Halloween Hustle 5K Recap

That’s right folks…one Halloween themed race is and never will be enough!  Besides, after my disappointing experience at the Monster Dash and thinking about my upcoming races, I wanted to try my hardest for a shiny new 5K PR before the end of the year.  I have only one or two more timed 5K’s on my race calendar before the end of the year, one being the Hot Chocolate 5K this weekend and possibly a local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day.  The Hot Chocolate is not a good race for PR’s since it is so crowded (last year I ended up spending the first mile running on a sidewalk to get around the crowds) and the local Turkey Trot I’m planning to do is a little “short”.  Since the Halloween Hustle was a CARA circuit race, I knew it wouldn’t turn into a costume parade and would be a good opportunity to push myself for a PR.  Plus, a few of my run club friends would be running so I was guaranteed to have a good time no matter what!

After some hemming and hawing, I finally decided to sign up for the race at the eleventh hour, just barely making it before the online registration window closed Friday afternoon.  Knowing I wouldn’t have time to buy or make a new costume, I pulled out the pumpkin suit again and headed across the street for my block “book club” meeting.  Not wanting to be late for book club, I opted to skip my usual pre-race dinner of Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese, thinking I would find something to munch on there, or worst case, I would find something when I got home.  Oops!  I got caught up in good conversation with my neighbors and didn’t munch on a single thing!  I then lost track of time and before I knew it, it was after 9:30pm.  I knew I had to get up early the next morning so I said my goodbyes, went home, ate a Rice Krispie treat and went to bed.

I was surprised when I woke up the next morning at 5:30am and didn’t have my usual pre-race stomach.  Maybe this skipping dinner thing was a better idea than I thought?  Having laid out my gear the night before, I was ready to go with plenty of time left, so I took my time packing my bag and headed out the door.  I met my run club friends at our usual car pool meet-up spot and we began our trek to Palatine, a roughly 45 minute ride from Oak Park.  We were able to find the race location easily and I was pleased that we were able to park in the parking garage for free.  Packet pick-up was located on the lower level of the parking garage, which was also nice, since it was a bit chilly and the wind seemed to go right though me.  They also offered race day registration, which appeared to be super fast and painless.  Our goodie bag consisted of a nice long sleeve tech tee (unisex), a reusable shopping bag and a few flyers including one for their upcoming Santa Hustle (so sad I won’t be in town for that one this year).

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About 10 minutes before start time, we walked to the start line which was conveniently located only a block away from the garage.  The race started on time and before I knew it I was on my way to a potential PR.  I planned to keep the pace around 9:15 or 9:30/per mile and was surprised when my Garmin beeped at mile 1 with an 8:48 mile and I still felt good.  Somewhere around mile 1.5 I started to get a stitch in my side and could feel my breathing being thrown off as I attempted to struggle through it.  That darn stitch stuck with me for the rest of race and I pretty much hated life until I saw the 3 mile marker, but I’m happy to say that I didn’t give up and let Negative Nancy take over.  Thank goodness for my run buddies Jessica and Julie…they really helped me keep focused and pushed me to keep going when I really wanted to dial back the effort, or lets be honest, grind to a screeching halt.  We turned the corner into the final stretch and I dug deep for any remaining energy to sprint it in.

I crossed the finish line feeling elated that I had set a new PR, but the awful “I just raced a 5K and feel like I’m going to get sick” feeling that arrived shortly thereafter wouldn’t allow me to celebrate for too long.  After I finally got myself back together, I looked at my Garmin and realized that not only had a I set a new PR, I had finally blown my old high school cross country time out of the water!!!  Here are my stats:

Halloween Hustle

Overall, I thought this race was great and I will definitely be back next year.  It was well organized, reasonably priced and fun.  Here is a quick review:

Registration:

  • Cost – $33.28 (day before the race) with a $5 CARA discount. – Great value!
  • Online, fax, mail or in person day of. – Super convenient!

Packet Pick-Up:

  • Several opportunities for those who are local.  Luckily, for those of us who don’t live so close, they also offered race day packet pick-up.
  • Race day packet pick-up was fast and well organized by last name.

Perks:

  • Reusable shopping bag doubled as our goodie bag.  Participants also received a nice long sleeve tech tee (unisex).
  • Free parking.  – Always a plus!
  • Gear check was scary at first (they used giant boxes), but they found my friends vest very quickly and without issue.

The Course:

  • Flat and fast looped course.  Pavement was well maintained.  A lot of turns though.
  • For a course entirely within residential streets, there was surprisingly VERY little spectator support.
  • Not one, but TWO aid stations offering water and Gatorade. – Probably a little overkill for a 5K in the fall, but appreciated nonetheless.
  • Start and finish lines conveniently located within a block of the parking garage.
  • Finish line had bottled water, Kind Bars, bananas and soft pretzels.

The Field:

  • Definitely a smaller race for a CARA circuit race.  According to the official results, there were only 911 finishers.
  • Lots of speedy runners and lots of great costumes!

Until next time, happy running and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!  Candy Security is on duty tonight in Oak Park.  Zoe says “No costumes, no candy!”  🙂

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Chicago Monster Dash 5K Review

Do you know what I love even more than running?  Holidays!  Any holiday really, especially if its a fun one like Halloween, New Years, Thanksgiving or St. Patrick’s Day.  I mean, holidays that include gifts are pretty awesome too, but any holiday that gives me an excuse to dress up like I’m a kid again, includes dancing – or food – or candy, and involves Guinness and the sound of bagpipes playing is way up there on my list of favorites.  Imagine my excitement when I came across an event that combined my love for running with my love for one holiday in particular, Halloween!

I heard about a little race (its actually a good sized race) called the Monster Dash a few years ago, and have a few friends who have run it in the past, but I have never run it since it always seems to fall on the same day as another local race.  When given a choice, I prefer to support the smaller local races over larger races downtown, especially when they benefit the community I live in.  The Monster Dash typically falls on the same day as the Frank Lloyd Wright races, which is organized by the Park District of Oak Park, and runs practically right by house.  I ran the 10K last year and absolutely loved it.

Anyway, back in January I ran a 5K, the Polar Dash, (organized by the same group as the Monster Dash, the Get Lucky race and the Women Rock races) and the lead bike turned around too early, causing the 5K runners to miss the 5K mark by almost a mile.  The 5K race wasn’t timed (they typically time only the longer distances, usually a 10K and/or half marathon option), but some of the runners put up a stink, and the company was kind enough to offer discounted registration to another event, to make up for their oops.  At the time I was already registered for the Get Lucky 7K, so I decided to register for the Monster Dash, thinking it would be fun to dress up in costume for a fun 5K.  After the discount, and various fees I paid only $27.64 for the race.

Fast forward 9 months and there I was, exactly one week post marathon, thanking my lucky stars that the race wasn’t going to be timed, so I wouldn’t feel pressured into trying to set a PR.  I was really looking forward to participating in a nice, fun, organized recovery run.  Here is my review.  Brace yourselves, this is going to be another long one.  If you don’t want to read the novel, feel free to scroll to the bottom for the brief overview.

About a week before the race I received an email with an update on the race, including packet pick-up times and locations.  I was surprised to see that they were offering two locations for packet pick-up, since they hadn’t for the two other races I have run with them.  Packet pick-up was to be held in Andersonville on Wednesday and Thursday; and downtown at the Congress Hotel on Saturday.  Knowing I wouldn’t make it all they way to Andersonville in time, I opted to pick-up my packet on Saturday.  Not wanting to fight traffic and pay a million dollars to park my car for five minutes, I chose to take the Green Line.  The Congress Hotel is only a few blocks from the Adams/Wabash stop, so it was pretty convenient to get there and back.

Super comfy hoodie!

Super comfy hoodie!

Packet pick-up was a breeze.  When I arrived around 4:45pm there were no lines at all.  I was in and out in less than 5 minutes.  I picked-up my bib and super comfy finisher hoodie and was on my way.  I have to say, Team Ortho races have awesome swag.  The race organizers even provide an opportunity to register or pick-up your packet and swag for their upcoming races as well.  This time, they were offering pick-up for the Polar Dash.  The convenience was an added bonus in my book!

Moving on to race day, I awoke to a brisk 30 something degree morning and was thankful that I could wear leggings and a black compression jacket under my costume without ruining it.  As an aside – can we can a conversation about women’s costume options?  OK, not everyone wants to dress up like a sexy this or a sexy that…come on, we need more modest options please!  Anyway, not wanting to show off my assets, I chose a simple Jack O’Lantern costume that left a bit to the imagination.  Black leggings and a black compression jacket worked perfectly under the costume and kept me warm as I waited for the L with my run club friend who was also running.

Boo!

Boo!

Once we got downtown we found the start line area quickly and checked out the medals for the different races.  My friend was registered for the half but wasn’t sure if she should do it or drop down to the 10K, as she was nursing a slight injury and has an important race coming up soon.  After checking out the medals, she decided to drop down to the 10K.  The registration table representative was very kind and made the swap quickly and painlessly.  We then headed over to gear check and were surprised that they were making everyone place their bags in a clear plastic bag.  I had a few problems with this.  1)  I get that you are trying to make things safer for everyone, but putting a backpack into a plastic bag without checking the backpack first is not going to make anything safer.  2)  Perhaps sending an email letting us know that we would be required to use your clear plastic bag ahead of time would have been a good idea.  Or heck, maybe give us the bag and/or say something to us at packet pick-up!

Anywho…on to the race.  From what I could tell, all three of the races went off on time.  The half marathon was first, followed by the 10K and then the 5K.  I lined up for the 5K about 10 minutes prior to the start and was surprised to see people with strollers and dogs in front of me when I was standing at the 9:30 min/mile pace flag.  I knew immediately that this was not going to be an event to “race”.  I crossed the start line and immediately started dodging walkers, strollers, little dogs in costumes and small children.  I know it was supposed to be a fun event, but it was still a fun “run”, not a fun “let’s walk six people across the Lakefront path with our dog and umbrella stroller”.  I know I probably sound like a crab @$$ but I really wanted to run, even if it was slow.  That being said, after the first mile things opened up a bit and I was able to run, though still weaving around people.  Obviously, this is not the race organizer’s fault though, so I don’t hold it against them at all!

The course itself was mediocre at best.  The first quarter mile or so was on the broken sidewalk around Avery Field and then merged onto a nice well maintained path.  Just after the 2 mile marker, we turned onto the lower part of the Lakefront path…the part that is right next to the water and consistently has broken or uneven pavement and potholes from the beating it takes from Lake Michigan every time the wind picks up a bit.  Great.  Needless to say, there was some careful stepping and leaping going on for fear that I would roll an ankle or trip.  The last quarter mile was back on the nice path and was full of spectators cheering participants in to the finish where their medals were placed around their necks.  Outside of the course itself, I have to admit that the “aid stations” were fun.  At just about every mile marker there were volunteers with big bowls handing out candy to the participants…AWESOME!  There was also one aid station distributing water.

The 5K medal!

The 5K medal!

By the time I finished this run, my knees and ankles were screaming again.  There was a short flight of steps leading to the gear check area and I winced as soon as I stepped down on the first step.  I felt like I had just run another marathon.  I met my friend at the gear check area so we could collect our belongings and head home.  The race offered a free PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) and finisher party, but for me, it was just too early and too cold to drink beer.  The gear check volunteers found my bag immediately, but minutes later, they were still searching for my friends.  Afraid that they had given her bag to another participant, the volunteers were just about ready to give up when after about 15 minutes of walking up and down the aisles of bags, her bag was finally located.  What a relief!

Overall the race was pretty fun, but I think I’d rather stick to the Frank Lloyd Wright races and run another fun Halloween race that is timed instead.

As promised, here is the shorter version of my overall opinion of this race:

The Good:

  • Fun event with a variety of distance options.
  • Longer distances have a nicer course along the Lakefront path.
  • Candy aid stations!
  • Sweet swag…a super comfy sweatshirt and a medal for everyone.
  • Awesome participant costumes.  My favorite was a group of dogs and their owners.  One dog was dressed as a “Rufferee” (complete with a yellow flag in a pocket), two wore shirts that said “Wide Retriever”, two more were dressed as cheerleaders, and their humans were dressed in Chicago Bear’s jerseys.
  • Packet pick-up was a breeze.
  • The free beer was a nice touch.  If it was warmer, I probably would have taken them up on it.

The Bad:

  • The 5K course…broken and uneven pavement is just asking for problems.  I know there are logistical challenges that accompany a three distance race, but perhaps a new start/finish location is in order?
  • Gear check…lack of communication with participants, nonsensical “security” measures and misplacing my friend’s bag left me unimpressed and nervous to leave my bag at gear check ever again.

CARA Beginning Running Program and Chicago 10K Race Recap

After a nice weekend of good food and good friends (more on that in my next post), I woke up to a nasty sinus infection on Monday and have finally gotten myself together enough to finally post my recap of the CARA Beginning Running program and the Chicago 10K, as promised.  So without further adieu :)…

CARA Beginning Running Program – Group Leader Recap:

What can I say, the last 8 weeks have been a total blast!  As a group leader for the 5K group, I had a unique opportunity to not only make a new friend, but to help this friend reach an important goal and even surpass her own running related expectations.

When I first met “S” on our first Thursday night group meet-up, I was excited to help someone discover their love for running and honestly, it felt good to “give back”.  At the same time, I was incredibly nervous that I would be holding her back since I’m not even close to being considered a “fast” runner.  I was relieved when “S” indicated she currently ran a 13 min/mile pace, but after our first run together, I knew she had the capability to go MUCH faster than that (we ran a 11:52 min/mile pace that night).  From the first group run, “S” seemed to be excited about running her very first 5K, but not very confident in her natural running abilities.  Over our 8 weeks together, “S” was game to try whatever pace or however many miles we threw at her, always accepting with a smile.  She was very dedicated to the program – we even met up on an extremely hot Tuesday night to run together on a week she knew she wouldn’t be able to make it to the Thursday group run.  I am happy to report that by the end of our 8 weeks together, “S” was able to complete a 6 mile run with ease and improved her pace from 13 min/mile to…drum roll please…10:28 min/miles for a 4 mile run!  She’s a natural!  🙂  For someone who has never run before, this kind of improvement in only 8 weeks is amazing to me!  Not only is “S” ready to run her first 5K, she could easily run a 10K too!  Way to go “S”!!!

The program itself was fantastic from start to finish.  We had a bit of a slow start due to lack of enrollment, and we had a few weeks “off” due to crazy Chicago weather (severe thunderstorm one week and extreme heat another) and a holiday (4th of July), but our group runs were typically very well attended and the guest speakers were wonderful.  During the program, we were given presentations on proper pre- and post-run stretching and injury prevention, nutrition and hydration, gear (running shoes, socks, etc.) and even had an opportunity to test “drive” new versions of the most popular Saucony running shoes before they even hit store shelves.  The information conveyed was very valuable for beginning runners and a great reminder for those of us who may have become complacent (ah hem…yeah, that would be me).  We were also treated to a very yummy post-run dinner treat from Noodles and Company along with some coupons for free meals…bonus!!!

I really wish I had known about this program when I began running again 2 years ago.  The information conveyed was very helpful and the training program they provided was fantastic.  The 5K training program was similar to many of the other 5K training programs out there, but much more advanced than the C25K program I used, with only one week of run/walk workouts as opposed to several weeks in C25K.  Overall, I think this training program is great, but I would not suggest it for someone who has not engaged in cardiovascular exercise recently.  Luckily, under the Beginning Running program umbrella, CARA also provides two levels of run/walk training which would be a great starting point (and almost exactly like the C25K program I used) in addition to the 5K and 10K options.

The bottom line is, I would HIGHLY recommend this program to any runner (or potential runner) that is looking to get started, run a faster 5K, train for a 10K or even run a faster 10K).  The price is reasonable at $52 for CARA members or $76 for non-members.  I know I am seriously considering using a CARA program as I strive to reach my next running related goal.  Lastly, if you are considering membership in CARA, stop considering and just do it!  Membership comes with so many perks that the yearly fee practically pays for itself!  Perks include race discounts, a free subscription to Runner’s World magazine, discounts at local retailers and service providers and so much more.

Chicago 10K Race Recap:

As a general rule of thumb, I tend to stay away from summer racing, mainly because I overheat very easily and as a result, my times are usually much slower than my spring/fall/winter races, making for a lovely string of PW’s from late June to mid-September.  However, I am trying to do at least one “real” race every month this year.  I blew that goal out of the water pretty early in the year when I came down with Mono in February, but I am determined to keep going through the remainder of the year and have been successful every month since.  I was already registered to do the Hell Run on August 31st, but needed a real race for August and when I saw a few of my run club friends and one of the CARA Beginning Running 10K participants were registered for the Chicago 10K, I thought I would give it a shot, despite the chance of a sweltering summer day race.

The registration process was great – super fast and easy, a little on the pricier side, but that is my fault for waiting until the last minute to register.  When registering, they also gave you the option to choose either a free cotton shirt or pay an extra $5 for a gender specific tech tee.  The shirt design wasn’t too bad so I opted for the tech tee, but now I wish I hadn’t.  The material is more like the silky unbreathable, stick to your skin when you sweat tees than a true breathable wicking tech tee.  Oh well, at least I have a new loud (black with fluorescent green lettering) shirt to wear on the weekend!  🙂  The design is pretty cool though, with the Hancock building making an appearance in the lettering on the front and a bright fluorescent green “FINISHER” scrawled across the back.

Moving on to race day, the weather was forecast to be a typical Chicago summer day – mid-80’s, semi-humid and a little bit of a breeze.  When I arrived at the “L” station at 6am to meet my run club friends, the weather was perfect…not too hot and not too humid.  By the time we got downtown it was starting to heat up a bit and I began to wonder why they chose an 8am start time for a summer race along the Chicago Lakefront path.  As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with the Lakefront path.  I love it in the spring, fall and winter, but I HATE it in the summer.  It’s not the amount of non-racing people on the path that bothers me (though the cyclists could stand to take a chill pill and stop screaming at us racers who paid good money to be running on the path…a simple “on your left” or “excuse me” would be sufficient), it is more the total lack of shade that throws me for a loop in the summer.  That being said, the view is beautiful and the lake breeze can help a bit, at least for part of the race, but in the summer, I would really like to see a much earlier start time, more like 6:30am or 7am depending on the length of the race.  In this case, I think a 7am start would have been perfect.

Another thing that really surprised me about this race was the lack of Gatorade or a similar sport drink.  When I got to the first aid station I was surprised to see that there was no Gatorade.  Given that this was not only a “longer” race but a late starting summer race, I thought that, for sure, Gatorade would be offered at the aid stations.  When I didn’t see any at the first aid station I assumed it was to save on costs and expected to see it at the mid-point station at least.  Imagine my surprise when the next two aid stations didn’t have Gatorade either.  I was even more surprised when I finally crossed the finish line, legs cramping up from sweating out so much salt, to find out that there was again, no Gatorade!  Really, not even at the finish of a 6 mile race?!  The finish line area consisted of a bottle of water, the biggest finisher medal I have even seen (more on that in a minute), granola bars, fruit snack packets and bananas.  I was pretty disappointed, but at least the bananas weren’t cut in half!  Though I cannot speak for anyone but myself, I think a lot of other runners had a similar reaction to the heat and sun exposure, as there was a whole lot of run/walking going on around me, and considering I finished in the middle of the pack with close to a PW time, which is pretty unusual for a well attended (2,612 finishers) Chicago race.  All whining aside, I have to commend the volunteers, they did a fantastic job keeping everything moving smoothly (from packet pick-up to the finish line) and provided a lot of encouraging words along the way.  Way to go volunteers!!

Now, lets discuss the finisher’s medal.  There are some who believe finisher’s medals should be reserved for “harder” races, like the half-marathon, marathon, ultra marathon, etc.  It seems like in the last year finisher’s medals have become so popular they are almost expected at every race of any distance…almost like the little league “everyone gets a trophy, even if your team didn’t win” mentality of late.  I have to agree, to some extent.  Sure, getting a finisher’s medal is fun and like a little kid, I want to wear it home so everyone can see it as I wear my “that’s right, I just ran a race…and finished” smile…except sometimes when I hang up a 5K finisher’s medal next to a half marathon finisher’s medal it feels like I cheated…like it’s not worthy enough to be hung up with the rest of the “big” ones.  I worked so hard to get that half marathon finisher’s medal, but barely broke a sweat in the 5K and I am rewarded with a medal?  It just feels like cheating sometimes.  Anyway, I’m fairly confident that the bulk of the registration fee for this race went to the awesome Flavor Flav like finisher’s medal.  This has got to be the BIGGEST medal I have EVER seen!!!  Seriously, it is twice the size of a “normal” medal and weighs about twice as much too!  Even though I was disappointed with the start time, lack of Gatorade, selection of post-race treats and most of all, my time (obviously not their fault); I was pretty impressed with this medal.  It is a bit over the top, but it is really fun and the Chicago references (“L” car etched behind the 10K) are awesome.  I just wish I had a better time to go along with it so I didn’t feel like a cheater again.  Once again I have been rewarded for a mediocre performance, but I guess the medal is right…I did finish…and for that I should be proud and thankful!

In summary, I think this race could easily be one of my favorites, with a few small tweaks:

1)  Earlier Start Time

2)  GATORADE!!!

3)  Salty Snack at the Finish

Chicago 10K

The “Flavor Flav” Finisher’s Medal!

Getting Creative

Even though I’m only one week into marathon training, I’ve already found that it takes a lot of dedication and fine tuned time management skills to keep on my training schedule when “life happens”. 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to join my run club for speed work at the track last night because we were celebrating my awesome Mother-In-Law’s 60th birthday over dinner, but I had to get my workout in for the day.  I should have gotten up early but, as usual, I just couldn’t do it.  I know I said no excuses, but we were up later than normal the night before, thanks to my late night trip to the grocery store for some much needed supplies and besides, I’m terrible about getting up earlier than is absolutely necessary anyway.  Instead, I went with my back-up plan and decided that I would once again run to my in-law’s house.  After all, why drive 2.5 miles when I could easily run or bike there?!

I made sure to leave work on time so that I would have plenty of time to get home, change, recreate the scheduled track workout (2-3 x 1 mile at 5K pace with a 2-3 minute rest between repeats) and still get to my in-law’s house by 6:30pm for dinner.  I’m happy to report that I was only 3 minutes late!  🙂 

The repeats went really well – I felt good and legs felt really strong.  I only paused for a moment twice to catch the lights at Oak Park Avenue and Harlem, but still managed to run 2 sub-9 minute miles!  I opted for a 3 minute rest between repeats, but hindsight being 20/20, I really should have gone with the 2 minute option.  It almost felt like 3 minutes was too long, as I had my breathing well under control by 2 minutes.  Regardless, I felt good about the workout despite missing the track session with my friends.  Here are my stats for the first and second mile repeats:

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Mile 1

 

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Mile 2

Tonight I am looking forward to getting my training run in by helping others discover their love for running.  I will be helping to lead the 5K training portion of CARA’s (Chicago Area Runners Association) Beginning Running Program in Oak Park tonight and will be pacing a participant hoping to complete a 5K this summer.  So far, there is only one registrant for the 5K section, but that’s OK, it’s still nice to be able to help someone achieve a goal and it will be great fun – I just hope I don’t hold them back with my snails pace.  :-/

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#RWRUNSTREAK Update:

Miles to Date: 55.6

Consecutive Days:  24

Miles to Goal:  74.4

Days Remaining:  15

 

And then there was calm…

First, I have to apologize for my lack of posts in the last week…what an absolutely crazy busy week it was!  When I last wrote, I told you that I was going to an event and might have an opportunity to meet Bill Clinton.  Unfortunately, I did not get to meet him, but fortunately I did get to see him (from about 100 yards away), hear his wonderful speech, and meet many of Chicago’s most influential and equally impressive business men and women.  Just being in the same room as President Clinton was enough for me.  It was really a unique and once in a lifetime experience that I will NEVER forget. 

Thursday was another busy day.  I got home from work and immediately ran out the door to get my training run in before rushing to get my house and backyard clean and presentable for guests Friday night.  I also had to find time to get to the grocery store before bed to get supplies for the Sangria, tacos and black bean corn salsa quesadilla’s I was planning to serve.  Here are my stat’s for Thursday’s training run (an easy 3 miler):

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Clearly, there was something wrong with my Garmin on Thursday.  I do NOT run that fast!!!  I knew something wasn’t right when my 3rd mile beeped about a third of a mile too soon.  I couldn’t get my Garmin to work properly until I was already cooling down by walking and fiddling with it.  I decided that I would just walk the rest of the way home to get the rest of my miles in for the day.  I walked .30 of a mile in just under 5 minutes which would average out to about 31 minutes for the whole 3 miles, which is much closer to my normal easy pace.

I was expecting company Friday night so I got up early to get my 1 miler in to maintain my streak.  Friday is supposed to be a rest day and I had a race on tap for Saturday so I ran the mile nice and easy.  Here are my stats:

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Friday night was a blast.  It was a nice evening of conversation with friends that I haven’t seen in quite some time.  It’s always nice to catch up with friends over good food and drinks. 

Saturday began early with a nice ride up to Libertyville for a race with a friend from run club (thanks again for driving Jessica!).  We arrived at the Run for Boston 5K just before the rain.  As we checked-in and got our packets it began to sprinkle and by the time we began our warm up it was full-fledged drizzling.  We didn’t mind though, the race was for a great cause and we were determined to do our part.  The race was organized by the Chicago Running Bloggers community and Muddy Monk Trail Running.  Thanks to their hard work in securing sponsors, 100% of the registration fees (not proceeds!!) will be donated to the Who Says I Can’t Foundation to benefit those injured in the tragic Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013.  The race offered two options, an in person race and a virtual run where you run wherever you want and submit your time via email – a great touch and great way to maximize donations.  All runners, whether they participated in person or virtually, received an awesome gender specific technical t-shirt and a great water bottle.  I originally registered for the virtual run, but am so glad that Jessica asked me if I wanted to ride with her to the in person event.  Not only was this a great event for a great cause, but the course was absolutely beautiful (despite the rain) and I had a lot of fun with a new friend.  Jessica nailed the race and brought home a new PR of 20:09 (I hope to be as fast as her someday!) and I brought home a PR* of 27:56. 

I had to get in 6 miles on Saturday to complete my training for the day so after an almost 2 mile warm-up (1.94) and a 5K, we stuck around and cooled-down with a nice and easy 2.55 mile jog.  Here are my stats or our warm-up and cool-down:

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Warm-Up

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Cool-Down

After the race I took a bit of a nap (I was exhausted from all of the sleep I missed during the week) and then Josh and I went out to get a bite to eat before heading over to the Lincoln Park Zoo for the LivingSocial Beer Fest.  Luckily, we arrived early and were able to get in some good tastings before it got too crowded.  Most of the animals were either not out or asleep, but we did manage to see the Polar Bear, a Hyena, a Sun Bear and some monkeys.  When we finally made our way to the Chimps I couldn’t believe my eyes.  They were all fast asleep on their burlap sacks, despite the room full of loud conversations, music and dummies using flash photography to take picture of their funny sleeping positions. It was wild, they almost looked fake!  Here is a funny photo of one of the Chimps sleeping in a funny position:

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Sunday was another full day of celebrating two great men in my life.  I had a nice conversation with my Dad and am so excited for him that his hot rod is finally ready to roll!  I wish I could have spent some time with him this Father’s Day, and it’s times like this that I wish I lived closer so I could show him just how much I love him and appreciate everything he has done for me and my family.  Maybe next year I will be able to celebrate him in person, but this year I will honor him here.  I love you Daddio – thanks for all you do!  Here is my favorite picture of me and my Dad – after some laughter during our father-daughter dance at my wedding, he got me all choked up when he said something very sweet to me.  This photo is me trying my hardest to choke back the tears – clearly an unsuccessful attempt.  Thank you to Horatio with Studio Four Photography for catching such a great shot, I will treasure it forever!

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I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to my father-in-law as well.  I really lucked out in the in-law department.  Not only is my father-in-law a great father to my husband and brother-in-law, he has welcomed me into his family with open arms and treated me not as a daughter-in-law, but as if I was his own.  Thank you for all of your love and support, Jeff!

After a day full of playing with kitties, a Father’s Day movie outing (we saw Man of Steel…GREAT flick!) and dinner, I somehow found time to squeeze in a one miler to keep the streak alive.  It was dark so I slowed it down a bit (I’m a klutz and find I trip over lips in the sidewalk a lot when it’s dark)…here are my stats:

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Lastly, after a busy day at work today and a handful of Benadryl (I a weird hive/rash thing going on – might be a heat rash or an allergic reaction since it’s on my neck right where my hair rests) I managed to eke out an easy three miler for my Monday training run.  I felt pretty good despite the Benadryl educed drowsiness and the suffocating heat (it was 86 degrees!).  The breeze coming from the west made it tolerable, if only for a half mile at a time.  Here are my stats for today:

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Since this post is already long enough, I will close with an update to my #RWRUNSTREAK:

Miles to Date: 50.6

Consecutive Days:  22

Miles to Goal:  79.4

Days Remaining:  17

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*Not entirely sure the course was a full 3.1 miles, my Garmin said it was short by about .15, but given the issues it was having earlier in the week I don’t know how much I believe it.  There have been no complaints from other runners so I’m going with it.

A great weekend…and a PR too!

What an AWESOME weekend it has been!  It has been full of so many good and fun things.  As you know, we helped welcome two new family members on Friday night – Ester and Benzo…two of the cutest and sweetest kittens I’ve ever met.  Here is a photo of them (Benzo on the left, Ester on the right):

ImageSaturday I was able to sleep in a little bit (after getting up to take the dog out a 4am, then going back to bed), but had plenty of time to squeeze in a quick run before getting ready to head out with the family for the matinee showing of The Book of Mormon and a delicious dinner at Vivere afterward.  Both were fabulous!  Then it was back to my in-law’s house for more kitten play time (I might just “accidentally” 😉 take one home with me one of these days)!  The run was a slow two miler since I wanted to save my legs for today’s race and that nagging leg pain hasn’t really gotten any better.  Here are the stats for Saturday’s run:

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I woke up at about 4am today with my usual “race stomach”.  It’s funny, I have run what feels like a million races in the last two years, but I still get the butterflies the morning of a race.  The weather was great when I took the dog out at about 5:30am.  The sun was shining and it was relatively warm, probably in the mid 60’s.  As I left the house and began my drive to the United Run for the Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo, I watched the clouds begin to roll in.  By the time I parked my car it was completely overcast, but the weather report (and radar map) indicated that no rain was expected.  I sat in the car for a few minutes then decided to make my way to gear check, where I was meeting a friend from run club, who so kindly offered to pace me for this race.  As soon as I left my car it started to sprinkle and the temperature had dropped by what seemed like 10 degrees.  Luckily, gear check was right next to the big cat house so we decided to head inside for a few minutes before the race.  Good thing we did…it started to rain harder shortly after we went inside!  After a few minutes, we walked over to the start line in a misty drizzle and soon the race set off. 

The drizzle kept up the entire race, but it wasn’t too bad.  One of the hills was a little slippery going up, but was still manageable.  I felt really good the first mile and started to fade a bit in mile two.  By mile three the elephant was sitting on my chest (no pun intended) and my legs felt like tree trunks.  Thank goodness Erin was with me, I’m sure I would have given up and slowed down more for mile three without her encouragement.  It’s amazing what a little encouragement can do – thanks to Erin’s help, I’m proud to report that I have a new 5K PR…28:50!!!  Here are my stats for the race:

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Finally, the #RWRUNSTREAK update:

Miles to Date: 15.1

Consecutive Days:  7

Miles to Goal:  114.9

Days Remaining:  32

Oh the humidity!

Today was my first training day in about two weeks and if I didn’t know better, I would have thought I went to sleep in Chicago and woke up in Florida today. The humidity was high all day as was the temperature. I really didn’t want to go for a run tonight, but I successfully guilted myself into running three miles to ensure I was prepared for this weekend’s 5K and my next half marathon in late June. Also, marathon training doesn’t begin until June 10th, but that doesn’t give me license to be lazy for the next two weeks, right?!

Tonight’s run was a sweaty one…3 miles + 75 degrees + 75% humidity = mandatory shower! The run went well, considering I really haven’t run much since the half marathon just over a week ago. I was happy that my pace was comfortable and right on target with my previous 3 milers in April and May. Here are my stats for tonight’s run:

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I am still adjusting to running in the warmer weather, but I’m getting there. I’m sure the run streak will help, since I will be running every day – hot or cold, rain or shine! Tomorrow promises to be just as humid as today, but much hotter (85 degrees!). I will have to focus on hydration in preparation for speed work tomorrow night. Let’s see if I can also get a handle on nutrition for speed work days too. Stay tuned!