Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wrapping up 2015

2015 is over for a few weeks and while it was filled with mixed emotions, i closed out the year with gratitude in my heart and a fire for a better 2016.  I completed 31 races in 2015 that included some highs, lows and 'meh' moments.

Grateful to represent Challenge Family (now Rev3) in 2015 and look forward to repping them in 2016.  This team has become a second family of mine.  One that understands the balancing of life and sport and downright good people.  This group filled a void i didn't realize even existed...  they are crazy, fun loving and fiercely loyal.  The brand is one that is homegrown in the USA and committed to giving triathletes options for larger venue races.  Looking forward to seeing them again at the Team Summit this weekend. One of my favorite race memories of the year was Knoxville and not for my race.  Crashed on my bike but was able to finish the Oly but then went and then ran the last 7 miles with the final finisher for the Half.  It was a great experience and an awesome reminder how Rev3 values each of it's racers.  

My sponsors. Couldn't have made it this past year without my awesome sponsors.  Rev3... you are my jam.  Love your organization and my teammates. Thank you to Powerbar for keeping me fueled, SBR for keeping my clean, C4 for covering my large rear & Headsweats for allowing me to not worry how high i put my ponytail on my head and keeping my head warm on cold runs.  

My local tri/run friends. Crush Multisport, Chicago Running Bloggers and all my run friends are simply the best!  Nothing beats signing up for a race the day before and a few text messages later you know a handful of people racing it! 

My back still bugs me occasionally.  Right after AC, had a set back.. it was annoying.. and will continue to be annoying forever i think.  Thankfully, i have been able to recover and I continue to buy into any gimmick that I think will work.  Feel free to contact me if you know of some snake oil that fixes backs :)

If you remember this.. we are fast buds.
Infertility. I was pretty candid about this during the process to most of my tri-friends as I was going through it during the height of the summer.  Clomid kindof ruled my life for a large part of 2014 and then we went for IVF in 2015. After all the injections and process, we find ourselves still a family a three and opted not to continue.  I can't say it was an easy decision but it was the right one for us.  It doesn't mean the door is closed forever but I am kindof guessing it is. Life is good and I think we needed to go down that road to know we are good with three people + 1 dog :)  

Things to look forward to:

As mentioned, i will be returning to Team Rev3 for 2016.  I am so excited to be #backinblue for 2016 and looking forward to representing a series that helped me fall in love with triathlon.  My experiences at Cedar Point early on were essential with me sticking to the sport.  I plan to race Poconos and Cedar Point.  Join me!

• May 22nd: Rev3 Knoxville
• June 4th: Rev3 Quassy, Middlebury, CT
• July 10: Rev3 Williamsburg
• August 7: Rev3 Pocono Mountains
 • August 28: Rev3 Maine
 • September 10: Rev3 Cedar Point
I am also extremely grateful to the following sponsors who will support me for the season and love me even though I am slow and barely fit into my tri suit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Arctic Frog 25K Race Review

First time doing this race.. I think it is only in its second year.  Found it through googling as I was hoping for a December longer race.. 25K = 15.6 Miles so fit the ticket of "longer" and was a trail race.  Always like doing different things so I was sold! 

I loved that the RD seemed to be understanding and flexible with the runners.  They said that you are able to downgrade any distance as long as you checked in prior to event.  Verifying distances are important for safety and accountability and they made it very clear that we would be sharing the path with locals using the park district which i really appreciated. Thankfully, between the racers being really spread out and the time of year, it was not a problem.  A few cross bikers but nothing else. 

Got to the race with about 20 minutes to spare. I took a wrong turn on the way there and should have been 30 minutes. Parking was plentiful and close! Start was right outside the main building and bathrooms were available on the beachside building which was a few hundred feet from the main building.  Easy Peasy.  I meant to hear what the RD had to say the pre-talk but missed it.  Got to the start with a minute to spare.. got my headband in order and also decided for no handheld water and the horn went off.  (in retrospect, was happy i just relied on aid stations, there were plenty and i had my Powerbar gels along with all the fun food they had on the course... plenty for someone at my pace)

Course:  I would describe it as 3 different length fingers and then a victory lap around the primary basin at the end. (one finger was concrete, one was limestone and one was trail/woods-like)  The weather had great conditions and limestone and wooded trail area was still pretty solid with limited-to-no mud which was great.  I had heard that area had some flooding recently and if it was 10 degrees warmer, it could have been really "goopy" through the race.  Although some might love that.. i wouldn't have.
The run itself was very peaceful and I found myself alone for about half of it. (alone defined as:  sometimes i didnt see anyone or only people off in the distance with a few passersby) I felt good the entire time.  The weather (for December in Chicago) was perfect. I loved the new wind/water proof jacket i got from asics but I noticed it gets pretty toasty.  Tank underneath was perfect and had some gloves and put on/off throughout the race.
Race had some bikers floating around throughout the race on fat tire bikes taking pics.  Snagged this one from their facebook page.  
There was a bit of a mile marker snafu earlier on.   Mile 5 was not marked at mile 5.  Thankfully I had my trusty Garmin but that could have been un-nerving for anyone without one.  Worked itself out by mile 7 i think.  Aid stations were super stocked and although the course was pretty sparse for me, the aid station workers put a pep in my step.  One was playing Ice Ice Baby when i got there.... my karaoke song!  Love it!

"second finger"
Kept plugging along and saw a handful of people in the last 3 miles.  Let 2 people pass me and passed one person in the last 5K.  Not that it mattered but b/c it was so spread out, it was nice to use those people as "markers" to where I was in the course. I read there was some feedback on poor signage the previous year and it seemed like they tried to amp it up this year.  There are some more improvements that could be made for the following year and it seems like the RD is hoping to keep improve so I can only seeing it get better.  I would say having a few more signs could help and anytime there is a person giving instructions, have them also have a sign with same information.  Sometimes, i process better seeing it esp when i am tired.   For example, someone saying "good job, stay left" is great but if they were to say that and have a sign that says "At the fork .50M ahead, veer left"  I might not have to second guess myself.  Perhaps it is just the way i process.  Also, on the second fingers turnaround, a sign on the cone sticking out of the top would have been helpful.  The aid station people yelled but a lady behind me didn't hear and the guy had to run after them.   Things that I am sure will be improved next year and for someone like me who is a back of the packer... i was fine so nothing that can't be fixed. 
"Last Finger"
"Victory Lap"
Made the approach to the victory lap and felt good.  Crossed finish to another stocked aid station (as that was halfway for the 50K's.  Chatted with the girl manning the station and cracked up to see they had "spirits" there... To each their own.. i love drinking coke during long runs.. some love taking shots apparently. 

I was happy I did this race and will be back in years to come.  Love the different distance options.  Wishing this series the best in the future!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon

Signed up for this race kindof on a whim.  It was on a Saturday, hoodie was a giveaway and I was itching for another race... sold.

It is a point to point race.  Went solo and parked at the start.  They said there would be shuttles at the end so made things easier on the front end and parked 2 minute walk from the start line.  Got there kindof early so sat in a my car, checked up on my social media and stayed warm as I watched people filing over to the start.  Had a few friends racing (one of which had my bib), so when she was heading towards the start, I made my way over.

There were ample portos and got into the corral pretty quickly.  I might have snuck through the fence so I wasn't in the far back. The weather was decent but I was concerned it might rain so I got a new coat for the occasion.  I looked at all different kinds and went back and forth on options.  Finalized on an Asics Run Jacket that was waterproof and super insulated. I also got it on black friday so scored with it being 40% off.  Worked out great and I was almost too warm mid way through.  Will wear it with a tank next weekend.  I also put my lulu neckwarmer and headband on my fanny as it was so warm.

I had no real expectations for this race.  Just wanted to log the miles for my trail race next weekend. I kindof expected to run around 2:40-2:45.  Run/walk as needed as I haven't really logged high mileage in a while and still be functional for the rest of the day (ended up going to a baptism, outlet shopping and doing crafts so i couldn't be out of commission).
Pre race selfie- thanks Kristy for getting my packet!
First 10K clicked along fairly easily. Saw my friends family along the course a few times which was a great pick me up! The route was along the run path and very few people were out other than runners.  This is nice in the late fall races as during the summer, the paths are super clogged with bikers, etc.  Completed the first 10k with an 11:03 pace.  Easy Peasy and was happy with that.  The course had some out and back points and then had the fast runners come the opposite direction of us.  When you are ticking off the miles, my mind will go into a "zoned" out mode but I had 2 times where I was pissed:

1.  While the faster runners were coming back, i watched multiple people have no runners etiquette and kept trying to run the entire width of the path.. ugh... so annoying.. the poor fast runners kept having to say "stay on your side".

The struggle happened for the sub 7- minuters until the packs start coming and then people start realizing that they can't keep doing that.  So, for like a mile I watched runners not have common sense and show extreme short term memory loss

2.  I saw 2 people cheat.. legit cheat.  This isn't the first time i have seen this unfortunately but seriously.. why do people do that?  I get if people are having a bad day and need to get back quickly.. i get that but one of the people that cheated, i stayed around for the remainder of the race and saw her snapping lots of selfies with her medal after.  Ugh! That is the problem with lollypop courses.  The race had 2 of them and if people wanted to cut, they could.

But, i didn't cut.  I kept plugging along and realized I would probably beat my 2:40ish goal.  So, i kept pushing.  Had one slow mile where I realized that I had a huge water blister on my right foot and some random chafing.  Snapped out of it and pushed through the final 3 miles.

Thanks Denise... i am stealing your pic :)

Last .5 mile was into the wind and a bit uphill.  Kindof torturous b/c you could see the finish line for a while as I was making no process. Crossed the finish in 2:32:42.  Got my medal and a cookie and high tailed it over to the buses to take me back to the start.  It was so cold, i ran to the buses.  The bus driver was nice and dropped me off right at my car.  Got some chickfila on the way home and was home before half time of the Ohio State game.

All and all, a good race.  not sold as an every year race but definitely one I will keep in my back pocket for a late season half if i need it.

Winnetka Turkey Trot

A thanksgiving isn't complete without a turkey trot.  I was really bummed not to be in Cleveland this year but was thankful to have a friend to trot with in Chicago.  Jen and I chose the Winnetka Turkey Trot by Carpe Diem Racing.   Great logistics, course and support. Leading up to the race, there was multiple opportunities to get your bib and shirt (and they had same day packet pickup) .  The tech shirt was very cute with women's specific option (it helps navy is one of my favorite colors) and they were selling old race shirts and current additional swag at a great price.  Love races that offer bargain shirts from previous races.  I have plenty but for many getting into running, this is a great way to stock up on tech tees at a great price.  Met up with Jen about 20 minutes before the start.  I had already gotten my bib at Road Runner earlier in the week so all I had to do was park and get to the start.  There was ample street parking and a free garage which made logistics easy peasy.  
About 5 minutes before go time, we all made our way to the Hubbard Woods trail.  The trail runs parallel to the Metra tracks and everyone scurried over the tracks and down the stairs to the trail. There had been rain and snow earlier in the week but luckily the path was pretty clear.  Also, as a sidenote, this trail can be seen in Home Alone.  After our thanksgiving feast, we were watching the movie and right after Kevin steals the toothbrush and he slides on the skating rink, they show a train and the trail... so basically, everyone in the world has probably seen the start line :)

Almost exact location of start.  
Race:  Was told this was a new venue this year and I thought it went really smoothly.  The RD made sure that there wasn't any 2 way traffic on the trail and the streets were closed for super easy racing for the runners.  Jen and I took the race easy.  I kindof overdressed and was dying after a mile. Shed my Lulu jacket and we kept trucking.  Knew some of the course marshalls so took some time to say hello and took our time.  We had no agenda other than to have fun and catch up.  Last stretch was on the same path we started on.

Overall:  Great local race with good swag that made the process easy. If I am in Chicago for thanksgiving, this will be my turkey trot.

Rock and Roll Vegas 10K Race Report

Finished the Remix Challenge with the 10K Sunday night.  It was an earlier start than the 5K start. Took the monorail ($5 one way) to the start (SLS Casino). This was the easiest way to get there since it was a point to point race and everyone else had the same idea as it was super packed and almost no room to get on.  I did have a chuckle as I traveled by myself as there were some ladies who were complaining how crammed it was and how rude people were for wanting to get on... and I was thinking in my head "If this was Chicago, there would be 50 more people in this car".  Once, we got to the SLS, it was a smooth transition/walk to the start line.  I might have hung out at the slots for a bit before the start. About 10 minutes before the race, I made my way over to the start.  In some major error... i was assigned to corral 1.  I got into the corral, chatted it up with some fellow runners from Utah/Fl and then we were off.  My goal was to enjoy the race and take in the course.  The course was a mix of industrial, outskirts of fremont and then the north end of S. Las Vegas Blvd.

 First area of the course was getting to Fremont Street.  Apparently, you used to be able to run through Fremont but now you just go close to it passing Container City.  As we made our way down, settled into a rhythm and enjoyed seeing some landmarks along the way.  Lots of Wedding Chapels (with notable famous people that were married there on the signs), Gold & Silver Pawn from Pawn Stars and some weddings in action.  Fun to see as we made our way down to Fremont.  

We got right to Fremont experience and then turned.  Once we made the turn, things kindof got ugly.  The wind really started picking up and it was getting cold and now some rain.  The wind was so bad, lots of cones were flipped over and most of us had to put their heads down.  Around this time as we approached Circus Circus, my stomach started hurting.. no clue why.. but I needed a bathroom.  Asked at an aid station and no one knew where one was. Luckily, the 4th person I asked said there was one straight ahead.. thank goodness!  Got to the porto and the wind was going crazy.  I sat down and kid you NOT... the porto got air.  I yelped so loud along with the guy next to me.  It seriously freaked me out. Thankfully didn't tip and I started my way to LasVegas Blvd. Rain was still coming in and the fast full/halfers started coming down the strip going north.  I thought a few times while we were running towards the finish..  thank goodness I am not doing the half or full.  Tried to soak up the fun of S. Las Vegas Blvd as we ticked off the different hotels, Trump, Encore, Wynn, TI....
Finish line was at Ceasars and there was good enthusiasm at the finish.  Crossed and was super cold right after I was done.  The runners had some lock down area and made my way through the finish. Got some chocolate milk, my medal and a runners heat sheet and started my way back to my purse. I left my bag at my work expo as I didn't see any information about gear check for 10K.  (There ended up being gear check that was delivered at finish but somehow i missed it).  So, i had to trek back to the Venetian in the rain.  I was getting so cold, I ended up buying a $15 hoodie at one of the cheap casinos to make my trek from Ceasars to venetian then back to Cosmo.  I walked another 5 miles after the race... blah!

Happy I got to experience the race... probably a one and done but nonetheless... I was able to RUN THE STRIP AT NIGHT!