Saturday, June 15, 2013

Run for Boston 5k: Voluteering Recap

After over 10 years of running, I finally gave back and volunteered at a running event! Since I was a participant in the 2013 Boston Marathon, it made volunteering at this race even more meaningful. All the proceeds of the race go to the victims of the bombing.

I got up at 5:45am, and after walking my dog and making a thermos of coffee, I was on the road leaving the city and headed towards Libertyville, IL (which is about 15 miles from the Wisconsin border). Luckily traffic was ├╝ber light at that time so it took me a mere 35 minutes to get that far north. I arrived at about 6:50 and made my way over to the start area. I helped move some picnic tables and also set up the pop-up tents. Then Gingerfoxxx, Matt, Anne and I started filling up the 312 beer coolers:
Setting Up the Beer
Then we headed over to the parking area to direct cars into lot B. Here are some action shots of Matt and Gingerfoxxx and their patented parking moves:
Directing Cars
Gingerfoxx's Move from the front
Matt's Parking Move
Then we headed over to the start line where I got a picture and a video:
Runners at the Start Line
Video of the race start:

Matt, Gingerfoxx and I then were assigned to the course to direct runners around the final turns of the course. As Matt encouraged a flock of geese to get off of the trail, I stationed myself a little higher up, at the top of the last hill. I yelled encouragement to runners like "you just conquered Heartbreak Hill!", but 90% of runners had their headphones on, so my attempt at humor was heard mostly by the trees. Two running bloggers Chris and Eric stopped by to say "hi" after they finished.
Chris, Eric, and Me
Sarah and Matt Directing Running Traffic
Sarah clapping to the head-phoned runners

Video of the finishers at about mile 3:

Then we made our way over to the finish area to enjoy a 312 with the rest of the group:

Another blogger summit
Gingerfoxx, Maggie and Anne
Hanging out
And finally a group blogger photo:
The gang's all here! (Source)
It was great seeing and meeting lots of new running bloggers. A good time was definitely had by all and I'm definitely looking forward to volunteering at a race again soon!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Allstate 13.1 Marathon Race Recap

Is it too early to award a race "Favorite Race of the Year?". Well, I may have found a winner already! I had such a great time at the Allstate 13.1 Marathon, it may be hard to top.

13.1 Marathon
Credit Xaarlin
Free VIP Entry:
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to win an entry to the 13.1 Marathon from Nina at Run Dance Love. She e-mailed me last week that we would also be getting the VIP treatment as well. That is, she was able to score passes to the VIP tent from the event sponsor! Being a race VIP would be a first for me! I had run the 13.1 Marathon in 2009 and my memory from that race was running on hot sidewalks/trail. Even before this year's race, I knew this time would be a lot better.

To Race or Not to Race:
Last night before I went to bed, I was about 50/50 on whether I would run the race. I have been having some tarsal tunnel type electrical pulses on the inside of my right leg for the past few days. I am sure I got them from my over-training/racing last weekend. I probably needed a few more days of no running for them to subside. So, I set alarm for 4:45am and decided that when it went off I would make a last minute decision.  I went to sleep and when my alarm went off, I got up, checked my leg and checked the weather (48 degrees!), and decided it was worth risking further injury to run. I figured why not, since, I don't have any more long races in the next several weeks, I will have plenty of time to get better. I promised myself I could have an entire week to heal and rest my leg after the race.

Pre Race:
I was hungry when I woke up so I ate almost an entire bagel with peanut butter and cream cheese. I also scarfed down a banana. That might have been a little too much pre-race food. I walked my dog, then jumped in the car and headed down to the Museum of Science and Industry to catch a shuttle to the starting line. This was a heaven sent trip to the race! There was almost no traffic on LSD, I found a free street spot only two blocks from shuttle bus pickup area, and got right on a bus and 10 minutes later, was at the South Shore Cultural Center.
Even the ride to the race was awesome!
Shuttle bus on South Lake Shore Drive
I met Nina (who was running the 5k), by the general bag check at 6:30am. This is where there was supposedly a Running Blogger pre-race meetup. However, after waiting a couple of minutes, we did not see other bloggers amongst the masses.
Nina and I waiting at the bag check for bloggers. Fail.
After waiting to no avail, we headed over to the VIP area. We checked in at the VIP tent and got our all-access bracelets. I used the VIP porta potties and we checked our bags. About 5 minutes before the race start, we ran to the "A" Corral. With two minutes to spare, I had just enough time to tighten my shoelaces. The horn sounded for the "A" corral and I was off.

Race Strategy:
McMillan's Running Calculator said I could potentially run a 7:01/mile half marathon pace (1:32 half) based on my 41:11 10k last weekend. However, that 1:32 is assuming one has logged the appropriate miles to race a half, and I haven't. So, I was targeting somewhere around a 1:33 or a 7:10/mile pace.

The Race:
Miles 1 to 6:
The race actually closed the road off in front of the South Shore Cultural center which is a nice touch as we weren't forced onto the sidewalk. Then we ran a nice shady stretch through Jackson Park and finally it was out to the Lakefront Trail. I usually don't like races that use the trail, but this stretch is so remote compared to the path on Chicago's North Side. It was awesomely spectacular! The cool breeze off the lake, the azure blue sky, and the skyline were all phenomenal!  You really could not ask for a better experience. At about mile 5, I saw the two Kenyans heading back who were leading the race dueling it out for the $1,000 first place prize. Near mile six, I saw Xaarlin and her boyfriend and she snapped this pic of me:

Here I am asking how close the Kenyans were. Xaarlin replied "You're in front of them." Depending on your perspective, I was!
Credit: Xaarlin
Average Pace for miles 1 to 6: 7:08/mile.

Miles 6 to 13:
Since it is an out and back course on the Lakefront Trail, this was essentially the same path for the return trip. I spotted Britt from Chicago Runner Girl coming towards me about a minute or so ahead, and I waved to Xaarlin once again and she got these professional looking shots of me and the skyline.

Credit: Xaarlin
Credit: Xaarlin
A group of French students was handing out water near the mile 8 aid station and I gave them an enthusiastic "Merci" as I got my water. As I mentioned, it is essentially an out and back course on the same path, but with one major exception. At mile 10 there is a "giant hill" (by Chicago standards). The hill was also the spot where I started to feel like I was fading. I could not put my finger on why I was fading: It may have been the fact that I ate too much before the race that my stomach was still full. I thought my lungs should have easily been able to handle 13.1 miles. However, I have to admit that the main reason I was fading may be that the residual endurance effects of Boston Marathon training are starting to leave. It has been seven weeks since the race. Anyway, I made the decision to walk up the "giant" hill. Surprisingly, I did not get passed by too many runners as I walked. The fade did cost me a negative split, however, but not too bad.
Average Pace for miles 6 to 13: 7:19/mile.

Mile 13.1
We ran around the South Shore Cultural Center for what seemed like a mile, but finally, near the beach, I spotted the finish line. I turned on a mini-sprint, but was unfortunately unable to pass anyone. On the bright side, I did not get passed. Nina, and the announcer both called out my name as I finished! Pace: 6:23/mile.

My Results:
Total time: 1:34:54 (7:14/mile)
Age Group: 10 out of 149 (First race in new AG)
Overall: 128 out of 3,265

Post Race:
Nina was able to find me right away. She was fresh off of a 5k pr (or near pr). Congrats Nina! We hung out at the VIP tent for a little bit, where we got some awesome free VIP sandals! Nice perk!

Our VIP sandals! Free! 
Nina and me hanging out at the VIP Gear Check!
Then we made our way over to the general post-race party. Nina scored a balloon heart flower from an elderly balloon clown!
Nina and her balloon flower
In the Michelob Ultra beer garden we spotted running blogger Amanda from TooTallFritz. We hung out for about a 20 minutes in the beer garden chatting away.

Me, Nina, Amanda
We also got to meet Nicole, who seems to be friends with every running blogger! :-)
Amanda and Nicole
Finally, Nina and I left and took the shuttle bus back to the Museum of Science and Industry.

What an awesome fun-filled morning. Thanks to Nina for the race entry! Luckily, I made the right call this morning to run this race. Now it's time to rest! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Spectating the Color In Motion 5k and an Unplanned Long Run

Do you want to make lots of money? Well, the solution would seem to stage a Lakefront 5k and give the participants bags of colored powder to pour on top of themselves! There was just that kind of a run held yesterday, called the Color In Motion 5k. Apparently, there was such high demand for the race that they had to move it from Saturday so the city could accommodate more runners on Sunday. There is also another similar 5k later this month which is already sold out!

Anyway, the weather was perfect yesterday for a long run, so instead of resting on the day after my 10k, I went for a Lakefront run. That's when I stumbled upon this 5k. 

I think the average age of participants was about 16, so it is kind of a colorful mini-Lollapalooza-5k for the high-school set. Here are some pics:
Some race volunteers, yes, the road is pink from the bags of color!
Girl racing while talking on cell phone
Nice color combo!
A bag of color dye. 100g!
More walkers and another cell phone (kids these days!)
All blue. A Smurf look, perhaps?
The dance stage post-race with pounding, pounding techno music
More craziness
A puff of blue powder
Friend coloring a friend
More blue clouds of color
After watching the colorful spectacle, and trying to avoid getting any color on my shirt/hair/face, I headed out to the Lakefront Trail for a long run in the pristine weather. It was 50 degrees and drizzling, amazing for early June! The weather reminded me of almost exactly how it was for the L.A. Marathon was in 2011, when it rained almost the entire marathon. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt as I was on that day, so I could not take any walk breaks or risk hypothermia setting in. On the upside, it was one of those days when you could just run and run and not worry about breaking a sweat/over-heating!
Boston Marathon biker
Rain on my shades!
Nobody on the beach, no life guard either!
An almost empty trail. Yay!
Finally, I ran to my 'hood and passed our local German Mayfest beer tent (before it opened)!

It was a great day for an unplanned long run!

Total: 15 miles @ 8:01/mile.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cosley Zoo Run for the Animals 10k Race Recap

Lately, I haven't been putting in the training miles. In fact, the 10k I ran at the "Run for the Animals" in Wheaton this morning could actually be considered a long run based on the length of my runs in recent weeks. I want to run more, but I think I have to admit that I have still not recovered from the Boston Marathon. I have heard that some marathon recoveries can take about 8 weeks and I am still in week 6 post race. Groggy and lacking energy has been my state lately, so I can only muster short training runs. The upside of these shorter training runs, is that I am able to push myself to run faster and therefore, have kept most of my speed.

Run for the Animals Background:
This is the home of my 10k PR (2010) and it is mostly flat, with a few small "hills", but nothing major. The race is a combo 5k/10k.

Race Goal:
It turns out I was the oldest person running in my age group today, so I had no dreams of placing in the top three. However, in my race next Saturday, I will be one of the youngest in my age group, so maybe I'll AG place a little higher than I would have otherwise! Anyway, going in to today's race I wasn't quite sure how my short speedy training runs would translate into a 10k race time, so my goal was to start a little on the conservative side, then let loose the 2nd half of the race. The forecast was for upper 70s at start with high humidity.

Anyway, I went to the race with my dad who was running the 5k. We met my sister and her husband and kids near the start line. They would be the cheering section for my dad and me.
My dad, me, my nephew, sister and niece

The Race:
Here's something I haven't had to write about a summer race in a long time: But, just before the race started, the temperatures started to drop and the wind picked up (wow, did I actually write that?)! So, there actually are summer races where the weather is cooler than planned - go figure.

A couple of minutes before the start
After a half mile warm-up jog, I made my way to the start line. The National Anthem played, and we were off!

Mile 1: I started off too fast because the wind was to our backs, we ran gradually downhill and I was trying to keep up with the 5kers. Running this pace, however was so effortless, since my training runs had been fast. I was barely breathing hard or sweating. 6:23/mile.

Mile 2: Running through residential streets, I tried to force myself to slow down, but was not successful because dreams of a sub-40 10k started dancing in my head. Four minutes into this mile, the 5kers started to turn up the speed because they only had 1.5 miles left, I again, got sucked up with them. Unfortunately, I still had 4.6 miles of racing left! 6:18/mile.

Mile 3: Despite the weather being in the upper-60s, it was still humid and my shirt was getting drenched. At this point, I realized I needed to slow down, or I would be walking by mile 5! Near the end of this mile, we lost the 5k runners and headed on the 2nd half of the course, which would take us through a park with a lake. 6:28/mile.

Mile 4: This is where the race started to get lonely real fast as about 2/3 of the runners were running the 5k and had left us. On the positive side, it was a relief that it was more quiet and solitary. On the negative side, there weren't many runners pushing the pace to get swept along with. Lots of nice neighbors were handing out their own water. Oh yeah, that slow start with a fast finish strategy was thrown out the window at this point! 6:36/mile.

Mile 5: Apparently they made a new course this year (as opposed to 3 years ago). We got to run through "North Park" and around and over the bucolic little lake that is the centerpiece of the park. We got to run over a couple of quaint little footbridges. A police truck along the course was blasting out "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller, so I shouted to the guy, "In the Mood!" and he said, "looks like you're in the mood!"  By the way, this is the best version of the song IMO. It's a mashup with Glenn Miller and Rage Against the Machine! 6:45/mile.

Mile 6: All hope of a sub-40 race had gone out the window, there was a headwind, and I felt like it wouldn't be such a bad idea to walk it in. As I considered throwing in the towel, a couple of much younger runners passed me. Although I had no energy left to respond with, I was determined to not lose contact with them. If only I'd run five miles/week more the last few weeks, they would have remained in my rear view mirror, but what could I do? My shirt and shorts were drenched and I was hitting my limits. 6:56/mile.

Mile 6.2: Turns out I had a little more gas in the tank, but just a little. The two runners ahead of me accelerated just as I accelerated and they were out of reach. I couldn't see anyone behind me, so I ran over to the sidelines to high-five my nephew, sister and dad (who had already finished the 5k) and darted to the finish line. My nephew said that at the finish, my clothes looked like I had been in a pool for 16 hours! 6:23/mile.

My Results:
Total time: 41:11
Age Group: 1 out of 26 (On the last day of my old age group, I was first! Yay me!)
Overall: 21 out of 608

My Dad's Results:
In the 5k, my dad got first out of three in his age group (75 to 79) and placed in the top 50% overall! Awesome!
My dad finishing #1 in his AG
Post Race: We ate breakfast at Egg Harbor Restaurant in downtown Wheaton. My niece and nephew gave me a cool Cubs shirt and my nephew drew me a couple of awesome Star Wars pictures. They are going up on the fridge! We also walked over and I met my sister's hair stylist Alicia, who is a reader of my blog. Hi Alicia! :-)

It was nice winning my age group, as I was the oldest person in that group. However, I need to pace myself better now that the hot summer temps are here. I also need to get some rest for next weekend's half marathon, but I'm itching to get in one long run between now and then!