Monday, July 22, 2013

Race Recap: Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon 2013

My goals for the Rock and Roll Half were:

#1 Have fun
#2 Finish
#3 Don't get injured

Spoiler Alert: Mission accomplished on all three goals!

This is my favorite half marathon course. It's even more spectacular than the Indianapolis Mini course where I hold my PR. I'd say that the RnR course is the second best race at shutting down major streets in the city (#1 is the full marathon).

Anyway, my across-the-street-neighbor Tad and I drove down to the race, found a $6 spot within spitting distance far from Grant Park and at about 5:45am we were at the bag check

Goal #1 Have Fun:

My goal of a having a fun time started early. Near the bag check, I met up with some of the running bloggers. My neighbor Tad snapped this one:
 L, XaarlinEric, MeChris
Beth and Maggie showed up a few minutes after the first pic, so we took a second:
Beth, MaggieEricSara, L, Xaarlin, Me, Chris
Note for next year: I saw a few running groups meeting at the actual race start line for pictures. The start line seemed to be a great photo spot with the skyline as a backdrop, and it's not too far from bag check.

Anyway, after checking my bag, I made my way over to the uncrowded porta-potties near the "Finish Line Festival" area and then with about 5 minutes to spare walked over to the corrals. 

Race Strategy:
I had run a total of 11 miles  (3.1 + 3 + 5  training) in the last 43 days due to my ankle injury. I knew I needed to pace myself accordingly. My strategy was self-preservation, so I would only need minimal recovery from the RnR in order to start Chicago Marathon training early this week. So, I decided on a run/walk plan similar to what I did in Boston. I had heard/read that Xaarlin and Sara would be in Corral 3 and I decided that it would be more fun to start with them and see how long I could hang with them.

The Race:
After the National Anthem, and then a pause for corrals one and two to go, we were off! The first mile was relaxed and I took a walk break, but made it back to our group for this photo:
Here we are all (me, Sara, Xaarlin) during mile 1
Later on, I took another walk break while Xaarlin and Sara got this picture taken. I at least made it in the frame as I tried to catch up!
The Run/Walk strategy sometimes left me behind the group!
I was able to chat with Sara and Xaarlin periodically, and we had a fun time chatting. We spotted the basketball dribbler runner wearing a Michael Jordan jersey (near the United Center no less). Occasionally, I would run ahead, then walk until they caught me, or I would walk and then try to catch up to them. So, it went for the first 10 miles. 
Me and Sara
At around mile 10 with my legs starting to cramp, I spotted the 1:45 pace group in the distance, and I decided to see how fast my legs could take me the final 3.1 miles by setting the goal of passing the 1:45 pace leader.

Turning on the after-burners during mile 12
Off I went. Since the 1:45 group was about 1.5 minutes ahead of me, I figured I needed to gain about 30 to 40 seconds a mile to catch up with them over the last 3 miles. Knowing they were running 8:00/miles, I needed to drop down to 7:20/miles. Despite the lack of training, I felt okay running that pace up until the last mile. As we hit the home stretch, on Columbus Drive, I finally caught the 1:45 pace group leader (see red arrow)!:
Yay! Passing the 1:45 Pace Group (red arrow) just in time near the finish line
And I'm done! Goal #2 Accomplished
Don't know what I'm doing here?

I waited a couple of minutes for the rest of our group to finish. We got this one in front of the water spray tent:

Happy finishers
We got some Jamba juice and other finish line treats and stopped for one last group photo:


Finishing Time: 1:45:16 (The 1:45 pace group started behind me, so they actually beat me)

13.1 Mile Pace: 8:02/mile
Pace Last 3.1 Miles: 7:20/mile

Overall Place: 1043/18755
Age Group Place: 55/655

Post Race:

After the race, our trio parted ways and I changed into fresh clothes in a luxurious (not) porta-potty. After I came out, I spotted Maureen. We said hi and we decided to go over to the beer garden to enjoy a beer or two and meet up with Tad.
Me, Maureen, Tad (photo taken by a Boston 2013 finisher)
We sat around and chatted about Maureen's Ragnar adventures (including alligator sightings) and other interesting stuff. We also made tentative plans for a possible Terrapin 5k reunion.

The day after the race, my legs are a little sore, but I'm pretty sure I didn't injure myself (Goal #3 accomplished). I went for a swim and lifted some weights. With the residual good vibes I'm still feeling post-RnR, I am extremely pumped to get out running again!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Running Bloggers at the Fleet Feet Pint Night Lincoln Square

The Fleet Feet Pint Night Run was an opportunity for our new Chicago-based blogger running club to hold our first meeting.  I was running late for the run, and worried I might miss it. Luckily, after sprinting 3/4 of a mile from my house to Fleet Feet in muggy humidity, I arrived at the event. I was just a little late. Apparently, I didn't miss anything except a meeting where they were giving out Newtons to test.

After the meeting, I met up with Maggie, Anne and Declan and we headed out the door for the Pint Night fun-run.

Declan enjoying the first mile 
The four of us ran over the Brown Line tracks at Rockwell and at that point Declan thought it would be a great idea to get butt shots:

Maggie kickin' ass across the tracks
Declan's "handy" butt shot
Anne haulin' booty
Unfortunately, since I was the cameraman, there is not a shot of me. Maybe next time! At the run's turnaround, I had a chance to see the reconstruction status of the North Park University Track. It looked like it was well on it's way to having a new surface soon. 

Still working on the track, looks like it is almost finished
Me at the track
At the turnaround - Maggie, Declan and Anne
Same shot at the turnaround Minus Declan Plus Me!

Declan and I cheated and took a short-cut back and made it back Fleet Feet a little earlier than the rest of the group. Back at Fleet Feet the Chicago Running Bloggers regrouped for a group photo.

AmyDeclan, Me, AnneMaggie. (Source: Maggie)
Then Maggie, Anne, Declan and I went over to the Grafton to enjoy a free can of 312 and then a free beer of our choosing courtesy of Fleeet Feet.
Enjoying our first 312
 Once our waitress arrived at our table, I ordered the most expensive beer on the menu, a $19 beer from Brooklyn, but they were out, so I had to settle for a $18 Decandent Imperial IPA. It was perhaps the most expensive free beer I've ever had!
That's a huge one! TWSS.
We sat around and came up with ideas for our new running club name and cracked bad jokes. People of earth, please get ready for the "Wurst Running Club Ever" to be a force to reckon with in the international running community! Then everyone from the WRCE suddenly left the table, leaving me by myself with my expensive beer. Instead of being social and meeting other runners, I finished my beer got my check and left. In summary, an excellent first meeting was had by all!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dennis Krzykowski Memorial 5K (aka DK5K) Run 2013: Race Recap

I have run this hilly 5k in Cedarburg, WI for the past four Fourth of Julys. This year, I had not run a single mile since the Allstate 13.1 Marathon in early June. So, essentially, I hadn't run in almost four weeks. In fact, I drove to the race with my dad thinking I would do the one mile walk option instead of the 5k. My lingering ankle issue and a lack of training were my main concerns about running it.
Pre Race
As I was filling out the paper entry form, in a fit of sleepiness, I decided to check the "5k Run" box instead of the "1 Mile Walk" box. I told myself that I would do a nice casual 8:00/mile run with walk breaks, which would not affect my ankle. I would not worry about my finishing time and just relax. Well... I guess I don't know myself too well, because I ended up racing the whole thing, finished #1 in my age group and besting last year's time by 5 seconds! How did this happen? Compare if you will, some key points from 2012 vs. 2013:

               2012 DK5K                                     2013 DK5K                       
Training Mileage 3 weeks before race400
Training Mileage 2 weeks before race400
Training Mileage 1 week before race450
Race Time Temp85 degrees65 degrees
Finishing Time20:2320:18
10 year Age Group Place4th1st
Finish Line Photo
Not lookin' good

Lookin' good

I have come up with some conclusions about why I did better this year:

1) It was 20 degrees cooler than 2012: Yes, I wilt in the hot weather and last year was a scorcher. Look at the two finish line photos and note that it was even a struggle to raise my head last year!
2) I ran a smarter race this year: I started more slowly, since I didn't know how I'd feel after a four week layoff. During the last mile I was able to fly up the last two big hills passing several runners who were slowly dying on the inclines while I was just hitting my stride.
3) I had fresher legs: Nothing like a four week zero mile taper to get the legs feeling "fresh as a morning breeze!"

Anyway, it was a great day for a race and it felt fantastic to be running again. I still don't know if my ankle will ever stop with the periodic tingling sensations, so maybe I will have to live with them? I guess I might. On another note, sadly, this may be the last July 4th DK5K as the race director mentioned that it was hard to get volunteers on the 4th to staff the race. However, they may move the race to the fall. In which case, I probably won't be able to run it since I'm an out-of-towner.
Me and my dad pre-race
Chillin' Pre Race
Lining up to run 
Finish Line
After getting my Age Group Medal
So, I don't think I did too much damage to my ankle. It still is a bit tingly, but not bad. I need to make a decision about running the Chicago Rock 'n Roll Half later this month. I may do some light running this week, maybe 20 miles or so, to see how it goes.

By the way, the race was in Wisconsin, so of course there was a guy grilling bratwurst near the finish line: