Category Archives: Races

New Year’s Day 5K

Well, the first race of 2013 is done and done!  Mike & I ran the New Year’s Day 5K in Lincoln Park this morning after a relatively relaxing evening at a friend’s house.  We woke up today to twenty degree temperatures, w/ a wind chill of closer to 11 degrees as you get closer to the lake.

This is the temperature now -- 2 and a half hours later!

This is the temperature now — 2 and a half hours later!

We bundled up, and I wore the following:

  • pink long sleeve top w/ thumbholes
  • Blue jacket w/ thumbholes
  • Grey tights
  • Smartwool socks & Pink Pure Cadence
  • Gloves & earwarmers

We stayed in the car as long as we could…

IMG_1048 But eventually we had to get out of the car and head over to the race.  Since we’d picked up our packets the day before, there wasn’t too much to do before gear check.  We wandered around and I ran into Lauren from Forward is a Pace leading the Team Challenge table.  Nice meeting you Lauren!

I look like a hot mess but I'm so cold!

I look like a hot mess but I’m so cold! I hadn’t even taken my “real” jacket off yet

Today was definitely a day for a warm-up, and I’m glad I did.  My warmup pace let me start out the race at a pretty decent pace, after my favorite pre-race routine of being in the port-a-potty line when the race gun goes off (please note sarcasm).

After business was done, I got my heiny over to the race start & got going! I felt good and was passing quite a few people.  It was so cold, and just icy enough out, that I needed to focus on my footing & to keep moving.  I actually didn’t even look at my Garmin until the first mile marker, and then again at the 2nd mile marker.

Going into the third mile I was still feeling good and kept going as fast as I could!  Although I’d gotten a bit slower of a start than I would have liked (had to tie my shoe at half a mile), I was wondering if I could get close to my 5K PR.

I ended up negative splitting this race with splits of 9:28, 9:02, 8:46 & 7:44 for the last .1 mile.  My total time was about 50 seconds off of my PR, but I lay it all out there today.  When I finished, I couldn’t walk a bit more (not my legs, but my lungs were done) and took a moment to just chill on the side of the finish line.  Then it was grab my banana, some coconut water, and high tail it out of there in order to get warm!  Homeward Bound!

This race was $25 and we got a long sleeve cotton tee & also gloves for being in the first 800 participants.  I like the shirt style, but Mike thinks it’s girly (!), and the gloves look like some good potential throwaway gloves at the next cold half marathon or marathon.  There was also a free beer (and snacks) included at a nearby bar, but we decided to head home to warm up, shower & watch bowl games today.

IMG_1056 IMG_1053

Overall I’m glad we got out there on the coldest day in the past 311 days, and am starting the year off on the right foot for fitness & health!  Now I only have to do my planks to work on my core!


Nike Women’s Half Marathon– Race Report

This weekend I headed out to San Francisco for the Nike Women’s Marathon event to run the half marathon (‘recovery’ from last week’s Chicago Marathon!).  This event is a lottery-based event that has some key perks:

  • Run in the beautiful city of San Francisco
  • Participate in an empowering women’s event
  • Receive a beautiful medal at the finish

I’d entered this lottery a few years ago, and didn’t get in, so when my friend Lilian mentioned an interest in entering for this year, I was all on board, even though it would be only a week after my fall marathon.  Apart from running most of the race course backwards when I was in SF in June, I didn’t really think about this event too much as I was focused on a longer distance. 

So last week I took some recovery time after the marathon, and did a short shakeout run on Thursday to feel out any lingering aches & pains.  I didn’t have any, and was feeling pretty great on a 2 mile run.  I took the rest of the week to relax, chill, and catch up on drinking some pumpkin beers. 

Saturday morning, Lil & I met up for our flight, and embarked on a fun mini-vacation!  I’ll post pictures from San Fran later, as well as a review of the Expo (it was interesting).

This race started similar to most large races, and I started about 10 minutes after the timer started. Key item of note:  I did not use a packing list, so I packed everything necessary for the trip except my Garmin.  After evaluating all my options, I decided to use a pace band and just the official race timers to gauge my performance.  I was either going to be amazing and run easily, or I’d want to enjoy myself and not push too hard on a fun weekend.

I started the race feeling great, and even though I stopped at a port-a-potty early on, there was no line for it, so it was a quick stop. Running was easy, and we were going through touristy areas that I was familiar with from previous trips.  The Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square. 

At Ghirardelli Square I breeze through the first hill, and the second one up Fort Mason.  We then cruised along the Marina & Crissy Field before heading up more hills into the Presidio.  This is when I had to make a decision on if I was going to push beyond ‘fun’ to try for a PR, or if I would just try to enjoy the day.  Arguably I did have a bit of a busy rest of the day/week planned:  seeing my sister in SF after the race, cocktails/dinner w other friends & to celebrate Lilian’s full marathon, a flight back to Chicago on Monday morning.

I decided to end up enjoying the experience, rather than potentially pushing myself to the ‘death face’ place.  I just didn’t want to sour my overall experience for this San Fran race, and it was a lot more hilly than my current half marathon PR

And hilly it was.  A few more hills once we got out of the Presidio and into neighborhoods, and we were headed toward Golden Gate Park for the finish.  By this point every little hill was a challenge for me, but I enjoyed the views and smelling the pine in the air.  (Pine – I will be back!  Thanksgiving 2012!)

The finish was crowded – a much more abrupt stop & walk slowly than in the Chicago Marathon the week prior.  We passed through to get the t-shirt (for finishers only) and then to be handed our “medal”: 




A Tiffany necklace on a silver platter, handed out by firemen in tuxedos!  This was one of the big draws for me to this race, which I’d first heard about in 2006 when training for my first marathon

I felt pretty horrible after the race finished, and when I began to take in more fluids than just water.  I felt more nauseous than I’ve been on any run, and actually began looking for the medical tent.  I ended up finding some more water (2nd & 3rd bottles post race!), and that helped to calm my body down.  Down enough to take advantage of the stretching station & finisher’s store!  Picked up some goodies for Lilian and I there. 

I’ll probably do another post w/ more pictures once I download them off my phone, and perhaps a full review of the race & experience.  Overall it was fun, I did pretty well given I was a week off the marathon, travelling & in maybe the hilliest city I’ve run in! 


My Chicago Marathon Story

Sunday morning I was snoozy-awake before my alarm as my nose was on alert for the smell of coffee, my new pre-run ritual.  I actually smelled coffee an hour before my coffee maker was set to start brewing!  Around 5:15 AM though, I headed downstairs to drink my coffee & start my morning prep.  Which really started with a big gulp of hot coffee and me burning my tongue! Can we blame anything that goes wrong on my burnt tongue?! Smile 

Anyway, I continued on with getting ready, including warm-up clothes:

  • Sweatpants & a Jacket
  • Armwarmers
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Trashbag w/ a hole for my head (for after I check my jacket & sweats)

My friend Dave & I cabbed it downtown and met up with another Dave (Hawk) at the Congress Plaza Hotel Bar.  No we did not drink before the race, we just wanted a spot to be warm before heading out to to the race!  We were there for maybe half an hour, and then headed out toward gear checks, port-a-potties & corrals.  I’m a bit superstitious and don’t feel ready to get into a race corral until I’ve visited port-a-potties twice, so that had to be done. 

I was a bit  worried as the corrals had started moving when I actually got out of the port-a-potty, and made a beeline for the 4:40 pace group I’d planned on running with. I tucked in behind the pace group, spied Bobbi & her sister, and then we started the race! 

The first two miles were good, but I began to realize I needed to use the bathroom (#1 this time! Not #2!).  I kept running, but the urge did not go away. Just as I was thinking through where the next aid station was, I realized that the pacer I was behind had her name “Kay” written all over her pace signs… and that this was a friend from Madison! 

But alas! I had my port-a-potty break I was jonesing for, and didn’t want to be rude with a “hi & bye” type of a greeting.  I figured I’d go to the bathroom, and then take a few miles to catch up to the pace group, similar to what I’d done at the Madison Mini Marathon

I timed the stop, and I was out for almost 7 minutes.  It was a quick, but much needed relief at the bathroom stop. And then I was on my way.

I spent miles 4-9 working toward catching up. These miles are chock full of spectators as I ran through Lincoln Park, Boystown, and Lakeview.  I saw Mike at mile 9.5 and felt like I’d been speeding by. But off I was! 

Miles 10 through 13 were pretty familiar territory, although I started to get hungry at mile 13 and took my 2nd gel a little earlier than planned.  Whether that was good or not, I don’t know. I started to get a bit nauseous, even though I’d only been drinking water. 

I saw my in-laws cheering around mile 16 and was so happy to see them!  I was a little worried I hadn’t seen them at all earlier even though I knew they were out there (but I couldn’t remember where I’d see them –oops!), but I had been cruising along and see a sign come up that says “Go Lauren” – I look a little closer and I see it says “Go Lauren Wong!”  Then I saw them!  It was good to get a quick hug, and then I was on my way! 

By this point it was warming up, and I realized my arm warmers weren’t evaporating sweat much anymore.  I’d been pulling them up & down for the past 6 miles, but at this point I took them off. I considered holding them for a while, but I didn’t think I’d see Mike or the in-laws again soon since I’d just seen both in the past few miles. 

Mile 17 is when I started to break down. I was SO CLOSE to my pace group. According to my calculations, they were only a minute in front of me, but I couldn’t see them.  And I was starting to slow down.  I realized I couldn’t get to the pace group. 

That was a hard and disappointing realization.  I was sad – because I knew I could do a 4:40, because I wanted to see Kay, and because I realized my execution fail on going faster for miles 3-16.

It was hard for me after that. I kept slowing , began feeling my legs tighten up, and started taking some walking breaks.  I was not happy, and at times wanted to drop out since I wasn’t going to make that “A” goal. My stomach was also a bit nauseous, although I kept drinking water. 

I was pissy through Pilsen & Chinatown, and rallied as I approached my friend Lilian at her cheering station at 22.  I realized at that point I just wanted to finish, however possible.  I got some chips (ya salt) & swedish fish, and kept running.  I walked again for a little, and rallied when I saw more Swedish fish (!) where I asked a stranger if I could have some. 

I also stopped for a dixie cup of beer at the Hash group (Mile 23) and then saw Mike after that.  He yelled to me – “bring it home” and I realized I had a 5K to go.  I can do a 5K in my sleep – most of my runs this summer were longer than a 5K. 

I finished at a good pace, telling myself “You can do anything for 30 minutes” or “20 minutes” or “10” or “5” as we got closer. 

I finished strong running up Roosevelt & Columbus drives, although I was a hot mess of disappointment when I finished.  I did finish 15 minutes faster than I’ve completed a marathon, and I am proud of that, but I expected more of myself. 

It took me a little while to rally and actually meet back up with my people.  The beer they were giving out before the gear check pickup was actually good.  Yay 312! After re-clothing myself in layers appropriate for the 50 degree weather, I then found Dave & Mike, and met up with the rest of my cheer committee (Yay Wongs!).  We chatted a bit and then all headed out to leave the race craziness. 

Fort2Base Nautical 10 Miler Race Report

So with my tummy troubles, I had met with a nutrition-guru on Friday afternoon to implement a modified eating plan immediately.  Since my long run was Saturday, I literally switched up Friday’s dinner plans. Saturday’s run had been good, but I was wondering – was it a fluke?  Also, with my ‘healthcare task force’ last week, I’d slacked on a few runs and was still hoping to hit my 30 mile goal for the week so I could eat swedish fish

Here comes the Fort2Base race.  My hubby was running it. My running friend Lil was running it. And why was I going to spectate? On an A-to-B race? In the cold?

So I signed up.  On Saturday afternoon for the Sunday race.  It was great. 

Sunday morning came too early and we trekked out to the north ‘burbs to get to the parking lot. We got there before parking became a zoo, and sat on a bus to shuttle us to the starting line.  We arrived at the start just outside of Fort Sheridan. 


  • I planned to wear: shorts,  a short-sleeve tee, and arm-warmers.  Hat ended up on my head that I hadn’t planned to wear during the race, but couldn’t bear to take it off.
  • Cold – it would have been nice if they had some way to stay warm – heaters, trash bags, etc, that you could use.  Everyone waited until the last minute to drop their gear because who wants to be in the cold in a tank top? 
  • Not enough port-a-potties.  I waited in line for 30 minutes for a race where there were just over 1000 athletes with 9 port-a-potties.  I know you have to rent some for the start & for the finish, but it’s the same number of athletes at the start, regardless of how the course is set up.


I was waiting in line for the bathroom when the start gun went off.  Since the goal for this race was to test not having to go to the bathroom, it would have defeated the purpose to start and use the first port-a-potty intentionally.  I went, I took off my sweatshirt, and I ran!  I started about 7 minutes after the race began.

It was cold out – and now I’m closer to naked w/o the sweatshirt.  I ran fast.  I assumed I’d slow down as I got warmer, but that never really happened.  I just kept running.  And running.  I knew my pace was closer to 10K (or 5K) than to half marathon, and figured I’d hit the wall at some point, and manage from there. 

That never really happened.  We spent most of our time running on the Green Bay Trail, which was pretty and shaded, and there were aid stations spaced out roughly every mile or so. 

I stripped off my arm warmers around mile 4, and took an Accel Gel at mile 6 aid station.  I got a bit PO’ed at the mile 8 (?) aid station when they switched up the water-gatorade order.  Please keep your aid stations consistent! Or have someone yelling out at each of the stations.  I would have wanted to grab some water, but wasn’t about to circle backwards because no one was yelling out instructions.

We entered the Great Lakes Naval Base, and it was interesting to run through that a bit.  I’m not sure what I expected, but felt privileged to be in a  limited access area!  There was an out-and-back on base, and then we headed down toward the water.  It was sunny & I enjoyed seeing a bit of the lake (and remembering this is the Navy!).

But what goes down must  come up.  And we had Hero Hill.  I’d heard about this from people who ran the race last year, and was a bit nervous.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, but I did know my legs were a bit fried from the fast pace I’d been running – for the last 10 miles! I did end up walking a little bit to finish getting up the hill. 

I did then finish the race and make an effort to come in strong.  It helps when you’ve been going fast.  We’ll see how the race photos turn out! 


Post Race:

They had a lot of goodies for the runners post-race.  I refueled with Gatorade, Coconut Water, grabbed a Muscle Milk or two, and a bunch of Lara Bar samples.  Also some free deodorant.  I saw foam rollers and mats out to help people stretch.  Also met up with some lovely blogger ladies!

Fort2Base Blogger Photo 09232012

Mike’s parents had come out to spectate the finish, and it was good to see them and have brunch together after.  We went to the Country Kitchen in Highland Park.  I had a huge broccoli omelet, and sampled some really good corn pancakes. 

Three days later, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m taking it easy in taper, but excited for a success on this race as I go into the Chicago Marathon