Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hops for Hope 5K

Check out my race review for the Hops for Hope 5K on BibRave

Marathon (Training) Motivation or Lack Thereof

Marathon training motivation or lack thereof has been a problem for me these past couple of weeks.  Do I really have to run all those miles? Why did I sign up for the marathon?  It's so hot?  I don't feel like it, etc.   The 2018 Chicago Marathon is now 18 weeks away (or thereabouts) and it is time to put up or shut up. 

I've been running fairly consistently for the past year so I should be ready to tackle marathon training from a physical standpoint.  It's the mental side of it that I have been struggling with but I'm not sure why.  Is this just a normal pre marathon lull?  Am I bothered that I don't have a clear set of marathon training buddies?  Do I just have too much else on my mind? 

I guess none of that matters, I just need to get out there. 

Do you struggle with training for big races?  What do you do to get over the mental hurdles? 
The 2016 Chicago Marathon. 
It looks fun????

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Run with the Lions 5K for Longwood Elementary

The walk from the parking lot

What better group to run for than a local elementary school! This past Saturday, April 28th, was the 5th annual Run with the Lions 5K for Longwood Elementary school at the St. James Farm forest preserve. Every time I run one of these small events, I wonder why anyone spends the money on the huge races in Chicago. Run with the Lions is well organized from start to finish and it went off without a hitch. For $22.50 (including fees) this event cannot be beat.

Packet Pickup was held on two consecutive evenings, one at the school and the second at a local church. I went to the school and was greeted by what I assume were enthusiastic parents or teachers. I was in and out in less than five minutes and was pleasantly surprised by the shirt. Because Men in Black, a pest control company was the major race sponsor, the shirt was black with a bright design on the front. It is very wearable. In fact, for the first time ever (I think), I wore the race shirt at the race. It went well with my cat camo tights.
Cat Camo

Race day dawned cool and breezy with a bright blue sky, an absolutely perfect day for a 5K. This race is held at the St. James Farm which is part of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District and a gorgeous place to take a walk or go for a run. There are few places better to be on a beautiful day. As I pulled into park free on the grass field, it crossed my mind to wonder “why does anyone go into the city for a race when you can do this?” Ah well, to each their own.

The walk from the parking lot to the start of the race was probably all of 500 feet and I was amused to hear a little girl ask her father “how come we have to walk so far?” It truly is all a matter of perspective. Near the end of the walk, there were five or six port-o-lets with no lines. It is always nice to be able to “go” a couple times before the run starts. It is also nice that there was water and hand soap to wash up after using them.
Port-o-lets with no lines

This year there were 409 participants in the 5K and a bunch of them were kids from the school who were given the chance to run for free. Nothing makes a back of the pack runner happier than seeing the joy on the faces of the kids as they run alongside of the adults. At the start of the race, walkers were asked to hold back and wait for 5 minutes after the runners started. This worked out really well as the kids who would sprint and walk and those of us doing a more organized run/walk were not constantly trying to get around the walkers.

I also liked that the race started without the obligatory national anthem. While our anthem is quite nice, I’ve never understood why it is played at the start of these runs.
Bolingbrook Fun Run Club runners at the 5K

The course at St. James farm was a mix of dirt trail, grass, crushed gravel and a little pavement (I think.) At times we were running in the trees, and sometimes in open grassy areas. We passed a pond or two, a graveyard for the St. James farm horses and hounds and on the Prairie Path some actual horses in their paddock. Most 5Ks are held on streets and are not that scenic. This is one of the most scenic “non trail run” 5Ks that I am aware of.
Part of the beautiful cours

As we crossed the finish line, the announcer called out our first names and the school’s lion mascot gave each of us a high five while volunteers handed out the nice lion head medals. While we were waiting for the 5K to finish and the Kids 200 yd dash to be held, there was food and the silent auction to keep us busy. The food at the small events is so much nicer than the big city races. We were offered bananas, chips, Jimmy John’s sandwiches and soup. A couple of the sponsor tables also offered candy! The silent auction, which further helps the school, had a lot of nice things including Cubs and Sox tickets but I did not win anything (just as well!)

Finally, awards were announced and my friend, Lisa Frost, came in 3rd woman overall!!! Yowza! I was in the presence of running greatness. After the overall winners were announced, they announced 1st, 2nd and 3rd by each age from 5 to 12 (or thereabouts). While this took a bit of time, it was so much fun to see the excitement on the kids’ faces. What a great way to get kids interested in running. Lastly, age group winners were announced and my name was the last name called of the day as I came in 3rd in the women’s 60 and over age group. As a friend said “I had hit the end of the age groups.” Better to have hit it then to not reach it at all.
Lisa with her winnings!
The kids getting their medals.

Last name called!

What a wonderful race; inexpensive and for a great cause, organized, fun and at a beautiful place. I will be doing it again year after year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Sly Fox Half Marathon & 10K

Spring is here and races, once again, start at 7:00 AM.   Ugh.   So Friday night, I set my alarm clock for 4:15 AM and hit the sack at 9:00 PM to be up in time for this great little race.  Same day packet pickup for the Sly Fox opened at 5:30 and would close at 6:30 AM.  After a couple cups of coffee and a granola bar, I set off for St. Charles at 5:30 AM.  The good thing about early races is there was absolutely no traffic and I pulled into the free parking garage with time to spare.

Unless you’re near St. Charles, there’s no need to drive to early packet pickup; there was only a short wait to pick up a very nice, women’s cut, black race shirt and race bib.  I loved not getting yet another useless bag stuffed with flyers and refrigerator magnets.   Just a shirt and a bib. 

One of the really nice things about this race is the number of port-o-potties.   There was a huge bank of them with no wait.  This makes for a stress free wait; go as often as you wish before the race.

The half marathon started right at 7:00 AM and the 10K start followed at 7:20 AM.  Both races are fairly small with 407 and 335 participants, respectively.  Having done both the half and the 10K in the past, I knew what I was in for, hills!  The race starts on the streets of St. Charles and immediately starts climbing.   While the early hills are not particularly steep, there is no chance to warm up before starting to use those quads.  A little after the first mile, the course turns onto a paved path and continues its slow ascent.   The paved path continues for about three quarters of a mile before the race turns back onto the streets and runs through a beautiful, tree filled, hill filled neighborhood.   At mile 2.75, a steep hill brings all but the strongest runners to a walk.  The hill crests about a quarter of a mile later and then it is time for the 10K to turn around and run back while the half marathon continues on for more hills.  Although there are a few uphill sections on the return route, overall it is a nice downhill run that almost makes you forget the big hills on the way out.

Along the route there were many enthusiastic volunteers and the water stop, passed twice, was manned by young women dressed as Girl Scout cookies.  Not sure what that was about, but they were cute. My only criticism of the race is that the water stops for the 10K are too far apart making it necessary for the mid and back of the packers to carry water.

The finish line is busy with people and the announcer worked hard to acknowledge each runner by name.  The finisher medal is creative and also serves as a bottle opener.   The opener was not needed at the post race party where Sam Adam’s 76 and some other alcoholic concoction were both served in cans.  The after party (and packet pickup) was held at Romano Mercato Italiano restaurant where pizza and Italian sausage and pepper sandwiches were served.  There was indoor and outdoor seating too!

The first place female and male 10K finishers were, Lisa Guscott-Trout  44:32 and Matt Kraft 40:29; and for the half marathon Tess Laurette-Ehrhardt 1:26:37 and Roger Pinon 1:16:38.  Congratulations to the winners!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Running Out of 2017 and Into 2018

Let me start off by saying that I totally blew the one “resolution” that I made for 2017.  I cannot do 100 push-ups, I still cannot do one good solid push up.  Perhaps, that will change this year, perhaps not.  Now on to running.

"Enjoying" the 2017 Polar Dash Half
No marathon, no ultra.  That defines 2017 for me.  I just ran for pleasure and threw in a few half marathons to make it interesting.  After 2015, the year in which I completed my first and only 50 mile run and 2016, the year of my “last” marathon and all the training that went into both, I just wanted to enjoy running and I did.   Did I miss being out with my running buddies on those 15, 17 and 20 mile training runs?  Not really.  Did I miss having to get up at 4 AM to complete long runs before it got hot during the summer?  Not at all. 

Finishing the 2017 Hot Chocolate with Ann, The Rockstar
So what did I do in 2017? I ran or walked twelve 5Ks, one 10K, one 8 miler, one 10 miler, one 100 mile relay (ran about 12 miles) and three half marathons.  I was going to write about each of them but I didn’t.  I ran 1,006 miles in 2017 and stayed healthy the whole year.  Did my pace improve?  No.  Did I lose any weight? Hell no!   Yet, I think 2017 was maybe my most enjoyable running year yet.  I ran when I felt like it, I didn’t get too hung up on pace, and I ran with great people.  As in other years, the highlight of the year was doing the Hot Chocolate 5K with the Cancer to 5K team.  Seeing new people get turned onto running just makes me happy.

2017 is a wrap.

Volunteering at the 2017 Chicago Marathon Expo
2018 is going to be another great year.  I’ve been selected to be a 2018 Chicago Athlete Ambassador which means that I will run some races for them and in exchange write race recaps.   I’m hoping to meet some new people in this role and maybe running a couple races that I’ve never run.   I feel very honored to be selected.  I’m also going to run the Chicago Marathon for the 3rd time.  I know, I know, I said “never again”.   All marathon finishers know that that’s never true.  My niece, Rebecca, is going to come in from Israel and run/walk it with me.  This time, I swear, I will do whatever I did in training and finish strong.  

Fun with Friends
2018 is also going to be a year of cross training.  I’m starting to get interested in swimming again and plan to work myself up to be able to join the Naperville Waves sometime in the next 12 months.  Plus, I’ve started a Yoga for the Inflexible course and am proving that the course name is appropriate.

It’s only January 11th, and I’ve registered for three half marathons (F^3 in Chicago, Naperville Women’s Half and the Bjorklund Half in Duluth, MN), and four 5Ks  (Geneva Super Shuffle, Universal Sole Valentine’s Trail Challenge, Shake it Off 5K in Bolingbrook and the Five-O 5K in Libertyville.)  I’m sure there will be a lot more and a lot more fun miles with friends.

I Call it Running, and perhaps it is!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Lemont Park District’s Frigid 5K

This past Sunday, December 2nd, the 9th Annual Lemont Park District’s Frigid 5K was held at the park district’s Centennial Community Center and the surrounding park.   I live in Naperville and with a hop onto I-355 on an early Sunday morning it is just a 20 minute drive away.

In Illinois, in early December, the weather can be almost anything from cold and snowy to hot and humid.  This year the weather was just about perfect – the temperature just a couple of degrees above freezing and rising and a bright blue sky.  As I drove over the Des Plaines river, the early morning fog was a beautiful pink.  It really deserved a photo but I was driving. 

I love small local races!  With only 229 participants and lots of groups running together there was more than enough free parking.   At 7:20 AM, I pulled into the parking lot walked into the community center and by 7:25 AM, boom, I had my packet and was walking back to the car.  One of the reasons to run the Frigid 5K is the nice quality hoodie that is given out each year.  This year’s hoodie is a seafoam green color that, although different, looks nice on almost everyone.  
Bolingbrook Fun Run Club

A number of Bolingbrook Fun Run Club members and friends from the Ulman Foundation’s Cancer to 5K team were also going to be running so I went back into the community center to meet up with them.  This is another reason to love small races.   Right up until race time we were able to meet up and hang out in a lovely warm gym area and have the use of real bathrooms, no port-a-potties at this race!  At about 7:50 AM someone announced that we should head out to the starting line which was just a short walk away.  Once everyone was in place, someone said “your mark, get set, go” and blew an air horn and we were off! 
The starting line

Although the Frigid 5K is chip timed, it does not have a timing mat at the start.  With no timing mat, and no instructions for walkers and runners with strollers to line up at the back, the start is a bit disorganized.  Luckily, the run starts out on a very wide section of parking lot and faster runners can move to the head of the pack easily.  The Frigid 5K is a two loop run on a paved path that circles a park that surrounds the community center.  There really isn’t a lot to see but it is a pleasant run on a car free route.  At various points along the path, there were small groups of young people cheering us on which just added to the small race feel.  There was one water stop which we passed twice with Styrofoam cups filled with water laid out on a table.  The water stop was more than sufficient.

I only have one complaint, and it is not about the race but the runners.  PEOPLE!!!  If you are going to walk (and god knows, I do it often) do not block the whole path.  I had to speak to a group of young men who were doing a bit of run walking and when they walked, they were walking four abreast across the path.  I could tell they thought I was a nasty old lady but really, you don’t realize you’re blocking the whole path?  In addition, there was a woman closer to my age that was fully plugged into her headset that would just stop dead in the middle of the path with no hand signal when she switched from running to walking.  What the heck?
Bolingbrook Fun Run Club & Ulman Fund's Cancer to 5K friends

Okay, back to the race itself.  At the end of the race, we went back into the warm gym where they had bananas, granola bars, water, Gatorade and a hot chocolate bar with whipped cream and all sorts of toppings.  The gym is decorated nicely for the holidays and is great for taking group photos.   It is a nice place to hang out while the overall and age group awards are being handed out.   No age group award for me; those old ladies are fast!
Hanging out - Notice the Sweatshirts!

The overall race winner was Josh Rogowski  with a time of 17:09, a 5:31 pace!   

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Good Bye 2016, Hello 2017

I’ve been terrible about blog posting this year.  No excuses, I just didn’t feel like I had anything to say.  The year is coming to a close so I thought I would wrap up 2016 and look forward a bit. 

2016 was a good running year, it sucked in way too many ways but with regards to running, it was good.  I ran a bunch of races, set a 5K, 10K and a half marathon PR and stayed injury free for the whole year!  I guess I set a marathon PR too but it wasn’t much of an effort or a PR.  My biggest accomplishment was hitting my overall goal of at least 100 miles per month, not 1200 miles for 2016, but 100 or more miles per month.  I still have eleven miles left to make this goal for December but I’m fairly confident with three days left that I will make it.  I set this goal because I thought it would make me run consistently throughout the year and it did.  As I look back on my training log, I see that almost every week I had 25 to 30 miles of running which was just perfect for me.

On my way to 1/2 marathon PR
The following is a table of the races I ran this year and the overall pace of each event.  I’m never going to be speedy, but I have picked it up a bit.  The bolded races are my PR’s.  Super Manny was probably a PR but the overall course was short.  The 10:18 was what was on my own watch, the race shows me at under 10 a mile but that’s not right.   Anyway, I ran a lot of races this past year.  I’m planning on cutting back in 2017 and definitely not running a marathon.

Super Shuffle
St. Patrick's Naperville
Shake It Off
Rockdale Ramble
Super Manny
10 Miles
Chicagoland Spring Half
13.1 Miles
Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10
10 Miles
Sundowner 5K
Mad to the Bone
13.1 Miles
Naper Trails Half
13.1 Miles
Dick Pond Hot Cocoa
8 miles
Chicago Marathon
Naperville Half Marathon
Lisle Turkey Trot Tuneup
Jingle Bell 5K
Frigid 5K


Muriel in Aqua, Me in Pink at Quarryman
I enjoyed all of these races but a couple really stood out for me.  In particular, I really enjoyed the Quarryman Challenge 10 miler.  For one, it was a very hilly race in Lemont, IL and it was one that I had not run before.  My friend, Muriel and I went out to Lemont and checked it out before the race and we knew it was going to be tough.  Muriel and I stuck together and had fun tackling this race.  She won an age group award and afterwards there was a great after party with unlimited tapped beers from a couple local breweries and pizza too.  Not bad for $40.  Not sure I’m going to be in town this year, but if I am, I will definitely do this one again.

A little to eat after Xtreme 10
This year, I also enjoyed the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10.  I’ve done this before and hated it but this year the weather was a little cooler and I felt good going into it.  Andy, Petra and I stayed together right until the end and Petra and I squeaked to the finish in just under two hours.  We had a blast!

The 15 miler that almost killed me.  Thanks guys!
All of these races were fun but I enjoyed more the Bolingbrook Fun Run Club runs with friends.  Some were marathon training runs, some were just fun runs but all of them were good.  The one that sticks out the most in my mind was an ugly, hot, humid early morning 15 miler that knocked the crap out of me.  I was sweating so much that I couldn’t cool off and had to walk the last three miles.  But, I did not walk them alone.  Caroline and Andy said “no big deal” and walked back with me.  They don’t know how much I appreciated this. 

12 miles alone
I also enjoyed my “alone” miles.  These are the miles where I work on speed and form and think about nothing and everything at the same time.  I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s pace, where I’m going to run or even if I am going to finish.  As I’ve gotten older, I realize I like being with myself.  Sometimes, I like that more than anything else at all.

2017 is just a few days away.  I don’t have huge plans for the year – no marathons, no ultras, etc.  I do plan to up my monthly mileage commitment to 110 miles per month and have joined the Run The Year challenge as part of a two man team.    I’m hoping to run stronger and faster, not longer.  Maybe knock off a few more PRs.  I guess my big goal for the year is to make it to the next age group (birthday in September) without injury.  That to me is more important than any other goal.

I’m already signed up for a few races for 2017:

Polar Dash
Half Marathon

Shake it Off

Naperville Woman’s Half
Half Marathon

Adirondack Fox Trot
Virtual 10K

Muliple 5Ks

I will be adding some other races too depending on whether or not I’m in town.   Races like the Geneva Super Shuffle, Rockdale Ramblin 10K, Quarryman Challenge 10 miler, Sundowner 5K….  the possibilities (unlike the wallet) are endless.

Here’s to 2017!