Wednesday, September 29, 2010

next race?

It's only 3 days since my last half marathon and I'm already trying to find the next race. I tend to have an idea of what races I want to do then sign up based on how I'm feeling last minute. There are very few races I plan far enough in advance to save money. I know it's not the most cost efficient option but I have saved myself a few times when I ended up having to be somewhere else on race weekend.

Prior to the Akron 1/2 I was on Facebook (when am I not) and saw an ad for a Monster Dash in Chicago. Normally I don't pay too much attention to FB ads but this one caught my eye. I had never heard about this race. I clicked over and liked what I saw. Half marathon in downtown Chicago = easy travel. People dress up, there is sweet swag like fleece running jackets, hats, and a belt buckle medal! Heck for the kids run they get a fun light up monster t-shirt.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about running another 1/2 about 4 weeks later and the day before I leave on a 2 week vacation so I didn't sign up right away. After how good I felt last weekend I think I want to keep it going and see what I've got on a flat course. The course is a simple out and back on the lakeshore path starting downtown and heading south. I'm pretty sure there may be 1 hill and after Akron it's a joke of a hill. Running a race on Halloween has to be fun - right?!?!

So how do you choose your races? Do you sign up last minute or are you a super planner?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Akron 1/2 Marathon Race Report

The husband and I arrived at my sister and brother-in-laws house over 7 hours after leaving Chicago. The drive should really take no more than 6 hours but a section of the Indiana toll road was closed for awhile. Parked on a tollway with no information for about an hour = no fun at all. We made it, unpacked the car and then my sister and I headed to the expo so I could make a quick pick-up. Only it wasn't so quick because we arrived when everyone else did! Right when the pasta party was starting and everyone was getting off of work/arriving in town. It was a bit crowded to say the least. After making our way through (and 1 super cute shirt purchase) we all were on our way for dinner with my dad and stepmom.

Race morning started early! I couldn't sleep of course and when the alarm went off at 5:40 am it felt much earlier because of the short 1 hour time change for me. My sister the rock star of the weekend woke up a bit later and drove me to the race start. She dropped me off as close as she could get and I walked in the darkness with all the other runners arriving to find the bag drop vans. It took me a bit because they only had 2 vans and the huge sign wasn't exactly by where the vans were parked. I did see they had a support tent for everyone to use that had water, powerade, and a place to stay warm. Very nice touch that not every race has.

The morning temps were in the upper 50's but I was totally comfortable standing at the start line in my tank top and shorts. About 20 minutes later we were off!

Mile 1 (9:37): Ended up being my slowest mile. I didn't want to take off like a bat outta hell like I normally do bobbing and weaving. I hung back with the 3:50 pacer, tried to calm my nerves and find my happy race pace. I knew I was slower than I wanted then there was a bottleneck going over a bridge that slowed me even more. I'm happy I didn't waste too much energy this first mile but wish it could have been slightly faster.

Miles 2-5 (8:51,8:42, 8:39, 8:37): Even with a couple significant uphills these miles flew by! Everything was feeling good and I was enjoying the morning.

Mile 6 - 7 (8:40, 8:59): I took my first GU chomps because I forgot earlier. When I runs sans waterbelt I sometimes get thrown off and forget about my fuel. Bad! They were all stuck together and a little stale. I was disappointed since I have never had this problem before so I threw most of the bag to the side. Mile 7 was the part of the course I started to recognize since I run part of it with my sister when I'm visiting. I only forgot about the steady incline from 7 - 7.5... oh mama I was happy when that ended. Just after 7.5 I came running up to this courtesy of my awesome sister...

The first sign is a classic :)
My favorite picture! Ready to high five Lindsey Loo!
Helping myself to the oranges and water. My sister had a baggie ready for me to go but forgot to hand off. It's all good and wasn't needed after all.

Mile 8 - 9 (8:52, 8:34): Still feeling really good! This is usually when I start to lose it mentally in a half but not this time. The weather was fantastic and my family gave me a huge boost. I was pushing myself but still had a lot left in the tank. I decided at mile 10 through the end I would start pushing it more even though I knew a huge hill was coming. I just didn't realize how bad it would be.

Mile 10 - 12(8:53, 8:26, 8:53): As soon as I tried to push at mile 10 my legs started to feel heavy as we wrapped through Akron University. The relay teams were fresh off an exchange and I felt surrounded by all the speedsters all of the sudden. Kind of deflating. As we turned down a huge hill I focused on form/leg turnover and I started to feel a bit better. Somehow, someway 10 ended up being my fastest mile of the entire race!

At 11.3 we split from the relay and marathoner runners and turned left to go up the biggest, longest (that's what she said) hill of my life. Seeing signs to caution people in regards to a steep 5% grade incline doesn't make a runner at mile 11 very happy. The freaking uphill lasted nearly 3/4 of the mile. I dropped some profanities.. loudly. On this hill I was reminded why I love runners. A girl younger than me all of the sudden stopped. It seemed she had given up on herself. An older male runner came up from behind taking the hill steady but strong and started motivating this girl to get going again. He basically told her to "come on" and "at least stay right in front of him" because "I am much older and you can't be having an old man pass you". Made me laugh and it got the girl up and running. She passed me and I didn't see her again. Guess it is exactly what she needed!

After the hill I was just done. I walked through the mile 12 water stop (I walk through all my water stops) and convinced myself to just finish. After making an internal deal to not look at the garmin I was off. Of course right after the stop there was yet another hill! I don't know how I didn't walk but I didn't! I stuck with it and kept it steady to the top. Once I reached the top I felt as if I was running in even slower motion but I kept moving.

Mile 13- 13.1 (8:53, 8:00) When I thought I had no more to give we turned down a short hill and into the Akron Aeros stadium. I saw how close the finish line was and I sprinted, passing a couple people. Felt so good! I shook the race directors hand (he shakes the hand of nearly every finisher!), passed by the stage where they were awarding the half marathon master division winners, grabbed a water and bag of food.

Finish time officially is 1:55:10! Not a PR but it is the fastest 1/2 I've done since entering my 30's! Considering my training wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be and I had minimal hill training I had a fantastic for me race. Also, for the first time ever no stomach issues! This time around I opted out of using my water belt of water and electrolyte drink and relyed on the course water only. I didn't drink any gatorade/powerade/nuun. Instead I took in oranges and chomps for my fuel. I think this is what made the difference for me Saturday as well.
This was definitely one of the most challenging, hilly courses I've run. I typically stick to flat courses ;) The course was well supported and volunteers were great! For a relatively new marathon (this was its 8th year) the organization was awesome. Even better than some bigger, older races I've done. I loved all the personal touches; though I did feel like marathoners and relay runners are given a bit more priority and swag. My only complaint was gear check pick-up. It took nearly 40 minutes to get my bag and I was one of the first ones there... Not enough volunteers and definitely the least organized item of the entire race. Still not enough to change my opinion that this is one fantastic race!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

upcoming half

Saturday I'll be running the Akron half marathon! I can't tell you if I have ever done a half or a full on a Saturday; it will be a new experience to have Saturday to celebrate and recover. While I had goals of PRing dancing in my head when I signed up for this race I've really had to re-evaluate them. My work travel schedule included a lot of day trips. Too many 15-18 hours spent traveling and not much else. It threw a wrench into my training schedule. I did the best I could but add that to my poor quality eating I'm definitely not in the shape I had originally planned going into Saturday.

I am excited to run the course and experience another race. I have considered the Akron full marathon so I'm considering this half a little taste to see if I like it. I didn't have the desire to run the full this year though I'm kind of kicking myself now (of course!). My sister lives at mile 8 of the course and the rest of the family is close. The husband is excited he doesn't have to wake up nearly as early to take me to another race start :) He can walk to the end of the driveway. Also, my sister setting up a table with water, oranges, pretzels, and candy for the runners. Very awesome. To top it off the weather should be nice and cool (50's at the start). Setting itself up to be a nice race day no matter if I'm prepared or not!

So my goals:
  • have fun!
  • finish in under 2 hours. I've done this for every half I've raced but this will be interesting on the rolling hill course. I would love a 1:55 and am going to go for it. We will see what happens race morning.
See you on the other side!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

restaurant review - Italian Style

This weeks restaurant isn't new to me but rather a tried and true favorite. We ate there about 2 weeks ago on a whim and I thought it would be a good suggestion for those of you running Chicago 10-10-10. Be sure to make your reservations now! It's an extremely popular place that fills every weekend and while they've recently expanded still is not that big. Marathon eve it will be even busier I'm sure.

Sapori Trattoria can be found on the north side of Lincoln Park (north of the city/about 3 miles from downtown). I love this Italian restaurant for many reasons. The first reason being their Crostini di Avocado. Hands down one of my favorite appetizers in the city. I crave these delicious little crostini's. The flavors of the Italian guacamole topped with a basil leaf is a little party in your mouth. yum!
On this particular visit the weather had cooled significantly and I was feeling like some fall foods. Typically I go with the lobster ravioli or the amazingly simple but delicious rigatoni caprese. Seriously, I haven't had a bad entree here. I figured what better way to welcome the cool weather than with the Cappellacci di Zucca - pumpkin pasta, with sage, and pine nuts in a burnt butter sauce. This dish screams autumn! The burnt butter is light but effective; the dish would not be the same without it. I love how the leaves of sage add a little crunch too.
Another reason I love this place. They send coupons on your birthday and 1/2 birthday. Got to love saving some money! Sapori is on the pricier end for Italian food ($25-30/person without drinking). It is easier to eat a little cheaper during the week, especially on their prix fix Monday's and Tapas Tuesdays. No matter what day I haven't had a bad meal. A cute little restaurant worth the drive, cab, or el train ride.

Friday, September 17, 2010

4 days later

I finally went for a run! After 3 extremely full and brain draining days of work training sprinkled with 2 days of traveling I finally got the legs moving. It wasn't pretty but it got done and served its purpose. I really wish I could have made it a priority to get some kind of running done this week but sometimes other life commitments (like work and sleep) take precedence. I hardly slept this week thanks to the training, working after training, and the craptastic sleep number bed. Side note - do not let anyone fooling you into buying one of those beds; it was one of the worst mattresses I have ever tried to sleep on. Anyways, I'm glad to back home, not working, and fitting in whatever mileage I can salvage out of the weekend.

So recently I ordered some new running gear from Running Warehouse. I order apparel from them a lot and love the 2 day free shipping option. When I arrived home today I realized the recent purchase hadn't arrived and it had been nearly a week. Per an e-mail from the company the package had been delivered to my condo building but signed by for someone I didn't know. I called RW to see what they could do which I hoped was something because I didn't want to lose that money on a misplaced/stolen package. Within 2 hours the issue had been closed and they are re-sending my items at no charge. Their customer service was fantastic! I really don't know too many companies that would have resolved a problem like this so quickly and courteously. Based on the fact that I have never had a problem with them before and they handle the first one perfectly I highly recommend using this company if you don't already. They've kept my business :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This week I'm in work training in PA. It's kind of a big deal. If anyone knows about pharmaceuticals, my company was issued a warning letter by the FDA (kind of a huge deal) so we all have to have training. Like huge week long crazy boring, ridiculous training. What does this mean with 10 days out from my next 1/2 marathon. Not much running... I have 10 -12 hour days then we go out drinking. Which I wish I could say no but I never do. I cannot wake at 4 am to run. It's not in my DNA. I ran on Monday before my flight and I hope to run a short run on the treadmill this week then smash everything into the weekend. Should be fun. I'm not tooo worried. The race is in no time and if I'm not ready now the next few days aren't going to make a difference! Let's hope I survive the next few days of presentations and horrible "breakout" groups. My. worst. nightmare!
I hope all your weeks are much better than mine. And if they aren't - glass of wine (0r 2) for us all to get through it ;)

Friday, September 10, 2010

foto friday

Did you know candy corn is in season right now? The crop is ripe for the picking ;) I know because I've tried nearly an entire large bag this week. I love this time of year!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

labor day weekend in review

I love 3 day weekends and really who doesn't?!? The city tends to clear out over holidays so it was nice to have a relatively quiet weekend. Parking was plentiful which rarely happens! The weather was pretty darn fab the entire weekend too.

doesn't it look beautiful outside?

Here's what I managed over the weekend:
  • running of course! A lot of long weekends I get lazy and don't hit the road. Not this one. A long run of only 11 miles (cut-back week), 4 tough should have been easy recovery miles, and 3 windy miles with the husband. All done at the end of the day with nearly no one on the path. Pretty rare around here.
  • sleeping in - love it!
  • a little bit of cleaning. our kitchen and my office were a hot mess! I wanted to get more done but I got lazy and started watching The Stand on the SyFy channel instead.
  • driving range with the hubs. I decided to get out of the house but didn't take my clubs this visit. I got to try out my picture taking skills along the running path instead.
  • night out downtown with friends, for a going away party for one of them who is moving to NJ . seeing 30+ year olds pretend they are much, much younger = priceless.
  • reading on the front patio. I picked up a photography book to teach myself and a book on Maui for our upcoming trip. I actually feel a lot more confident on my manual setting already! And seriously cannot wait for our November vacation.
  • restaurants - delicious new ones and old favorites
  • taco and margarita sunday. We ended the night with a movie on the couch
  • a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I love playing tourist in my own town and I haven't been back in several years. A fun (and free!) day in beautiful weather even if it was packed. I got some great pictures and exercise ;)
  • hit up whole foods. love that store though it hurts the wallet a bit.
  • my husband making ribs and all the fixing's for dinner. I enjoyed a night off from the prep. though that does mean I had the clean-up. it's only fair.
  • caught up on the dvr and took in some really bad (but oh so addicting) reality tv shows on Bravo.
How was your 3-day weekend? Did you get everything done you wanted or take it easy?

Monday, September 6, 2010

restaurant review monday

I hope everyone state side is enjoying a nice holiday weekend. I'm taking full advantage of sleeping in, being a bit lazy, and taking in the beautiful weather here in Chicago.

I love food (and eating out to enjoy all kinds of food) but I wouldn't call myself a foodie. I know it's the reason I can't drop those last 5 lbs and I'm okay with that! My husband and I eat out a lot. And when I say a lot I mean nearly every meal. The reason? We both travel for work and our schedules are never the same. I dislike being wasteful and there have been too many weeks where I throw away food gone bad because we weren't in town to enjoy meals at home. I could be better about prepping meals on weekends and freezing them to prepare when we are around but in all honesty we love to eat out and it is much simpler to do so right now. There are too many amazing places to enjoy throughout the city! I've decided to start better documenting the restaurants we frequent as well as the new ones we try. We do have a goal of trying at least 1 new place a month since we tend to frequent the same 10-15 places. What can I say, the food is good and they know us! I hope those of you from here might find a new place to try or those traveling to Chicago might find a place you may not have heard of before or found being downtown.

This weekend I was messing around on Open Table to get ideas of places since we had no good idea when I came across Ceres' Table. The restaurant caught my eye because it said it was in Uptown (my neighborhood!) and I couldn't recall seeing this or hearing of it before. I checked out their website and liked that they are a contemporary american restaurant with a Sicilian influence. The chef makes food he likes to eat! He also uses local, sustainable products whenever possible; another plus. We arrived just before 8 and were greeted by the owner's wife (who also is the pastry chef). I love family owned restaurants.

The restaurant is small but you aren't stacked on top of each other likes it sometimes happens in Chicago restaurants. There is a nice bar, plenty of booths, and several tables. It was cool outside on Friday night or otherwise I would have asked to sit on their street side patio.

The menu changes with the seasons and I was excited with our options this time around. The drink menu was extensive. We opted for a bottle of wine and I was impressed with the list and the affordability of most choices. I hadn't even ordered yet and I was already loving the relaxed, cool atmosphere! My husband opted for the liver because you can't get that everywhere and I refuse to eat/make it. I went with the steak served with onion rings, fingerling potato salad and a drizzle of red wine bbq sauce. For an appetizer we had gnocchi in a pesto sauce with green beans and walnuts and we finished the meal off with a blueberry "pie".

my dish
yumilicious dessert

Our meals were wonderful. The steak was cooked a perfect medium rare. Even in some of the best steak restaurants here it is difficult to find a place that can cook a perfect medium rare. Everything was well matched, tasted incredible and fresh! Jacob was pleased with his liver as evidence by him not talking to me and empty plate :) The blueberry pie with vanilla gelato was nothing short of bliss. Melt in your mouth goodness.

This restaurant is a perfect example of why it is great to get out of the city center and venture out to the city neighborhoods. It feels and tastes as good as any downtown restaurant without the hassle (or downtown parking prices!) We will definitely be back and most likely adding this place to our restaurant rotation. I also plan on taking visitors here every chance I get ;)

Jacob found a creative way to use his coffee saucer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

award season

I've been awarded! Wa-hoo. To celebrate I enjoyed a delicious cupcake from Sweet Mandy B's (an old fashioned bakery in Lincoln Park = YUM).
#1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

#2. Pick 6 people and give them this award. Then inform them that they received an award.

#3. Thank the person who gave this award to you!

1) Like everyone I find this question incredibly difficult. Though I do wish there was more to have helped my mom before her sudden passing I don't think there was anything more I could have done. There are a thousand other things I would change if it didn't affect who I am today. All my incredibly ridiculous and stupid mistakes made me who I am and changing that would cause a ripple effect. I finally like who I am not sure I want to change that ;) We live and we learn.

2) I think I am the last one to the party on this one. If you haven't received this consider yourself awarded ;) (yes, I'm taking the easy way out on this one!)

3) Thank you to Jeri at JerBear Shares and ROJ at Brace Yourself: ROJ Presents a Multisport Life. Both you ladies rock! One day I hope our paths will cross!

Friday, September 3, 2010

strange dreams

I'm not even in marathon training yet I'm having marathon anxiety dreams. Last night I was trying to complete the Portland marathon. Why Portland I don't know but that's where I thought I was. Of course since this is a dream it wasn't any regular marathon... I also had to complete certain tasks along the course which added nearly 30 minutes to my overall finish time. In my dream Portland was the place I was to finally break 4 hours and with all the obstacles that didn't happen so I was crushed! Then all was okay because afterwards I found out the reason I was so tired/took so long to do everything was because I was pregnant. No, I'm not pregnant in real life. So very random...

Does anyone else have strange marathon dreams even though they aren't in training for a marathon?

As far as running goes I've been sticking to my 1/2 marathon training schedule mostly. Because of work travel and the weather I have found the schedule being juggled a lot more than I would like. The humidity returned this week with a vengeance. There were no happy thoughts as I tried to complete my speed work yesterday (2 x 800, 400, 200, then a 1200 at pace in between sets). I arrived home feeling absolutely spent. While I'm sad to see long summer days go I'm welcoming the cooler weather arriving this weekend!