Monday, May 2, 2016

St. Jude Rock and Roll Nashville Race Weekend Recap 4/30/2016 Part 1

My friend Michelle and I signed up back in January for the 2016 Tour Pass 3 pack. We decided our first race would be in Nashville at the St. Jude RNR half marathon. 

We delayed in picking a hotel until early March, and by then our "pickens" were slim. Michelle found us a room at the Holiday Inn express for $300 a night and she managed to use her points to get us a free night. But it was still pricy. However, to be staying downtown made the logistics of the weekend much easier. We were about 4 blocks from the Expo at the Music City Center. 

Getting to the expo was easy once we realized it wasn't at the convention center (oops!). It helps if you read the materials before you set out from your hotel. Signage in the City Center was well placed and several volunteers were available to direct us into the bib que. 
Bib pickup was easy, but since I wasn't properly trained, I decided to drop down to the 5k distance. This is a perk I love with the Rock & Roll series. I would much rather drop down to a race distance I know I can complete rather than get picked up in the sag wagon and given a medal for a race I did not complete. (I'm looking at you, Rundisney!). I went to the Solutions desk to see which corral I should be in for the 5k and was told that I could pick any corral I wanted because there were only 5 corrals total. 

Once we received our bibs it was off to get our shirts. As most race shirts, RNR's are cut a little small so I exchanged mine without a problem. Michelle's shirt was a little big, so she exchanged hers as well.  One word about the shirts, I was pleasantly pleased as they were very nice and I am a fan of black. 

We next ventured into the Official merchandise area of the expo and I was very pleased with the selection of options. Given that I am trying to limit new race-related clothing, Michelle and I both decided to just get RNR Nashville hats. I chose the black with blue lettering and she chose the black and white version. 

As a tour pass holder, you get a special line for merchandise sales as well as some other perks, but you need your Tour Pass credential. We tracked down our credentials at the main Rock and Roll exhibit and then proceeded to explore the expo. 

Most expos have similar vendors:  shoes, clothing, compression items, recovery items, and other endurance events. We made sure to go by each vendor and we're pleased with the offerings. I was a little sad that Toyota didn't offer the "record" personalization as at previous RNR expos. 

After doing our part in stimulating the economy, we went to get the wristband for the post race beer. It made more sense to stand in line 15 minutes at the expo as opposed to bringing your ID with you on the run. Once we were sufficiently ID'd, we decided to head out and explore  Broadway. 

Deciding on a pre-race dinner can be tough, especially with 12,000 other runners in town. Unfortunately, we were not prepared and didn't make dinner reservations. All of the places we wanted to go to didn't have anything until 9pm and that is much too late for dinner. We finally decided on Rock Bottom Brewery. I knew there would be several options for carbo-loading and the food was always good in Chicago. 

We each had a Cosmo and some ballpark pretzels to start. Michelle chose the Brown Ale chicken and I went with the jambalaya. Both meals were tasty but not too filling. We decided to each get the salted caramel and toffee mason jar for dessert. That was one of the best choices of the day. I can't say enough about the item and I wish they would make them back in Chicago. 

After dinner we walked the 10+ blocks back to our hotel, enjoying the music emminating from each establishment. We were both very excited about exploring after the race and on Sunday. We went back to the room to lay out our clothing and items for the morning's race. 

After years of races at both our homes and across the country, we've got this down. Nothing new on race day ever!  Also get everything ready the night before so that you don't forget anything. We finally fell asleep around 10pm and were up with the alarm at 5:30am. 

Details on the actual race day to come in part 2.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chi-Town 10K Race Review AKA The 10k Ice Capades 2016

This past Saturday, April 9, 2016, I participated in All Community Events’ Chi-Town 10K and Half Marathon.  I previously ran this race in 2015 and I like the swag, medal and course so I decided to register for this year’s race.  Little did I know the tricks Mother Nature had up her sleeve.  Packet pickup was a breeze and with a 15% coupon from Sports Authority, I was able to stock up on chews and gels.  

The course was originally at The Peggy Notebart Museum but was moved due to several other races taking place along the lakefront on the same day.  The new start and finish was at Montrose Beach which is a lot closer to my house but a little more difficult to get to, logistically speaking.  The race was scheduled to begin at 8:15am, which means I had to leave my house just before 7am to arrive in time (at least according to Google Maps).  I caught the 6:57am Irving Park (80) bus heading towards the lake.  With no traffic, I made it to Marine and Irving Park in less than 15 minutes; yet I still had to get to Montrose Beach and there were no buses in sight.

I crossed over to the lakefront path and started walking the 0.7 miles north to the start line.  Overnight the weather Gods dumped about an inch of snow and ice onto the grass and sidewalks.  This made for a treacherous walk up the path and made me worry about the upcoming race if the ice didn’t melt.   

Within about 15 minutes, I was at the start line and the conditions were not much better.  The temperature was about 29 degrees and the wind was whipping off the lake.  I ran into a woman from California who did not pack for the weather and was freezing while we waited for the race to begin.
Now for the logistics:  Gear check was organized and kept the runners informed.  There were plenty of extra pins in case a runner forgot theirs, or like me, had the bib hole break on one of her Spi-belt loops, requiring me to pin my bib to my jacket.  There were three arches/corrals set up which I assumed would correspond to the three colored bib options (red, blue, and green).  The problem was, the DJ should have been making announcements about where the runners should line up instead of repeating the same lame lines over and over.

The race began promptly at 8:15 with the blue runners taking off first.  Everyone was a little tentative at first but the seasoned runners ran like the sidewalk was clear.  When my corral was finally allowed to start, I was not going to take any chances given that I am going to Nashville for a race at the end of April.  I had decided, given my treacherous walk to the start line, that I would be walking the entire 10k.  Last year this race did not have enough water stations on the 10k course, so I made sure to bring my Nathan handheld water bottle.  We set off north along the lakefront path and I could see people in front of me slipping and sliding.  I even caught myself sliding a couple of times when I thought I could go a little faster.  The first mile seemed to last the longest, or so I thought at the time.  Finally I saw the mile marker flapping in the wind and I decided to have one of my energy chews.  I had eaten breakfast at 6am and I was beyond hungry at this point.  The next mile and a half was uneventful, except for the sliding of other runners on the slick surface.  It did seem like miles 3 and 4 were extra-long as they swept past Montrose and down towards Irving Park.  I had forgotten my earbuds so I had to amuse myself with songs in my head.  The one I had on repeat was Meghan Trainor’s song from the Peanuts Movie:  ”Better When I’m Dancing”.  Usually about mile 5 of a race, Maroon 5’s “Misery” will come on my ipod.  I don’t plan it that way, it just happens, so as I saw the Mile 5 marker, the song automatically popped in my head.  

I was super slow, more than a 19 minute per mile pace, but I did not want to fall and as a walker, I tend to get out of the way of the runners all the way to the side of the path which can be uneven as well.  As we neared the end of the race, we had one last water stop that contained the most enthusiastic volunteers I’ve seen at a race lately.  They motivated me to finish off that last mile faster than the previous ones.   Unfortunately I didn’t have my Garmin on either, so I do not know my mile splits.  We went under another viaduct and were headed for the finish line.  Due to my “turtle-ness”, I was finishing the 10k as most of the half marathoners were coming in as well.  This caused their spectators to move out on the path to try to get a better view of their runners.  I almost ran into a few people, but I dodged them at the last minute.  I jogged the last 100 feet or so and went to get my medal.  There was a mix up and I was given the half medal as the bibs did not distinguish between the two distances and volunteers are not usually savvy enough to determine who ran each race. 
There was beer and pizza for all participants, but at that point I just wanted to go home.  I took the path along the harbor towards Marine Drive and the 146 bus.  Just before the last water stop, Organic Valley Protein Shakes was handing out full size samples of their product.  Little did I know how much I needed the 26g of protein in their shakes.  I am definitely a fan of their product and will get some more to use in my training.

I am not sure if this race should have been held given the conditions, but it was a good experience nonetheless.  It made me realize how much more actual training I need to do to have a better showing in races in the future.  It also made me realize I may not be up to the task of my first marathon later this month in Nashville.  I will play it by ear and not make any rash decisions.  One thing I know for sure, training and nutrition are important, but so it getting out of your head and just enjoying the event.

Next up is my long walk this weekend and long walk/run next weekend.  Training, here I come!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

T-minus 9 weeks to finishing my first half marathon

 Today the training countdown begins to the St. Jude Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Nashville. I've decided to be good this time about my training and make a real effort to get prepared for this race; as opposed to the other races I just showed up for and massively failed.  I've sketched out my training plan and have a system I can actually stick with this time. 
The training started today by accident. I went to get a pedicure only to find that one of my fav places in Chicago, Strong Nail on Diversey had closed.  As my train home neared Belmont, I decided to go get a chiropractic adjustment to help ease the stress I tend to carry in my neck and shoulders. I asked if I could get a massage but they were all booked so the  girl at the desk mentioned a stretching session instead. After my adjustment and ice and muscle stim, I went to get stretched. 
Tony was amazing and made sure to explain everything he did and showed me stretches that I could do on my own.  I have to say that I feel better than I ever did after a massage. I think that the weekly to eventually monthly stretching sessions are going to make a difference. 
It is 50 degrees here today so I am heading home to walk the dogs and soak up some vitamin D.  Who knew that all I needed was a little stretching to feel like I could get back to being an athlete?  
Now that I have a goal, I promise to be better about logging my training here so that I don't annoy my Facebook friends anymore than I already do. 😎 63 days until Nashville and I know I will do this!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Princess Half Marathon Fail

I attempted the PHM on Sunday while suffering from an upper respiratory infection. As the balloon ladies closed in on me at mile 4, my lungs closed up and I had a severe asthma attack. I was put in the sag wagon and taken to the Medical triage tent where a medical team gave me some powerade, a Mylar blanket and my food bag and medal. The doctor listened to my lungs and didn't like the "expiration wheezing" he heard so I was sent to the big medical tent. I was greeted promptly and hooked up to a pulse ox and BP machine. My BP was really high, so they made me lay down for about 30 minutes. 
I know that I shouldn't have tried to walk/run 13.1 miles while sick. But it was Disney so I had to try.  I'm still resting a week later and suffering from a cough and laryngitis. The Tinkerbell half is in 10 weeks and I HAVE to finish this race, no excuses.  I did have a nice vacation with my girls. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Back on track...again

I've been slacking a bit in posting my successes and failures to this blog to help keep myself accountable.  The last 7.5 months have flown by so I will just give the highlights:
  • Participated in the Inaugural Minne Mouse 10K at Walt Disney World in January 2014.  While I barely finished ahead of the balloon ladies, I finally finished a runDisney race. 
  • Upon my return from Disney World, I proceeded to get very ill.  So ill in fact, that I ended up in the hospital for two days with a sinus infection, bladder infection, and pneumonia.  My recovery was slow and my running took a back seat to getting healthy.
  • My first race back was the Team Ortho Foundation Get Lucky 7k.  My goal was to complete the race, which I did, with a finish time of 1:10:00.  Not bad considering my limited lung capacity.
  • My next race was the Soldier Field 10 Miler.  This race has plagued me for years, but I was determined to finish strong.  What I did not anticipate was my new Hoka One One's giving me blisters.  I spent 8.5 miles limping and trying not to cry.  I finished with a time of 2:48, but at least I finished.  
  • In June, the Rock and Roll Racing Festival was added to the Chicago running weekend.  If a runner did a 5k on Saturday, and either the 5K or the half marathon on Sunday, they would earn a third remix challenge medal.  Since I am all about the bling, I decided to to tackle this challenge.  Although I finished both 5k's in less than 50 minutes, I once again had blisters on my feet.  I decided I needed to do something to change this problem.  (This will be explained on a later blog post). 
  • I signed up for the Coast to Coast Challenge for 2015. This involves completing a half marathon at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. It won't be easy but I think I can do this. Baby steps. 
More to come...

Friday, October 11, 2013

A minor setback

Last week I finally joined DePaul University's fitness center which has a great deal for alumni of $33/month the first year after graduation. I signed dozens if papers and was given my new keycard. I decided to spend Sunday afternoon reacquainting my body to actual exercise as I've been limited lately to walking and swimming.
I spent about 90 minutes alternating between strength training machines and the elliptical trainer. I'm happy to report I haven't lost all of my muscle mass but my endurance sucks. After 10 minutes on the elliptical I felt my legs preparing to strike and they began convincing my lungs that I was out of my mind to think I could handle any hardcore exercise.
When my heart rate soared past the weight loss/training level, I decided to try the weight machines for a while. As I reached overhead for the lat pull down, my muscles seemed to rejoice: "hooray! She's using us again!" I found I could do multiple reps at a good starting weight and not feel too achy. I moved through the circuit of machines making sure to get all of the major muscle groups. I was starting to get the endorphin high that I remember so well. I went home that evening to another 3 mile walk and a good night's sleep.
The next day my hopes of continuing my program were derailed by work. My coworker is on vacation and I have to cover my work and his while he is gone. Coupled with the start of our "busy season" and I was working late every night. So late that after a three mile walk with my dogs, I had enough time to eat, start some laundry an get ready for bed. This continued for the next four days.
In addition, I've had sleeping issues in that I sleep well for a couple of hours and then I am wide awake for a hour. This lack of REM sleep has had an effect on my energy level so even if I had the time to workout, my body wouldn't have let me.
On Thursday I lost my iPod Shuffle which I used for my walks/runs. I felt like I'd lost a piece of me and I let my depression take over. This resulted in a change in eating habits and I gained a few pounds due to unhealthy choices.
Today was a little easier at work and I was able to get motivation and encouragement from other runners on Facebook and various blogs. While I will only do a three mile walk with the dogs tonight, I have the drive to get back on track tomorrow. I also believe that visiting the Chicago Marathon Health and Fitness Expo will inspire me as well.
Keep on plugging along!

- Trying to shed my potato skin and find my inner skinny fry.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New shoes = no pain

After the pain caused from the 10k a week ago, I decided to visit Fleet Feet to replace my "beyond their mileage" Asics. By going into a specialty store, I was able to have someone watch my gait and properly measure my feet.

I asked Matt what the most cushioned shoe available is and he pointed to the Hoka One One. While the shoes aren't the most esthetically pleasing, they are a foot pain sufferers dream. They run big so definitely try them on. I now feel like I can continue my training and hopefully lose more weight to alleviate the pressure on my joints. Plus they have a color that will go with my Minnie Mouse running outfit.

I will report back on my progress with my Hoka One One Bondis.

- Trying to shed my potato skin and find my inner skinny fry.