Thursday, May 28, 2015

Soldier Field 10 Miler

Have kindof gotten in the habit of doing Soldier Field 10 Miler every few years.  It is a fun race that is over memorial day weekend that honors military, has a military charity partner and active duty members pass out medals.  My sister in law is able to fly for free (with her husband working for the airlines) so we has made it a tradition to fly out for a race each year.

I was still healing from my Knoxville crash and wasn't quite sure how I would do.  At one point, I wanted to go for a PR (1:45:XX) but then decided it was going to be a grab bag of outcome.  I also knew that there was a chance I would run with my sister in law (who was visiting for the race) and or Tia who was pacing.  I decided to do a Powerbar giveaway guessing my finish time with my Tri Club and I expected everyone to guess high but they all guessed very close to my current PR (1:46ish).  I am guessing there was some Athlinks stalking which I thought was funny.

Rolled downtown with Lani and picked up Joe to drive 3 blocks and park at 9th and Michigan.  We walked over to the start and had about 15 minutes to spare.  Corrals were closing and we hoped into ours.  We decided we would both run our own races and I still wasn't sure what pace I was going for.  Gun went off and got going.

Soldier Field 10 is a straight forward out and back course.  There is a bit of congestion in the first mile while people are jockeying for position.  I settled into a decent pace right away with a 10 min mile.  We were in the second group of corrals and only waiting 8-10 minutes for elite gun.  I decided that I was going to push as much as I could.  I have been putting in the training coach has given me and I figured if my leg/body wasn't feeling it, i would slow down but my tri club (and their guesses) definitely made me want to see how I would do.  So, i went.  Weather was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.  Not much breeze, overcastish and coolish.   PERFECT!   Hit the 5Mile mark at 51:33.  Was happy with that and felt good.

Right after the 5 mile mark, I saw a guy getting CPR.  He was somewhat convulsing and there were lots of medics there to work on him. I wanted to stop, i wanted to see if i could do anything but I have learned that unless you are the first on the scene to either 1. call for help and wait with them 2. provide CPR b/c professional is present 3. provide sort of immediate assistance (like i did in the Glow Run when a girl had a bone sticking out of her leg) or once the medics get there, i can help them.. there isn't much I can do.  The professionals were doing their job and I would just be standing their gawking.  That is a hard move for me and it honestly was hard to keep running after that... "Was this guy gonna be ok?"  "has his family been told yet?"  I emailed the race earlier this week and hope he is ok... haven't heard back yet.

So, after that, the race kindof just passed along.  It provided me a great opportunity to be reflective about my life and how grateful I am to be able to run and enjoy endurance sports as a hobby and NOT to take it for granted.  I struggled to keep my pace and found myself bouncing around in speed.  Running 9:00/mile pace and then wanting to walk for a bit... I just couldn't get into a good groove so I plugged through the second 5 miles much more random than the first.  I ran/walked a bit and then saw the Stadium and picked it up.  Finished strong as we came through the stadium and finished on the 50 yard line.  Crossed, was medaled and then met up with Tia and Lani.

And and all, i was happy with my performance, happy to finish with a decent time for me but most importantly happy I am able to run and enjoy my freedoms.  Thank you to all those that serve.  I have gotten to know many vets through Team RWB and US Military and Endurance.  I am grateful for your sacrifices.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Challenge Knoxville Race Report - Oly distance

Short Version:  
I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never going to keep me down

Longer Shorter Version: First tri of the season is done.  I took my first ever spill on my bike (rain, fast downhills, novice bike handling skills and adapting to RTC gear shifters are to blame) but I was able to recover, finish the bike and complete the run. It was the slowest Oly to date but considering all of the events, i will be happy with the fact I still finished!

Full write up

Pre-Race/Expo/Packet Pickup:
Never have been to Knoxville before so we decided to stay at the host hotel (Holiday Inn Worlds Fair).  The good rate, proximity and pet friendly accommodations made it a no-brainer.  Friday, I got my packet and we signed up for the glow run. Had some time before sundown so we walked over the Market Square and had some great Mexican food (that was super cheap!) and then came back for the run. Lucy made lots of friends on the fun run.

Saturday morning, hit up the shake out run with Dr Andy Baldwin.  Got to meet some people I have only interacted with on social media and enjoyed chatting it up with friends and shaking out the legs.  We ran to a local coffee shop and then made our way back to the expo.  Took in the mandatory meeting with Lucy while the boys were swimming at the hotel pool.  Then Scott went and played 18 and Josh, Lucy and I did dinner again at Market Square.  We were all pretty beat from the day by 5 pm so i got some food to go at Oodles and Josh Subway.  Ate in our hotel room while watching Diary of a Whimpy Kid.  Fun bonding and was asleep before 10. 

Race Morning:
Didn't need to wake up super early b/c transition closed at 7:30 for Oly athletes.  So woke up at 6:45 and made me way down to the start.  Set up my stuff, said hell to friends and started walking over to the pier.  During this 15 minute period is started pouring and I didn't care b/c I was about to jump in the water but felt bad for my family who was making there way over. Never saw them before the start as Scott had a struggle getting Josh and Lucy over to the water in the rain (what a trooper!)  Put on my wetsuit under a bridge (the one you see in this pic), applied some trislide that a fellow teammie had and went to the start.  
I was in the last wave and didnt have a ton of jitters going into the swim. Thankfully I was able to warm up on Saturday and get a feel for the Tennessee River. The water was warm (72) and calm, there was rain but once you are in the water, they doesn't matter.  We had a in-swim start and saw some friends right before the gun.  Always nice to see a familiar face before any butterflies come.

I was able to get into a slow groove fairly quickly and felt comfortable in the water.  Sometimes I have this thing where i go 100-200 meters with no issue and then freak out but thankfully that didn't happen.  There wasn't a lot of contact in the water but about halfway to the first bouy some guy curled up right next to me and slapped my back for what felt like another 200 meters.  Since I was in a groove i didn't want to stop and hoped i would just go faster than him but that didn't work.  We were at the exact same speed and decided i didn't want to deal with him anymore.. so, i stopped, let him pass and then changed my trajectory just a bit.  For some, this wouldn't bother them at all but I just didn't want to deal with him.  Hit the turn bouy and then onto the stretch home.  The sighting was the Lady Vols warehouse and the dock was in front of that.  Swam with a few ladies in a nice pack (no benefits of drafting but it was nice to have a clump of us together but not touching).  Pulled myself up on the dock while yelling "Beached Whale".  Scott and Josh were waiting for me in the rain and I was off to T1.  Watch said 38:32 on the dock.  Actual time counting some running: 00:40:14.  We can also see I need to work on my sighting.. Nothing new
Everything was wet including my socks that I laid out.  Was not excited to put on wet socks but then remembered that I had an extra pair in my bag.  SCORE!  Dry Socks.  Got my stuff on and onto the bike


Well, it started off a bit rough as my HR was all over the place. There was some rain coming down but wasn't pouring but enough to make me on high alert.  Managed to get through the first 10 miles uneventfully and chugged my way up the first major ascent at mile 7ish. It was one with some soft switchbacks so I kept getting faked out with "being at the top".  There was a 72 year old that was chugging along with me and I was happy to see my bike fitness was up to par with a 72 year old! :)  I also was asked by a lady to yell when i got to the top and did and she yelled back "That is tooo long". HAHA

Pretty sure this is how my impact was as i have a scraped
up elbow, hip and opposite knee.. just not as pretty
However, i was keeping a 15 MPH pace even with the large ascent and then I was approaching the next large climb (mile 11-12).  I was going on a mini downhill, saw the climb and realized i needed to switch gears down, I went to take my big chain down and started pushing my left shifter.  At the same time, someone said on your left and in that split second, i ever so slightly jerked my bars and tumbled out.  It happened in slow mo...  and the bike facing the wrong direction and I was kissing the pavement.  People asked if i needed help and i just needed a minute.  Didnt want to pull out of the race but wasn't quite ready to get back up on the bike.  I sat there for about 10-15 minutes regrouping and picking rocks out of my scab, taking a Powerbar gel and just taking a breather. 

After the race, I realized that there were many of us that slid out and my scars were not much compared to others.  Got back on the bike and finished the course.  However, it sucked that I had to start at the bottom of the hill from Zero.  I didn't walk up it but i might have almost rolled backwards! This is when i started singing Chumbawumba's song over and over in my head.  Definitely this races theme song. 

T2- Rolled into T2 and family was waiting.  Scott saw my arm right away and wished me luck on the run.

Knew it was going to be a slow go at it.  Had no interest in moving fast esp b/c i knew i was going to be covering a large amount of the 13.1 after i crossed the finish line with the last place finisher.  So, i plugged away. Saw lots of friends and teammates on the course which prompted me to keep moving.  The course wasn't hilling on the Oly.  a straight forward out and back that was pancake flat.  Did the run/walk/shuffle and had a slow (13:30/mile 10K).  Great to see my teammates pumping it and pushing through their pain while I shuffled along and drank coke on the course. As I had walked from transition to the finish line a bunch of times that weekend, i knew how long i had once i passed transition.  Attempted to pick up the pace a bit and saw my family waiting for me at the finish. Josh ran in with me and his first words were "we thought you should have been here a long time ago".  How's that for encouraging?!?!  But crossed with Josh and Lucy "much later than expected"

Photo Cred:
Team with overall winner, Pro Cam Dye
Post Race:
Was medaled/toweled and hung out with family and teammates for a while.  I knew I was going to finish with the last place finisher of the half so i just wanted to lay low.  Visited the med tent, got bandaged up and then chilled with friends till i went back out on the course.. more on that in my next post.
Rocking our C4 Kits.  Love our new gear this year!

Overall- had a great first Challenge Experience. I wanted a PR, I wanted NOT to fall but I did and I will live to see another day.  To me, that is all that matters.  I finished after falling which was a total Mental Win   Delivered just like Rev3 events in a positive way:  Family Friendly, not super uptight and stressful, good swag and great race day delivery!  Looking forward to the rest of the season.  Have some great local races before Challenge AC. 

Race Tips for anyone:
  • Worth staying at Host Hotel or somewhere very close to it (great proximity to everything)
  • Water temp can be all over the place, if you can.. bring your wetsuit options (long/sleeveless)
  • Definitely check out Market Square for dinner and check local events as there was lots going on race weekend this year
  • The humidity (esp for us who haven't been in real sun yet for the year) can take it out of you pre-race and race day.  Hydrate and talk salt appropriately. 
  • The hills aren't technical but they are tough.  Be prepared for that in what is a season opener for many of us
  • Don't fall! 

Thanks to all of my sponsors (Challenge Family, TZCoaching, Powerbar, SBR Sports, Headsweats and C4).  My season opener wasn't what I (or my coach) probably hoped for but I was happy I was able to finish and then go back out to the final finisher on the run course. Challenge Family proved to be just that.. a family.  Loved seeing all my teammates at the race and so happy my own family made the trek down with me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Super Sunny 5K Giveaway (Burbank, IL 6/6/2015)

2015 logo on white
Chicagoans- Excited to raffle off a free entry for the Super Sunny 5K in Burbank, IL. (running raffle on triblogger site too)  Know the RD and it is going to be a great day to support services for adults with developmental disabilities in the Chicago area.  Visit for more info!  Raffle ends next Wednesday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cinco De Miler Race Review

Has been a handful of years since I have done this race and it has grown a ton since I participated last.   Had a fun time even with the rain and cold weather.

Packet Pickup:  RAM and Feet Fleet have created a partnership to do packet pickups jointly regardless of who is holding the race.  There are probably numerous reasons for this (closing of RAM's downtown store,

Race Day: Picked up a Skokie friend (and maybe a coke) and we were downtown by 8:15 for a 9 am gun.  Parking was in the south lot of Soldier Field and although you had to pay $20, it was simple and easy.  Sometimes paying is worth not having the deal with the hassle of searching for a spot in my opinion.  Headed over to the corrals and after the Mexican and US National Anthems, we were off. 

The course was a simple out and back with some lakefront path, some lakeshore drive and the underpass at McCormick (i.e. where people pee during long races or the place where you think you are going to trip and biff it b/c it is so dark... whatever way you slice it.. that area is dicey). Thankfully it is short and you don't lose your GPS signal long :)

2015_CDM_CourseMap 042115I got started at a decent pace with no real intentions of worrying about time.  It was cold, windy and I just wanted to enjoy myself.  However, I clipped along at a decent pace for the first two miles and then we made the turn and was hit with a wall of cold air against the lake.  Mile 2-3 was the most uncomfortable but I managed to pass the 5K mark at 30:13.  Considering I just PR'ed my 5K the week before at 30:30, i figured I would try to break 50 minutes for a less than 10/mile pace.  Kept going and then started running out of gas right around McCormick Place.  Pretty sure the breakdown was mental but I was not feeling it and found myself walking for a bit around 4.5.  Lame I know but i thought, i am just going to walk for a bit and then go.  Got going and the finish line popped up on me quick enough that I was mad at myself for walking for a bit.  Crossed the line at 49:19 and made my way through the finisher chute.  They handed water/bananas/CHURROS! and medals out as they shuffled you through to the post party area.  (The medal was great - a 3D Sombrero Bottle opener) You also received tostitos, salsa and a tamale at the food tent which was a nice touch.   Unfortunately, the weather was still crappy so I didnt hang around much other than to say hello to some friends briefly.  Happy to catch up with Denise and dropped her off at her place. 

Was a fun event, happy to participate and next year.. i need a costume!  Next week - First tri of the season... YIKES!



Monday, May 11, 2015

Glenview Sunset Shuffle 5K - Medals4Mettle

SunsetShuffle Logo webParticipated in the inaugural Sunset Shuffle in Glenview this past week.  Since I work in the Glen, I felt like i couldn't pass up supporting a local event and something so close to "home."  It was the first year for the event and they had ~140 per the results.  I think they were hoping for more but for the first year and it still being iffy weather (as it ended up being cold that evening), i thought the turnout was good. 

I really didn't need to do a 5K mid week but I emailed the race and asked if there was anyone I could present medals to and they said YES!!!!  So, signed up right away.  The race benefited a cancer support group.  Although they didn't have anyone from that group there were 3 children that were suggested.  One was recently diagnosed with acute diabetes and has struggled with adapting and 2 siblings recently found running after their little brother died suddenly (unsure of details).

The race itself was pretty straightforward and took place in the Glen paths i have run on/off for 8 years.  Thankfully there weren't many people out and with the limited number of participants,  it was pretty open the entire time.  I managed to PR the 5K distance which I was pleasantly surprised about.  Definitely attribute that to coach making me do intervals!

Crossed the finish and it was cold.  Cold and windy but the after party was really nice.  The community definitely supported and they had a lot of people out there along with a band. I grabbed the medals and found the girls to present them too.  She picked out the fox medal and seemed grateful.   Medals4Mettle is a small but meaningful gesture and so happy to be a part of it. 

Chip Time 00:30:30
Average Pace 9:48/mile

Friday, May 1, 2015

Three Things Thursday ... errrr Friday

Some of my favorite Chicago bloggers (Lauren, Katie, Kelly) frequently do a Three Things Thursday post and i always love reading them .. many times i start my own and then i don't get around finishing it till the next tuesday.. but last night,  I had a lot of thoughts in my head... and wanted to jot them down.

So, here are my Three Things Thursday... that I started on Wednesday and finishing now on Friday.

1. Getting excited and nervous about Triathlon season starting. Kicking off the season with Challenge Knoxville in ~3 weeks. Doing the Oly and would be lying if i said I wasn't a little nervous starting out the season with an Oly. My training (for me) makes me ready but I have started with a sprint EVERY YEAR since 2008 and find comfort is starting with the shorter distance. Now I am jumping into a Oly (with a new bike and potentially cold water). I know I will be ok and what helps me with this little quirk/superstition I have, is knowing I will be with lots of friends at the race. My Challenge Team family will be there, the amazing staff, a few friends from chicago AND... my own family including Lucy! Cannot wait to be there for the"inaugural" Challenge Knoxville race! They are going to have 3 races running at the same time (oly, championship hybring distance and half). Excited to race, have a trication with the fam and check out the International Biscuit Festival (NOT A JOKE)
As tempted as i might be, i will not hitch a ride from the boat!

2. I have been enjoying having a coach this year. Tony has been great adapting to my goals as a triathlete. As someone who never had a coach before or (never had any real training schedule), it has been an adjustment. I am probably much more trained this time a year then I ever have been (which isn't really saying much) but i have been noticed some positive results. Just PR-ed at the 5K distance (30:30) last night and had a PR at the 10 miles a few weeks ago. I definitely attribute that to his interval training and making me log more miles in Feb/March. I don't have any major goals for my triathlon times but would just like to enjoy the bike more this year so i can have some fresher legs for the run!

3. Had an awesome M4M presentation yesterday and was able to send out medals to the Dupage Country Hospital.  We talked about how they are going to display them at the hospital and use them as rewards for big treatments or diagnostic tests.  Grateful to continue to be a part of this grassroots organization.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Live Grit Lakefront 10 Race Report

Had a great time at LiveGrit's Lakefront 10 this year.  Have done this race in the past and someone had a good discount code so registered on a whim.  Was excited to race with friends and looked forward to running a longer distance at my pace (as RunAbe was slower than what I normally run)

Race Morning:
Woke up and got a late start out of the house.  Between my dog getting into some mud when i let her out and trying to download a few last minute songs to my ipod, I wasn't out the door till close to 7 am. Got on highway only to realize i forgot my watch.. ugh!  With a 8AM start and being concerned about parking, i was cutting it close.  Rolled into the race area to see the cabs dropping off people and it looked like the street spots were all gone.  Panic hadn't set in yet but i knew it was going to be a close one.  Thanks to my friend telling me to park near Wilson, I hoped onto LSD once at Montrose and got off at Wilson to find a spot.  However, as soon as i got off, people were directing me to a huge lot!  YES! SCORE!  Only costs $5 bucks to park and I was off.  Grabbed my bib from my friend (who picked it up for me) and was at the start with about 3 minutes to spare.  Love when things work out like that but sometimes the ending isn't always so perfect.

Had no idea how it was going to go since I didn't have my watch. I have my Vivofit on but since you can't reset miles for the day, I basically just had the time.  Wasn't going to deal with my phone so figured, today will be a day I just run at my pace and see how I feel. They said at the start there were 6 aid stations so mentally cut up the course that way. ("Get through 4 aid stations at least before even considering walking")

The course was up and down the lakefront with a few turns and up cricket hill.  At my pace, the course was well marked and/or there were enough runners for me to never have to think about the directions.  {Unfortunately, I heard some back of the packers got lost but they already talked to race officials and hopefully that will be fixed for next year!}

Crossed the start at 8:01 and hit the first mile at 8:10.  Umm.. anything that is 9 and change for me is too fast and got a little nervous I would burn out but kept ticking along and crossed mile 3 at 8:30 and change.  We continued to push through and I saw the leaders coming back around my mile 5.  They all looked pretty beat up and I wasn't necessarily sure why (ignore the fact they were running sub 6 miles) but they looked more tired than normal.

I kept plugging around, hit the turn and then bam, the cold wind hit me... i now know why they were dying.  The wind off the lakefront was strong and it was cold.  Knew we would run on the other side of the golf course so just put my head down and pushed through.  Although I didn't have a garmin, pretty sure that was my slowest mile.  I ended up taking my Powerbar Chocolate gel and walked during the aid station. (#5 aid station) When we got through that wind tunnel, I attempted to resume my pace and got back into it with about a 1.5 left.  Found a couple that was plugging along and decided to tuck in behind them and ride out the rest of the race.  Made our way close the finish and starting pushing to get the line.  Crossed not knowing exactly what my time was but was happy to see I finished under 1:50 clock time (that became my goal around mile 5).

Got a bagel, met up with some friends, bought a super soft Live Grit shirt (seriously, a soft V Neck tee is a quick way to my heard) and cheered Tia to the finish.  Once I got back home, looked up my time to see it was 1:47:04.   Looked back at my 10-milers through athlinks and noticed it was a PR.  I have a 1:44 logged from the Lakefront 10 in 2013 but my garmin read it was short.  Only by .1 miles but normally your watch reads long so i felt like that wasn't a true 10 miler PR.  (Personally, I go by my chip time for PR's not when my watch hits 10.00 but for a 10 miler, i would want it to hit 10 miles at least!)  Anyways, was excited for the PR and happy to see I have made some improvements over the years.  Don't see myself getting any faster but happy with this pace.  Have Soldier Field 10 in a few weeks for another comparison.

The race is a good open seasoner that isn't very expensive, not super complicated to deal with had great swag. Love that stepped up and sponsored the race this year and will probably be back next year!

Wind Blown and Done!
2010 - 10 miler- 2:03:57
2011 - 10 miler- 1:53:35
2012 - 10 miler- 1:47:32
2013 - 10 miler- 1:44:54**Not counted b/c watch read short on mileage
2015 - 10 miler- 1:47:04
NICOLE KESTEN            F  89/125   34 1:47:04 10:43