Christmas in July 5k and 10k Recap

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Sup, runfam? How many are you are waddling around after the RNR Half yesterday? Sorry I can’t join in on that fun, because I chose to opt out of yesterday’s race because I’m a giant slacker face that didn’t want to go run at the butt crack of dawn after two nights of racing here in my home town in a whimsical ball of fail.

Christmas in July was a weekend of racing put on by Runners for Wellness here in Lisle, and the races included a 5k, 10k, and 6/12/24 Ultra options. The race took place in Quad Killer Central Lisle Community Park. Let me just say that this race is hands down the best suburban race happening right now. I love a good ‘runner’s race’ and if you have 24hr runners with smiles on their faces at hour 22? You’re doing something right.

The event kicked off Friday night with the kid’s fun run with Santa. This was great, because it was free, and the kids got numbers, T-shirts and medals for participating. Tater and Hushpuppy loved it, as you can see in the below pics. Hushpuppy wore his medal all day Sunday he was so proud of himself.

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The races started right on time, there were great post race drinks and snacks available, the race directors and volunteers were friendly, helpful and just all around awesome. Runners were given some of the best swag out there with tech hats, nice shirts, and really well done finisher medals.

And the age group awards? Nutcracker trophies! Probably the cutest thing ever.

I needed one of those.

Ok…so let’s talk about me and how awful I was, because I haven’t run this horribly since like, ever. I knew I would struggle, because 8pm is bedtime not running time, and it’s not like I get to lay around all day with my feet up in preparation for racing at night. Life could care freaking less.

I had an insanely stressful day on Friday and my heart rate along with my blood pressure was jacked up pretty much all day. I was also a hot mess nutritionally, so I knew it was going to be a straight up disaster. I just knew. Of course my friends show up right before the race, so I get nervous on top of my dread, and I wound up shooting out of the start like my hair was on fire, and clocked a ridiculous 7:32 first mile. I’m dumb. By the second mile, I was feeling puketastic, and was pretty sure I was going to DNF a freaking 5k. Stoopid Community Park! I am cursed when it comes to racing here. Cursed, I say!

I wound up finishing the 5k the 10th overall female and 6th in the 30-39 age group. No Nutcracker Trophy for this girl. Nope.

Saturday I woke up SICK. The intestinal issues were back full force, and I won’t go into all of the gory details, but let’s just say hydration was going to be an issue. I was super dehydrated. By lunch time it had subsided, so I was able to fuel with some sugar and carbs, and I actually felt ok by the time the race started.

The first half went well, I was actually on track to PR, but then around mile 4 my intestines reminded me that it was time to get my medication adjusted and try not to crap my pants the last 2 miles of the race. It was bad times. Like, really bad times. But I got through it and I was for sure I wouldn’t get a Nutcracker trophy. It had ended up being the worst 10k time I have EVER run. Pathetically awful. The curse of Community Park continues…

But hey! It was my lucky day! Turns out, the lady that won my age group was an overall winner, so my 4th place turned into a 3rd, and I WAS GETTING A NUTCRACKER! So that made it worth it. I was happy.

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I really hope this event takes off and becomes even bigger and better next year. I do think it needs some food vendors, though. You can’t really go sit your stank butt in a restaurant after a nighttime race. We have so many local restaurants in Lisle, it would’ve been great to have a couple of food trucks out there to visit post race. I also think having the races on a weekend that doesn’t compete with such a huge event like the RnR Chicago would’ve encouraged more runners to give it a whirl.

Definitely a race I will do again and again, even if Community Park will always be my running nemesis.

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‘The Great Bull Run Chicago’ Recap

2013 PWP Studio Event Photographers

I’m writing a recap of ‘The Great Bull Run’ so SPOILER ALERT! I survived.

The event happened on Saturday at Hawthorne Racecourse in Stickney, just outside of Chicago, and the weather decided to make things interesting by having a monsoon all night long, and into the late morning hours. Luckily, the rains let up just in time for the first race, and we didn’t have to worry about dodging rain drops and bulls.

Full disclosure, I did receive media credentialed participation for this event, but my opinions are totally my own. The entry was rather pricey to participate (upwards of $60 to participate in both the Bull Run and Tomato Royale food fight) and participants were given a T-shirt and red bandana along with a beer ticket and the glory that is running with the bulls. Spectators and Tomato Royale only participants, had a reduced fee, and kids under 13 were allowed in for free.

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Is my hair okay? I want to look my best when I’m trampled.

Now I’m sure the festival was lame because we were dodging huge walls of rain all day, and the weather effected the energy a lot. I also saw that a lot of people were wondering whether the event was going to be postponed or not via The Great Bull Run Facebook Page. Some of the weather was severe at times, so even I wondered if they were going to call it or not. It would have been nice if the organizers would have updated the participants. $60-$75 is a lot of money to have people left in limbo. Kids being allowed in for free was great, only there was nothing for them to do. No games, no food, nothing for them to really do but stand on the sidelines and watch. Again, maybe the weather affected this, I have no idea.

The ‘runs’ took place on the track, and I don’t know why I had this idea that I would be trotting along with mild mannered dairy cows, but I did. No big whoop, you just go on the track, they run by, and you jog alongside them.

The ‘heat’ was set up with a group of people to run with the bulls over 1/4 mile of the track. Three waves of bulls were to be released and you were to wait until the bulls passed you, then run with them, but watch your back, because more bulls were coming.

I’m still thinking these are dairy cows. So whatever. I’m not scared, bro! Let’s DOOOO THISSSS!

I was in the second heat at 11:30am so I got to watch the first one go down. First the announcer tells you that if you fall…stay down. Do not try to get up. Just let the bulls jump over you.

Now my spidey sense was tingling. Wait a minute! Bulls don’t really ‘jump’ do they? They mostly just like trample things, right? So while you want me to have the false sense of security that I will be jumped over by a bull with the finesse of a gazelle, I will probably have the choice of being trampled or gored.

Awesome.

Now I’m getting a little nervous…

The first wave of bulls gets released, and WAIT A MINUTE…these are not dairy cows! These are big, giant bulls! Holy crap! What did I sign up for! Then in the second wave of bulls, one bull goes rogue and heads for the fence where you’re supposed to be out of harms way!

What in the world did I just sign up for? Besides certain death, of course.

I could not get my knees to stop shaking as I walked to the track. I was playing all kinds of scenarios in my head of what terrible things were going to happen to me as I stood there, ankle deep in mud as three rounds of bulls barreled toward me. So I made the tactical decision to find the biggest, dumbest, group of day drunk, overzealous frat guys and use them as a human shield. They’ll do something like jump in front of the bull, which will give me time to climb the fence to safety.

Which is exactly what happened.

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First wave done! That was no big deal at all. I got this.

The first wave of bulls was no big deal. They did their thing, and it was scary/fun. Then something happened, and the second wave of bulls ended up being both the second and third wave of bulls combined, so it was about 7 bulls running at you, taking up most of the width of the track.

Hell naw. I jumped up on that fence like Spiderman. No way.

Nuh-uh.

Nuh-uh.

Then there was a rogue bull who was just running around in circles at the end of the track, and no one quite knew what to make of it. Eventually he was corralled and the run was over. It lasted all of three minutes.

I have a lethal tomato allergy, so I skipped outta there before the Tomato Royale.

I don’t think I would do it again. It seems like a lot of money for a rather disorganized event. Local 5ks are better run. I will give a lot of the fault to the rain and the bad weather, but it just seemed like a giant money maker. Not really an ‘adventure’ experience.

PETA was also protesting on the corner when we left, which made me feel guilty. Do I think this is animal cruelty? Not really. They live a nice life on a pasture most days of the year. It’s not like they’re doing this every weekend. They do a total of 15 minutes of ‘work’ a handful of times a year. I’m generally a supporter of PETA, but this was nitpicking.

So if you are an adrenaline junky willing to have 3 minutes of thrills for $60, then this is the event for you. Me personally, I’d rather ride a Ferris Wheel or something. But I got the T-shirt!

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Race Recap: 2014 Steamboat Classic

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Oops I did it again…

I ran that stinkin’ Steamboat Classic again. The great thing about being a runner is that you get this thing called ‘amnesia’ and you forget that last year you ran the 15k distance of this race, saw Baby Jesus, begged a frat boy to spray you with a hose, and pretty much came a hair away from a DNF. Never again! I yelled shaking my fist to the sky. But I then remembered that the Steamboat Classic also has a 4 mile and a 4k race. I can stage a comeback and possibly not die over 4 miles, right?

Or maybe even win.

 

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And no, I’m never running that ‘Worlds Toughest 15k’ again as long as I live. That’s just crazy talk. When I watched the 15k runners head off into the park to go climb up endless mountains, I was like, “So long suckas!” and continued on the much better ‘World’s Fastest 4 Miler’.

Oh and I won (did I mention that already?). Not overall, don’t be silly, but I won my division, and after 7 months away from racing, that felt really rad.

So let’s talk about it.

Once again the packet pick up was at the River Plex, and it still went with old fashioned shoe-chip timing, and I think there were issues with the timing system this year. They seemed to have worked out the kinks, but at first the results were bananas. Like, how could a person I beat pretty solidly have a pace time just .02 slower? So it was nitpicky things like that. No big whoop, but not something you see very much anymore.

Check in was easy peasy, not much of an expo, and I was in and out of there in 5 minutes. Everyone is super friendly and it’s just a fun atmosphere. It really is a ‘runner’s race’.

Now let’s get down to business.

Race Day again was super easy to navigate. The start had moved to Main and Adams, which wasn’t a big deal. There seemed to be a LOT more people racing this year. Unlike last year when it was 2349° with 115% humidity, the weather was cool and dry in the mid 50’s at the start of the race. So idea conditions all around. I was so nervous. Like freak out, banana pants nervous. So I had to head to the porta potties before the race.

Last year I wrote about the biggest problem with this race was the porta potty situation. There just simply weren’t enough. Same goes for this year, too. I don’t know if it’s a city ordinance or what, but they need more potties. It was ridiculous. I wound up sneaking in to the Capital Building and heading up to the bathrooms on the 4th floor, but as I waited in line, the flushers started to fail from the overuse. I’m a jerk, but I’m not, “Drop a nervous deuce in a toilet that doesn’t flush” jerk, so I ran back downstairs and headed to the now empty porta potties as the announcer called 5 minutes to the gun.

Just like last year. My warmup will be sprinting to the start corral.

I made it with about 45 seconds to spare, probably with toilet paper hanging off my shoe, and lined up in the 9 minute corral. I knew I had a chance at a divisional placement, but I hadn’t run with a watch for a month, on a new training plan and diet, and a total headcase, so I thought it would be best to play it conservative for the first mile and see how it went.

Looking back, I think I went through the same thing last year. There is a lot of newbie traffic in this race. Tons of little kids, dogs, strollers, first timers, etc. So the start corrals are a bit of a waste because it seemed like all of the 9 minuters were really running 12’s. And that’s fine! Just glad to see people out there running, but for future reference, I need to remember to line up in the 8’s for a good start. Did a lot of bobbing and weaving, and it mentally frustrated me.

First mile: 9:18

I actually raised my eyebrow at that because since I’ve been running on pure effort lately and not time, I wasn’t even pushing myself for that split.

Mile 2 was still congested because we were running with the 15ks and didn’t split off until the turnaround which was still jammed with people, narrow and slow, now I was being a jerk and silently cursing people out in my mind who were just trotting along like this was some kind of shakeout run. WE’RE RACING, PEOPLE!

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Second mile: 9:08

I still wasn’t feeling like I was putting out that much effort yet. I usually really struggle in the first 3 miles of any race, especially in miles one and two because I’m slow to warm up. Could this be all of that dreaded speed training and weightlifting paying off? Not mindfucking myself daily with the watch and running based on feel alone? Wow. Maybe there really is a method to my evil coach’s madness after all.

Now as we headed back into town, the crowd was gone and I opened up the ol’ engine. I half expected the ‘Worlds Fastest 4 Miler’ to be completely downhill, but in reality, it’s almost identical to the ‘Shamrock Shuffle 8K’ course in that it’s really flat. Little hiccup elevation changes, but nothing memorable. It was a complete straight shot from mile 2 to mile 3 and I just sat back and kicked.

Third mile: 8:53

Wow. In my entire life I have never run a negative split race. Ever. Not even in my younger days. I am usually all over the place. This is pure insanity. I’m actually doing this right and I don’t feel like dying yet! Holy crap!

Now I was excited, and I kicked even harder. This was better than SF 10 miler last year and I was probably in the best shape of my life for that race.

I wanted to break 36 for this race. Missed it by 16 seconds.

Fourth Mile: 8:42

I crossed the finish line pissed that I missed my goal by exactly those 18 seconds I wasted weaving through traffic. Then I stopped myself and I was like, “You just ran a negative split race after 7 months off, pretty damn fast too. SHUT UP.”  Then after I cleared that madness out of my brain, I was like, wait a minute…I might have a divisional placement here.

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So I did what every champion does…shotgunned a couple of beers before 8am, ate some of the food they had out and chilled with my homies til the placements were posted. The Steamboat Classic has one of the best post races out there. Band, food, endless beer, fun, it’s the best.

Finally, they start posting the time sheets, and I ran up there to see how I did, expecting maybe to eek out a 3rd. Maybe.

My name was at the top. I freaking won.

Maybe it was the beer before 9am, but for whatever reason I started crying. I know it was only a divisional win, but for whatever reason it meant a lot to me. Every race is special and an accomplishment, but I think because I got serious and listened to a coach for a change, putting trust into a training plan and surrendering my need to control everything, the win was symbolic of that.

So there’s that. I’m going to sit down with good ol’ Patches tonight and come up with another goal race and training plan…something that’s going to keep me on my path to the 1:45 goal at the Chicago Half and defending my Oak Brook Half title this September. But I can’t stress enough how much having a plan that works for you is everything. I’m not just talking about cutting out a magazine training plan and trying to follow it, but looking at who you are as a person. For me, my large muscular frame was treated as an asset and not a reason why I could never be fast. I can’t eat pasta, bread, and the like and do endless miles, I’m not built for it. Just changing that mindset helped a lot, but it wasn’t easy. I had to trust, put my watch in the drawer for a month, and give up control, admitting to myself that I really don’t know everything. Track workouts, a cyclical ketogenic diet, and weight training made all the difference, and actually made me a better runner than I had been when I had to take a break last year. Truth to the fact that if you surrender your own head noise, have some faith and trust in those who want to help you, things can only get better.

 

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