Tag Archives: race

New Winner for Chicago Half Giveaway

I received notice that Lilian can’t run the Chicago Half Marathon, so the free entry to that race is up for grabs again! .
And the winner is………… Erin!! Congrats Erin! Email me and we’ll get you signed up!


Daniel Burnham Open

Last Sunday I ran my first cross-country race, (practically) right in my own backyard! I participated in the Daniel Burnham Open, a 4K race held at Cricket Hill, the big hill at Montrose and the Lakefront Path.

A few things that are different with Cross-Country:

  • You’re not running on pavement. Grass, mud, snow is the norm.
  • There are flags tied to trees telling you where to go.  Not really any course marshalls, a norm in most 5Ks and other road races.
  • XC Races are team races.  It’s not so much about your individual time, since each course will be different.

and another one, which I’m hesitant to put, but cross-country races are HARD! Not that other races aren’t, but this was one where I’d had higher expectations than I’d been able to perform. 

I signed up with a team that Mike had organized of mostly hashers.  I was girl #2 to sign up, which was important because part of the team aspect was that that the race would calculate the winning team based on each team’s 2 fastest males & fastest female (or I suppose the opposite as well).  Since we already had a girl, I wasn’t super stressed about my performance.  Mike & I also headed out on New Year’s day to practice on this same hill. Mostly I did hill repeats, with some loops around the hill.

Well, race day comes and we find out that Girl #1 will not be coming! (She had to sleep in, and the noon race was too early!) So that put more pressure on me, and team pressure is something I’m not used to in my individual races that I’ve done.  I think the last “team” sport I participated in was… high school swim team? 

So we head out to the race site, and warm up for the 35 degrees it is outside.  Standing outside for close to an hour before the race makes you cold.  I warmed up by doing the 1K loop once, and then jogging around a bit more.  Headed back to the start to stand around some more.  More and more fast-looking people show up and look cold in their shorts, singlets, gloves & armwarmers.  I felt pretty cozy in my running tights & pink longsleeve shirt. 

We then started with everyone starting at once.  Since this was a very “homemade” race (i.e. free), there was no chip timing. You really needed to start with the horn! So I head out as fast as I can.  At approximately half the speed of the front runners!

So around we go – 4 times each.  Cricket Hill is situated approximately halfway through the 1K course, and as I was running up it on my second loop, there were guys beginning to pass me for their 3rd loop.  That’s definitely something to make you feel like you’re slogging along – uphill, getting passed, and on a muddy/grassy course.  As I was rounding through the end of my 3rd loop, I was feeling pretty depressed as I thought I was in last place.  People were already finished and I still had to pass by for my fourth & final loop.  I decided to hold my head up high and to run quickly past the finish for my final loop.  I was actually quite surprised that for all of the people who’d finished, that there weren’t that many people cheering for me as I passed by (Yes – Mike was cheering, but at this point, at least two thirds to 3/4 of the race had already finished). 

And on again for my final loop.  With the hill in the way, it’s hard to tell who might else be out on the course.  I still thought I was in dead last place – and bummed that I’d even signed up for this free race – when I ran down Cricket Hill the final time.  This was the one spot that they had a course marshall directing people to turn. I raised my arms to get some cheering and yelled “run it in with me!” It was only then that I learned I wasn’t the last person out on course!  That really pumped me up, and I worked to pick up the pace and see if I could still make my original time goal – 24 minutes (6 minutes per 1K, or roughly a 9:40/mi pace). 

I ran it in as hard as I could, and realized there was someone ahead! I worked to catch up to him just in the last meters of the race, pushed toward the finishing chute, and realized I’d pushed past this older guy who still had another lap! 

While I’m glad I finished and pushed hard (and was wheezing a bit from the cold air & exertion), I also felt a little bad that I didn’t live up to one of my more participatory principles of not trying to beat someone who clearly isn’t going to win.  In many races I try to offer a friendly word or two when appropriate to someone who appears to be struggling much more than myself, e.g. in the last mile or two of the marathon, but this wasn’t fully clear for this guy in this race. On the race results, it looks like he was 78 years old!  Good job old guy for running such a tough race!  I’m sorry I didn’t cheer more for you at the finish! (And that I didn’t try to get many more people to cheer!).  All in all – I have to say that it seemed like this small and super-fast group of runners was overall less cheer-full than most any other race I’ve run.  I’m not sure why, but I think we need to encourage the speedsters to be more participatory and supportive of the slower runners.  What do you think?  If you’re a faster runner, do you try to cheer for people who are finishing after you?  If you’re slower, do you?

Fox Valley Marathon! Race Recap

This morning marked my third marathon! Read about my first two marathons here:

  1. Chicago Marathon 2006
  2. Illinois Marathon – 2011

M & I woke up early this morning to get ready and head out for St. Charles, IL, about an hour away from our Chicago abode. Race preparation went fine and we were off!  Except just after we got on I-290 we realized that I had left my water bottle at home.  Back home again, and then off for real!


We made it to St. Charles just after 6 AM and stopped into Starbucks for a posh potty break. Then to the race start! Right after we got into the parking garage, it started to drizzle. This was a relatively small race – the starting corrals took up maybe 2 blocks. A few more (nervous) potty breaks, then Mike & I took some pre-race photos:




Here’s a view of what we’re hoping to see approximately 5 hours from now: 


The race started at 7 AM, and I thought I was lined up with the 5 hour pacing group.  Accidentally with the 11:27 pace half marathon (2:30 finish) group, and I started about 1 minute after the 11:27 marathon group. 


I took just over the first mile to catch up with the marathon pace group, and settled into the marathon pace.  We were winding through downtown St. Charles, a relatively quaint town. I saw Mike at mile 2, cheering me along with a cowbell and on his bike! We were headed toward the riverfront, and made it there within about 3 miles. The miles moved along, and I saw Mike again around miles 4 and 8!



After mile 8 we began crossing over the Fox River and it was an interesting experience to run over massive wooden bridges! They bounce slightly, and I didn’t love the additional jostling to my stomach.  It was a beautiful course, and we saw an egret and heron on the river! We also passed by the water sewage treatment plant, which wasn’t quite as idyllic, and made us speed up slightly.

Then I saw a friend just before mile 11:  Lilian and her mama were out and cheering us on from the east side of the river!  It was so great to see them and get a quick hug while out on the run.  At this point I was running on an out-and-back strip, so I knew I’d see them again on the way back, about 6 miles later. What was disconcerting was that we were passing by runners six miles ahead of us, they were running by sooo much faster than we were – 3:30 pace groups all the way on.  And since this race promotes itself as a Boston Qualifier, they had pace groups at five minute increments through to almost 4 hours.  So not only are the runners faster, but we’re seeing the pace groups passing by much quicker!

After we passed the turnaround and were the faster people on our way back, I saw Lilian & Mama Sanchez again!

Seventeen miles, and the running starts to get more tough.  I saw Mike at mile 18, and I was lagging a bit behind the 5 hour pace group, although they were not very far ahead.  I finally gave him my sunglasses, as the rain was continuing and it was clear there wouldn’t be any sun for this race.

As I passed mile 20, the running got HARD.  My motivation lagged, and I lost the pace group. I began walking more (not just through the water stops).  Around mile 21, we also hit a “lollipop,” where I saw runners continuing straight ahead of me, but everyone is diverted over a bridge and through a loop and back again.  Mike was at the lollipop stick, and cheered me on.  I am not very happy at this point.

One lady who passed me provided a mantra for me to focus on: “just keep going til mile 21.” I know how this goes, then it’s: “Just keep going til 22” and so on.  Well, it helped!

Another thing that helped me was what I had recently (i.e. yesterday) read on Sweat Once a Day about in dedicating each of the last 6.2 miles to a special person. Although I didn’t plan this out ahead of time, I did use this technique in getting through miles 21-23.  Much thanks out to Mike & my sister Kate in letting me meditate on them during these hard miles!

Then it was a final 5K.  I had about 40 minutes to be able to finish in 5:05, which under normal circumstances would be easy-peasy.  But today I was just working to get done as quickly as possible. At this point I pretty much ran the entire way, only walking at the water stops.  I passed a few more people from the 5 hour pace group… making me wonder who, if anyone had finished with the pacer! (there were only 4 of us when I dropped off, and I had already passed someone who had dropped).

At mile 24 I took my final clif shot to power me through.  As I saw the “one mile left!” sign (since there was also a 20 mile race, this was their 19 mile mark, just .2 after my 25 mile mark), I began to sprint it in as best I could.  You can see my pace increase from the 12 min-13:30 min miles of 21-25, to 11:44 for this 26th mile!

My final .34 miles was completed at a sub 11 minute pace! Initially I looked OK: 


And then I looked not-so-hot. I found a curb to sit on and eat a banana. While there was more food, I couldn’t decide on anything else to eat.  I wasn’t about to throw my hand into a bucket of ice water for a soda.





Lilian was awesome and urged me to get stretched out at the Dreyer massage tent. It was great to get stretched out and a preliminary massage of my legs.  Then we all headed out, and we walked back very slowly to the parking garage.  A quick change, and then got some Starbucks for the ride home!

Race details:

  • Pre-Race Fuel: Bagel Thin w/ butter, 1/2 a Carrot Cake Clif Bar
  • Outfit: Purple Athleta tank top, RRS Compression Shorts, Brooks Glycerin 8 shoes
  • Race Fuel: Clif Shot Blocks, Turbo Shots (3) and Nuun water in my water bottle (refilled once)
  • Weather: drizzling to rainy, 56-63 degrees throughout. 
  • Post-race Dinner:  Piece Pizza & a growler of beer

Tinley Park MetLife Duathlon Race Recap

This morning M & I competed in the Tinley Park Duathlon!  It was a somewhat last minute (i.e. last week) decision, but I had a really good time!

This was my 2nd duathlon ever, and was comprised of the following:

  • 2 mile run
  • 11 mile bike
  • 2 mile run

It was a bit shorter than my first duathlon and also set up for some better weather & fewer hills, so I was looking forward to seeing whether I’d like this one & make some overall judgment on the duathlon sport.  My training with CES also made me feel a bit more comfortable in doing this (and in seeing where I can improve from this event).

Tinley Park is a 45 minute drive from Chicago, and we made good time in driving out there this morning.  After packet pick-up, we dropped our bikes off @ the transition and set up our transition spaces. 

After we went back to the car for round 2 (e.g. make sure we’ve got what we need for the race, get that water bottle you forgot to put on the bike), M & I split for our warmups.  I jogged back to transition to put that waterbottle on, stop by the portapotties, and then got almost a mile of jogging in.  No matter how slow I tried, I couldn’t get over an 11 min pace… that’s a change from earlier this year! 

Then I headed back and got in port-a-potty line again.  Do what works for you, that’s what I say.

The race started in waves by sex & age.  I was in the 3rd wave – under 40 females.  Our group headed out on the run and I just went with the flow.  2 miles is very short for a run, so while I didn’t want to sprint (remember that Bike & Run #2?), I did want to put in a lot of work, thinking I’d get some sort of a break on the bike in a little bit.  I ran the first 2 miles in 19:10 – and if you go by my Garmin, just faster than a 9:35 pace. 

I don’t remember much from Transition #1 but it seemed to go smoothly.  Looking at my time & ranking in comparison to the other participants, I lost a lot of time on this transition. 

Transition Lessons:

  • Hook the front of the bike seat up on the rack.  Set your bike shoes out in front of the bike.  You’ll run in & get the bike off from the front, wheel it out of transition.  Open your bike shoes up as much as possible
  • Put a bright bag or towel out to mark your spot. 
  • Carry your cycling gloves with you on the run, and put them on as you come into transition.
  • RUN!  I don’t think I did this enough, and that’s probably where I lost some time.  Also – did I need to get some water?  Can work on getting hydration while riding on my bike. 

On the Bike, we put in 11 miles.  Overall this was a pretty good ride: relatively flat, and I was also able to apply some of the techniques I’ve recently learned about in my tri training:

  • shift gears – I cycled more in a higher gear this time than on my first duathlon.
  • Start & End ride in a low gear:  spin for first few minutes in the bike, and last few minutes before end of ride.
  • Try & keep a consistent cadence as the terrain changes – shift gears to help make this happen.

There was a guy who we kept bouncing back & forth on the ride, which helped me to maintain a decent pace. He was on a road bike, but it looked a little funny (maybe a little to small for him) and it was easy to keep an eye on him from his distinctive ride – almost like a clown on a kiddy bike, legs out to the side as he was cycling.  He ultimately finished ahead of me, but that’ wasn’t the end of him! 

I came into Transition #2 and was ready for this to be done!  It’s hard to mentally switch into “sprint” mode at this point, but having M there (finished his race) yelling at me “You’re hardcore! You can do it!” helped.  I gulped down some gatorade/water, pulled off my cycling gloves, put on my running shoes, and was off! 

I felt like I was going relatively easy the first few minutes at the end, with my goal to let the blood drain from my quads (biking muscles) to be redistributed throughout my body (hopefully to the hamstrings – get me running NOW!).  As we got into the run, I was passing quite a few people although there’s always that annoying person who you can’t quite pass.  I did pass my “rabbit” friend from the bike ride, and as I encouraged him to push ahead, he indicated that the run was definitely not going to be something to push on.  I left him.

I thought I was getting faster as the run went on, and as M pushed me at the end, but my Garmin chart indicates a relatively even pace throughout. 


The slow spike down in the middle was the turnaround & water stop, so I did a quick walk through the 3 feet of turnaround, and you do see my pace pick up @ the end when M was cheering me on again, pushing me to sprint pass some older men to the finish.  As hard as I tried, I couldn’t beat those guys (although in reality, I did because I started 2 min behind the masters men). 


As I finished, I don’t look quite as bad as after some of my longer races.  I’ve got a straight posture and am not as obviously heel-striking. 

My total time at the race was 1:24:22.  Post race, I had some Gatorade 3 (the recovery drink – different than actual gatorade!), piece of a bagel, and some Culver’s custard!  Mad props to the race that brings out Culvers for everyone! 

Goals for next time: 

  • Reduce transition time – this really got me down and dropped me some 40 spots in ranking that I was making up throughout. 
  • Increase my bike power/speed – goal to get to 16.5 mph average speed for an 11-13 mile bike ride. 
  • Practice taking fuel on bike ride – I’ve just started this in the last week or two, but practicing grabbing my water bottle to take hydration or fuel while riding. 
  • Work on the 2nd run leg – how exactly should I be running just off the bike? I don’t want to lose speed, but want to get faster!  Today’s run did get easier as time went on, but I didn’t really get any faster…

Anyone in the Chicago area up for a bike ride on July 4?