Category: Race Recap

Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile

A few weeks ago I ran my 4th race for this year.  The last time I ran this race was in 2012 and I set a PR.  In 2013 I went to Boston for the Run to Remember Half Marathon but cannot remember why I did not run it last year.

I was excited and looking forward to the race this year.  It was my 3rd 10 mile race and I was hoping that it would be a much better race experience that the last two, Live Grit 10 Miler and Quarryman Challenge 10 Mile.

I was up at 5am on race day.  I arrived at Soldier Field around 5:45, parked my car, used the bathroom (twice) and waited for the race to start.  It was cool in the morning and I debated wearing a thin jacket.  I didn’t and am so glad because the sun came out and it was HOT.



Finally it was time to run.  I tried not to start off too fast.  I think I did OK based on my splits. There were two runners that were talking nonstop and it was driving me crazy.  One of my running pet peeves is runners that talk nonstop throughout the race.  Anyway, I would pass them up and then they would catch up to me.  Well, towards the end I “lost” them.

The course was flat and part of the route going south was on Lake Shore Drive.  The turnaround was before mile 5.  I felt great till mile 7 and then my legs began to hurt.  I wished I had an ibuprofen to take for the pain.  Instead, I sucked it up and kept running.

I looked at my watch after mile 9 and realized that I could probably PR.  I wasn’t sure by how much but I just knew it would be a PR.  That last mile was difficult for me.  I remember I stopped for a few seconds right before entering the stadium for the finish line.  Finish time is 1:41:56 for an almost two minutes PR (Finish time in 2012 was 1:43:49).  Definitely a happy moment!


Afterwards, I got a bottle of Muscle Milk, my goodie bag and sat down to rest, enjoy my beer, and wait for friends.  I couldn’t stop smiling.



I hung out with two other friends and then we went to The Weather Mark to eat.  It was delicious! I was tired but also very hungry.  The service wasn’t that great since we waited almost an hour for our food.  It wasn’t busy so Icouldn’t  understand why it took so long.  But I ate, it was delicious, and I was happy.

Once at home I took a shower and a long nap.  Then I ate again.



Quarryman Challenge 10 Mile

I know I am really late with this post.  Honestly, I did not want to write about it because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the race.  I know, weird.  Anyway, here it goes.  Better late than never right?

I ran this race because of the Chicago Marathon Incentive Program.  I guess I had no choice.  🙂  I was really worried about it because I knew that it was tough and challenging course.  And hilly. Boy, it was definitely all of those three things.

The weather on race day was perfect!  To me it means not cold nor sunny.  That is how I like it.  I was afraid it would rain but it stayed away, but instead got hit with humidity.  Not sure what I would have preferred?


Start line and I am ready to go.

No problems at the start but half a mile later there was this steep hill that I swear is about a quarter mile long.  I was told I would go up this hill 2 more times.


Let’s just say there were so many ups and downs at this race.  It was a pretty course because we ran through some nice areas.  There were definitely some beautiful houses!



Halfway done.  So happy to see this sign.


Made it to the top of the hill again.  Could not wait to be done.


Almost done.  I was even more happy to see this sign.


Cool entertainment after walking up a small hill.


Not cool that the streets were not completely closed off for the race.  It is dangerous.  I was constantly looking back to see if there were cars behind me.  I did not have headphones on but sometimes when I run I get into a zone and don’t pay too much attention to what is around me. I know, not cool either.


Finally done!  There was a downhill and then flat out straight to the finish line.  Another runner friend told me that would be the best part.  Yes it was because I was finally done.

No medals were given to the runners but I enjoyed the “all you can eat pizza and drink beer”. Don’t know if it was really true but I went back for more pizza and no one said anything to me. As for the beer, no coupon was needed to get your cup so yes to me it is all you can drink.


It is a tough course if you like hills.  I don’t.  But I am glad I did this race and experienced something different from the always flat pavement I am used to in Chicago.  There was no lakefront view but there were some pretty areas along the course.  On the way to the race I got lost (thanks to Google Map) but stopped at a gas station and a nice man told me how to get there.  I found free parking about 10 minutes from the start line.  The best part is that there is race day packet pickup.  Now, if only they would give medals since it is a challenging course.

The shirt is OK.

Tell me about your most challenging and difficult race.

Illinois Marathon Relay

My first relay race was Ragnar Relay Chicago in June 2012.  On Sunday I completed a marathon relay and got to cross it off this list.

There were 8 girls doing this relay race (two teams: Pink Ladies and Faster than Snails).  One of my teammates offered to drive to Urbana-Champaign (about 2 1/2 hours from Chicago) and we left Friday afternoon.  There were two girls from the other team so it was nice to meet them and talk to them.  They had food and I snacked on crackers, hummus, and sweet potato chips.


We arrived to pick up our bibs and to check out the expo.  It was OK but does not compare to the Chicago Marathon or RnR expos.

I almost bought this headband.

After the expo we went to Destihl for dinner.  The food was delicious!  We had a few appetizers to start off along with beer.  For dinner I had pasta with spicy thai shrimp.  The rest of the teammates met us there and we all had a lovely time.  We then said goodbye because it was late and we still had to check in the hotel and get our stuff ready for the next day.

ILMarathonRelay18 ILMarathonRelay4

From L to R: Lety, Liz, Rocio, Fabiola, me, Angie. We were missing Ana and Arasally.

As I was getting my things ready for the next day, I realized that I had forgotten my socks.  I had originally packed everything in my Apera bag.  I switched to a bigger bag because all of my things wouldn’t fit but left my socks in one of the pockets. Luckily, I borrowed a pair from a teammate.

I checked the temperature and got really nervous because all I saw was rain, rain, and more rain.


I slept good Friday night.  I was up at 5am and got ready.  I shared a room with 2 other girls so I waited for them to get ready before heading out to get something to eat.  The hotel provided us with a  free continental breakfast.  Love it when hotels do that.  I had coffee and a waffle.  Not too much but enough for a 6.7 run.

It was cold and drizzling.  I was hoping the rest of the rain would hold off till AFTER the race.  It didn’t.  There was a long line to get to the parking lot.  One of the girls was familiar with the area and told us of a shortcut.  We parked the car and got out to meet up with Ana and Lety.  We quickly got a team picture and since I was runner #1, I headed over to the start line.

Team Faster than Snails From L to R: Ana, me, Lety, Rocio

I don’t remember hearing the National Anthem but I realized the race was about to start.  I walked over to the start line, got in the corral and off I went.

I don’t remember too many specifics of my part of the race.  Here is what I do remember:

  • I felt really good the first two miles.  Unfortunately, I do not know my splits because the Nike + app in my phone did not work.  I turned it on but somehow it turned off.
  • I felt tired after the first water station.
  • The volunteers were wonderful!
  • The crowd support made me happy.
  • I would run, walk, and repeat.
  • It started to rain and I had forgotten to wear my visor.
  • I was running in new shoes and they felt really good.  Ha, little did I know what was happening in my right foot (too much callus remover and a lot of water is NOT a good combination).
  • One water station was after mile 2 and the next one was after mile 4.  That worked out for me since I had a short run but not sure if marathon and half marathon runners will agree with me.
  • Between mile 5 and 6 there were signs along the course with several facts about the University.   I don’t remember the exact words but I do recall reading about REO Speedwagon, PayPal, YouTube, and a Nobel Prize Winner.

I saw a sign on the floor and I thought it was the the 6 mile marker.  I told my teammates I would send them a text when I got there since the exchange was at mile 6.7.  There the volunteers were giving out oranges.  Yummy!  Up ahead I saw the actual mile marker. Oh well.

Finally, I saw the exchange spot.  I removed my belt and put it on the next runner.  I was done but I was also very cold.

We got in the car and drove to the next exchange which was about 10 minutes away.  It was raining so much harder and I felt bad for the runners.  Runner #3 got her stuff ready and then we left to meet runner #2.  We finally got a text from her that she was at mile 13.

Runner #2 is done!

Two legs done and two more to go.  The next exchange took a bit longer.  I drove this time because the owner of the car was running.  I am OK driving but get nervous driving other people’s cars.  Luckily, nothing happened and we arrived at the next exchange spot.  Lety was nice enough to get coffee for the both of us.  It felt good to drink something warm.  Earlier I had changed my top but left my skirt. I was getting colder so I changed into capris.  Not sure why I didn’t do that before.

Love my colorful shoes!

We got a text from Rocio that she was at mile 20.  We were meeting her at 20.5. One of the volunteers told us that the race was cancelled because of the weather. We were like “What?!?”  We couldn’ believe it.  We kept walking and asked another volunteer and she was not aware of the news.  Ana was the last runner and she said that she would run no matter what.  We saw Rocio and Ana took off to complete the race.  We told Rocio what we were told about the race.  On our way to the finish line, Ana sent us a text.  Yes, the race was cancelled and time would not matter.  She would keep going till the buses arrived.  She called me and I  asked her if she wanted us to pick her up. She said no and I told her that we would meet her before the entrance of Memorial Stadium.


It was raining even harder.  We arrived at the stadium and went inside.  It was pure chaos.  There were so many people there.

Definitely not a signage you want to see at a race.

While waiting for Ana, I used the bathroom and got some pizza.  There was also water, bananas, and bags of pretzels.  She texted us at mile 24.  We waited a little bit before heading out to meet her so that we could cross the finish line together. While waiting we cheered for the runners.  Some looked tired, cold but also excited to be almost done.  We waited and finally saw her.


We ran inside the stadium.  We held hands and crossed the finish line together. Finally done!

Our finish time is 4:29:47.




Even with the nasty weather we all had a great time!  We made the best of it and felt thankful for being able to participate in this race.  We ran, laughed, motivated and helped each other out.  And the rain did not stop us.  Definitely teamwork!  We had so much fun that we are already planning to do it again next year.

Have you ran a relay race?  Which one and how was it?

Live Grit 10 Miler

On Saturday I ran my second race of the year.  I’ve run this race in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  I was very excited!  10 miles is the longest I’ve run this year.

I picked up my bib Friday after school.  Very fast and easy.  Nothing fancy.  Just a bib and a black long sleeve shirt.  Definitely my kind of packet.

Saturday morning came and it was time to run.  I got ready, ate, and drove to Montrose Harbor.  Luckily I found a spot not too far from the start.  I took advantage of the extra time to relax and use the port-a-potties.


Then I met a few bloggers and it was nice to chat with them.  Notice the before and after picture.  I am the only one without a jacket.  I did not check in a bag and clearly I did not need a jacket cause it was almost 60 degrees.  Big mistake!

Before the race. From L to R: Erin, Marcia, Sara, Wendy, me, Emily
After the race. From L to R: Marcia, Erin, Emily, Sara, Wendy, me. Photo Credit: Emily Seto

Emily and I had decided to run together.  The plan was to start at 10 minute miles and then hopefully still have enough gas in the tank and speed it up during the second half.


She is a great runner!  I was able to keep up with her for two miles before realizing that the pace was too fast for me.  Plus, I got so distracted with several girls talking nonstop behind me and the sound of feet scraping.  I wished I had brought my headphones to block out those sounds.  I don’t run with my headphones (except on the treadmill) and I like it.  But I know I need to learn to tune out the noise/sounds and just focus on the race.

Between mile 2 and 3 is the dreaded Cricket Hill.  Oh how I dislike that hill.  I walked. No shame.


I was feeling great until the turnaround on Fullerton Avenue (mile 6).  That is when it got unbearable with the wind.  I was running very slow and took several walking breaks.  I was also very cold and had a headache.

Finally I saw the finish line and sprinted to it.  No PR but I did get my personal worst for a 10 miles race.


After the race I met up with the same bloggers from before the race.  I did not stay longer than 5 minutes before I was COLD.  Heck, I couldn’t even enjoy my free beer. Bummer.

Overall, I think it is a great race.  Small, nice location, and inexpensive.   For sure I plan to run this again next year.

Next race: Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon (Relay Member), April 25.

December and Year in Review 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection:  Some of the links in the post below are “affiliate links.”  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 


In December I ran 90.71 miles compared to 69.82 in November.  Last year (December) I ran 142.39.  Big difference but I remember that I was training for my 50K in April.

Here is my 2014 running year in review:

# of Miles Run: 1001.48.  I did my last run yesterday morning.

Races Run: 17, 50K (1), marathons (1), half marathons (9), 10K (2), 8K (1), 4 milers (1), 5k (2).

Fun Race Destinations: All Disney races except the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  Also, Des Moines and Tulsa (basically all races with Jaime).

Best Races: I had a great time at both the Shamrock Shuffle and the 4 on the 4th.  I felt really good in both races and definitely enjoyed them.  Also, I enjoyed the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon because I also felt great (besides some pain in my glutes) and did well despite my lack of running/training.

Worst Races: Chinatown 5K, ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon, Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and Route 66 Half Marathon.  I really hate running in the rain and hills.  However, I would like to run again Chinatown 5K and Route 66 Half Marathon.

Running Shoes: I started off the year running in Brooks PureConnect 2 (315.35 miles).  Then switched to the Brooks PureFlow 2 (346.28 miles) and then back again to Brooks PureConnect 2 (65.18 miles).  I then needed more support so I got a pair of Mizuno Sayonara.  There were OK.  I guess I was used to lightweight shoes and found the Sayonara too heavy.  I went back to Fleet Feet and was fitted with a pair of Newton’s Kismet. Wow!  I really loved those shoes.  Everything was going well until I experienced some toe numbness in my right foot.  I went to the podiatrist who diagnosed me with Morton’s neuroma.  I don’t think that’s accurate since I did not experience many of the symptoms. “Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes.  Morton’s neuroma may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock.  Morton’s neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes.  This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot.  Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.”

Luckily, I only experienced the numbness but it was enough to take me back to Fleet Feet for another pair of shoes and I walked out with the Brooks Ravenna.  Really comfortable shoes but somehow I experienced some discomfort on the right side of my right foot.  I really tried to make them work (because I did not want to buy more shoes) and used several different pairs of socks but no luck.  In November I bought my last pair, Saucony Ride.  My feet are happy and I am happy.

Star Sightings: I met Scott Jurek, Deena Kastor, and John Cox.  Plus, I got to see Bart Yasso again in Chicago and Tulsa.


Ambassadorships: Zooma Chicago Half Marathon and Fort2Base.  I did not run Fort2Base but instead volunteered at gear check which was fun but also exhausting.

Next year I will be am ambassador for Christmas in July and will be sponsored by Hammer Nutrition.

Register for any Christmas in July Race and use discount code AMBARROYO10 to save 10% off and code 228361 to save 15% off your first Hammer Nutrition order (affiliate link).

Personal Records (PRs): 2, Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.  I am excited and looking forward to running them again this year.

Favorite Medals:

Top L to R: Tinker Bell Half Marathon and Disney Princess Half Marathon Bottom L to R: Dumbo Dare Challenge and Coast to Coast Challenge

Best New Running Product I Tried: Hammer Gel in Nocciola (Hazelnut-Chocolate).

My plans for next year?

  • Run 2,015 miles as part of Run 2,015 in 2015 Challenge.  The plan is to run them with three other friends but don’t think they’ve signed up.