Category: Racing

The Race That’s Good For Life Discount Code

With training for the I-Challenge (5k + marathon) in late April, I haven’t really thought much about what other races I may want to run this spring. Plus, my free time is limited (although my Saturdays are temporarily free again) and I’ve really hard to prioritize which races I will run. If I’m going to spend my money to register, wake up early, and shift around my marathon training, the race better be worth it.

The Race That’s Good for Life 5k is one of the races that I will be trying to work into my schedule. It’s affordable, incredibly well run (as it should be after being named the best race in Chicagoland by CARA for two years in a row), and I had a blast running it last year with friends.

One thing that is especially unique about this race is the delayed men and women’s 5k start times. I actually hardly noticed it during the race last year but the course which winds through residential Oak Park was never overly crowded. All women also received a rose at the finish line. It is also flat and fast and while I didn’t race it last year and I most likely won’t this year, I can imagine it would be an ideal PR course.

Post-race munchies are also pretty awesome. Last year they had Jimmy John’s, Caribou coffee, popcorn, and then numerous stands with samples of Powerbars and gluten-free/vegan treats. I was pretty impressed and we actually hung around for quite a while sampling items and relaxing. It was quite the fun morning.

The Race That’s Good For Life is on Sunday, April 6 and registration is currently $35. However, if you register before March 31 and use the registration code CHICAGOSBEST2014 you can get $5 off your registration. This discount can also be combined with a CARA discount (again, before March 31st) for a total of $8 off registration which makes this race one of the most affordable 5ks in Chicagoland. Considering how well organized this race is, I’d say it’s totally worth it.




F^3 Lake Half Marathon Race Recap

I signed up for the F^3 Half shortly after the Chicago Marathon. I wasn’t sure what my spring race schedule was going to look like and I wanted to have a race on my calendar to look forward to. I picked the F^3 Half because it really is the ONLY half in January (and maybe February) in Chicago and I had such a blast spectating last year. It didn’t even cross my mind that the weather could be bad on race day. Fast forward to the awful January we’ve been having. Freezing cold temps, gusting wind, and lots of snow. I kept my fingers crossed it would be tolerable (this has been redefined to above 0 degrees) on race morning and it was… barely.

The F^3 Half starts at 10:00 AM which is a bit of a challenge for me because I’m an early riser and I like to get up, throw back some food, and run. I scheduled my morning so that I slept in a little, had time to make almond butter and banana toast, and to plan what I was going to wear. Thankfully, Ian offered to drive me so I didn’t need to worry about freezing on public transportation and packing stuff for gear check. We also didn’t have to leave super early – definitely a plus. Even still, deciding what to wear was a challenge. The forecast at the start was for 15 degrees with 20-25 mph winds with a feels like temperature of 0. Yikes. I opted to layer up with my thickest tights (still not warm enough), a tank top, a sweat-wicking top, my warmest jacket, two pairs of gloves, an ear band, and a hat and risk overheating. I also wore my neck gaiter and put Vaseline on the exposed portions of my face. I felt like a greasy marshmallow.

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One of the worst parts of the morning was definitely standing around waiting for the race to start. The wind had picked up and was whipping snow everywhere. The race provided hot chocolate so I had a small cup to warm me up, used a porta potty, and then lined up at the start. One of my only complaints about this race was the start situation. The start line was small and didn’t have any pace signs and runners were backed up pretty far. I started maybe a third of the way back and had no idea what pace anyone around me was planning to run. I ended up passing people by running through the deep snow for the first mile as a result.

An announcement was made that the course was changed at the last minute due to drifting snow and then we were off. The first mile and a half was really challenging. We headed straight into the wind and I was doing a ton of weaving around people. The ground was icy and slick and I could barely feel my fingers or toes. I ended up stopping briefly after the first mile marker to touch my toes and make sure they were okay because they felt so weird in my shoes. I even debating dropping out. [Miles 1 & 2: 7:28, 7:31 min/mile]

Going into this race, I had one goal, run at least 7 miles at marathon pace or faster. I was barely looking at my Garmin (it was under a ton of layers) so I decided to run the first 7 miles fast and then see how I felt for the remainder of the race. Miles 1.5 – 6.5ish were actually pretty tolerable. We turned south and had the wind at our backs and I actually got warm! I took my outer pair of gloves off and opened the armpit vents on my jacket. I debated taking off my hat but it seemed like way too much work and I had nowhere to put it. The ground was not very icy but we were running on packed snow and in some cases mud so I paid close attention to my footing. I took an espresso GU at mile 5ish. I knew I was running faster than marathon pace but I was surprised by how easy it felt. I wasn’t focused at all on my breathing or whether or not I could finish the race, I was battling the elements (overheating at this point) and that’s all I could think about. [Miles 3-7: 7:21, 7:18, 7:25, 7:24, 7:29 min/mile]

We hit the turnaround at mile 6.5 and headed north back into the wind. It was definitely brutal. The path wasn’t nearly as clear heading north as it had been running south and the wind was really cold. A man ran up next to me and commented that the race started at mile 7. He was right. My legs felt fine but at this point, I was mentally ready to give up. I consciously slowed my pace and figured I’d coast in to the finish. I’d put in my 7 faster miles already so I didn’t really care. I ran two slower miles until I caught up to the man I’d seen (and talked to earlier). He was a chatter and while I’m normally not during races, I was so ready to be done that I appreciated the distraction. Without realizing it, my pace picked up as we talked about running in Chicago and why we’d decided to run this race. Eventually, I felt myself start to lose steam and he ran ahead. [Miles 8-11: 8:01, 7:51, 7:36, 7:29 min/mile]

By this point, I was cold. I never run in sunglasses so I didn’t wear a pair during the race and my eyeballs were freezing. My legs felt numb in weird places and I put my second pair of gloves back on. I also started to feel myself bonk. I slowed up a bit, reminding myself that I just needed to finish when I saw an aid station with Clif gels. I grabbed a cup of mostly frozen Gatorade and a gel, drank some Gatorade and had about 1/4 of the gel and within a few minutes, I felt a lot better. I’m not sure if they actually helped or if it was a placebo effect but I felt awesome. We hit the northern part of the course, turned around and headed back south for the last mile, and I started to push the pace. The ground was icy again so I was careful but I was also so ready to be done and warm. During this point, I caught up to my friend and eventually passed him in the last stretch before I crossed the finish line.  [Miles 12 & 13: 7:49, 6:58]

Official Finish Time – 1:36:52 (7:24 min/mile) for what I think is 10th female overall (Active.com is being WEIRD with these results). Also, in full disclosure, my Garmin only logged 12.9 miles. Others had a full course though so I’m not sure if my Garmin screwed up or if the course was actually short.

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So, if this course was actually 13.1 miles long, this would be a PR for me and given that I ran in nasty conditions, I’ve decided to count it as a PR. I’m really proud of this race. I wanted to quit so many times but I didn’t and I ran a good time (for me). I also wasn’t too sore on Sunday and was able to log another double digit run. This means that my training is going well and I’m improving.

Overall, I’m glad I did this race… now that it’s over. It was pretty miserable while I was running but I definitely feel like a bad ass now. F^3 did a great job considering the conditions – the path was in decent condition and there were volunteers and aid stations throughout the course. I was also so surprised to see spectators out there. People in Chicago are crazy.

What are the worst conditions you’ve raced in?




2013 Racing Summary

I’m back??? Honestly, I’m not sure. I did this same summary last year after Kim posted a template and considering that I blogged for the majority of 2013, I figured I’d do it again to properly sum up my racing over the past year.

Races participated in: 9
Races “raced”: 4
DNFs: 0
DNSs: 1 – the Run for Boston 5k, Ian’s car broke down on our way there.

Distances:
5K: 3
8K: 1
HM: 2
M: 3
New to me distances: 8K!

Location:
States raced in: Florida, Massachusetts, and Illinois
Road: 8
Technical Trail: 1

When:
Months run in: 12, although my mileage dropped by more than 100 miles when I was injured in May.
Hottest race: Without a doubt the Strike Out ALS 5k. It’s an evening race and I believe it was close to 90 degrees at the start.
Coldest race: Rudolph Ramble 8k. It was maybe 15 degrees on race morning?
Windiest race: No idea, I don’t remember it being particularly windy during any races this year.
Wettest race: Punk the Monk 5k just because we ran through so much snow!

Bling:
Participation medals received: 6 medals + 1 flower from the Race That’s Good for Your Life 5k.
AG medals received: 0!
PRs: 3, 8K (hehe my first), the half, and the full.
Placed in AG: After calculating it all out, I was 4th in the Goofy Challenge and I just missed 3rd by a few seconds.

Community:
Races run alone: 6
Races run with others: 3
Who: Erin, Kelsey, Emily, and Katie.
Acted as pacer: 0

Misc:
Races run without music: 3, when I ran with others.
Races run without Garmin: 0
Races run in costume: 0

Favorites:
Medal:
My Boston medal.
Bib: I’m not sure I ever blogged about this but one of my mom’s coworker’s sons made this bib for me in art class. I’ve never met the son or the coworker but I was so touched that he thought of me after everything that happened.

bostonbib
Picture: Lots of Boston in this section, but I think this was my favorite picture of the year.

And while we’re on the subject of 2013 racing, let’s address my 2013 running goals.

1. PR in the marathon. Done! It took me three marathons to do this, but I finally PR-ed during the Chicago Marathon.

2. Foam roll at least 1x, if not 2x, a day. I was super good about this during the winter but it totally fell off my radar after I hurt my hip. I was really good about doing PT stuff too… until after the Chicago Marathon. I need to get back in the habit for 2014.

3. Increase my mileage (baseline of 55 miles/week) while also running more slow miles. I think I managed this. I was training for a lot of 2013 and I managed to run more than 55 miles/week most weeks. I also nailed the running more slow miles thing. I got super comfortable running slow and racing quickly. I think it helped me stay injury free all summer and fall.

4. Get back to triathlons and compete in a longer distance tri (olympic or half-Ironman). Nope and nope. This is on my list again for 2014 though.

5. Run more races (> 10) than I did in 2012. I missed this goal by 1 and am kinda bummed about it. Traditionally, I haven’t been a big racer though. So I always expect my number of races to be lower than most.

As for 2014, I have a few goals in mind. Stay tuned and if I decide to continue blogging, I’ll share them soon.




Wednesday Workouts {10-16-2013}

Wednesday – OFF

Thursday – Easy effort 6 miles (average pace – 8:35 min/mile).

thursday

Friday – Easy effort 6.1 miles (average pace – 8:33 min/mile) + marathon expo

friday

Saturday3 mile shakeout run OFF

saturday

SundayChicago Marathon (26.55 miles @ 7:38 min/mile)

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MondayOFF Standing on my feet for 5 hours at the Hanson concert

monday

Tuesday – OFF

Total – 38.65 miles

Thoughts

  • The easy effort 6 milers feel like forever ago and I don’t have much to report. I missed the heavier mileage but my body appreciated the shorter runs AND I got to sleep in a little bit. It was nice.
  • I set my alarm really early to get in a short 3 miler before lab on Saturday and then I slept through my alarm. Thankfully, I woke up in time to get to lab (I have to leave my apartment at 6:45 AM) but I decided that running 3 miles after standing up for 4 hours wasn’t the best idea the day before a marathon so I scrapped the idea of a later run. I also hoped the sleeping-through-my-alarm-thing wasn’t foreshadowing Sunday morning – I never sleep through my alarm.
  • I was sooo lazy Saturday afternoon. I “watched” a video for one of my classes in bed and ended up taking a cat nap (literally, with Sonic). Then I moved to the couch and watched Michigan lose the most boring and longest football game everrrr. I rounded out my night with Thai food and more sitting on the couch. Gotta rest those legs!
  • The Chicago Marathon happened and I PR-ed! Yay. The only good picture I’ve seen of me thus far is one from before the race. Turns out there were A LOT of photographers around miles 23 and 24 when I felt like death. Wonderful. Also, the green tank top is not flattering once it’s soaked with water. Someone remind me of this next time I plan to wear it for a long race.
  • I worked from home Monday so I could relax a little bit and deal with marathon brain-fog. However, Kelsey, Katie, and I had purchased tickets to Hanson back in ohh… April and I wasn’t going to skip out on my second Hanson concert due to tired post-marathon legs (note: my first Hanson concert was probably in 1997 or 1998). The concert was amazing (and yes this is the MmmBop band) but standing on my feet for a loooong time was not pleasant. My back hurt and my ankles and feet were so swollen by the time I got home. Sigh. It was still 100% worth it.
  • I actually felt more sore on Tuesday than Monday (I blame Hanson) so doing anything physical didn’t even remotely cross my mind. I actually have no plan on how I’m going to return to the world of running and physical activity. I should probably get on that….



2013 Chicago Marathon Race Recap

On Friday, I took a half day from work and met Katie to go to the marathon expo. We ended up taking a shuttle from Nike Town (near my office and the closest one to Katie) and I was incredibly impressed with how quick and efficient the entire process was. The Chicago Marathon expo is huge so it never feels as crowded as it really is and I was able to get my bib quickly and enjoy a photo opp.

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We spent a long time walking around and checking out all of the booths. We ran into Bethany (who ran Chicago as her first marathon!!) and checked out all of the samples. I also spent like 30 minutes waiting in line to try on some of the Chicago Marathon gear. They did a fabulous job this year and I seriously wanted one of everything- so much neon.

Another new (or new-to-me) thing at the expo this year was this wall that had magnets on it in the shape of the Chicago skyline. Runners were told to remove a magnet and then write their name in it’s place. I thought it was really cool, especially considering the huge wall with all of the runners’ names that is usually at the expo was MIA this year.

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Katie and I rounded out the expo with more samples and a shot block getting stuck to the bottom of my shoe (only at running expos….) before we left and I headed home to start resting.

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All of my swag. The race shirt is in the middle and then I also bought a new pair of Nike shorts (I’m always in need of shorts for whatever reason), a neon yellow tank top, a long sleeved top, and then a “new” pair of Wave Inspires. Apparently, Road Runner Sports sells the shoes that are returned within the 90 day window for $50 at various expos. I happened to find a pair that look like they’ve been worn once  in my size. Sold. My current shoes are being retired post-marathon anyway so I’m in need of new ones.

I have lab on Saturday mornings and I knew I’d be on my feet from at least 9-12 so I did my best to sit on my butt Friday evening and then again after lab on Saturday. I had my favorite pre-race dinner, pad thai, and then watched Spirit of the Marathon to get myself excited. I was incredibly nervous about sleeping through my alarm on Sunday (happened on Saturday and I missed my shake out run) so I did the next best thing and set three alarms and also asked my mom to call me when she got up.

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Despite a few nightmares about missing the race due to oversleeping, I managed to wake up to my first alarm on Sunday. An almond butter and banana sandwich later, I was on the “l” on my way to Grant Park. Security was greatly increased at the marathon and all runners were told to arrive early and expect delays getting into the start area. Our bags were searched but it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. I ended up sitting near gear check and relaxing and then eventually using the porta potties three times. You can never be too careful.

Before I knew it, it was time to get into my corral. I found a place between the 3:20 and the 3:25 pacer and cheered for the wheelchair divisions that started before the runners. I was still in shock that I was running a marathon.

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One of the coolest and most touching things that I’ve ever witnessed pre-race was during the National Anthem. The speakers were cutting in and out and breaking up the singer’s voice and then all of a sudden, runners started singing along with her. It gave me chills and made me even more excited to run the Chicago Marathon. After some quick announcements, we were sent on our way!

I’d like to tell you that the race started great for me but it didn’t. My Garmin quickly lost signal and started showing me a 6:XX minute pace that I knew I couldn’t hold for 26 miles. However, the 3:20 pacer continued to surge ahead of me and I started questioning the accuracy of my Garmin (I occasionally lose signal in the city). The pace we were holding felt fast too. I didn’t feel tired but I started to question whether my goal pace was on target for me. At mile 2ish my Garmin also told me that the database was full and I needed to delete activities in order to store more data. Wonderful. I ended up figuring out how to delete old activities (as opposed to new ones or you know, the current one) while running and had no other Garmin-related problems that day.

Eventually, my Garmin calmed down (mile 7ish?), I saw Maggie and then Lauren, and found a groove that felt good to me. I stopped worrying about the 3:20 group (I had overheard them arguing because the pacer did in fact go out a few seconds too fast) and settled in to a comfortable pace. My GUs were going down well (I took one before the race and planned to take one every 7 miles) and I was enjoying running through the city. The course felt a lot less crowded than it did two years ago (seems like they worked out the wave system) and it was so much better and less claustrophobic. I couldn’t believe how quickly the miles seemed to be ticking by. I hit the halfway point in 1:39:26 averaging a 7:38 min/mile. Right on target.

Miles 14-18 were all about getting to mile 18. I wasn’t sure what my body was going to do after mile 16 (the longest distance run of the Hanson plan) and I was nervous to find out but I also knew that Ian, Kelsey, Katie, and Erin would all be at mile 18 and I couldn’t wait to see them. I tried to hold back but I definitely picked up my pace during this time hitting a 7:18 min/mile at mile 14 and then a 7:30 at mile 18. I saw Ian before the water station and ran over to give him a kiss and then saw Kelsey and Katie handing out water. I was so excited to see them that I think I spilled water all over the place. Oh well! I actually felt pretty good at this point in general. I didn’t hit the wall at 18 like I expected and my legs seemed to be holding up well. I also started pouring water over my head at mile 18. I wasn’t hot yet but I remembered getting really hot in the last few miles where there isn’t a lot of shade. I think this helped me a lot.

I knew that I had started to speed up during miles 14-18 so miles 19-22 were all about slowing back down to race pace. When I ran Chicago two years ago, I bonked hard at mile 18 and don’t remember much of the course afterwards so I did my best to enjoy running through Pilsen (we ran right by where Ian used to live when I was still in Michigan) and then Chinatown.  I kept waiting to hit the wall and was surprised by how great I was feeling, I haven’t felt that strong in a marathon all year. Right before mile 21 my stomach started to cramp so I took the salted caramel GU I’d been saving for the end (to prevent cramping in my legs but whatever), it temporarily helped and I felt good through mile 22.

Then, all of a sudden, I started to feel nauseous. Originally I thought it was the GUs, my body wasn’t used to taking in so much fuel but other people told me they also felt weird at the end so its also possible it was the sun on my back. I stopped to walk for a bit to see if it would help and I started to feel worse so I headed to a porta potty to try to throw up. I couldn’t. I tried to run but it made me feel worse so I decided to walk a couple tenths of a mile and I tried to take a Powerade gel I picked up on the course. It didn’t sit well at all though so I ended up tossing it aside after taking 1/4 of it. At the next water stop, I grabbed two cups of water and took small sips while walking. This seemed to help a lot and I was able to start running again. Miles 23 and 24 were both drastically slower than the others but at least they got rid of the nausea.

While I was able to run the entirety of the last two miles, I had completely lost my rhythm. My legs were tired but I didn’t feel awful (running on tired legs during training really helped me the last two miles) however I was ready to be done. I kept telling myself to treat the last few miles like an easy run in training- just keep moving and it will all be over soon. During the last mile, I reminded myself that this mile was the last mile I was going to run for 1-2 weeks and I better enjoy it… so I did. I smiled and slapped people’s hands and appreciated the fact that even though I’d had stomach issues, I was going to finish a strong marathon. Once we took the turn off of Michigan Ave and up the hill, I realized I had a little energy left in me and I picked up the pace. I finished the last 0.51 miles (I picked up extra distance on the course) at a 6:50 min/mile.

Official Time: 3:22:56 – a PR!

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The good:

I ran a fairly strong race (except for miles 23 and 24). I fueled well (meaning I didn’t under fuel), drank water to thirst, and didn’t actually throw up. I PR-ed and would have come close to a 3:20 (if not under) had I not felt nauseous and hung out in a porta potty.  This means that a 3:20 is totally possible for me. I also BQ-ed and that always feels good. I finished the race running and was able to sprint the last half mile.I also enjoyed myself and LOVED running through my city.

The bad:

I didn’t break 3:20. I felt nauseous possibly from not practicing fueling as much as I should (it’s hard when your longest runs are 16 milers). I added a lot of extra distance to the course- when my Garmin showed 26.2 miles, I had been running for 3:20:4X – my goal. Ugh. Annoying. I need to be better about running tangents (although for me this takes away some of the fun).

So overall I’m really happy. A PR is a PR! I also have a lot to think about. I have NO races on my calendar whatsoever right now. I’ve promised myself a break from marathoning but a 3:20 feels in my reach possibly with a few minor tweaks to my training. Hmm… we’ll see what I decide once the post-PR bliss wears off.

I’m going to cut the post here because it’s already so long! I do owe you a post about my thoughts on the Hansons Marathon Method though!