Monday, June 30, 2014

week in review; june 23–29

Monday, June 23:
1.1 miles

Tuesday, June 24: 1.07 miles

Wednesday, June 25: 1.46 miles

Thursday, June 26: 1.86 miles

Friday, June 27: 1.13 miles

Saturday, June 28: 12.31 miles (5k in the morning and then a trail run)

Sunday, June 29: 1.03 miles

Week total: 19.96
#RWRunStreak Challenge total: 99.72 miles

I was hoping to get in a few runs around 3 miles during the week, but life was a bit hectic. I was able to maintain my running streak, however. I cannot believe that we are already on the final week. It doesn't seem like I've been running for so many days in a row, which is a great feeling to have.

My sister-in-law and nephew were in town this week, and on Wednesday I met them, my parent-in-laws, and husband at the Shedd Aquarium to check out some fish, dolphins, belugas, etc. It was a lot of fun – I hadn't been there in a while. 

Fishies at the Shedd Aquarium.
Sharks and fish at the Shedd Aquarium.

Another fun event from the week was a concert at Northerly Island – my husband got us tickets to go see Ray LaMontagne (one of my favorite artists. How could anyone resist that amazing voice?). Neither of us had been there before, so it was great to see Ray and enjoy the outdoor concert venue for the first time. Our seats were pretty great, and the two opening bands were good (Ray was fantastic, of course). The weather wasn't too bad, either – a bit warm, but not excruciatingly hot, which it could have been. 

Ray LaMontagne
Saturday and Sunday were pretty jam packed with family events, a trail run, more family events, and meeting up with friends for a drink or two. There was a pretty big storm that blew through on Saturday, and right before it came, we got to see a rainbow! They always make me feel like a kid.

How was your week/weekend? Do anything fun? Any races, PRs, long runs of note? Hope it was great!

Friday, June 27, 2014

friday five: five things about me

Happy Friday, all! I am linking up with the DC Trifecta again for another Friday Five—Courtney at Eat Pray Run DCCynthia at You Signed up for What?, and Mar at Mar on the Run. This week's theme is "Five Things About Me". Now to try and figure out 5 things about myself that are (maybe?) interesting... haha. Let's just call them random facts, then I don't have to feel the pressure of trying to think of 'interesting' ones ;)

1. I like to read. A lot. I just finished The Book Thief on Wednesday, and started Gone Girl yesterday. I get very involved with books and their characters, and have trouble putting them down once I've started. I wish I had more time over this upcoming weekend so I could finish it!

2. I played soccer when I was a child. When I was younger, I played soccer. It was probably around age 8 or so that I had to choose between soccer and Irish Dancing, because they were on the same nights, and decided to keep up the Irish Dancing (which I did competitively for a little over 20 years, that's a bonus fact! You're welcome. Ha.).

3. The only coffee I will drink is the kind with ice and lots of sugar/caramel, and that's on rare occasions. I prefer tea—Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, Chamomile, and Green Teas are my favorites. For Christmas, my husband got me a tea pot for steeping loose leaf tea – I love it! 

4. I'm not a fan of reality tv shows, but I do have 3 guilty pleasures: Dancing With the Stars, The Bachelor/Bachelorette (though I haven't watched Andi's season yet (and might not ever)), and The Biggest Loser. I pretty much hate all other reality shows. I know a lot of people enjoy others one, but I've never gotten into them.

5. I LOVE dogs. I didn't have any dogs growing up (my only pets were gold fish), though I had wanted one. As an adult, I didn't think I wanted one, but it was a deal breaker for my husband. Luckily for him (haha, just kidding! I'm the lucky one!) I liked him enough to agree, and now I have a bit of an obsession. Basically, any dog I see out on the street going for walks or playing in their yard, I have an 'awww' moment and just want to give them hugs. Don't worry, I don't. I understand personal space and that not all dogs are cool with strangers coming up to them and petting them. Doesn't mean I don't want to, though. I especially have a soft spot for larger dogs – any type of Pitbull mix, Mastiffs, German Shepards, Boxers, Huskies, etc.

Any book recommendations (I'm always keeping a running list)? Do you have any pets that you are obsessed with? Tell me one random thing about yourself :)

Thanks to CourtneyCynthia, and Mar for hosting! Make sure to check out their "Friday Five: How to Beat the Heat" posts (links to the specific posts are at the top of the page) and link up if you are joining in! There are always a lot of blogs linked up, and it's interesting to see everyone's takes on the theme. I always find some great tips/ideas. I suggest taking a look at a few (or all, if you have the time). 

Have a great weekend, everyone! If you have any runs or races, finish strong! If not, enjoy some relaxation, if you have some time (make time!) :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

chicago spring half marathon recap


The Chicago Spring Half Marathon was held on Sunday, May 18 at 7:00 am at the Park at Lakeshore East.

Packet pick-up was being held at Fleet Feet in Old Town Thursday–Saturday. I went on Friday during my lunch hour. Pick-up was easy breezy, all of it held within the store (sometimes they use the lobby of the building for bibs and then the shirts are in the back of the store). I grabbed the bibs for both my mom and myself along with the t-shirts (which were cute, a nice lime green color). 

Back of the shirt.

Front of the shirt.
Photos from Chicago Spring Half Marathon Facebook Page.

I decided that it would be easiest for my mom and I to drive into the city and park rather than take public transit – it would be faster, and I'm much more comfortable feeling gross in my car rather than on a train after a race haha.

We got to the Millenium Lakeside Garage around 6 o'clock (we like to give ourselves ample time to drive, as you never know what the construction and/or traffic will be like). We hung out in the car for about 30 minutes, eating our Nature Valley Oats and Honey granola bars and chatting. We made our way over to the park at 6:30 and went straight to the portalets. There were a good amount of them, but the lines were a little wacky because tents and other items were in the way. Since there were groupings of the portalets around the area, each group had 1–2 lines of people waiting for the approximately 15 portalets. Some people thought it was ok to form their own lines (aka cut), but the majority of people waited patiently. We chose a line and were in it for about 15 minutes. One of the workers came around at 6:50 announcing the start of the race in 10 minutes and that we should all make our way over to the starting area (which was a little ways away from the finish/picnic/toilet area), and if you could hold it you should. I don't think anyone paid much attention to that idea.

Event signage.

Pretty view while we wait.

Corral line up.

Headed to the starting line.

We made our way over to the start and sat around for a half hour until our corral was set loose. It was hard to tell when the event actually started, but I feel like it might have been a little late. The 10k was set to start at 7:30, but the final corral was released at that time, so I imagine the 10k started around 7:45 or so. There was also a Junior Dash set to start at 10 am. There were about 2 minutes between each corral start (which is why I think it started late – we should have been around 7:20, but were 10 minutes later. It could have also been more time between the corrals, depending on how they were getting past the finish line. Whichever the case, they note that all times are approximate and subject to change.). It was a bit cold waiting around, as it was cloudy and in the low 50s with a breeze. I wore shorts and a t-shirt because the high was going to be 70, and the sun came out shortly after we began (and stayed out the rest of the race). I was happy with my choice of clothing once the race started, but I'm always so cold beforehand haha. By the finish it was 68 degrees, which is warm for running ;)

The course.

The course started south on the lakefront path, past the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Soldier Field, and McCormick Place. The turnaround was at the 10k mark, and then you followed the same path back to the finish. The finish was different than the start, so you ran past where you started and then took a little bit of a turnaround under a bridge, up a (sort of small) hill and over to the finish. 

Chicago skyline heading back towards the finish.

Soldier Field on the way back.

One of the harbors.

Running on the lakefront path is so wonderful – I love the view from any direction, but I think running back towards the city is always the best (city skyline AND the glistening water of the lake are both in view). 

There were plenty of aid stations along the way (a total of 8) and each had water, gatorade, medical tent, and bathrooms (portalets). The volunteers were all friendly and encouraging. There wasn't too much congestion on the path, either (for me at least. It always gets a bit messy once you have the faster runners coming back and the rest of the pack still going out, but it wasn't so bad.). The path is still open to the public, so it can be difficult at times to not get run over by cyclists or tourists on rented bikes. Some, but not many, make their presence known with a bell or a quick shout of 'bike on your left', but most just ride so close and practically run you over. It's frustrating, but not much can be done other than to try and listen for them and stay to the side when you can.

There was a 16-minute pace requirement for this race. They also had pace groups this year, though, like most races, I am too slow to utilize. Maybe by next year I can be in the 2:45 group :) Clocks were stationed at every mile marker, and the turn around was easily marked, as was the way to the finish (which was a bit weird, but I understood where to go).

The skyline from behind the Shedd Aquarium.

Since I had gotten my PR in the half marathon 2 weeks prior, I decided to stay with my mom for this race (though, she's not much slower than I am. She walks more than she runs, but she is quick with those walks). I also hadn't ran much since the other half, as I was trying to let my blisters heal for this race. It was nice to have the companionship and chatter to help the miles melt away. Races go a lot faster when I'm with someone, though sometimes I enjoy just listening to music and being in a groove. Pros and cons to each, I guess, but I like to mix it up depending on how I'm feeling that day.

My feet weren't nearly as bad as they were two weeks ago, but they were still a bit sore, since they hadn't healed completely yet. I did wear moleskin, which I think helped. Other than my feet, I felt good the whole race. I took a Clif Shot Blok about every 2.5 miles and we did 30 seconds run and 2 minutes walking for our intervals. Officially, our finish time was a little over 3:10, so really not that far off from my PR. This year is definitely going better than last year, as far as finish times and nerves. Huzzah!

Another half marathon in the books!

Panoramic view of the picnic.
After receiving our medals, water, gatorade, and snack bars (I forget what brand, but I want to say Lara bars), we hit up the picnic portion. The post race picnic had the best food I've ever had post race (catered by Goose Island). There was a buffet (you could only enter using the ticket that was on your bib) with pancakes, sausage, egg whites, watermelon, and potatoes. Yum. Along with a great buffet, they also had a free massage tent, a flower planting station (you got to plant your own flower and bring it home, what a cute idea), and a few vendors (medal display, TomTom had their new GPS watch, etc). It was nice to finish and relax in the park afterwards.

The amazing buffet!
This and the following 3 photos are from the
Chicago Spring Half Marathon Facebook Page.

Flower station.

Flower station.

The medals.

I would definitely do this race again, and I give it high marks as far as races go. I know the lakefront path can be a bit of a hassle with non-racers, but since I'm used to it and know beforehand that it can be a pain, I feel I can keep my expectations in check and have a nice race day.

One of the reasons we ended up registering for this race is because it's party of the Chicagoland Half Marathon Series. Last year I completed the Windy City Challenge and got an extra medal (the challenge was to complete the Allstate 13.1 in June and the Chicago Half Marathon in September). This year, they changed the name and added another option. You could complete either the Chicago Spring Half Marathon or the Michelob Ultra 13.1 (formerly Allstate) AND the Chicago Half, or complete all three, for an extra bling and some race perks. When I heard about this new challenge, I was already registered for the Michelob Ultra and the Chicago Half, so I figured why not add the third race.

Below are the differences for the two challenges:

26.2 Challenge participant benefits
• Priority packet pickup line at the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Health & Fitness Expo for the Chicago Half Marathon.
• Chicagoland Half Marathon Series runner dedicated gear check and reunite at Chicago Half Marathon.
• Participants who complete two races* within the series will receive a 26.2 commemorative medal.
*First race must include the Chicago Spring Half Marathon or 13.1 Marathon. And, the final race must be the Chicago Half Marathon in order to qualify for a medal.> 

39.3 Challenge participant benefits
• Participants who complete all three events within the Chicagoland Half Marathon Series will receive a commemorative finisher medal.
• Priority packet pickup line at the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Health & Fitness Expo for the Chicago Half Marathon.
• Chicagoland Half Marathon Series runner dedicated gear check and reunite at Chicago Half Marathon.
• 39.3 Series Finishers will receive a digital Chicagoland Half Marathon Series Finisher Certificate.

So there you have it. Can you believe all those pictures I took? I'm finally starting to remember to take some to accompany my recaps, plus they're fun to have to look back on the race. Just a few more races to recap, and then I'll finally be caught up. Thankfully, not as many races in June and July, so once the recaps from previous races are done, I'll be back on track ;)

Editors note: I did a BibRave review on this race - check it out here

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

the weekly chase #12

Per usual, I am linking up my Weekly Chase goals with Mindy from Road Runner Girl. Below is a recap from how the goals from last week went over, and my new goals for this week.

Weekly goals for June 16–22; recap

Goal #1 - Continue to log all of my calories in My Fitness Pal.
I was at about 80% this week. Aiming for 100% this week.

Goal #2 - Continue to run every day for the Runner's World Summer Run Streak.
Yes! Still going strong (well, I'm a bit tired right now, but I'm still running at least a mile a day haha).

Goal #3 - Drink at least 48 oz of water/day (ideally 64).

Goal #4 - Hit goal of 10,000 steps/day via Fitbit (feel free to go to my contact page for the link to add me as a friend).
I was able to reach this goal every day except Monday, which I fell short Mondays are always hard for me to reach 10,000 for whatever reason. Perhaps I'm just tired from the weekend and long runs that I don't move around as much as I should. 

Weekly goals for June 23–29

Goal #1 - Continue to log all of my calories in My Fitness Pal.

Goal #2 - Continue to run every day for the Runner's World Summer Run Streak.

Goal #3 - Drink at least 48 oz of water/day.

Goal #4 - Hit goal of 10,000 steps/day via Fitbit (feel free to go to my contact page for the link to add me as a friend).

Goal #5 - Put all of my laundered clothes away.

Goal #6 - Finish reading The Book Thief and return to library.

Thanks for hosting the weekly chase link upMindy

Road Runner Girl

What are your goals for this week?