Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Race Recap Oktoberfest and Other Updates

I've been told I need to write my race recap.  I guess I am nearly a week late.  To be fair I did head back to Michigan for my niece's 1st birthday over the weekend.  I was a little pre-occupied there to write a blog post.  The first few days this week have been a little hectic as well.

Yay for first birthday.  Now where's the cake?
I was a little hesitant to sign up for the race at first since I didn't want to do anything to risky too close to the marathon.  On the other hand this was the same race I ran my best 5K time at last year and I do love the opportunity to run fast.  After some brief discussion on Facebook with the Wurst Running Club Ever I decided to go for it.  Once I was in, I was all in and got the Dirndl shirt along with everyone else.

Race day came and things didn't look to promising with Mother Nature.  We had storms followed by a mini heat wave.  I decided I was going to run to the start of the race since it wasn't too far from my place and I needed to get enough mileage in.  I was a sweaty mess barely into my warm up run.  That wasn't a good sign.  Even worse I ran the back half of the course and saw how muddy and torn up the paths were.  This was definitely not a day to go all out.

I got to the race site and found the first couple Wurst runners.  We chatted as they stood in line for their packets. Others soon followed suit.  We started drawing attention in our matching shirts.  The Redeye took a group photo for us.  The race director also had to get pictures of us for the Facebook site.  I kept looking around for Jennifer but never found her.She had texted me, but I didn't know since I had my phone securely wrapped and tucked away after partially damaging it with sweat earlier in the week.  Before we knew it we were off to the starting line, everyone splitting up to guess about where they should stand.

After the national anthem was sung we were off to the races... ok more of a trot to start.  There were quite a few slower runners up front, but that happens at all races.  I just waited for openings and darted through.  Its not like I was going for a PR on this night.  I feel kind of bad because I caught Maggie and Mo catching up next to me in the corner of my eye, but I saw a big opening so I darted through and was able to run my own pace after that.  I actually ran a pretty solid 5K.  It was warm and humid and I kept having to dodge puddles, but I kept a solid pace without over exerting myself.  I debated picking up the pace a bit for the second half to see if I could give my PR a run for the money.  Once we turned around we had a pretty solid headwind going to I just tucked in and cruised along.  About a quarter mile before the finish I saw Declan, the wurst high fiver ever, along with his wife and Lil Smokie.  After the high five I picked up my pace slightly to go for a strong finish.  I wound up with a 22:52 which is actually my 2nd fastest 5K time ever and I finished 55th out of 500 runners.  Not a bad day all factors considered.  I think my 5K PR is going to drop sometime after the marathon :)

After gathering some post race goodies I started making my way over to where Declan was at.  I spotted Maggie coming down the final stretch and yelled out to her as she finished.  Once I reached Declan I quickly became the entertainment for Lil Smokie.  She was playing around with me and decided I needed decoration in the form of leaves and dirt.  I tried to teach her to wave and cheer on the runners, but she was more interested in going running with them.  After cheering on the rest of the WRCE members we headed back to the finish to regroup.  We got a couple more photos in before part of the group split to head home and the rest of us headed to Ranalli's for post race free beer and grub.

The day following the race I intended to get up and run 6 miles before heading to Michigan, yeah that didn't happen according to plan.  Instead I just packed up and headed out.  I did get up on Saturday and get my miles in.  Its no fun running through a subdivision I learned.  After my run I took a quick shower then spent another 75 minutes on the road to head to my sister's place.  I spent most the day playing with my nephews and niece.  Its been months since I've seen Brooklyn so she was shy at first, but by the end of the day her favorite activity was pound on Uncle Eric.  I spent a lot of the day on my feet and active and could feel a bit of soreness creeping in which wasn't a good sign considering Sunday would be my long run.  Getting up on Sunday I wasn't fully rested and I was slightly sore, but if you follow the Hanson method, this is the type of condition you want to run under so you can prepare your body for the rigors of the marathon.  I also had to have a gameplan considering I didn't have drinking fountains on the route.  I wound up putting water bottles in my parents driveway and wore my hydration belt and carried some gels.  I ran loops that would take me back to my parents place every 4 miles to refill.  This wasn't a very scenic run and I didn't realize how uneven sidewalks can get, but I made it through without quitting and stayed within my prescribed training pace.  After the run I went to get milk to find only a little bit left in an expire carton.  I wound up just downing 20oz of water and grabbing a coke to get some carbs.  I then took a shower while my mom made me a bacon sandwich (mmmmm... bacon).  After a brief rest it was off to the cider mill with my nephew.  He had a friend with him and they were running all over the place.  Needless to say my legs were done at this point.

And stay down!

I drove back to Chicago a bit on the late side on Sunday night.  Nothing like spending 4 1/2 hours in the car after running 16 miles then spending a couple hours walking around a cider mill trying to keep up with a 5 and 6 year old.  I feared for the worst on Monday morning.  When I woke up I was surprising alright.  When I headed downstairs I cringed and hesitated as I took the first step expecting some soreness and creaking as has become the norm, but there was nothing!  I was shocked to say the least.  I made it through the day without any soreness or stiffness, just some general fatigue.  I headed out on Monday night for an easy 6 miler and overshot my prescribed pace by quite a bit, my legs had some pep to them.  I took Tuesday off since I got home late from work, but tonight I decided to try mile repeats since I have slacked on speed and strength workouts and found that my legs were still feeling awesome.  I was rocking the mile intervals at speed workout pace instead of strength pace, oops.  I'm feeling a little more confident now that I'm peaking at the right time in my training.  The slight aches and stiffness that goes along with training has been going away and I'm running as fast as ever.  I've just got to get through a few more days and I can begin the taper.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pint Night at Fleet Feet Lincoln Square

So I was finally able to join my fellow bloggers who make up the Wurst Running Club Ever for Pint night up at Fleet Feet in Lincoln Square.  I snuck out of work early and got lucky with traffic.  I got home and changed real quick and hydrated a bit before racing for the brown line.  I learned the first rule of Pint night is not to show up on time apparently.  I arrive at pretty much 6:30PM if not a minute before.  Shortly after Declan showed up and even though we never met before there was the recognition from the back and forth on the blogs and reddit.  Soon after Anne, Mo, and her boyfriend showed up.

We chatted a bit and I shuffled nervously as I'm not as familiar with the group as everyone else.  I broke the ice with Mo by reminding her we talked about Rock n Roll Vegas which we both plan on rocking - or maybe rolling depending on how much we eat come November.  We wondered where Maggie and Pete were at when Maggie finally popped in the door.  She brought along the Wurst shirts ever for our 5K on Thursday.  The Fleet Feet guys made some announcements and off we went.  Wait, where's Pete?  We ran into him outside on Lincoln Ave about a half block down.  We're trying to corral him into the group run and he's trying to take our pictures.

It was a nice run through the neighborhood.  I wasn't real familiar with anything except for the area around where they have Maifest so I followed the group.  We chatted about various things, made jokes, and only got delayed (temporarily lost) once.  Once we hit the turnaround point we took a group photo.

We even let a random join the fun

On the way back Pete and Declan took off.  I wasn't sure if I should keep up or hang back... I stayed back.  I wound up talking to J since we are both MSU grads (Go Green!) and found that we graduated the same year after we both took victory laps.  We wound up getting a bit ahead of the girls, but still way behind those speedsters.  We had a bit of an interesting moment when back near the Maifest area a car wasn't paying attention and basically ran a stop sign and nearly hit one of the runners in front of us.  He stopped as the girl just barely jumped out of the way and then glared at us as the rest of the runners decided to go and make him sit there awhile.  He's lucky he didn't hit the girl, plenty of witnesses to make sure he got what he deserved.

We got back to Fleet Feet and grabbed our gear and headed down to the Grafton.  Once we got there we found out our free beer was going to be draft only.  Apparently some people may have taken advantage of the any beer free policy previously.  Some people are just the Wurst aren't they?  I settled on a Guinness since the night had a bit of a chill to it and seemed appropriate.  We hung out and chatted and talked about training and race plans and whatnot.  I ordered food, or at least I thought I did.  It never came.  The waitress finally checked on me when the others were mostly done.  I had ordered a buffalo chicken sandwich that she forgot to put in... I wound up with buffalo chicken tenders, but the waitress didn't charge me so I'm not one to complain.  Declan lost his man card by drinking a cider and following it up with a chicken mango salad.  I hope Anne takes care of it better than Declan ;)

After parting ways I found the most appropriate picture ever at the brown line stop on my way home.

Insert sausage joke here
-That's what she said!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Race Recap: Chicago Half Marathon

A year ago this race was my second ever half marathon and I was hoping to break 2 hours for the first time after a disastrous a first attempt on a warm day.  This year the race didn't have nearly the ideal conditions last year did since it was slightly warm with the low 70s temperatures and a very sticky 88% humidity.  I didn't have any goals this year other than to escape unharmed.

After work Friday I met up with Jennifer and we headed down to the expo to do packet pick up.  We decided to kill a few extra birds and picked up our packets for Monster Dash as well and sign up for Polar Dash.  I also picked up some Gu to start experimenting since I know I will need some sort of fuel to get through the marathon.  I just barely get through half marathons on Gatorade as it is.

On race day I was up dark and early since the sun wasn't up yet.  Jennifer showed up at 4:30 and we drove down to the race parking at the Museum of Science and Industry.  It was a bit more leisurely this year as we didn't get stuck in traffic and I didn't have to run to the start line like last year.  I like having a more relaxed start to things.  We found a bench to chill on and messed around on our phones and I snacked on fig newtons until it was time for the blogger meet up.

Pre race can be eerie

Around 6:30 we headed over to the HDSA tent, bumping into Emily on the way and seeing Gingerfoxxx and Waffles once we got there.

We took our obligatory picture and chatted a bit.  Everyone then went their separate ways to prepare to start the race.  I headed to the start line and found a spot between the 1:50 and 2:00 signs.  There were no organized corrals unless you were among the elite runners.  This was a bit frustrating since no one pays attention to the signs, but it is what it is.  A few minutes later I spot Maggie entering the start chute and head over to where she is to chat pre-race and start together.  Soon the race began and we parted ways.

The first couple miles were on crowded side streets.  I tried not to weave too much, but it was darn near impossible since without corrals, many more people started up near the front that shouldn't have.  My first 2 miles are on the slow side.  I started picking up the pace in mile 3 as things thinned out a little bit.  I was rocking and rolling by the time I hit Lake Shore Drive and am running strongly in spite of the humidity.  If I stayed strong I would of had an outside shot at a PR if I really pushed it on the back stretch.

Just after the aid station at mile 7 my stomach decided to hate me.  There was no running this one out.  I was going to have to make a stop.  I did so at the next aid station at the turnaround and lost nearly 4 minutes time.  We need to start putting reflective coatings on portapotties or something because it was like sitting in a sauna out there on the course.  Upon exiting it was like being in air conditioning with the change in temperature.  This lead to a brief burst of speed as the "cooling" effect helped give me a push.  I soon dropped back to reality and figured since I wasn't going to get a PR, I might as well just coast a bit.  It also didn't help that I started to feel a slight twinge in my left hamstring.  Nothing major, and I could still run.  I think it was just getting a little angry at me for my yo-yo running habits lately. 

As I coasted towards the finish, just wanting to be done I did see some struggling runners.  There was a guy in a stretcher with an ambulance waiting at mile 12.  I picked up the speed just a tad with 1/4 mile to go, but wasn't going to risk going any faster with the hamstring.  I finally crossed the finish, got my medal, a bottle of water, and some pretzels and sipped on a cup of Gatorade.  I realized I wasn't even that thirsty given all the aid stations on the course.  My time was just 17 seconds slower than last year which was greatly satisfying given the harsher conditions and the unplanned pit stop.  I headed over to pick up my Windy City Challenge medal and then to the HDSA tent.  I texted Jennifer to let her know where I was and looked up and saw Maggie had just finished as well.  We chatted a bit then Maggie headed off to the VIP tent while Jennifer and I left since I wanted to keep moving and get home before the Bears traffic and before my legs stiffened up.

This is my 2nd year doing the Windy City Challenge.  My combined "marathon" time is 3:44:55.  Hopefully I will see something similar next month.