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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon - Pacing 3:00 Group

Last year, I was scheduled to pace Lincoln's half but my Pop-Pop passed away the week of the race and I had to bow out.  I wasn't sure if i would return this year but thankfully, was asked back and made the trek to run where Lincoln walked.  Medals4Mettle was sponsoring the pacing team again and grateful to have my runningbestie Tia be my joint pacer. 

We rolled into Springfield Friday evening and got the expo with an hour left.  They had some great vendors there, lots of freebies and the rungroup was selling off their old race shirts for $2 bucks.  Normally I don't get excited about that but they had a great sweatshirt and some shirts for Scott.  Score! Grabbed dinner at Subway and we were in bed by 10pm.  Woke up at 6:40 for a 7 am meet at the Old Capital.  Met up with the other pacers and snapped a photo.  We were the sweepers for the race which put us at a 3:00 pace.  As a usual 2:30 half-er, 3 hrs is a perfect pace to race.  You have lots of energy to keep people engaged and if needed, have the legs to run back an forth to people. 
We got to our corrals and people started asking our plan.  There were 2 sweep pace groups.  One 2/1 and we were doing 3/2.  We had a decent group with us from the get go and 2 in particular were determined to break the 3 hour mark.  The course is well marked with lots of police and highlights of running by some historical areas.. specifically:  Lincoln's Office, Home, The Capital and Tomb and they have 3-4 decent sized inclines along the way.

The weather, although chilly at the start, ended up being perfect for a half.   The crew we ran with were really motivated to break 3 hours and kept it going really well.  We banked some time to be able to walk the hills on the back side of the course and managed to time aid stations pretty well.  It is always fun pacing a slower group b/c you meet some great people and bond with them during the race. 

When we made the turn towards the finish, our people took off and were ready to break their 3 hour goal.  Happy to report 3 of them met that while I came in at 3:00:05.  I was kindof annoyed with my 5 seconds but happy all my peeps made it. 
This is a must-do race for anyone that loves Lincoln and/or is looking for a decent price race in the Springfield area. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Shamrock Shuffle 8K

Another Shamrock Shuffle in the books.
In short:  The time I ran faster than usual in fear something happened to Josh.. but nothing did. 

Have done this race a handful of times.  Last year, although fun with my family, we found out after we finished the race that Pop-Pop had passed away and it made the race a distant memory pretty quickly.

This year, was a new year and loved having my family accompany me again.

The expo was at McCormick Place which is no different than Navy Pier for me.. both are out of the way, annoying to get to and you have to pay for parking if you are a suburb dweller like me. But since I just got back from vaca and had to make the trip, I volunteered with Fort2Base to work at the expo which made the hike worth it a little more.

Race morning, we picked up Jen and then strategically parked in the loop where the race road closures wouldn't affect our spot but then we also wouldn't have needed to walk a long distance once we finished.  They had special parking rate for $16 bucks and easy entry/exit. Got over to the start and only had 10 minutes in our corral before we were off.
Once we got going, Scott and Josh took off ahead of me and then Scott dropped back and Josh was gone.  We had set up a contingency plan if we got separated... "Left Side right after they are done handing out food" since we thought that was a safe place to hang out as sometimes you get pushed through the finish line area. Anyways, I settled into my happy 10:30-11 min/mile pace and then all of the sudden, I got this nervous mom feeling that Josh was running the streets alone and something was going to happen to him.  Some examples of my freakouts included (but were not limited to:  What if he fell... I didn't put his Road ID on today... The number I put as he ER contact was Scott's and he left his phone in the car... What if he gets some random infection and they give him amoxicillin (which he is allergic too)... i know, i was getting a little carried away with my freakouts but as you know .. when you running and a thought takes over your head.. sometimes you just spin out of control. 

So, basically the rest of the race was "chasing" after Josh and hoping he wasn't in some ditch somewhere.  Logical.. i know.  However, running in fear kept my pace as a good clip and ended up putting up a negative split with a 9:59 average.  (compared to my 10:30 avg at the St Paddy's 8K).  Crossed the finish line and pushed through the finish area hoping to see Josh.  They handed out medals for the first time this year and had some good post race food but no sign of Josh.  Got in another panic and then Josh calls my name from the other side of the fence.  He was on the left side as we discussed and just chilling with his water and popchips. 

Well, our little guy is growing up and a lot faster than me.  Had fun racing with them.  This was our second year as as a family and we might need to just make this a tradition! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Being the only Triathlete in the Family

This post was shared on the Challenge Family America's Blog 2 weeks ago but wanted to re-share on my actual blog and add a few things that I couldn't share in my 850 limit :)

Many of us had similar starts to triathlon. We were drawn to the sport because it sounded intriguing, challenging and like something we wanted to accomplish for ourselves. I quickly learned, however, that my involvement in triathlon doesn’t just affect me–it affects my entire family. Endurance sports include more than just a few hours on random weekends; they can be consuming, expensive and sometimes cause a wedge in our relationships. As I enter my seventh year of triathlon, I want to share with you a few mantras I have found to keep myself and my family priorities balanced.

Racing isn’t just about me.
When I first started racing, my family would come with me to every race. We would drive all together, they would watch me set up transition, wait for me at the swim start and cheer throughout the day. It was great to have the support but I really didn’t think about them much and, after a while, they grew tired of supporting. I never considered that waking up at the butt-crack of dawn just to sit around on some camping chairs in a field (or better yet, a parking lot) to see me for a few glimpses over the course of a few hours wasn’t fun!

So after a year in the sport and realizing that I love to race, I started making their race weekend experience a priority. Sometimes for your A-race this isn’t as easy, but it’s definitely something to consider if your family is traveling with you for multiple races a year. Here are some questions I regularly ask during planning a race (especially ones away from home):
  1. What will my family do while I am racing? Are there fun attractions nearby? Golf course proximity? A movie theater in case of rain? What can I find for them to give them ideas for what to do? Picking family friendly race venues is in my top three considerations when laying out my race schedule.
  2. What will we do after the race? For me, making sure a tri-cation is fun for everyone includes making sure everyone gets to do something they want. For example, last year at Challenge Williamsburg we fit laser tag and visits to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens into the long weekend so that my son remembers the vacation as something beyond just “going to Virginia to see my mom race.”
  3. Sometimes I just choose to go solo. Although I would love for my family to accompany me every time, I recognize sometimes going it solo is the best for everyone. My Challenge Triathlon Team (National) and Crush Multisport (Chicago) teammates provide familiar faces at races and make going solo a different kind of fun for me. This also allows me to hang at the finish line longer, chat with friends and not be in a rush after I finish with no stress on anyone else.
Be flexible with your training schedule.
Although it is great when I can check off every training session perfectly or make all my TrainingPeaks graphs turn green, sometimes that is not in the best interest of my family and they are my priority. I have made this clear with my coach, Tony Zamora (who respects this and helps him know what my ultimate goals are). With both my husband and I working and our Sunday religious services, the free time in our weekends is precious. Yes, it is precious time to get in long training but more importantly, precious time to spend together as a family. Too many times I found Scott and I trading off with Josh and not taking advantage of time we could be spending together as the three of us. Just being aware of this is half the battle.

Set a budget–even if a loose one.
Tri gear, clothing and racing can add up–fast! Even though I am not a fast triathlete, I love tech gadgets, new gear and racing–none of which are cheap. Very quickly, my husband realized how much was being sunk into the sport and how many things I all of a sudden “needed.” (For example, I really “need” the new Garmin 920X.) Now we set a loose budget every year that I try to follow. We don’t create an excel spreadsheet of costs, but we do have a target number so there are no major surprises when our bank statements are released. We still go back and forth on what goes in that “tri” bucket, but as I mentioned earlier, if we make a tri-cation a true vacation for everyone, we can work out a split for the costs of the trip.

Just b/c you love it doesn't mean others automatically will
Don't get me wrong, this isn't for lack of trying but my husband will probably never be into triathlons.  It doesn't mean he won't do one here and there but it would be more for appeasing me than filling a void he has.  He also probably won't get excited next year when Challenge Dubai live streaming takes place or want to talk about the pro field... and I am ok with that.  I try to make a conscience effort to limit tri/endurance talk with him or be attentive when his eyes start glaring over...  Can't say it makes a difference but he is very supportive of my passion and dont' want to burn him out from it.

There is no standard remedy for balance, but these reminders have served me well in the past few years. Everything in life is a balance and this is just one more pin we learn to juggle. Happy racing to all. See you out on the course!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

St Paddy's 8K Race Report

Had my first of 2 8K's in March this past weekend.  Was coming off a back tweak a few weeks ago (yes, i know I sound like a broken record with my back.. deal) so didn't have any major expectations but hoped to be around an 11/mile.

Packet Pickup:  My trusty husband was nice enough to pick up my packet for me.  it was at Sports authority in the city and he said it was "amateur hour".  I not sure if the lines were super long but he said it was very disorganized.  However, he ended up buying a weight bench and weights while he was waiting around so score one for Sports Authority being the pickup site.

Race Day:  Race started in front of the Peggy Notebart Museum at 9:30 which is a great site for a smaller city race.  Close to bus options for public transportation people and also there are some free spots along the Zoo drive but there is also the huge zoo lot which is expensive ($20) but guarantees an easy spot at that time a day with little thinking.  I usually take one loop and if i dont' find free parking, i park in the lot.  Walked over the start and had about 15 minutes to go... bathroom break and then into the corral just before the gun.

Started on time and well organized.  They started the 8K first.  Not a lot of puddles on the path which was a good thing and I got settled into a pace pretty quick.  My goal was to keep a pace of 11/Miles and see how it went from there.  The weather was perfect running weather with a bit of a chill in the air but no wind and great views of the city thawing from winter.
Had splits of: 10:23/10:37/10:19/10:41/10:31
Had to stop for a moment in mile 4 to get a rock out of my shoe.  i felt it in the first mile and it drove me crazy the entire time.  It is amazing how all of my thoughts and nerve endings focused on that shoe for 3.5 miles till i took it out as I felt like it pierced the skin.  Happy i took the seconds as my foot was in fact bleeding and didn't need to tear it up anymore.

I am starting to pay attention to my heart rate this year (thanks Coach) and noticed it was a bit high this race.  Definitely going to be focusing more on Zone training but first i probably need to read up on exactly what that is :)

After I crossed the finish line, they ushered us over to the food.  Water/some type of recovery drink/Green bagels/bananas awaited us.  They had music, lots of tents and beer afterwards.  I got a half of bagel, water and then walked back to the car.  Had a Powerbar PB Harvest Energy Bar while i changed out of my damp clothes and then made my way back home.  Had a busy day which included:  hosting a friends only (that turned into a few randoms garage sale), Josh's final basketball game, going to driving range and grocery shopping... It was my kind of Saturday.  Busy/productive and I got to race! :)
When i got home after the race, I looked at the map and did not remember making that loop at the end. I sat on that thought for a while since i remembered going under a bridge right before the end.  Then i remember I had my Garmin so i was able to pull my map file and I was right... map was out of date which is a bit of a faux pas in my opinion. However, not too big of a deal for me.  Excited to see if i can beat my 8K time at Shamrock but even if not, looking forward to another race... bring on spring!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Race Schedule for 2015

 Still working on my schedule.. but this is what i have so far.. what am i missing?  
... still need a marathon on there somewhere.  
Will i be racing with you this year?

March 8- St Paddys 8K
April 4 - Lincoln Half Marathon (pacing 3:00 group)
April 18- Lakefront 10 Miler
May 17 - Challenge Knoxville Oly
May 23 - Soldier Field 10
May 30 - Mudderella (doing with 3 friends who this their first race)
June 6 - Volition Half Marathon
June 14 - Espirit Sprint Tri Naperville
June 20 - 3 Disciplines Tri Lake Zurich
June 28 - Challenge Atlantic City 70.3
July 12 - Lake Zurich Tri
July 24 - Salt Lake City UT Half Marathon
Aug 2 - North Shore Sprint Tri
Aug 22- Skokie Backlot Dash 5K
Aug 23- Fort2Base
Aug 29- Chicago Super Sprint
Sept 13 - Challenge Cedar Point (Debating on 70.3/Sprint)
Nov 14 - Las Vegas NV Half Marathon

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Challenge Triathlon Team Summit

Mid January, I spent the weekend at the Challenge Triathlon Summit and had a blast with my tri-family.  The team wanted a "warm" place so we chose Jacksonville but unfortunately, we were blessed with only 30-40 degree weather with a few snow flakes one of the days... BUT, i am NOT complaining!  I left -30 degree (with windchill) weather so I was ok with that.

The summit is an awesome chance for us to meet the newbies (now that i am a veteran) and hear from Challenge (formerly Rev3) Corporate and our sponsors. C4 will be making our team kits which look awesome, Powerbar will be including the team on PBTE and SBRSports will also be supporting us with tri-swim products, foggies and trislide.  The weekend was filled with conferences during the day, volunteering at a local race working aid stations and good memories with the team.  (some may remember the memories better than others :)  ... as one of the "old maids", some of those memories have been burned into my brain.  

First night as we all started trickling in
Newbies/Veterans relay.. Vets won!
Challenge Family Triathlon Team 2015
Many people will ask me what makes me so loyal to the Rev3-Challenge brand.  I have loved Rev3 since 2011(3 yrs before joining the team) when i raced my only DNF and the answer is pretty simple. They make the race experience something for everyone.. not just the racer.  They pick venues that have things for families to do, make the expo family friendly, have glow runs, and allow your family to cross the finish line with you w a free finisher photo. I have appreciated this as a racer for years but now that i am on the team, i LOVE seeing how committed the company is to making the consumer be the racer, spectator, supporter and volunteer!

And just to be clear, just b/c I love Challenge/Rev3 doesn't mean i hate every other company out there.  I have raced them and will continue to race them.  This goes from the other big corporate brands to the small local tri. In all my years of racing, I honestly have never really had a horrible tri race experience that the event could control..  but my family has had some bad ones.  Races where hotels are sooo expensive and/or sold out, we had to stay in a crappy place and there is nothing for them to do and they are sherpa-ing back and forth.. or the race venue is isolated enough they are forced to stand around all day waiting or when they have tried to drive around, the road closures make it difficult. Yes, they could be cheering like crazy people for 7 hours while they wait for me but they don't want to and i don't blame them. As my husband would say... "cheering for random spandex people for hours... no thank you."  Having my family there is important to me so I have to make race trips for us and "throw a race in there"

This year, I plan to attend:  Challenge Knoxville, Atlantic City and Cedar Point.  I am working on the rest of the race schedule including a 10 miler with my sis-in law and #runningbestie in Chicago, pacing the Lincoln Half, 10K in Utah, 13.1 in Vegas and plenty of local tris/run races! Thinking 25-30 races for the year sounds like a round number!!  Here's to an awesome (and hopefully healthy) 2015.