Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Where the "L" goes over a Quaint Little Bridge

Ran a seven mile recovery run this morning along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Way up north in Chicago, along Wilson Ave, you can see the Ravenswood Brown Line cross over the Chicago River, which is quite a contrast to what the train's surroundings are once it arrives downtown:

Sometimes you even see kayakers and boaters going under the bridge. As you can see, homeowners along the river keep their boats on little docks.  They can jump in their boats from their backyards and be cruising on Lake Michigan in about 1/2 hour!

Further North in Lincolnwood, right along the North Branch Trail, there is an abandoned movie theater that must have closed in 2008, based on the fact that "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" is still visible on the vandalized /rock-smashed marquee:

The huge over-grown-with-weeds parking lot and abandoned theater would make a good location for a post-apocalyptic movie.

 7 miles @ 8:16/mile

Tomorrow: Track workout at North Park University.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicago Marathon Tempo Run by the Lake

In the city we are enjoying very comfortable late-August morning temps. Today, I ran my eight mile tempo run (with a mile warm-up and cool-down) and, as you can see from the picture below, it was a picture-perfect day.   At the start of my run the outdoor house thermometer said 72 degrees. The temps are just warm enough to get a little "heat training", but not so hot that I feel miserable for the second half of the run. 
1 mile warm-up @ 8:04/mile
8 mile tempo @ 7:14/mile
1 mile cool down @ 7:45/mile

Coming Up: The second of three long runs on Sunday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pictures from My Lakefront Run With Views of the Chicago Triathlon

After a four day illness-related hiatus from all exercise, I'm finally back at it.  Went out for a grueling 10 miler this morning along the Lakefront. The run was grueling, because my legs were a lot stiff and I got quite a workout just trying to keep them in motion (good 20 to 26.2 mile marathon training!). Anyway, the bike portion of the Chicago Triathlon was happening along Lake Shore Drive, just a few yards from the running path so I snapped some pics of the bikers going by.

But first, the sun was up over the lake and I got a few shots of some runners going past the lifeguard stand at Fullerton Ave. Beach.

Turning myself around, basically in the same spot, I was able to capture pics of some of the cyclists in the Chicago Tri:

So, it was a pleasant morning: A little exercise and a little triathlon viewing. This week I'm going to try to run lots and lots to try and make up for the lost mileage last week!
 10 Miles Total @ 8:42/mile

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm Registered for the 2013 Boston Marathon!

Last night I registered for the 2013 Boston Marathon and a few minutes later, I booked my hotel and plane trip to Boston. This will be my second attempt, as I took the deferment in April after I had flown out to the 2012 race.

I would probably be more excited right now, but I seem to have come down with a sore throat. So, I have to put my Chicago Marathon training on hold, at least for a day or two. Plus, it's not fun being sick!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Long Run vs. The Air and Water Show

Today was my first long run of my 2012 marathon training cycle. I woke up late, 'cause I was swimming out in the 'burbs yesterday. Got out the door by 9:00 a.m.. I was looking forward to a nice, and somewhat uneventful long run by the lake.  However, about a mile away from the Lakefront Trail, I saw people carrying lawn chairs towards the lake. Oh yeah, I thought to myself, today is the Chicago Air and Water Show. So instead of turning around and finding an alternate place to run, I continued to head down to the lake. I figured that the air and water show crowds might slow me down a bit, but this would be a good thing, since I am always training too fast anyway. So, the crowds would kind of act as my "pacers" today, and I would get good practice weaving around people!
Looking South of Fullerton, where are the big crowds?
All in all, it wasn't too bad.  I don't know why the crowds seem smaller than normal for this event.   I can remember in years past that it was jammed much earlier than it was today. Seemed like there was a high ration of runners vs. the # of air show attendees

Detour sign. Just a small portion of the trail between the North Ave. Bridge and Oak Street Beach was closed. As you can see there was an alternate route

At the 8 mile mark turnaround on Navy Pier

Planes Buzzing the Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier

Runner and the Crowds
Runners weaving as best they can!

Bi-plane doing a loop

So, note to myself for next year: Don't be deterred by the Air and Water Show. The crowds aren't too too bad and you get to see an air show while you're slogging away!

Total for the morning: 16 miles @ 7:58/mile

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chicago Marathon Tempo Run #2

We are still enjoying very comfortable mid-August temps. Outdoor house thermometer said 65 degrees and sunny. Nice time for my weekly Chicago Marathon training tempo run down to the lakefront and back. First long run is on Sunday.
1 mile warmup.
7 miles @ 7:03/mile

Monday, August 13, 2012

U.S. Olympic Marathon Injuries: Overtraining is Bad, Undertraining is Good. A Lesson from London

The London Olympics are over and so are the two events  that I watched with the most interest:  The men's and women's marathons.

One fact struck me after watching the marathon finish yesterday:

50% of U.S. marathoners dropped out of the Olympic marathon due to an injury.
That's right, three out of the six runners competing for the U.S. had to drop out early in their respective marathons due to injury.
  • Desiree Davilla: Injured hip flexor tendon during a marathon workout (She first felt pain after a high-mileage day in July). Dropped out at mile 2 of Women's Marathon.
  • Ryan Hall: Had hamstring issues during training. Dropped out at mile 11 of Men's Marathon with a hamstring injury.
  • Abdi Abdirahman: During the marathon felt a "pop in his knee." Also dropped out around mile 11.
Although Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanangan both had respectable finishes, they were disappointed in their performance. In regards to how hard Kara and Shalene trained, Kara said:

"People mess up, and I’ve trained so hard. I didn't even know women trained the way that I've trained with Shalane. I didn't know it existed."

Meb Keflezighi was the only U.S. marathoner who got close to a medal (4th place) had actually cut back on his training leading up to the race:

"He (Meb Keflezighi) ...needed to be careful so Keflezighi could get to the start line healthy, if undertrained."

Also this from the LA Times:

"Four months ago, Keflezighi said he couldn't walk, much less run, because of a strained gluteus muscle that limited him (Meb) to four weeks of quality training in the run-up to the Games."

All of these runners avail themselves to the best training methods and have had great coaching most of their careers and yet they still get injured training for the marathon. Only one of the six cut back on their normal training mileage and that person (Meb) had the best run of the six! I suspect overtraining is the main culprit as to why the other five had disappointing marathons. They all wanted to put in the extra miles to make themselves tougher for the grueling distance and potentially get a medal. However, you can only put yourself in line for a medal if you are able to complete all of the 26.2 miles on healthy legs. The only U.S. marathoner who was able to make it to the finish anywhere near the medalists was the runner who had undertrained.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Review: I Heart Pikermis: Confessions of a Serial Racer

I Heart Pikermis: Confessions of a Serial Racer is a blog about and written by a race fanatic named Maureen. She's a suburban Chicago runner, who seemingly will let no race go by without her participation in it. She sometimes runs in more than two races a week, and writes a mile by mile breakdown of each race. I can only dream of racing this much, so it is fun to read her first hand account of the several dozen races she competes in every year.  

IHP Logo (source:
Many of the races she runs in are local (e.g. TerrapinChicago RnR), as well as semi-regular weekend race trips to far flung destinations (e.g. New Orleans or Houston). Her favorite race distance is the pikermi (a.k.a. half marathon), but she runs everything from mud runs, and 5ks through full marathons. The main thing is to have fun, occasionally establish a new pr, and collect the cool finisher medals and race shirts.  Her blog entries take a funny spin on the struggles and sheer exuberance often found in running road races.  You can imagine how cool it was to experience mile 3 of the Big10k:

"Mile 3:  Just before the turnaround, I'm starting to get warm.  The summer sun is STRONG, even though the temperatures feel pretty mild at this point.  But I was in luck, because the highlight of my day was just ahead... THE WATER SLIDE! Yes, I said WATER SLIDE.  An inflatable slide of awesomeness that got me soaked.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  I sprinted, then took a badass belly flop.  Holy crap, that was the best thing I have EVER done in a race.  EVER. "

She also accurately expresses the comical thoughts that many a runner has had when wanting to give up during a race:

Mile 10: Now I'm starting to lose it. I won't quit, because all my stuff is at the gear check, and how the heck am I supposed to get there? Via the lakefront path, probably, which I'm already on" 

Seemingly, no running topic is off the table for her to write about. One of her most famously (or infamously) hilarious entries is about the time she was seaching for a bathroom on a training run entitled "Bowels of Fury". Wordless Wednesday is a feature that is a photo (usually from one of her races) with an amusing photo caption, like this one from the Glo Run

Filed under - OMG HORRIBLE!  This is the only race photo that exists from the Glo Run.  I look like I'm 100 years old.  And dying.  BUT HOW CUTE IS MY OUTFIT! 

She also reads lots of running books. Her blog's book club is "rushourunner". Her book reviews are in-depth and usually include quotes from her favorite passages. 

SummaryVisit I Heart Pikermis after your next race and you will be able to relate to her entertaining take on the events. Or, simply just visit to get a funny, first-hand account of her racing adventures.  This is one of my favorite running blogs, and one you should definitely check out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My First Chicago Marathon Tempo Run

This morning was the first tempo run of my 2012 Chicago Marathon training cycle. I ran to the lake, along the lake and then back home for a total 8 miles. I stopped for a minute for some picture time near Belmont Harbor. It was sunny, with temps were in the mid 70s. It was not too bad in the shade. 

                                                        8 Miles Total at 7:32/mile

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Terrapin 5k Recap: Race PR + Beer + Neighbors = Good Times

There's nothing like a well organized 5k with great music, great beer and partying on the lawn in front of Soldier Field with your neighbors to rejuvenate the tired marathon training soul. Quite a few of my North-side neighbors were running this race, and we had a great time hanging out before the race.  Afterwards, we enjoyed front row seats watching the "Smoking Popes" and "Mr. Blotto."  We may also have had a "Magic Hat" beer or two.  Oh yeah, I had a race p.r. and a 3rd place age group finish!  Awesome, awesome evening. The only kind of evening that a good race and good after-race party can bring!
Me and my neighbors Stacey and Kirk before the start of the Terrapin 5k

Post race food: Beer, processed cheese wrap, and a sprinkle donut. Mmmm!

Here is my recap of the race:

Mile 1: "Don't start out too fast", I say to myself. My goal is to ease in to the race and run about a 6:30/mile for the first mile. However, I am running with the gazelles and we are going quite a bit faster than I would like. After about a quarter mile we are running in the infamous McCormick Place tunnel from Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon infamy. The tunnel is almost completely dark and full of potholes. Oh well, I ran through this damned tunnel two weeks ago, so I'm an old pro at traversing it. During this mile I keep telling myself to dial it back, however the adrenaline takes over, and I run a 6:00/mile for the first mile!  Ooops, I hope I can hang on...

Mile 2:  I'm still trying to slow the pace to something north of 6:20, but the dogs are already loose, and my legs feel like they're flying. However, this is a very hot mile as there is no shade as we run alongside Lake Shore Drive.  After the turn-around we head north on the trusty old Lakefront Trail.  The lyric I am playing over and over in my head is "Feet don't fail me now" by Metric. 6:06/mile.

Mile 3: It is getting really hot. At least there is a tiny bit of shade provided by the tiny trees between the lake and the path. Although my lungs and legs are hurting pretty bad, I realize I have a small amount of juice left in my legs. (BTW, knowing that you have energy left near the end of the race is a great feeling to have). 6:07/mile.

Mile 3.1: There is a group of five runners ahead of me. The little juice I have left put into use. I sprint by all of them in the last 50 yards for a triumphant finish. 6:00/mile. Total time 18:49, a Terrapin p.r.!  I lift my arms like some kind of idiot. Four weeks ago, I couldn't even crack 20 minutes. Now, I am running sub 18:50.  So obviously, it's time to celebrate!

It was on to meet the neighbors and enjoy the free craft beer, cheese wraps(?) with donut appetizers, and Smoking Popes and Mr. Blotto (who both played stellar sets).

StatsAge Group: 3rd out of 208. Overall: 27th out of 3,543.

Analysis: The combination of a well-run race, great bands, great beer, and a beautiful setting, the Terrapin 5k is worth every penny.  Oh yeah, it makes things all the better when you can run a race p.r. and place in your age group!

I will definitely try and be back next year.
Smoking Popes

Mr. Blotto