Monday, May 18, 2020

McKirdy Mile #2

Two weeks ago, I ran the first McKirdy Mile (of four) in and around Horner Park in 5:36. In that attempt, I went out way too fast in the first quarter mile (5:15 mile pace) and paid for it on the next three as I had so slow down (5:43 average mile pace).

In the ensuing two weeks, I really didn't up my training load, but since I went out too fast last time, I thought with a slower first quarter mile and gradually increasing my speed thereafter, I should be able to run a few seconds faster using strategy alone.

I've decided to try and race on Saturday using Sunday as a backup. Probably a good thing to do going forward, since that way I leave myself a spare day if I'm not feeling it or the weather is bad. It's also nice having a backup day in case something comes up unexpectedly on Saturday. If I wait until Sunday and something comes up unexpectedly on Sunday then I'm out of luck.

Anyway, the weather was good on Saturday with temps around 65. When I woke up, I did a two miler really slowly to loosen up/shakeout. Then I rested for a few hours and at around 11:30am jogged over to Horner Park for race #2. Initially, I was going to run from south to north along Horner Park's western edge on the sidwalk along North California Avenue. I was timing the lights at Irving Park Rd and California Ave. (so I could hit the intersection when it turned green), when I suddenly noticed that there was a slight wind coming out of the north. It wasn't a strong wind, but it was enough for me to question why I wouldn't want to have that wind as a tailwind instead of a headwind. So, I walked a mile north so I could run with the breeze to my back. 

After a 15 minute walk along Horner Park and across Montrose Avenue, I arrived at a spot just far enough away that I was able to see the traffic lights at Montrose and California. That way I could time out my start, so that when I ran up to the intersection the lights would be green.

Starting point for McKirdy #2.
This time starting north and heading south

I rested a bit, and let the lights cycle a couple more times and when the lights turned red, I took off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I started out quickly (once again) and glancing down at my watch I once again saw a 5:05 pace. I knew that I needed to slow, and I did a better job at doing this than last time. I crossed Montrose Avenue, just as the light turned green (i.e. perfectly) and was now running along Horner Park. I felt good and felt good about how much I had slowed down. Looks like I'm getting better at pacing, but not perfect as this was my fastest quarter. 1:22 (5:15/mile pace).

Mile 0.50: Suddenly I felt a pain in my right hamstring. I was wearing racing flats which I never run in except to race. I guess somehow I overstretched my hammy by my sudden and quick start in "new" shoes, I slowed down so I could get a sense of just how bad of shape my leg was. 1:26 (5:36/mile pace).

Mile 0.75: I figured I was already halfway through and though my right leg felt uncomfortable, I sensed it wasn't a bad injury so I just kept hauling. The pedestrian light at the intersection of Irving Park Rd and California Avenue was counting down 15, 14, 13, 12... as I approached. Would I make it in time? 1:26 (5:52/mile pace).

My McKirdy Mile #2

Mile 1.0: As the traffic light flashed 5, 4, 3..., I burst across the street and made it to the other side of Irving Park Road with no time to spare. This surge may have taken a little out of me and I still had a quarter mile to go. There were a couple of people ahead of me so I dropped down off of the sidewalk and onto California Ave hugging the shoulder. A final burst of speed and I was done! 1:25 (5:43/mile).

Official Finish Time: 5:39
Official Pace: 5:39/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:39/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:48 and 2:51
Place AG: 8th out of 41 (as of Sunday night)

Relaxing Post Race

Although I was three seconds slower than two weeks ago, my splits were more even. Instead of a nine second swing between my fastest and slowest quarter, this time it was only four seconds. I had a three second positive split this time, vs. a 10 second positive split for Mckirdy #1. Who knows why I was slower for this race, although a lot of it may have been being slightly hobbled mentally by pulling the hammy mid-race and perhaps I subconsciously leaned towards preservation rather than extending myself. As for strategy, my first quarter was still my fastest, when it should have been my slowest. Maybe a slower start will also help keep my legs healthy for the entire race? Oh well, I have two more chances to get it right. Think negative splits for #3!

McKirdy Mile Race Pace Comparison
"Living life a quarter mile at a time"

Race #1
Race #2
Race #3
Race #4

Post Race:

Again, it's virtual race so just a walk home. Womp!

Next Up:

McKirdy Mile #3 on 5/3

Monday, May 4, 2020

McKirdy Mile #1

The McKirdy Mile is a free race series of four one mile races spread out over eight weeks. Each race is virtual with a few rules meant to keep a level playing field since there are prizes. For example, the mile can't be run on a track, the net elevation drop can't be more than 1% and GPS data must be submitted with your race time as proof. Otherwise, the only other rule is that on the weekends of a race you have from Saturday at 12 a.m. to Sunday at 11:59 p.m. to complete your mile. 

Since I'm only running short distances a few days a week to keep my fitness up during the pandemic, I thought racing a mile would be fun to do so I could at least be able to participate in a race and not have to wear myself out with any extra training. So, last week I signed up for the first race in the series meaning I had to run my first mile on either May 2nd or May 3rd. The race also had a race prediction contest, so I put down 5:50 for my time which I thought was safe given my low mileage.

I debated whether to race on Saturday or Sunday. My first thought was that if I ran it on May 2nd and things didn't go well, I could always try again on May 3rd and submit the better of the two times. Then I realized this would not be keeping with the spirit of an in-person race - meaning typically you only get one shot at it. Therefore I would only give myself one opportunity to do it.

Anyway, the weather was good on Saturday with temps in the low 60s and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to run it on Saturday. I tried to figure out the best place to run and decided that since Horner Park is 1/2 mile in length it would give me a nice place to run a straight shot with minimal turns. Then I realized that turns don't matter as much in GPS measured races since your watch is keeping "perfect" distance and you don't have to worry about running the perfect line. Turns do slow you down a little though, so I was hoping to keep it to just a few.

When I got to Horner Park at around noon, the wind was out of the west and as tempting as it was to find a new course which would allow me to run most of it with the wind to my back, I decided just to keep with my plan of running from south to north on the half mile stretch so the wind would be (for the most part) at my side.

To give myself another 100m of "straight" distance I walked across Irving Park Road and walked to the front of McFetridge Sports Center. I timed the stop light so that I would hit the crosswalk just as the light turned green.

My starting place in front of McFetridge Sports Center

After waiting for the traffic light to cycle one more time, I clicked "start" on my Garmin and I was off! 

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I started out quickly, and I even glanced down at my watch and noticed that I was running at a 5:05 pace. Much too fast. I crossed Irving Park Road timing the lights perfectly and was now in Horner Park. I was blazing way too quickly for my fitness and was risking a premature crash. I kept telling myself to slow down, which I was able to do, but only at the end of this quarter mile. 1:19 (5:15/mile pace).

Mile 0.50: Near the beginning of this "lap" I could really feel my lungs burn and lactic acid accumulate in my legs. I was slowing down whether I liked it or not. 1:24 (5:36/mile pace).

Mile 0.75: I was nearing the end of my straight-away and was really slowing down but wasn't in too much pain. I made my first turn of the race on Montrose and headed to the east - happy to have a tailwind for a moment. 1:28 (5:52/mile pace).

My mile (in red)

Mile 1.0: After running a hundred yards with the wind to my back I made the turn into the park and ran back into the wind. I gave it all I had and actually was able to speed up a little. My watch beeped indicating I had run my fourth quarter mile and I was done! 1:25 (5:43/mile).

Official Finish Time: 5:36
Official Pace: 5:36/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:36/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:43 and 2:53
Place AG: 6th out of 69

Post Race

I ran by feel and ran too fast to start. Maybe I could have shaved off 5 seconds if I had tried to run a little slower out of the gate. Luckily I have three more races in the series to redeem myself! Most of all, I really enjoyed getting back and running a race. I spent the days before looking forward to it and strategizing - just like I do before an in-person race.

Post Race:
Since it was a virtual race, there was no after party - well no official one anyway. So, I ran/walked home.

Next Up:
McKirdy Mile #2 on 5/16!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Running during the Lockdown

Hey, how's it hanging? The Lakefront Trail is not closed after all! Well, the actual trail by Lake Michigan is, but not this blog which you could have thought was closed seeing as I haven't been updating it for quite some time. Back in 2011, I started out blogging almost every day, recapping almost every workout (pre-Garmin Connect/Twitter days) and then as the years went on it started to evolve into only race recap posts with the last one in June of last year. I did run a two or three races later in 2019 that I actually didn't post about. I got 2nd in my age group at the Hot Chocolate 15k in November. They sent me my "trophy" in the mail. It was the same exact "chocolate bar" medal that everyone got at the finish line, except the ribbon says "age group winner". So now I have two identical medals from the same race!

In any case, I am still running three or four days a week, but only about three miles per run. I haven't been running with a mask. However, all of my runs outside only take 15 to 25 minutes since they're short and I'm consistently 15 to 20 feet from the nearest person at all times as I will literally divert into the street if I see someone approaching on the sidewalk.

As for any other time I'm outside (mainly walking the pups) I have a few etsy made masks that I use.

I guess masks will become mandatory in a week or so, so I may need to get a few more, and maybe even run with one.

There is a one mile virtual race coming up that I was thinking about signing up for. It sounds like it might be fun, although mile runs done on a track are not counted. Maybe this is to encourage social distancing? I've only ever counted my mile runs done on a track towards my PR. I think the run does take your GPS info and factors in elevation drop if you are going for an age group award. I assume they want to keep an even playing field prevent people from getting AG medals if they run their mile entirely downhill!

I haven't had the urge to run long, things are tiring right now and I am trying to just hit that right balance of staying in shape but not wearing myself down too much. As much as I love to run long, there will be time to ramp up the mileage when things are calmer.

Anyway, stay safe and I'll try and post a little more often. Maybe my next post will be a "virtual race" recap!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Run For the Animals 10k 2019 Race Recap

This was a race that didn't turn out as expected. About a mile and a half into the race I realized that it wasn't my day. I blame it on running/walking nearly 60 miles for the week (plus 20 miles of "Bike the Drive") and basically walking all over Chicago the 24 hours before the race. Reminder to self: Don't arrive at the start line fatigued.

After getting only about four hours of sleep due to a doggy with tummy trouble, I was out the door at 5 a.m. for a shakeout run of 1.5 miles in the city. I was hoping to do a little over two miles, but I was running late. This year there was no need to do a pre-race doggy walk (they had just been outside at 3:30 am), so I jumped in my car and headed out to the 'burbs. My dad had picked up my bib along with his bib (for the 5k) earlier in the week, so I met up with him at his house, put on said bib, and we headed over to the race in downtown Wheaton. At bag check, I bumped into Zoe who had moved back to the area from Colorado. I met up with my nephew who was running his third 5k ever and we did a few warm-up strides, then we slid into our respective corrals. The national anthem was sung beautifully, but at a low volume such that runners in the back of the corral kept chatting for the duration. The temps which were humid and in the mid 60's not perfect, but better than expected for early June. The horn sounded and we were off!

The Race
Mile 1: This was a dual 5k and 10k, so I started a little ways back. My target was around 6:30 and I wish I'd stayed there, but the downhill was so tempting.  6:21/mile.

Mile 2: As we crested a small hill, I could feel I was straining a little too much given the pace, but thought I could push through it, after all my goal pace was 6:17/mile.  6:17/mile.

Mile 3: This is typically the point in a 10k where I either maintain pace or accelerate, but I wasn't able to. Was it my lungs or fatigued legs, or both? Probably both. I made the gut wrenching decision to "admit defeat" and slow down to avoid disaster during mile six. I thought a sub-40 was still doable as I slowly let go of my grip on a sub-39. 6:26/mile.

Mile 4: Slowest mile. A mile I'd like to forget since I was slowing down to start the second half of the race. However, I shall visualize this mile during my training and work hard so that such a mile doesn't happen during the RnR next month. 6:36/mile.

Mile 5: The guy in my AG that I always seem to pass during races was in my sights, so I made an effort to get ahead of him and I did. 6:29/mile.

Mile 6: The final mile is a gradual uphill, which helps to kill most momentum. It really made me work. I forced myself to keep focused despite having my goal time out the window and struggling to keep a moderate pace. A sub-40 was still in the works, but I guess I was not running good tangents, because it started to dawn on me that I needed to run faster to get that time. 'Twas not to be. 6:29/mile.

Mile 6.29: As I made the turn to the homestretch, Zoe was standing there yelling "Go Pete!" and I gave her a wave. After looking back to make sure that no one was immediately behind me, and seeing "40:xx" on the board, instead of "39:xx" - I slowed way down for the last 20 meters and trotted over the finish line. 6:04/mile.
Finish line from 2016. Much more exciting!
Race Summary: 
  • Official Time: 40:22 (a full 1:24 slower overall than last year)
  • Official pace: 6:31/mile
  • Overall Place: 36th out of 590
  • Age Place: 2nd out of 34 (2nd place CARA finish. Okay that was nice!)

I went to bag check and then over to the 5k finish line to meet up with my nephew and family.

Race Takeaway:
Here were my splits:
6:21, 6:17, 6:26, 6:36, 6:29, 6:29

Last year my fastest mile was 6:14 and slowest was 6:20 - a six second spread. This year my fastest mile was 6:17 and slowest was 6:36 - a 12 second spread. That's double the variation from last year. Maybe if I had held back a little more during the first half, I could have given my tired legs more of a chance to get into the race?

Anyway, my performance in this year was a disappointment. I don't like slowing down at all during the second half of a race and was also hoping for a 38:xx and instead ran a 40:xx. Oh well, not every race goes as planned and I will use this as a learning experience. After a week off, I will ramp up the mileage to get my endurance back and then stick to a decent taper (maybe two weeks long) for my goal half marathon in July.

Next up:
RnR Half!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Ravenswood Run 2019 Race Recap

Since the Shamrock Shuffle, I set my sights on gaining more fitness and feeling better in general. That doesn't necessarily mean I ran more weekly miles, it means that I hit the gym more and dialed in my diet by eating less carbs and more fat. In the month since I undertook this endeavor I can really feel the difference. Lifting a little more and substituting the cookies for bacon, helped me feel stronger and to drop those three pesky pounds which were keeping me from my "racing weight". Getting just slightly more fit, brought along a lot of side benefits like sleeping better, having more energy and more confidence that I did all I could (besides running more) to be ready for a race. It always makes me wonder, why can't I don't I do this year-round? Is the cookie habit really worth it?!

By the end of last week it was time for my annual neighborhood race, the Ravenswood Run 5k. How would I fare? McMillan said that I was in 18:54 (6:05/mile) shape. So, the negative splitter that I am, planned to run 6:05, 6:00, 5:55, 5:55. I wanted to beat 18:54. For that to happen - my kick would have to squeak me under 18:54.

After accidentally waking up at 4:15 a.m.(!), I did a 3.25 mile shakeout run to the Ravenswood Run course and back. It was about 38 degrees, and there was still snow on the ground from the freak late-April storm from the day before. I found out that the wind would be bad heading northbound, but that would mean a nice finishing southbound tailwind. I also gauged if it was warm enough to only wear shorts and a singlet by taking off my jacket for the final mile. It wasn't so bad, but I realized that in addition to the shorts and singlet, a hat and gloves would make things more comfortable.
Early morning shakeout run to the race
Once I got back home I changed into my race gear, pinned my bib on, walked the doggies, ate an egg and some chicken and then left for the race with my dad, brother and sister at 7:20 for the 8:00 start. We found a parking spot not far from the start line. By the time we left the car there was about 20 minutes remaining until race start. I checked my gear and did some warm-up sprints. Then I headed over to the A corral and bumped into Ken W and John B. Anyway, the national anthem was sung, a prayer was said, and we were off!

The Race:
Mile 1: Since this was a CARA Circuit race, and there were tons of speedier runners present, I started about 10 rows back. As soon as the gun sounded, just past the start line, I once again saw a kid stumble, but he was propped up immediately by a good Samaritan behind him. What's up with kids tripping while racing? Are their shoes too big?!  I was running by feel, and I felt astonishingly good, the wind out of the north certainly helped speed me up faster than goal. My arms were a little chilly, so I shook them out to warm them up. 6:00/mile.

Mile 2: At the start of mile two I knew I had started out perfectly and knew I could hold pace for the remaining 2.1. I spotted a guy who I knew was in my AG and who seemingly always starts out to fast (I passed him mid-race in the Shuffle as well). As I passed him once again, I could tell by his labored breathing that he was in for a positive split. I wonder why experienced runners continue to do this? We headed northbound into the wind, so I tucked behind whoever I could before passing them. 6:01/mile.

Mile 3: Right after passing the two mile marker, we ran into the quaint shopping area of Lincoln Square and I once again said my goodbye to the still shuttered Chicago Brauhaus. I was looking forward to the southbound tailwind once we made the turn onto Damen and soon enough we were there and the photographer was waiting for the spectacular photo opp under the Brown line! 6:01/mile.

Under the Damen Brown line Station near mile 3 (src).
Mile 3.13: I knew I was close to a sub-19:00 and used that as motivation as I sped up. Nothing like an arbitrary number to push you a little harder at the end of a race. I was running all alone as the finish line neared. The announcer called my name once I hit the first mat.

About to hit the first timing mat (src)
Gotta stop my watch! (src)
I stepped on the second (and final) mat and stopped my Garmin. I was finished!. 5:25/mile.


Official Finish Time: 18:51
Official Pace: 6:04/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:59/mile

Place Overall: 57th out of 2,094
Place Age Group: 1st out of 115

AG is usually tough since this was a CARA circuit run, but maybe the weather the day before kept some guys at home because I scored my first ever 1st place AG in a CARA race! I ran the race in over 19 minutes last year, and I beat the 18:54 prediction, so I was pretty happy. My splits were pretty much pristine - 6:00, 6:01, 6:01 and that was running by feel.

Post Race:
I ran backwards through the course (using the sidewalk) and found my dad and ran with him a bit, then I left him and ran further back to run with my brother and sister to the finish. After collecting our things, we drove home. AG medals will be mailed apparently.

I'm not going to race for another month until the Run For the Animals 10k. I don't anticipate ramping up the mileage between now and then. I like where I'm at fitness-wise, so I want to keep the positive vibes going. I think a month of consistent yet moderate training will get me to where I want to be for the 10k - (i.e. in just a tiny little bit better shape)!

Next Up:
Run for the Animals in June!

Friday, April 19, 2019

2019 CARA Lakefront 10 Miler Race Recap

It's been three years since I last ran the CARA Lakefront 10 Miler. Even though it's only two miles from my house, recently hadn't been quite ready for the March pre-Shamrock race dates. Luckily, they shifted the date to a post-Shamrock mid-April date. I figured I was in 10 mile shape and even managed to squeeze in my first 10 miler in a long time the weekend before.


Goal: The tables said that I should be in 1:05:30 shape, but realistically I didn't want to go all out at the race. So, I decided I'd like a 1:07 (~6:42/mile) pace.

Getting To the Race: At about 7:55 am I drove east down Foster until I reached the parking lot at about 8:05 am. 

Pre-Race:  I drove another half mile south to snag a parking spot closer to the start/finish area. I sat in my car for 5 minutes drinking coffee until I decided it would be a good time to head over to the start areas.

The race booths were all setup on the Lincoln/Montrose Running Track infield. It was astroturf, and was therefore a pretty clean, dry, place to host the pre and post-race festivities. I bumped into Wendy and we had a nice pre-race chat. She asked me what my goal was and I said a 1:07. After taking off my sweatpants and jacket, I decided to hike back to my car to drop off my gear. Once I got there, I realized that post-race I probably wouldn't want to walk that far to get my stuff, so I sat in my car, drank some more coffee then headed over to gear check.

After checking my bag, I had about 5 minutes to spare. So, I queued up by the porta potties and at 8:58 darted in and out of one and jogged over to the start corral. The countdown started horn sounded and we were off!

The Race
Miles 1 and 2:  Since it was pretty windy and I had only done one 10 mile run in the past six months, I just wanted to take the first couple of miles slowly. For a long stretch we ran headlong into a westerly wind. I tried to tuck behind a couple of runners to help break the wind. Near the 2 mile mark we separated from the 5kers. 6:51/mile.

Miles 3 and 4: Last time I ran this race, we ascended Cricket Hill twice. Thankfully it would only be once this go around (near the finish). I started passing runners who went out too fast. More tucking. I think it was at this point that the race had bused in a bunch of kids as a cheering section. I side-fived about 10 kids. It was pretty cool. 6:37/mile.

Miles 5 and 6:  We circled Diversey Harbor and headed north into the wind. I spotted the guy I knew was in my AG, so as I did in the Shuffle, once I passed him, I used him as motivation: I would not let him pass me if he challenged. 6:32/mile.

Miles 7 and 8: I started to feel the burn of not having raced this far in awhile. 6:38/mile.

Miles 9 and 10: At the base of Cricket Hill, I heard a guy behind me saying "get going old man!" I thought he was talking to me. Once he passed me, I realized he had his headphones on and had been talking out loud to himself! He was likely in my AG and decked out in Boston gear. However, I didn't have any juice left to pass him. I could only will myself uphill. Once at the bottom of the hill, we got onto the running track for the final quarter mile loop! I saw Wendy and she snapped my pic just before the start of the final lap. 6:48/mile.
Head down up Cricket Hill (src)
Last few meters on the track (src)

I crossed the finish line and got my medal about ten feet later!

Time: 1:07:08
Pace: 6:43
Overall: 61/1,191
Age Group: 3/65

I pretty much nailed my goal and was only off by 8 seconds. My splits were pretty much even: First five miles was in 33:35 and the last five was done in 33:33! I think I am getting this pacing thing down!

Post Race:
I picked up my gear and headed back to see Wendy. She looked up my time on her phone and it said that I had gotten 4th in my AG, with the first place guy running a 58:00 or some such craziness. I would find out later that they moved him out of our AG and I got 3rd. I love the accomplishment of placing in CARA races since they are so competitive.
Wendy and Me (src)
We went over to the beer garden to see if we could find Erica and we both turned down the free Michelob Ultra. The last time I ran this they had Magic Hat. I guess the big beers have big sponsor dollars?

Beautiful day for a race, Nice cool race conditions!

Next Up: Ravenswood Run 5k!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Shamrock Shuffle 2019 Race Recap

My goal race - The Shamrock Mile - was the day before, so I planned that the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was going to be just for fun. However, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I simply can't just run for fun! Plus I was running for the MRC team this year and I wanted a decent AG finish to score points (or less points!) for them.

The only real calculation I did prior to the race was to check my average weekly mileage 12 weeks before the race vs. last year. This year I was at 32 miles per week and last year 30 miles per week (when I ran a 31:08remember that number). So, I actually had a tiny bit more base than last year. I really didn't do any more exacting calculations as to what my 8k fitness level was, despite having a 5:36/mile to work with from the race 18 hours before. The 5:36, put me at about a 32:00 8k, but I hadn't bothered to look it up, because you know, I was trying to chill.

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and went for a one mile shakeout run around my neighborhood. Temps were hovering around 40 degrees and there was a slight wind. I made coffee, scarfed down bacon, an egg and a banana. After letting the dogs out and getting them back inside, I drove down to the race and to park at a new $10 garage. Unfortunately, Columbus Ave was already blocked off so I had to spend an extra 10 minutes driving west to approach the garage using the bridge over Columbus. I was in a hurry to get to the MRC pre-race photo op and time was ticking. So, I parked quickly and sprinted over to the meetup area with what turned out to be plenty of time to chat with the MRC team.

I checked my bag with about 15 minutes before the corrals closed, so I did a slow jog for 5 minutes then did some fast pickups for another 5 minutes.

Once in the corral, I spotted the MRC group and saw Xaarlin and company. I then made my way up closer to the start line. I spotted John B who hadn't raced in over a year and we shared how good it felt to be back at it for the Shuffle. The national anthem was sung and we were off.

The Race:
Mile 1: The weather was perfect - mid 40s and overcast. Last year, I ran this mile in 6:20, but I figured I 'd be happy with a 6:30. 6:35/Mile

Mile 2: I realized I'd been holding back a lot for the first mile, especially when you count that there is a big downhill after the Columbus St. bridge. I was feeling good, so I opened things up a little. 6:11/Mile

Mile 3: The wind was a factor, and I tried to tuck in behind a runner here and there.  6:14/Mile

Mile 4: I crossed the 5k timing mat at 19:43 which was 21 seconds slower than my time at the same point last year. I guess I had really been holding back. I typically love to step on the gas at this point in the race and since my lungs and legs both felt great, I proceeded with Operation Pass Lots-o-Fading-Runners! 6:09/Mile.

Mile 4.97: I relish the long straight stretch southbound on Michigan Ave. This is where the footrace begins since there are no turns and you can see everyone ahead and you. You can also see where the footrace will end with Mt. Roosevelt looming in the distance. This is where I spotted a guy I knew was in my AG and quickly put him behind me. For extra motivation I told myself that I needed to stay ahead of him. I kept the speed up thinking that he might be on my heels. We made the turn onto Roosevelt Rd and then I flew uphill and then with all my might down to the finish line! 5:59 /Mile.

Mt. Roosevelt
Official Pace: 6:16/mile
Official Time: 31:09
Official Pace: 6:16/mile
Age Group: 6th out of 651
Overall: 470 out of 20,632

Analysis: Almost identical finishing time as last year:

2019 Shuffle

2018 Shuffle
I am proud of the negative split. Unlike last year, when I positive-splitted, I never really felt like I was red-lining until the very end. Despite the "same" finishing time, I even moved way up in my AG standings thanks to the new AG! Fun stat: according to the results, I passed 58 men in the last 1.9 miles!

Post Race: 
I walked down the finishers' chute and got my picture taken;

For some reason, I found myself walking down the chute alongside Deena Kastor, who moments ago set a world masters 8k record. She was talking about how her lungs felt fine, but she couldn't get more speed out of her legs! Anyway, I mentioned to one of the course volunteers that Deena Kastor was walking by her. The volunteer asked me if she thought that Deena would let her take a picture of her. So I asked Deena and she said yes, but that the volunteer had to get in the picture with her. So I took her phone and got a picture of the two together!

Next I took off to the Buckingham Fountain Beer Garden to meet up with the MRC gang:

MRC and Beer (last year)!
I offered John B a ride then we headed back to my car stopping off at Starbucks first.

The Future:
I like where I am fitness-wise and generally feel better rested and less burned out than I have. As for goals, I'd like to make a strong age group showing the day before my birthday at at the Run For the Animals 10k in June. However, before that happens I'll get a tune up at another CARA race - the Ravenswood Run 5k at the end of April! Who knows? I might even be a late entrant for the CARA Lakefront 10 Miler!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Shamrock Mile 2019 Race Recap

To say that this was the best day of the year wouldn't be an overstatement. I finally shook off all of the racing cobwebs that had accumulated over the last 200+ days and had a wonderful experience. The weather was picture-perfect, I got to meet three Olympians and hung out with friends before during and after. Plus, as a bonus, I got to race what is perhaps my favorite distance now - the mile, that heart-pounding, leg draining, adrenaline fueled slice of racing heaven!

I had been doing about two quarter mile sprints 2x a week and I could usually bring them all in under 5:20/mile pace, so I figured that I would try for a 5:25. That meant the following target splits:

1:25, 1:20, 1:20, 1:20

But realistically with the hairpin turns (and four uphills), I knew that it might be a stretch goal. 

Pre Race:
My wave (competitive masters) didn't start in Grant Park until 11:20, so I had plenty of time after waking up to prepare. After a short (1/2 mile) shakeout run, I ate an egg and some bacon, walked the pups, got my stuff together, grabbed a coffee and was out the door at about 10:15. I parked in Grant Park North garage, had some more coffee and a banana. After ascending the stairs, I was pretty much on the course, so it was a well-chosen parking lot! I wandered around wondering where everyone was:
Pre-race near the bag check. Just me and the Green Guys
Eventually I spotted Erica there and we chatted and got a pic.

Me and Erica pre-race
I also noticed the three Olympians (Deena Kastor, Alexi Pappas, and Carrie Tollefson) milling around before the start chatting with people. Eventually Mo appeared, she had come from the Shamrock Shuffle expo with the MRC. She was going to run the wave after mine. The recreational wave started and I watched them start and finish, some of the "Green Guys" ran in that wave.

Did I mention the weather was fantastic? There was hardly a cloud in the sky and it was around 45 degrees. I did another 1/2 mile warm-up before the the announcer called the competitive masters up and I got in our corral with the 37 other men and women. Suddenly Deena, Alexi and Carrie ran along our corral and gave us all motivational high-fives. Once the excitement died down, I was standing no more three feet away from Deena Kastor, so I asked her for a racing tip. She said, "run like hell" and I said I'd try! Anyway, the horn sounded and we were off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25: This may have been the hardest part of the race - an uphill to start running west on Jackson. There are railroad bridges in Grant Park, so everytime we headed west we went up then down a bridge and each time we turned around we had to go up and down the same bridge again. We made the hairpin turn and hit the 0.25 marker. Hit my goal pace nicely. 1:24.9 (5:40/mile)

Mile 0.50: Back up over the Jackson St. bridge and turned onto Columbus Drive for a nice straightaway. I was really trying my best, but fell a few seconds short of goal. 1:23.4 (5:30/mile)
1/2 Mile marker at Columbus and Congress looking uphill
Mile 0.75: Next up was a right on East Congress Parkway just west of Buckingham Fountain. Then we went up and down a bridge with another hairpin turnaround just to head back uphill. I was starting to hurt, but was biding my time for the downhill finish when I would try to catch some of the guys just ahead of me. 1:26.8 (5:43/mile)

Turnaround on Columbus over the RR bridge

3/4 Mile market coming back downhill after the turn
Mile 1.00:  I could see I was in about 6th place at the final marker before the finish. First place was way out of reach but 2nd through 5th were in my sights, just seconds ahead. All systems were redlining at this point, so I figured I would use up any reserves after the last turn downhill towards the finish line. I was going to kick "like hell". Unfortunately for me, all of the other guys had the same general idea, except they were speeding up earlier. I noticed them picking up the pace and separating from me, so I had to speed up just to keep up. Since I couldn't seem to gain any ground using a conventional speed up, I knew I needed to reach into a dark place to propel even faster despite my lungs screaming for mercy. I floored it as fast as I could disregarding any and all pain signals. I could finally feel that I had a chance of perhaps reeling in 3rd, 4th and 5th, but I was running out of time. In the last two strides of the race, I was only able to pass the 5th place guy who was absolutely flying. If the race had been another 20 yards I might have passed 4th and 3rd. Oh well, I kicked too late, but that was that! This may have been my fastest race finish ever because over last 10 seconds of the race, my Garmin hit 4:03/mile pace!  1:20.0 (5:20/mile)


Master Competitive Group: 5th out of 28
Official Time: 5:36

I was short of my goal by about 10 seconds, but using my finishing time from the Shamrock (the next day) I was actually in flat-minimal-turn 5:26 mile shape, so my guesstimate was pretty good. I just need to find a mile on a track or something!  Also, the Master's wave was anyone over 40, so there were plenty of young whippersnappers in my AG!

Post Race:
After watching Mo do awesome in the competitive wave, we got our pictures with the three legends.

As I was getting into the picture, Carrie Tollefson said to me, "I saw you at the finish, that was one wicked kick!" My heart started to soar. That's the first time an Olympian actually noticed and commented on my racing!

 Best. Day. Ever.
Deena, me, Alexi and Carrie
I hear they are going to hold the Mile again next year, despite the very low turnout this year. Here's hoping more people find out about it. I will be there!

Next up: Shamrock Shuffle!