Category: Race Recap

Year of Running in 2015

I am linking up with Courtney to share my year in running.


  • Best race experience:  I ran 10 races this year.  Each one brought a different experience.  I worked hard and I pushed on through to cross the finish line.  But to pick one it would have to be the Covered Bridges Half Marathon.  It has a beautiful course with one gigantic hill around mile 8.  Still I ended up with my second best half marathon finish time.  My friend, Jaime, ran a sub 2 half marathon and it made me so happy I was there to enjoy the moment.
  • Best run: I ran 20 miles with the Chicago Endurance Sports.  They had everything set up from tents/support at the beginning of the run to even more support after the run.  It was a gorgeous day for a run and the coaches and pacers did a wonderful job.  It was definitely an amazing experience!  The only bad thing was that I lost my phone with less than two miles to go.  One of the coaches stayed with me to look for it instead of leaving me and going with the other runners from the group.
  • Best new piece of running gear: Definitely my Garmin Forerunner 225.  I had to purchase a new one in November (and thanks to so many discounts only paid $120 for it). Next year I want to upgrade to the Garmin Fenix 3.  Just a beautiful watch!  Not a running gear but I am also obsessed with Nuun Kona Cola.  Unfortunately, that particular flavor is being discontinued so you bet I am stocking up.
  • Best running advice you’ve received this year: To have fun and to be in the moment during my runs.  That is something that is hard for me to do but I am working towards actually doing it.  🙂
  • Most inspirational runner: This is a tough one.  But every runner inspires me.  I love hearing stories of how they became a runner and the reasons they run.  I never get tired of talking to them about their experiences and where they are in their journey.
  • Favorite picture from a run or race this year: This photo was sent to me by a friend.  I was on TV!!


  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: Two of my favorite races are the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.  I love the distance.  For the former race, this year it was a cold and windy day but still fun.  Also, the race has the same start and finish line as the Chicago Marathon.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Progress.  I’ve been doing more speedwork and while it is taking me longer than I wanted to, slowly I am seeing progress in my runs.  I’ve had great and terrible runs (who hasn’t) but I am learning to not focus so much on the bad ones but to celebrate and learn from each one.

To read more amazing “Year of Running 2015” stories, go to Courtney’s blog.

Oh, and just want to let you know about my 5 days of giveaways beginning on Saturday, January 2nd.  I have items from Swiftwick Socks, MudLOVE, Momentum Jewelry, Lock Laces, and Hammer Nutrition. 



Chicago Half Marathon

On Sunday, I ran my 62nd half marathon, the Chicago Half Marathon.  The last time I ran this race was in 2009.  This race is my last one before the Chicago Marathon.  The only reason I ran it is because of the CARA Marathon Incentive Program.  So now I need to volunteer at the expo, run the Chicago Marathon, apply on December 1 (yes there is an application) and cross my fingers that I get in for next year.  Now that I think about it, it does sound really crazy for a supposedly guaranteed entry.  I mean, it isn’t really guaranteed because there are a limited number of spots available and once they’re filled, you’re out of luck!

Back to the race.  I was told not to race it but instead to use it as a training run.  And that is pretty much what I did.  I was up very early at 4am, got ready, and drove to the race.  Luckily I found parking right away and waited for about half an hour before heading over to use the bathrooms.  It was very dark.



I met up with another Chicago Endurance Sports runner (Amy) to run together.  The weather was just perfect.  No rain and overcast.  Definitely ideal running weather.

I do not remember hearing the National Anthem but we were kind of far so maybe we didn’t hear it. Anyway, a few minutes later we crossed the start line.

We settled into a nice and comfortable pace.  I had my iPod but ended up not using it.  Yep, I ran the whole race without listening to music.  I love the course!  And I love even more that we ran on Lake Shore Drive instead of the running path.  That would have been very tight and a disaster.


I took an Advil at mile 4.  My calves were tight and my feet were bothering me since the beginning.  The Advil kicked in a few miles later.  I wonder if maybe for the marathon I should take 2 of them earlier in the race.

Amy and I got separated after mile 8 but then I caught up to her.  I saw the 2:20 pace group and did my best to stay with them but they were running a little bit faster than I could/wanted to.  With 2 miles to go I told Amy to go ahead and I did my best to finish.

Throughout the race I had my watch to only show average pace.  I was hoping to keep it at 10:55 which is pretty much what it was on throughout the race.  However, that number crept up once I took my walking breaks and then I could not bring it down.  I then changed it to show just the time.  I ended up finishing in 2:24:41 (according to my watch) which is an 11:01 average pace.  I am very pleased with my finish time.


Seriously the best medal ever!



A cute shirt and one that I will definitely keep.


One of my friend sent me the picture below.  I remember seeing them when I crossed the finish line and thought about waving but did not want to look stupid.  But it is still pretty cool!


Overall it was a great race.  The course is awesome.  There was plenty of crowd support and enough water stations.  We lucked out with the weather so it made it an even better experience.

Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon

Another really late post.  I am usually really good about posting race recaps right away but somehow I slacked with this one. It won’t happen again.

I ran the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon on Saturday, July 11.  So that was state #34 for me.  You can read about what I did the day before here.


The race began at 7:15am so I was up at 6, got ready, ate, and headed out with Sonya and Kim.  The start line was about a mile away from our apartment.  On the way there I saw a Residence Inn so I took advantage of it to use a real bathroom.  I said goodbye to the girls and went to do my business.  I walked to the start line and waited for the runners in the first wave to start.  Then about 5 minutes later it was my turn to run.  It was so crowded.  I am not a fast runner but I still had to weave around a few runners.  Plus, it did not help that it was a narrow path.


Honestly, I don’t remember too much about the race except that it was HOT.  Plus, I was miserable and couldn’t wait to finish the race.  Earlier I told Kim that my goal was to finish under 2:30.  I was still at mile 12 when I saw those numbers on my watch.  Honestly, I did not care because all I wanted to do was cross the finish line.  We ran around a lake that seemed to go on forever.  It reminded me of the one in the IMS Des Moines Half Marathon.  There was absolutely no shade and I mostly walked (but in Des Moines it wasn’t as hot).





I remember the 2:30 group caught up with me before mile 6 and I decided to run with them.  I ran with them for a few minutes but there was a hill and I simply had no energy to keep up with them.  I was very impressed with this 10 year girl that was running with her mom.  There was also a cop in uniform gear. That shut me up and I did not complain anymore.


At mile 12 there was this group doing yoga.

Photo credit: Kim Reed
L to R: Kim, me, Sonya
Lunch at Bayside American Cafe. I had the Bayside BLT with lobster.

Overall, I did like the course.  There were many wonderful volunteers and thanks to them I had plenty of water to drink and to dump on my head to cool down.  The medal is pretty neat too.  After the race I told the girls that I did not like it.  Obviously I was not in the right state of mind when I made that comment. One cool thing that the race offers is free race photos to the runners.  Here is one that I cropped because, well, I do not like the rest of it.


Portland is a fun place to visit so make sure to stay a day or two to enjoy everything it has to offer.

Next race: Chicago Half Marathon, September 27 as part of the CARA Marathon Incentive Program.

Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th

Saturday morning I was up for a race.  Normally I have a long run with the CES group but due to the holiday my group did not meet.  Instead, all of the groups from the various locations met on Sunday in one location.

Back to the race.  It is one of my favorites.  Very cheap-$25-and with a $5 discount if you are a CARA member.  It is 30 minutes from my house, plenty of parking, and fun/semi-challenging course. This was my 3rd time running it.  You can read my other recaps here: 2014 and 2013.

I will admit that I was hoping to get a PR.  Below are my times from last year and the year before.


I was not feeling good on Friday evening.  I was bloated and felt very uncomfortable.  I went to bed hoping that I would feel better in the morning.

Race day I was up before my alarm went off.  I got dressed, drank coffee and ate a Hammer Bar.  I did go to the bathroom 3 times before leaving the house.

I arrived in Elmhurst around 6:45.  On my way to pick up my bib I ran into Pete who was running this race for the first time this year.  We chatted for a little bit and said our goodbyes.  Packet pickup was a breeze.  I did not want my shirt so I quickly tied my bib to my race belt and got in line to use the bathroom one more time.

I was feeling a bit better but overall I felt tired.  Not so much tired like from lack of sleep but more like body tired.


Start line.  There weren’t too many people at the race so I was not too far from it.


Here are my mile splits:

I have NO idea how I ran that fast the first mile.  I felt tired but still kept going.  I remember stopping for water and walking up a small incline.  As you can see mile 3 was my slowest and I just felt very tired and HOT (I was probably dehydrated).  I walked a lot and kept checking my pace on my watch.  I also did some walking in the last mile and even up the incline to get to the finish line but it must not have affected it that much because I still finished it in 10:15. <==== Very impressed with it!


Even though I did not PR, I still enjoyed this race.  Unless I am out of town or injured, this is a race I plan to do every year.

My next race is Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon on Saturday in Maine.  It will be state #34.

Did you run a race on Saturday?  How was your 4th of July?


Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Almost two weeks ago I went to Vermont to run in state #33.  Jaime and I had registered for this race back in December and it sold out in a few hours.

My flight left at 7am with a layover in Baltimore and that is where Jaime boarded the plane.  I had not seen her since November for the Tulsa Route 66 Half Marathon.  An hour later we were in Manchester, NH picking up the rental car and on our way to get something to eat cause we were starving.  We found  a cute and delicious sushi place not too far from the airport.



Then it was time to head out to Vermont.  Beautiful drive!


The race directors did a good job of sending emails on a regular basis with helpful race information.  Somehow we missed the part letting us know that bib pickup was only available on race day.  Jaime and I arrived in Woodstock (cute little town) only to find out that we were to pick up our bibs the next day.  We’ve both run a lot of races and have never heard of such a ridiculous thing.  We know some races offer bib pickup the day before AND on race day but never only on race day.  Well, since we were there already we walked around for a bit.  Jaime found a magnet for her collection.  We went inside another store and they were offering complimentary drinks for the customers.



For dinner we went to a Mediterranean place and ate hummus, falafel, zucchini pancakes and a bunch of other things.  I had woken up really early that day for my flight and was asleep by 9:30.

My body likes messing with me and I was awake at 4:30 but really it was 3:30 since I was still on central time.  An hour later I got up, got ready, and went downstairs to see what was available for us at the breakfast buffet.  There was fruit, bagels, cereal, oatmeal and other stuff.  My favorite was the pancake maker.  I made two of them for me and went back upstairs.

The race began at 8:15 so why the heck were we leaving our hotel at 6am?!  Well, we had to drive to Quechee Village Lot, leave our car, and then get on a shuttle bus to take us to the start line at Suicide Six Ski Area.  The whole trip from the hotel to the start line took 45 minutes.  That meant we had to wait 1 1/2 for the race to start.  It was cold.  I took a long sleeve shirt and was still cold. I used the port-a-potties after I got my bib and once again before the start of the race.  We were both annoyed that we had to wait so long for the race.




Finally it was time to run.  I took off my long sleeve shirt and wrapped it around my waist.  I knew I was going to be hot once I began running.  I had clear instructions from my coach.  She told me to run miles 1-5 @11:30; miles 5-10 @10:45-11:00; and miles 10-13 to go as hard as I felt comfortable.  I had every intention of doing what she planned for me.  Did not follow her plan.  I finished my first mile in 9:15.  I couldn’t believe it because I did not realize I was going that fast.  I did try to slow down and my next two miles were done in 10:07 and 10:28.  At mile 4 (10:24) I stopped to take a picture.  At mile 5 (10:46) I walked a little bit while I ate my energy gel.  My watch lost connection at mile 6.24 and was working again 2 miles later.  It was still way off based on the mile markers.


There was this massive hill around mile 8 and I just simply cursed.  And I walked too.



At mile 12 there was this woman yelling that we were almost done and I seriously wanted to tell her to shut up.  It really bugs me when people are yelling and screaming at the runners telling us we were almost done when we really were not almost done.  You can say that to me when I am .25 miles from the finish line but not 1 mile away.  I had taken an ibuprofen after mile 6 so my legs weren’t sore.  Ha, once that wrote off I was sore for two days.  Once I knew I was close to the finish line, I ran as quickly as I could and finished in 2:19:51 @10:41 average pace.  I heard the announcer call out my name and said something about Chicago Cubs tickets.




I am very pleased with my finish time.  It is my second best half marathon finish time.  My PR (2:17:01) is still from the Hartford Half Marathon in 2013.


Then came the tricky part.  My cell phone was not working so there was no way to get a hold of Jaime.  I sent her two texts but they were taking a long time to get through.  I also called her several times but got disconnected.  Finally, by some miracle I got her text letting me know that she was next to the stage.  I turned around to look for her and saw her walking towards me.  In my text I told her that I would meet her by the car.  I saw some cars up ahead and assumed that was where we left our car that morning.  Wrong.  We still had to hike almost a mile to get to the parking lot.  Why make the runners walk almost a mile after running 13.1 miles on a hilly course? Plus, we still had to shower, check out of the hotel, drive to Manchester, and eat before Jaime’s 2:50 flight back to Baltimore.



Overall, I thought it was a very pretty course.  The weather was perfect during the race.  The shaded areas were wonderful.  The volunteers were great.  Great tshirt color too.  However, the logistics were horrible.  I am somewhat OK with the flight to Manchester and the 1 1/2 drive to the race location.  I did not like the early wake up call (still better than Disney races), the long wait prior to the race, and definitely not the walk back to our car.  Jaime and I had talked about doing again some of the races we’re run before such as the Little Rock and RnR New Orleans. The Vermont race is definitely not on that list.  I guess maybe I am spoiled and like it when I can walk and it is easy to get to the start line and then back to the hotel after the race.  I remember that for the Little Rock Half Marathon the start line was literally outside the hotel.  I am NOT saying not to do this race but just giving you a little heads up on what to expect.

What has been your “most challenging race to get go?”  Next race is Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.  This will be my 3rd year running it and I am looking forward to it.