Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ravenswood 5K 2016 Edition

After last year's move to Lincoln Square, this meant that Ravenswood was now my neighborhood race. I had to sign up for it of course. I've run this race for a few years now and the convenience factor was now a definite plus. I was able to do packet pick up from the Fleet Feet Lincoln Square location on Thursday evening. The races are now being organized by RAM so it was their set up with check in, get a random bib, and scan it in under your name. Fairly quick process and then I went and bought new shoes.

Race day was one of those freakish warm days we've been getting this Sprinter. I decided to jog over to the start as warm up. I might have gotten a bit of a late start and then have to rush a little, but not too much. I got to the race site with 12 minutes to spare before the race was to start. I headed over to gear check and spotted Pete. It was quick to drop off my gear bag and then head towards the start corrals. Had a little bit of a fight to get anywhere near the pace I needed to be lining up at. Lots of kids near the front which worried me a bit.

It wasn't long before we were off and running. The early going had some speed bumps, but those weren't much of an issue. It was everyone who sprinted out and then got winded and slowed down that I had to weave through to keep on pace that slowed me down. The first mile was still a respectable 6:35. There were no Rahm sightings for me this year since I found out after the race he actually ran.

During the 2nd mile I began to struggle. I just could not keep my legs pumping as hard. My cadence slowed and my stride shortened. I was working way too hard to maintain the pace I was running and thus slowed down a bit to 7:10. Things should not have been as hard as they were given that I had run faster on a windy day 2 weeks prior. I didn't think the warmer temperature was affecting me that much. Every time I went to try and push things I got a little dizzy and realized my heart rate was up near top effort.

We ran down Lincoln and through the main square where the Fleet Feet employees were cheering everyone one. After than is the turn down Lawrence that seems to go on forever before turning back down Damen. I was getting passed and really fought to maintain the pace that I had been running. The third mile was just a touch slower at 7:14. Turning back down Wilson I pushed with everything I had left and ignored that I was getting dizzy again. I crossed the line at exactly 22:00. It was a subpar performance for me and I was happy to just be done. I grabbed some water and headed towards gear check.

I ran into the Bootleg group on my way to gear check and found out where the meeting spot was going to be. I got my gear fairly quickly and also got a sticky bun before heading over to church for pictures with the Bootlekeggers and the bloggers.

We began discussion race performance. Pete had an amazing PR. I realized that I had not eaten well the day before and likely just bonked. It's been recommended that I get the book Racing Weight to be able to cut weight and still train for endurance. Also found out that Rahm was behind Pete at the start. We had an Olympian in the race who finished 2nd overall for females. Pete and Annabelle both placed in their age groups.  In spite of the bad personal race, it was a good day and the weather was beautiful. Couldn't think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Garmin Land of Oz Marathon Recap

Last fall I gave in to a whim and signed up for the Garmin Marathon. There was a discount for Marathon Maniacs and they were touting some perks. I figured it was a race I could drive to and spend a 3 day weekend. I didn't put much thought into how the course or weather might turn out or the fact that I was doing my first double marathon 2 weeks later.

I took Friday off of work and drove to Olathe (Oh-LAY-thuh), Kansas. The home of Garmin. It is a suburb of Kansas City.The trip was mostly uneventful as driving across Illinois and Missouri can be. I stopped a few hours in for gas and lunch, but pretty much trucked it right on to the race expo. I must admit my legs were a little wobbly after being in the car for so long so I spent a few minutes getting my balance and senses back as I wandered into the expo. I got my registration sheet and headed towards the back to pick up my stuff and crossed paths with a girl from my Ragnar team. She was in the other van so we didn't really know each other too well, but she gave me a funny look and was like, hey, do I know you? After I said yes, Ragnar, she was like oh, right. What are you doing for dinner, me and the girls are gonna grab something soon. She was with Too Tall and Judy who I knew, so I figured why not join in on the fun.

After happy hour beers and a teriyaki stir fry I finally made it to my hotel. Someone must not like me because the room was filthy. I was too tired to complain. The only things clean were the sink and the bed which was all I needed after the long day. I talked to another runner after the race staying there who said she got a newly remodeled room. We both paid $45 a night so I still feel a bit shafted. I managed to get to bed after the Blackhawks game finished and got up bright and early to get to the race site. It was at an industrial complex without a lot of roads in or out and would be closing for the race so I was there 75 minutes before race time. I chilled in the car for half an hour before heading to the race area to use the facilities. I wandered around looking for familiar faces, but talked to several other Maniacs instead. I used the facilities one more time before the start of the race and then found the start corral completely jam packed with 10 minutes before race time. The pacers were all like 5 feet apart. There wasn't enough room for the number of runners so I had to wait with a large group to jump in from a side entrance after the race was under way.

Early Miles -
I was way back in no mans land by the time I crossed the start. I saw a 4:40 pacer in front of me and groaned. I wanted to start conservative, but this was a bit too much. There was no room to navigate either. I wanted to avoid weaving, but didn't have a whole lot of choice as the pace was painfully slow. I wound up using turn lanes on the road for a little extra space to get around people. We also got an early taste of some rollers. These were a bit taller than Mt Roosevelt in Chicago and ran back to back. I caught up to Too Tall somewhere around the 4:30 pace group and she was sticking around there with her friend and told me to keep going so away I went.

The Fun Miles -
It took about 4 miles, but I finally got locked into a groove. I had caught the 3:50 pace group and planned to stick with them for a bit. A couple Maniacs started talking to me and one of them was doing 3 more of the same races as I was this year. The pace felt casual and I had no problem conversing so I was surprised to see my watch show a sub 8 split on the next mile. After a couple miles my new friend said she wanted to take it easy and stay with the 3:50 group so away I went. There were some more small hills, but I was in a good mood and cruising so I kept at it. I eventually caught and passed the 3:37 pace group. I had no intention of running anywhere near this pace so it was a bit unexpected. The sun had come out though and things started to take more of an effort.

The Grind Miles -
There was a long hill up to mile 12. I fought my way up and might have used too much energy doing so. I only had one more sub 8 mile after that hill. I recognized that between the heat and the climbs, my legs had lost their mojo and tried to slow my pace just to survive. To make matters worse my stomach was in knots. I was sure I was having hydration issues and the powerade flavored water wasn't helping for electrolytes. I tried to use the bathroom during the 16th mile and this is when the 3:37 pace group passed me by.

The Wheels Falling Off -
I kept going. I started getting stomach pains and wondered when the next bathroom would pop up. Miles 12-25 of the race were along a paved bike trail that while scenic, meant longer distances between aid stations and restrooms. I tried using another restroom at 18 with no luck. Finally at 18.5 we hit the turnaround of the out and back along the trail and I was greeted with a fierce headwind. It was a steady 15 mph with stronger gusts. The fact that we were also going uphill just added to the battle. It wasn't long before I was reduced to mostly walking. I was feeling faint and dizzy, but was too stubborn to give up so I power walked what I could and jogged the downhill stretches. I hurt seeing a bunch of pace groups pass me by, but I didn't want to end up in a med tent or worse.

The Finish -
Even if I had fresh legs, the climb just before the mile 25 marker was pure evil. It was 80 feet up a steep incline. We then went down a little decline and small incline before turning onto the same road we started the race on. One last trip over those rollers before hitting the finish. I had pushed myself just enough over the last couple miles to avoid a personal worst. I finished just under 4:21. I collected my medal, a water bottle and headed straight to the beer tent. I caught up on news from Carmel and waited for the others to finish. The medal was actually pretty cool.

After thoughts -
I actually felt really good in the first half of the race. I may not have lost as much fitness over the winter as I thought. I'm definitely not in shape for hilly courses on warm days though. I also need to start splurging for host hotels and the perks they give. I could have slept in an extra hour if I had. The race was well themed and well done. The only problems were the crowded start, the over diluted powerade, and the lack of on course port-a-potties.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 Shamrock Shuffle Recap

In 2012 I ran my first race ever at that year's Shamrock Shuffle. It has since become an annual tradition of mine. Who doesn't love flying through the streets of the loop having a near Chicago Marathon experience without the mileage?

The Friday before the race I headed down to McCormick after work for packet pick up. It takes a little longer to get their from my new place, but it's nice that the green line has a stop nearby now. I'm also glad I paid attention to where people were coming from since they moved the expo into a different hall than it normally is in. Packet pick up was pretty painless and then I wandered around looking at vendors before bumping into Harry and Tiffany. Not long after I also ran into Luis and Charlyn.

The next morning was the monthly meet up of the Mikkeller Running Club. I had planned on taking it easy and just getting loose before the Shuffle. Well I did the running nice and easy no problem, but then I might have gone a bit overboard with the drinking. I apparently got a bit drunk. Untappd says I drank 6 beers with the last one being 12% alcohol. Oops.  I did manage to make it home with a pizza by 5PM so I had some time to recover.

Race morning came far too early. I was slightly hungover and it was far too cold out. I made my way down to the start area. I met up with some of the usual suspects, but needed to use the facilities and wandered off. I did bump into Charlyn in time to head to the corrals together where we found Pete and watched the elites warm up. Pete soon headed off to the front while we stayed near the back of A corral.

Once the race started I got sucked into things. I was running stiff and could feel myself over striding. It's hard to correct myself in a short, fast race like that. I decided to just hold on the best I could even though it isn't very efficient. I hit the first mile in 7:02 which was just a touch slower than I had hoped for. Mile 2 was more of the same and a similar split.

The middle miles turned into bit of a drag. We had a couple stretches where we had to fight the wind. The inefficient stride was also wearing on me and I slowed closer to 7:15ish splits. During the last mile we turned back onto Michigan Ave and I tried to pick up the pace a bit knowing the end was near. I caught Charlyn passing me so I had a new target to keep up with. We turned up Roosevelt and were nearly to the homestretch. I got stuck taking a wide turn around a slower runner who also took a wide turn. The hilly fall marathons must of paid off because I was able to power up the hill pretty well. After that final turn towards the finish I was able to pull together everything I had left and finished pretty strongly. Charlyn wound up a few yards behind me. Final time was 35:27 which was good for a 7:08 pace. While it was a PR, it was still slower than the 6:46 pace I had during my 10K last fall. I guess that's what I get for running hungover.