Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What I Drank Wednesday [3]

So I just happened to visit another beer festival this past weekend.  This time it was the West Loop Craft Beer Festival located near the French Market.  I wasn't going to go until Anne convinced me with a coupon code.  Ok, who am I kidding.  It doesn't take much to tilt the scales when beer is involved. 

I was pretty beat up physically after Soldier Field.  I had only 2 hours of sleep the night prior and my quads nearly quit on me during the race.  My right arch was aching as well.  I had a hard time even getting home staying upright.  Since I live next to a Walgreens I picked up an arch brace and went home and proceeded to down Gatorade and water to replenish myself and took a brief nap.  After the nap I felt a bit better and could actually walk and so made my way down to the west loop.  I kept checking for a quick bite before the fest but everywhere was either closed or had long lines.  Once people tweeted that they weren't showing up on time I went to Olgilvie and had a more relaxed lunch in the food court.

Once at the fest I quickly found Charlyn and Erin.  Anne and Bob joined us soon later.  It was a little crowded with all the tents fit into the street instead of having a football field separating them, but wasn't too bad.  Lines were short for the most part.  It was a good time and I tried a lot of beers from smaller breweries around the Chicago area.  I also got a lot of comments about my epic pretzel necklace.

The beers I had include:
Jarrett Payton - Argus Brewery
Ambassador Am-Belgo - DESTIHL
Kuhler See - Lake Effect
Lawnmore Lager - Baderbrau
Fire&Ice - Brooklyn
Rubaeus - Founders (probably my favorite of the day)
Summer Ale - Ommegang
Fascist Pig - Finch's
The Life Pursuit - Middle Brow
Riverwest Stein - Lakefront
Saison de Lis - Perennial Artisans Ales
Gringolandia Super Pils - 5 Rabbit
Dark-N-Curvy - Piece
Municipal India Pale Ale - Ale Syndicate
Moon Moon - Atlas
Honey Pot Blonde - Hailstorm
Birthday Suit - Begyle

Monday, May 26, 2014

Soldier Field 10 Mile

I had signed up for the Soldier Field 10 Mile way back when registration opened up.  I ran the race last year for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I might have been a bit spoiled by the fact that last year happened to be the 10 year anniversary of the race and they went all out.  I mean how many races have Soul Asylum as the post race concert?  I kept waiting for an announcement on this year's entertainment only to not hear anything until the pre-race announcements.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning.  The race started at 7AM at Soldier field which meant I was up at 4:30AM and meeting Jennifer around 5:30AM to catch the red line.  We had to wait a bit for the train and when it finally did come it took its sweet time getting down to Roosevelt.  It would stop and wait at stations where no one was at or getting on or off.  We finally got to Roosevelt around 6:20ish.  This gave me about 25 minutes to get to Soldier Field and check my bag before the corrals closed.  As we got closer Jennifer kept telling me to just take off and do what I needed to do.  I didn't want to rush.  I figured I'd drop back a corral if needed.  The next wave started only a corral behind mine.  We finally got into the stadium and Jennifer went to find a restroom while I hustled down to my gear check which was on the far end.  After this I jogged in spurts towards my corral.  I got there around 6:47 and luckily I was still let in.  About 30 seconds later I saw them close the gate and turn runners back to the next wave.  At least my heart was already pumping and ready to go.

After a bit more pre-race announcements honoring the Armed Services we were finally off.  I was in corral 3 and we were set loose about 6 minutes after the elites.  The first mile was crowded and a bit on the slow side.  I wasn't worried.  I ran very slow my first 4 miles of the race last year and wanted to follow the same strategy.  I even had to use the restroom just as badly as last year since I didn't get a chance to pre-race.  As we got to the first aid station I saw a line forming for the bathrooms just as I was approaching them so I figured I would wait until the next station.  My body got a sense of urgency and I found myself running faster than planned.  If I had kept this up I would destroy my time from last year.  I finally got to the next aid station and found a free restroom. I took a wee bit longer here than planned but felt much relieved and was back on my way.  I cruised along and made up some time.  I was still on pace for last year's time.  I figured I could continue making up time as the miles ticked off since I ran so slow the first half last year and had an amazing negative split the second half.

By the time I reached the turnaround I knew my hopes of beating last year's time weren't going to happen.  I had run a very strong first half, but my quads had had enough.  I should of known they weren't up to the task since I've run 2 half marathons in the prior 3 weeks and didn't have the same conditioning I had last year.  The second half of the race turned into a dogfight as I struggled to keep pace with quads that didn't want to cooperate.  Soon the heel of my right foot started to ache.  I was diagnosed with a fallen arch earlier in the week so I knew it was only a matter of time before it was going to give me trouble as well.  I finally coasted into the stadium and across the finish.  I finished around 2 1/2 minutes slower than last year and actually ran the same pace as I did for the Chicago Spring Half just 6 days prior.  I was tired, dehydrated, and beat up.  I didn't stick around for the post race festivities, but instead hobbled home to recover before meeting up with Anne, Erin, and Charlyn at the West Loop Craft Beer Fest.

I don't normally try and draw attention to myself while running.  I'm not one to wear a costume or a tutu.  The only time I've really done anything is when I put my name on my shirt for the Chicago Marathon.  It was definitely encouraging to hear people shout your name the entire race.  I decided to have a little fun at Solder Field.  I wore an Under Armour Alter Ego shirt with the logo of Batman on it.  I'm really glad I did since I had people yelling Go Batman all along the course.  That was definitely a boost in the later miles when I was struggling.  It was also kind of funny early on in the race when a guy kept trying to take a selfie while running.  He kept putting the camera at weird angles and moving around in front of me.  I realized he was trying to get me and my shirt in the picture with him.  All he needed to do was ask if he wanted a picture with  ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chicago Spring Half Recap

One would think that after setting my half marathon PR at this very race just last year that I would be itching to sign up again, but I wasn't.  I had never intended to register until I came across the code for a free entry that was floating around out there.  With the free entry in hand I figure why not.  It would force myself to keep my training up.  I found out my friend Jim also got a free entry and signed up for the half as well.  It was to be his first half marathon.

Packet pick up was a breeze.  I headed down to Fleet Feet on Saturday afternoon.  They had pick up grouped by bib number ranges.  Once I got my bib I realized that it said I was in corral C.  They did not do corrals last year so I was a bit surprised.  Afterwards I decided to head down to Edzo's because I was craving a good burger.  I took a look inside to see it was jam packed and so threw in the towel and got Five Guys instead.  Those fries count as carbo loading right?  And the red meat has iron, totally justified I think.

Morning came too soon on race day.  I caught the bus and picked up Jennifer along the way and arrived at the staging area held in Lakeshore East Park around 6:15AM.  We used the facilities and time things right because a massive line formed by the time we got out.  We met up with Jim and went over strategy with him.  We told him to use the pacers and not to dart out too quickly.  He's only run 1 other race which was Thriller in Schiller with Muddy Monk last fall and he kept darting around runners whenever he got the chance.  You can do that for a 3 mile run.  It gets harder when you're going 13.1.  I took my bag over to gear check and then headed to my corral.  It felt like we were packed in like sardines.  There was no enforcement so I think we had some extra company.

After the typical announcements and the national anthem the first corral was sent off.  They did hold each corral for 2-3 minutes before releasing them.  While the path still felt a little crowded at the start, it wasn't too bad.  I begun my strategy of trying to run a negative split and do it a little faster than I had done at Wisconsin.  The first 6 miles were spot on.  I started with an 8:42 and dropped steadily from there.  Mile 6 was 8:24 and everything was still going according to plan.  Mile 7 I had slowed slightly to 8:28, but this mile involved the turn around so I didn't think much of it.  Mile 8 dropped me to 8:45, but included slowing down to consume a gel.  I start to notice the sun came out from behind the clouds and things get tougher.  Mile 9 I fight back to a 8:32 and things are still going ok.  On the way to Mile 10 my body tells me it doesn't want to fight to keep pace anymore.  I'm resigned to the fact that a negative split isn't going to happen, but if I stay strong I will still finish with a better time than Wisconsin.

It was just before mile 10 that my body said enough was enough and I felt a pop in my ankle.  It wasn't a painful pop, it just felt awkward.  It was the right ankle which has been giving me problems for quite awhile now, but never anything like this.  I decide to take things a bit more cautiously and slow down.  The rest of the body thanks me for this as well.  I did what I needed to in order to get through the last 3 miles and finish the race.  It wasn't pretty, but got the job done.  I still finished in a respectable 1:55:37 which was only 92 seconds slower than Wisconsin.  After the race the ankle was tender, but that actually soon went away and it has felt surprisingly well ever since.  I did get an injury screening for my ongoing problems from Athletico, but that will have to be the topic of a future post.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What I Drank Wednesday 2: Electric Boogaloo

Yes, I'm finally back for another What I Drank Wednesday.  I've held off since I haven't done anything exciting drinking-wise for awhile.  What changed?  Well I ran a race in Wisconsin so of course I had to bring home some delicious beverages.  I also happened to volunteer at and then partake in the American Beer Classic at Soldier Field.

5/3 - Kenosha, WI - Level of Difficulty: Brat on a Pita?
After all the post race fuss I finally sat down with Anne and her husband Bob and we enjoyed our post race brat, which happened to be served on a pita and a small cup of Hazelnut Harvest from Rustic Road Brewery.  The beer was OK.  It was full of flavor and perhaps a bit to heavy to be drinking post race.  If it were a hot day I probably would of gagged.  There's just something refreshing about wheat beers post race.  After further shenanigans we made our way to the actual brewery for round 2,3,4.... How many Anne?  I only had another beer since I had to drive back to the city afterwards.  I opted for the Creme Brulee Sweet Vanilla Stout.  It was full of wonderful flavor and a bit on the strong side.  It came in a snifter though so I didn't have to worry about overdoing things.  I soon left, but stopped to pick up some beer on the way home.

5/4-5/8 - Eric's Place, Chicago - Level of Difficulty:  How do I use this Untappd thingy?
So on Sunday I finally joined that social drinking application called Untappd.  I quickly added friends and got to work.  If I forgot to you I apologize, but feel free to add me.  I started with my prized possession from the Wisconsin trip - Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewery.  Its been a few years since I last had it, but it did not disappoint.  The beer is just light and refreshing and great tasting.  OK so I lied earlier, this is the beer I want at the finish line of my races.

The rest of the week I made progress on the Lakefront Brewery sample pack I picked up which included:
Klisch Pilsner
Fixed Gear Red Ale
Riverwest Stein Beer
Fuel Cafe Stout

5/9 - Friar Tucks, Chicago - Level of Difficulty: Funny Hats
If anyone is familiar with Friar Tucks then you know it is a casual dive bar on Broadway that has a box of funny hats.  They are welcoming to regulars and new comers alike.  I've been there for trivia night several times and have always enjoyed myself.  Don't forget to ask about the birthday special shot.  Anywho, I digress,  I wound up at Friar Tuck on a date after we decided to continue things after getting ice cream at Bobtail.  I wound up sticking to the special which was Shiner White Wing.  It's not one I've had before, but I've learned that it's hard to go wrong with anything that Shiner makes.

5/10 - American Beer Classic, Soldier Field - Level of Difficulty:  All the beers!
I wound up volunteering to work the ABC since we were promised free admission to the night session if we did.  Sold!  It also helped that Mo was also volunteering so I'd have one of the Wurst running buddies ever with me there.  I wound up helping out at the Ommegang tent pouring beers like no one's business.  Sadly I had never had their beer before so when people asked what was my favorite or about the Game of Thrones beer that they were offering I had to reply that I, like Jon Snow, know nothing.  That would soon change.

Once the shift was up and a quick refueling at Potbelly we were back at the stadium and ready to have our turn enjoying the beers.  Since we worked the afternoon we knew which breweries were there and had a strategy in mind.  OK so mine was basically that I needed to get the Take The Black Stout and also the Not Your Father's Root Beer.  We hit the tents fast and furious.  I was already feeling things a half hour in.  I told Mo if this kept up that I might try to make snow angels on the 50 yard line.  I did survive, but was probably as drunk as I had been in awhile by the time things were all said and done.

The Casualties:
Crash Landed - Begyle Brewery
Honey, You're Blonde - SlapShot Brewing
Game Of Thrones: Take The Black Stout - Brewery Ommegang
Summer Ale - Brooklyn Brewery
Longboard Island Lager - Kona Brewing
Not Your Father's Root Beer - Small Town Brewery
Dream Machine - Magic Hat Brewing
Sah'Tea - Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Reppin' Red - Berghoff Brewery
Starburst Wheat - Saugatuck Brewing
Hop On A Blonde - Saugatuck Brewing
Smittytown - Temperance Beer
The Veteran - Veteran Brewing
Sweet Desire - Wild Blossom Meadery
Sidekick - Two Brothers Brewing
Wet Hot American Wheat - Finch's Beer
Smoked Porter W/ Chipotle Peppers - Stone Brewing
Cynic Ale - Surly Brewing
Polestar Pilsner - Left Hand Brewing
Crimson Clover - Church Street Brewing
Hexafoos - Solemn Oath Brewery
Sam Adams Summer Ale - Boston Beer
80-Acre Hoppy Wheat - Boulevard Brewing
Rye IPA - Brewery Ommegang

For those keeping track - that was 31 unique beers in about 10 days.  Most of it was on just the one day, but still.  And yes, I still made it to meet up with my Ragnar team for Brunch on Sunday.  There was no hair of the dog.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wisconsin Half Marathon

Once upon a time I had dreams of running a spring marathon.  I figured that the first weekend of May would be the perfect time frame and give me enough time to train.  And so I trained and trained.  Everything seemed to be going great and then I may have tried to do a little too much and wound up with an achy knee.  Once that happened I made sure that the thought of a marathon wouldn't creep back into my head for the spring and committed to the Wisconsin Half Marathon.  I figured its a race I haven't done before and had heard good things.

As time wore on I recovered from the achy knee and then got sick and then got shin splits and finally got a sore ankle while running the Ravenswood 5K.  At brunch after the 5K I told everyone I had no clue how I would do in the half.  It would probably be somewhere between 1:55 and 2:10 given my lack of training mileage.  My longest run of the prior 12 weeks had been 8 miles and the next longest was 5.5.  I had finally hit a 20 mile week just the week before the race.  This wasn't going to be pretty.  I was just hoping to be able to enjoy the post race beer and brat by this point.

So I didn't stay near the race site like others did.  I got up at 4AM and was on the road by 5AM to head up to Kenosha.  I was parked at the high school a little less than a mile from the start line by around 6:25.  I organized my race gear and headed towards the start.  I used the facilities and then lined up and we were off shortly after.  I tried to keep my first mile a bit on the modest side trying to target around a 9:30.  A half mile in and my calf and ankle were already bothering me.  I thought that I was going to have to drop out at some point if things didn't improve.  I hit the first mile marker and was pleasantly surprised to see my watch show 9:00.

My ankle and calf slowly loosened up and I was feeling pretty good.  The miles ticked off and I was enjoying the scenery.  At the halfway point I was still running really solid and realized I was on pace for 1:55 which would of been my very optimistic upside estimate.  I sped up slightly then reigned myself in realizing there was still a long way to go and 13.1 miles is a lot more than the 8 I did in training.  I saw Anne looking all colorful after I looped back and gave her a side five.

I soon started to pick up my pace again but this time just went with it.  I was feeling really good at this point and didn't feel in danger of legs deciding to quit or anything like that.  I knew if I kept it up I could actually beat my optimistic goal.  I kept on trucking watching my splits hover just below what I did the first half.  As I approached mile 12, which was just before the final turnaround, I told myself that I was really doing this and I had the energy for a strong kick to the finish.  Then the turnaround happened and I just got blasted with wind.  It was disheartening at first and my pace dropped.  I told myself I could still run a 9 minute mile and hit my target.  No one would know or care.  Then I told myself no, you're doing this and picked things up again.  About 1/3 of a mile to the finish we turned out of the wind and I really picked up speed.  I finished with my fastest mile of the day and even ran around my 5K pace for the last quarter mile.  I wound up finishing in 1:54:02 and my second half was 1:20 faster than the first half.

Post race I wandered over and met up with one of the Reddit r/RunnersInChicago moderators and talked to him for a bit while he waited for his girlfriend to finish.  He soon took off so I went over and found Lynton and chatted with him and Kiku while waiting for Anne to come by.  He was perfectly stationed so we would catch Anne at around Mile 11.2 and 12.5.  We cheered and high fived Anne who was on her way to a PR.  After she passed for the 2nd time I headed towards the finish line to meet up with her and Bob and to finally get my victory beer and brat.  The brat was tasty, but served in a pita which was a little odd.  The beer was a Hazelnut brew from local nano-brewery, Rustic Road.  It was fantastic.

Finally before heading back to the city I had to make a stop and pick up some Spotted Cow.  I think this was my goal all along.  I would call this a highly successful Saturday.