as the other two stations.  I was impressed with the amount of runners in the solid double digits!!!




Burgers and Beer 5K!  It was hot hot hot!!  29:22, 9:27 pace.  I really wanted a PR on this one but it was high 80s so what can I do?!  


A.M.  CAC Tri Club bike/run brick.  50 minutes of bike followed by 20 minutes of run.  Really wanted a negative split on the run since that's what I've been working on.  Got 10:12 for first mile and 9:53 for the 2nd mile!!

P.M. CARA's Summer Nights Pub Run.  We met at Mad River and then I went out for 3 hot miles.  Somehow I don't think it felt hotter than the previous week?!   3 miles, average pace was 10:45.  Garmin says moving pace was 10:16 I don't always go by Garmin for moving pace but considering we ran through the streets and had to stop at lights I'll take the moving pace! ;)


A.M. Open Water Swim at Ohio St Beach.  This was a struggle only did .5 mile with a lot of stopping.  

P.M. Was meeting CAC Tri Club at Kirkwood Bar and Grill so randomly ran the mile there and back. So a bonus 2 miles at 10ish pace!


A.M. Met my Rock N Roll training ladies at the Lakeshore Park for a track workout.  We did a mile warm-up and then we did 2 x 800 and 1 x 1600.  The 800s were at 5K pace and the 1600 at Half Marathon pace.     I did the 800s in 4:28 and 4:24.  I did the 1600 in 9:31.   These were tough for me physically but I'm happy with the pace!  

Then I headed over to Oak St Beach AND MADE IT OUT TO THE .5 MILE MARKER!!  Of course I had to make stops but that was my first attempt and it was successful!!!

P.M. Esprit de She 10K 5K  The 10K was cancelled and all runners did the 5K.  This one was extremely hot and I finished in 30:39.  I got extremely hot and stopped and walked in that last mile!


Rest Day!!!


7 miles the temps were cooler but they didn't feel that way!!!

Total Miles: 23.2 
Bike: Once (gotta work on this!!)
Swim: Twice (gotta work on this too!!!)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Finally picked a goal Triathlon!!!

I've known since the beginning of the summer that I wanted to do Tri Rock Lake Geneva so on July 5th I decided to head up there with Jamie to check out the course and make a game plan.  We had decided in advance to bike/run first and end with swim.

The race starts and ends in an area called Williams Bay, so we drove through Lake Geneva and then on a road with a lot of construction to get there.  All of the Lake Geneva area is really really pretty which is one of the major reason why I wanted to do the race!

We found a parking spot and unloaded our bikes.  I had brought my bike pump so we could be sure to double check our tires.  Well it was at this point that Jamie somehow managed to DEFLATE her tire instead of pumping them up!  We quickly figured it out but it felt like a bad omen for the rest of the ride.

Once the tires were situated we headed out to find a spot to ride.  We turned onto a major street (because I can only turn right and am too afraid to turn right!) and this major street basically ended up being one really really long uphill.  And it was at this point that I realized I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO RIDE HILLS!!!

So Jamie and I pushed ourselves along as much as possible at one point my computer registered 4 mph!  This was worse than some of the windiest days I'd rode on the Lakefront Path!  I finally got to a parking lot so I could pull over!  Jamie was behind me and she was complaining of stabbing pains in her quads.  Thank goodness the parking lot was for a hospital!!!  Kidding we didn't go in.

We weren't sure were to go next and we became mentally defeated that it took us about 10 minutes to go up this mile hill.  Without knowing where else to go we decided to turn back in search of neighborhood roads rather than this major highway.  Now on the way up the hill we were traveling on high way that had two lanes on the right side but on the way back it was reduced down to one!  So now we basically had to travel in the same lane as the cars.  I know this really isn't a big deal for a lot of people but to me it was SCARY!!!  Plus now we were going quite fast since we were now traveling downhill.  The only lil mental boost I got was when we passed two people walking their bikes up the same hill we'd already made it up!

Back down the hill and now we turned into a random neighborhood.  We thought it'd be a little quieter but it really wasn't.  There were tons of dangerous intersection signs and on deserted roads we'd suddenly see a MAC truck speed across an intersection we hadn't noticed before.  I walked down a lot of these hills.

At one point I nearly fell over on my bike because I couldn't pedal enough for the bike to stay steady!

All in all we did 10 miles in I think in an hour and twenty minutes!  Terrible!  Feeling defeated we decided to swim next.  We were just too hot to think about running at this point.  We walked over to the obvious beach with swimming area and we realized not only was it overrun with kids and family but it didn't really provide much of an area to actually swim!  We tried 3 other spots and found the same thing.

The third spot is when I realized we'd gotten to Fontana which is where Zooma Great Lakes Half Marathon had taken place back in October 2012.  At the time I PRed in the race despite not being used to the hills.  I remembered it ended with an out and back on a hill, so guess what I wanted to do.  Yup!  We run 1.5 miles up the hill and back down again.  This hill is gradually rolling but it gradually rolls upwards, so even when you turn around come back you are still battling going up hill!  I managed an 11 min average pace in the 84 degree heat on tired legs.  The steepest uphill was 12:13 but the same stretch downhill was 10:14.  I just love running downhill!!!

I left Lake Geneva thinking there was no way in heck that I was going to sign up for Tri Rock.  I mean I really really wanna end the season with an Olympic Triathlon but I want to end one without one that I'd get disqualified on the bike course!

And yet I signed up.  I have 8 weeks to figure out how to bike on hills!

My plan:

1) Try to fit in spin class at least once a week.  And when I do fit it in to ADD RESISTANCE.  I noticed a major problem is I'm not really comfortable standing and riding on my bike.

2) Actually learn what the whole gear thing on the bike means....

3) Find new trails and roads that AREN'T the Lakefront Path to ride.  I'm thinking North Branch Trail and/or Barrington.  Anyone else with any ideas???

4) Swim in open water at least twice a week.  I really need to work on endurance first then add in the speed.

Anyone else do Tri Rock Lake Geneva before?  If so what's your advice for this poor city girl???

Burgers and Beer 5K Race Recap

The race is called Burgers and Beer 5K, so I think you can understand why I signed up??

Since the course and Universal Sole are just a short walk from my work I went ahead and picked up my packet in advance.  That was super easy since the store was deserted at lunch time on a Friday.  I noticed on race day that there was a rather long line for what I assume was race day packet pickup.

The race started on the Lakefront Path but Gear Check/Burgers/etc were all within Lakeshore East Park.  So there was a bit of a walk to the start.   Instead of being set up on an inner path it was set up on the outermost path RIGHT by the water.  They had some fencing set up but not enough at the start and then it ended maybe a 1/4 mile past the start.  So while there was still a crowd and jockeying for position there was NO fence.  I just stayed behind some slower girls because I did not want to get ANYWHERE near the edge.

Garmin Connect says temperature was 84 and felt like 90!!  I hate running in hot temperatures because at some point I always end up walking!  My body just overheats too quickly.  I need to work on hydrating myself during the day and not just while running.

So the course ran down the lakefront path right next to the lake and then turned inwards and had a really wide turnaround and then went to the path that runs along Columbus Dr. rather than the lake.  So it was a little bit more exciting than a true out and back.

I checked my Garmin and it was only at 2.8 miles but when I turned a quick corner I realized I could see the finish!   I took off sprinting and crossed the finish line at 29:22.  My Garmin however found the course to be short only measuring 3.01 miles!

My current 5K PR is 29:08 so even though 29:22 is fast for me and a 9:29 pace I was still disappointed!  I've been doing track workouts and was really hoping for some improvement!

I always find 5Ks to be tough because you are basically running at full speed the entire time.  There really is no time to slow and cruise like you can do with a half marathon or even a 10K!  I think I've run out too fast on every 5K I've ever run except for the Ravenswood 5K which I technically was not supposed to run because I hadn't been cleared by my doctor yet for my stress fractures.

The only had water at the finish probably because all the post race food was gathered in a separate area.  Once we cleared the finish line then we had to walk back over near Gear Check to enter the Burger/Beer Garden.  Everyone with bibs got wristbanded so we had to wait in a long line to get in.  Inside we then had to wait in the beer line, burger line and ketchup line.  So it took about 20ish minutes to get our food.  Besides burgers they had Sun Chips.  I didn't see any of the usual bananas/bagels etc.  They did also have veggie patties and cheese.

Our bibs had raffle tickets on it but the age group winners and announcements took so long that I gave up on waiting around for the raffle.  They should have had the raffle not require the winner being present!  I mean they have our bib numbers they know who we are!  Or have the raffle before the winners?  I never win an age group so I guess I don't really wait around for these ceremonies normally and not exactly sure how they are normally handled.

The race shirts are gender specific but the women's sizes seemed to run small and were made out of thin light yellow cotton.   I doubt I will wear this shirt ever.  I wish races would realize that they are missing out on a lot of free advertising with a crappy shirt!!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Allstate 13.1 Chicago Race Recap

I think the Allstate 13.1 was the very first race I registered for when I moved to Chicago last October.  I registered for that one and the Chicago Half to take on the Windy City Challenge.  Well between marathon training injury and recovery, triathlon training and a flurry of other races I sort of forgot about this race!  In fact the next day after this race I had the Esprit De She Triathlon.  Since the triathlon was my goal race I gave very little thought to the Allstate 13.1!

When I got the pre-race email with packet pickup and shuttle information I realized I had a half marathon to run and I thought why not?

Packet pickup was simple and speedy at Fleet Feet Sports in Old Town.  They explained there that the race was far South with little parking so we'd have to take a shuttle to the start.  I signed up to take the shuttle at Millennium Park.

Ugh but the shuttle was taking off at 5:30 a.m. so it meant ANOTHER early Saturday morning!  I set my alarm for 4 a.m.  And easily got to the shuttle on time but since the race wasn't due to start til 7 a.m. it just threw off my fueling/bathroom schedule.  Basically we got there shortly after six, went to the porta potty line, went to gear check, back in the porta potty line and then on to the corrals.

Lucky for me my corral had the 2:20 pacer.  I figured I'd stick with her for a few miles and then just take it easy.  I was expecting a finish around 2:25 but of course I forgot my Garmin (again).

I only stayed with the 2:20 pacer for the first mile after that I just felt like I had to run faster.  I figured I'd be seeing her again soon though!

The course starts at the South Shore Cultural Center.  I'd never actually been this far south in Chicago so I was excited about that!  We ran out from our corrals (that moved super quick btw) and next thing I knew we were in Jackson Park!  These first few mile were quite lovely and definitely my favorite.

We hit the familiar Lakefront Path right before mile 4.  It was at this point that I passed Jamie and she had told me to slow down!  But I'd just taken my first GU of the race and I was feeling GREAT!  Gotta love the GU mile!!  Lately in races I've been taking GU ever 3rd mile and that's the same that I did in this one.

Now mile 6-8 was quite confusing as I wasn't sure if I hit mile 6 before or after the turnaround.  I think mile 7 was turned the wrong way?  Or maybe I was just always turning around trying to get a glimpse of the time because I was Garminless!  Looking at the course map it appears we hit mile 7 AFTER the turn around.   So according to the results my split time was 1:10:22 that's a 10:45 pace if it was at the true half way point.

The remainder of the course up until mile 12 was exactly what you would expect from a Lakefront race.  You basically hit the same exact water stations that you hit coming in.  The sun was out I think the breeze was minimal.  Thankfully that day was cooler than most.  I saw a bunch of friends after the turn around and I also saw that the 2:20 pacer was not that far behind me!  I figured she would overtake me by mile 8!

By mile 12 and the homestretch I still hadn't seen the pacer past me so I was starting to think I could actually PR!  But this is where the race got really annoying!  You could tell her you were almost there because of the South Shore Cultural Center and we were back at where we started but NO the race actually ended BEHIND the building.  So we ran at least a half a mile in a finishing chute and had no idea when/where it ended!  At this point I was just pushing along because I thought it was going to run at any moment!

At the finish line I saw my friend Heather and she said that I came in after the 2:10 pacer but before the 2:20 pacer.  I figured that meant a PR for sure!  And guess what it was!!!!!   2:15:51 finish time!  10:23 pace over all.  2nd half (assuming split time was in the middle) was a 10:00 pace!  Not only did I negative split but I really really negative split!  I really really wish I had my Garmin.  I need to figure out how I managed that!!!

Post race party had pizza and beer.  I grabbed a slice, gulped my beer and then it was back onto the shuttle.  After all I still had my first triathlon the next day and had to rush to Naperville to get my packet!!

Would I do this race again?  Maybe if the price was nice and I didn't have any other conflicts.  But this race landed on the same day as the Ragnar Relay and I think if I get the chance I'd rather do that one next year.

Sunburst Half Marathon Race Recap

For some odd reason Jamie and I decided it was a bright idea to leave Chicago at 3 a.m. to drive to the Eastern Time Zone i.e. South Bend, IN to run the Sunburst Half Marathon.  I think I got like 2 hours of sleep total.  BUT I am glad I did!

Race day packet pickup was super easy, but parking was NOT.  Well it would have been easy if we knew where to park.  Instead we followed the long line of cars into a lot right near the start that was charging $5 per car!  Everything on the Sunburst website said parking was free at various lots.  That was really annoying but at least the building attached to the lot had a nice indoor bathroom that we used.  (Hey we'd been up since 3 a.m. and driving!) 

Once we got our bibs on and put our Tshirts back in the car we were ready to go!  The sun wasn't out yet but I was pretty confident this was going to be a hot race.  Regardless I really wanted to PR.  (But of course I forgot my Garmin at home!)  Jamie on the otherhand just wanted to finish so she told me I wasn't allowed to run with her.  Once the gun went off I went running ahead!  I was going at a nice fast pace until I hit an uphill at mile 2.  Yeah there aren't really ANY hills in Chicago so I wasn't prepared for that!

For some reason pretty much any time I attempt to run up a hill I start to get queasy and feel like I am going to barf.  This hill was no exception!   Since I don't have my Garmin I don't know for sure but I definitely slowed down at this point and probably mile 3 as well.  At this point the course goes along a road that run sides a river but we were going slightly uphill.  I guess it was a lil after mile 4 that I saw the first of the half marathon leaders running back down but closer to the river along a path.

By the time we got near the halfway point it had gotten HOT.  Volunteers were handing out sponges and telling us that the race was yellow flagged.   Not every mile marker had splits so I really had no idea how my pace was at all.   The split timing mat from the official results say I crossed at 1:04:45.  That's a 9:53 pace!   I think that the timing mat wasn't right at the halfway mark though I feel like I remember seeing it at the 6 mile marker.

Right at the top of that gentle downhill along the river this older lady told me that I was tough to keep pace with!  I think that's a pretty good compliment for this slow turtle!  I took off and I never did see that lady again.  I wish I knew where she finished!

Once we turned from the downhill and started running through the neighborhoods I definitely slowed down.  We were out in the middle of the heat and we kept winding through this neighborhood in what I think was a clover shape.  There as a big uphill that we had to take in order to get out of the neighborhood and back near downtown South Bend and the Notre Dame Stadium.  I think this whole section  I got delirious.

But in downtown South Bend I picked up my pace again and a bystander even told me good pace!  Usually at this point in a half marathon I think I just look dead!

Just as I neared Notre Dame stadium I realized I was getting there at the same time as the 5K walkers!  So now I am sprinting trying to get to the finish and there is a TON of walkers also trying to get in!  Thankfully they stayed to the left and out of my way! 
The race ends in the middle of Notre Dame stadium and that was definitely really cool!  But sadly I didn't PR.

10:53 PACE. 

I really wish I had my Garmin because I really felt like I was pushing the entire time.   This was my 3rd best half marathon time and really a disappointment after running the Soldier Field 10 miler at a 10:18 pace.  But I have to say the heat and a few of the hills got the best of me.

After the race they had a TON of snacks including a big bowl of fruit and a popsicle.  And they provided a shuttle to take us all back to our cars at the start.

I thought this race was well organized and a lot of fun and I'd definitely consider running it again even with the early wakeup!