Tag: 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.

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

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

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!

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.

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

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

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.

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).


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


Saturday3 mile shakeout run OFF


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


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


Tuesday – OFF

Total – 38.65 miles


  • 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 Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday morning, I woke up at the 4 am hour to start race prep and head over to the Chicago Half Marathon. The race starts and finishes in Jackson Park, just south of the Museum of Science and Industry, which is a little tricky to get to from my apartment and involved both a CTA bus and a shuttle bus to the race (parking was available but it was limited and expensive and I don’t have a car). My friend Maria was in town and staying with me and neither one of us wanted to mess around with the bus system so we made sure to plan enough time to make it to our shuttle even if the bus was delayed 15 minutes.  I’m glad we did this as the bus was 14 minutes late :). I ate my pre-race almond butter and banana sandwich en route and despite our delay, we still managed to catch one of the earlier shuttles to the race start.

We arrived at the race site around 5:45 AM, used the porta potties, and checked our bags. I had originally planned on making the half part of my long training run but after scoping out the area, I decided against it. It was still dark outside and I was unfamiliar with the area so I camped out with Maria in the grass, used the porta potty two more times (you can never be too careful), and reevaluated my race goals.


With about 15 minutes to race start, we headed over to the start line. I popped a few Honey Stinger Chews and then headed to Corral B. The corral system for this race was weird. I just kept walking and walking towards the start line and even passed the 1:20 pacer (in the open corral). I had expected the corrals to be huge like most races in Chicago, but these corrals were tiny. I’ve never been so close to the start at a competitive race.


Knowing that I wasn’t going to run a full 16 miles, I decided to run the first 9 miles of the half at 10 seconds faster than marathon pace and then try to run the last 4.1 at pace. I figured this would help me learn how to run marathon pace on tired legs and serve as a tough workout without tiring out my legs too much (like racing a half would). I also knew there was a likelihood of a PR (my previous PR was from 2010) if I ran this way.

The first three miles of the race were on side streets south of the University of Chicago. The roads were shaded and a little congested but nothing too terrible. I was a little annoyed because my phone was struggling to pick up signal and I had planned on listening to Pandora during the race but my legs felt good, the weather wasn’t too awful (it was cloudy but 92% humidity), and I was enjoying running in a new location. I did think it was strange that so many runners were slowing down during the first few miles (I even saw someone lay down on the grass around mile 2) but later figured it must have been due to the high humidity (Avg pace miles 1-3: 7:26 min/mile).

Around mile 3.5, the race turned on to Lake Shore Drive heading north and I immediately appreciated the breeze off of the water. I could tell that I was thirstier than usual and started to hydrate early during the race. The humidity definitely started to affect me more as the race went on and by mile 5, I had a dull headache. I started taking two cups of water at every water station (they had so many!) and dumping/splashing one on my face and over my head. It helped a lot! At the time I kept thinking I was going crazy, it wasn’t really hot out and I usually don’t need that much water during a half but I’m really glad I listened to my body. I took a salted caramel GU at mile 7 that was incredibly salty (who woulda thought that?) and had to chase it with two cups of water. No more salted caramel GUs for me during races. The turnaround was a little after mile 8 so I just kept waiting for the mile marker. Once I reached it and turned around, I knew I only had one more mile that I needed to push pace and mile 9 felt like the looongest mile of the race. (Avg pace miles 4-9: 7:30 min/mile).

I had planned on running the last four miles at marathon pace but the humidity was starting to get to me and I felt gross. My legs weren’t tired but I just couldn’t wait to be out of the weather. I was also taking in more liquid than normal and my top and shorts were soaked both from sweat and the water I was pouring over my head. I decided to run at a comfortable pace and to stop looking at my Garmin. So I did… for three miles until I looked at my Garmin and realized that I had a chance to PR (Avg pace miles 10-12: 7:38 min/mile). I ended up picking up the pace for my 13th mile (7:17 min/mile) more because I wanted to be done than I wanted to PR. I was planning on cruising in at the same pace during the last .2 miles (or .1 but my Garmin had me finishing at 13.2 miles) and was dealing with some seriously negative thoughts running through my head when I looked over and Erica happened to be running next to me. She encouraged me to run faster and to PR which was just what I needed to kick to the finish (last .2 miles: 6:07 min/mile).


Unofficial – 13.2 miles in 1:38:33; Official – 13.1 miles in 1:38:32

Considering that I didn’t taper or train specifically for this race, I’m really happy with my time. I ran at a hard effort but did not give 100% effort to race the half so I know that I can knock some time of this PR. I was hoping that the half would feel easy but it didn’t. My guess is that it had something to do with the humidity (a lot of other people felt unusually tired) or cumulative fatigue on my legs. Either way, a PR half during marathon training is a great confidence booster. I also learned a lot during the race about my fueling, pacing, and mentality. This post is getting long though so I’ll probably post more about this on a different day.

After the race, I was soaked. I grabbed my bag from gear check, changed my shirt (I didn’t race in the one above), and kicked myself for not bringing a change of shorts. I snacked on a banana and waited for Maria to finish her race. Once we found each other, we headed to the VIP tent where we met up with some other bloggers and grabbed some food. I was really hungry!


We didn’t end up staying as long as we had planned because of our wet clothes, so we hopped on a shuttle bus and headed back to my apartment.

Overall, this race was great and I would definitely do it again. The expo was at Navy Pier which I much prefer over McCormick Place and I was able to run over during my lunch break on Friday. The shuttle system added a little extra stress to race day but ran smoothly and we had no trouble finding the pick up place, getting a seat, and arriving at the race on time. Gear check was easy, there were tons of porta potties, and there was no confusion regarding the start line and the corral system (as far as I could tell). The race course was well-marked, there were tons of water stations, and friends told me that there were plenty of medics making sure runners were okay (I didn’t see any except for aid stations). Post-race swag was also excellent and in addition to my t-shirt and medal, I went home with two bags of pretzels, granola bars, and lots of other snacks. Happy runner over here :).


As a disclaimer: I was given a free entry to this race. As always, all opinions are my own.