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Category: Race all 50 states

Friday Five 2.0-5 Favorite Races

To date I’ve run over 150 races.  Most of them I’ve run in Chicago or nearby but more than half of my half marathons have been in other states.  Recently I ran a half marathon in Alaska.  I don’t have a recap yet but have written a few posts about my trip and you can read about them HERE.

So you bet it was kind of hard to pick and write about my favorite races.  Well, I thought about it hard and here are my 5 favorite races.

Chicago Marathon.  Definitely the best marathon ever!  I am kind of bummed that I am not running it this year but am excited to spectate and cheer for my friends. I’ve run this race 5 times and am always amazed at how well organized it is as well as the support and encouragement I get along the way.  Plus, it is a BEAUTIFUL course!

This is from my first Chicago Marathon in 2006.  Check out the iPod!

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Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. The race marks the beginning of the running season in Chicago.  I’ve done this race since 2006 and have missed it a few times due to weather and being out of town.  This race starts and ends on the same course as the Chicago Marathon and there are also many spectators along the way.  I remember the first time I ran this race, I was so happy because I had run the whole race and only stopped ONCE to get water.  That was a huge accomplishment back in 2007 when I was still kinda new to running.

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Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.  I love the distance and there aren’t too many 4 mile races. While I enjoy taking the train and running a race in the city, I also like getting in a car and driving to a different race location.  There is plenty of parking, cheap ($25-$30), and good crowd support.  Plus, I like the variety of running on small hills – different from running in flat land in Chicago.

In 2014 and a 39:39 PR.

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Soldier Field 10 Mile.  What’s not to like about running 10 miles?  It’s weird how when running a half marathon, I start feeling like crap past 10 miles.  That won’t happen when running this race.  I love that it starts and ends near Soldier Field. This year the start line was inside the stadium which was kind of cool and much more organized.  It is cheap if you register early (around $55) but then can go up to $90 in April.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.  I ran this race in 2014 and it was my last race of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.  I enjoyed running on the Strip at night and checking out the view.  I ran for fun because when will I ever get the chance to run on the Strip and not have to worry about pedestrians and cars?

The best part of the experience was my VIP status.  I didn’t sign up for it but got it               because I signed up to run 15 RnR races that year.  I ended up running a total of 14             races because last minute I decided to skip Denver.

Would I do this again?  Absolutely!  A few bloggers are heading out there in                         November and I am tempted to go but do not want to pay the ridiculous price for               the race.  I could just go and hang out with them, right?

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I’m linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for Friday 2.0.

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Utah Valley Half Marathon

State #37 is in the books!  And here’s how it went.

Pre-Race
I was looking forward to this race because I was meeting up with some blogger friends.  My flight left Chicago at 6am and then I had a short layover in Denver.  Then my flight left again at 9:25 am and I landed in Salt Lake City at 11am.  There I met up with Mary Beth and then waited for Marcia to arrive before we picked up our rental car and made our way over to Provo. 

Once in Provo we had lunch and then checked into our hotel.  Then we went to the expo to meet up with the rest of the bloggers.  Afterwards we went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner and then back to the hotel to get ready for the race.  Plus it had been a long traveling day and I was tired.

L to R: Judy, Marcia, Mary Beth, Holly, me, Teresa Photo credit: Holly Wilson

About the Race
The race starts at Provo Canyon and it was mostly downhill.  I was excited about it but knew that it would mean trouble because the quads would not be happy about it.  It is also a point to point course and there were buses taking us to the start line as well as from the finish line back to the parking lot where we left the car.

Pre-Race
The race began at 6am.  That meant a 3am wake up call to get ready, drive to the mall parking lot, and get on a bus to take us to the start line.  It was in the high 50s which was nice but it was cold in the canyon.  We still had to wait about an hour for the race to start.  Those two things are my only complaints: 1) early wake up call and 2) long wait time for the race to start.

I drank 16 ounces (two servings) of Pomegranate Blueberry Generation UCAN at 6:30 am and filled up my two small water bottles with Berry UCAN Hydrate.

Gear
Oiselle Long Roga Shorts, Oiselle Flyout Tank, Pro Compression Socks, Headsweats Race Hat, Brooks Launch 4

The Race
It was still chilly once the race began and I started running with a jacket.  The plan was to toss it once I was hot but I ended up wrapping it around my waist.  I just couldn’t bear leaving it on the course.  I never got too hot because the course through the canyon was shaded and the sun was behind us.

The course was mostly downhill with some inclines and flat areas.  But the flat areas didn’t really matter because the downhills really take a toll on your legs.

I was doing really good for 9 miles and then my quads couldn’t take it anymore.  The last 4 miles were my slowest (13:17, 13:38, 13:04, and 12:12). 

The view was AMAZING!  I took some walking breaks and soaked it all in.  I’ve run in over 30 different states and this by far has the best views.

Post Race
I’m pleased with how this race went.  My “A” goal was to finish under 2:30 and “B” goal under 2:45. My finish time is 2:34:59.  I did not train properly for this race.  My longest run was 10 miles so I knew I was not going to PR.  

I did feel very sore for the rest of the day but that didn’t stop me from doing other fun activities (going to Bridal Veil Falls and Ziplining).  

L to R: Mary Beth, Marcia, Holly, Teresa, me Photo credit: Teresa Bird

Final Thoughts
I am glad I ran this race.  I don’t mind traveling and running a race alone but it is so much better and fun with more people. The race was well organized, with plenty of water stations and the volunteers were wonderful.  There weren’t too many spectators (once we left the canyon) along University Avenue leading to the finish line.  

The weather was perfect too!  We definitely did not get the heat wave that hit Chicago and other parts of the country during that time.

I love races that give out free photos!  There is a video that goes with the photo of me crossing the finish line.  I couldn’t upload it here but it was cool to see it.

Road to BQ Week #11

As mentioned in this post, I’m attempting to get my own BQ.  I am excited to be training using again the Hansons Method.  In a nutshell, this training is based on the concept of cumulative fatigue.  You train your body to run often so that you are frequently running on tired legs.  The idea is to run this way so that during the last miles of a race you are prepared to push through the final miles.  I purchased a new Hansons Method Marathon Plan and now will be running 5 days (instead of 6) a week. 

Week #11, June 5-11

M Ran 5.02 Miles
T Did not run
W Ran 5.12 Miles
TH Ran 5.02 Miles
F Did not run
S Ran 13.10 at the Utah Valley Half Marathon
S Did not run

I decided to do the Lake Michigan Marathon on September 3rd.  I have not registered for it (cannot imagine it selling out) and am excited to train for it.

Monday’s run went great!  Faster than I was supposed to but it must have been the weather or knowing that Tuesday was the last day of school.

Finally on Summer Break!!!  My last day was Tuesday but I feel like I’ve been off for weeks (I am currently in Utah in vacation mode).  I was done by 4pm and waited for two of my coworkers to finish up before heading out to eat and drink.  A different room will be waiting for me in August.  

I did not run on Tuesday but instead did my workout on Wednesday.  I did not want to get up because I wanted to cuddle with Lola.  My workout was 2M Warm Up, 10×1 min @95% effort w/90 sec jog rest, and 2M Cool Down (done at the gym).  It went better than expected!  I love that I am able to set up my workouts on Garmin Connect and then have it sync to my phone.

On Thursday I went back to the gym for a tempo run.  In total I ran 5.02 miles (1M Warm Up, 3 Mile Tempo, and 1M Cool Down).

Friday was a travel day to Utah where I met a few bloggers and then Saturday I ran the Utah Valley Half Marathon.  I am planning to have a recap soon.  It was a fun but challenging race.  The course was beautiful but it was mostly downhill and my legs were sore and tired by mile 9.  I got a beautiful jacket instead of a shirt.  I love the colors!

Total mileage for the week: 28.26 miles
Total mileage for this training cycle:  238.97 miles
Total mileage for the year: 287.16 miles

I’m linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap and Courtney for her Training Recap Link Up!

Hoping everyone had a good week!

Buffalo Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Buffalo Half Marathon.  It is state #36.  My flight was at 10am but with the long lines at security, I decided to get to the airport early and avoid the long lines.  The joke was on me because I was done in 5 minutes and had to wait over 3 hours at the airport.  While I was waiting I realized I had forgotten my belt with my water bottles along with my bottle of Nuun tablets.  It was tempting to go back home since I leave so close.

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It was a quick flight where I attempted to take a nap but I couldn’t. Once I landed I ate a quick lunch at the airport because I was very hungry.  Then I took a cab to my hotel.  I had a nice room.  The only bad thing was that I had to pay for wifi.  I was annoyed because I was already paying $250 for the room and I still had to pay for Internet.  I didn’t pay.

The expo was about a little over half a mile.  No big deal.  Except that it was HOT.  Once there I bought two bags of Honey Stinger Chews (orange blossom and pink lemonade) and two bottles of Nuun.  I only needed one because I have quite a bit at home but I wanted to try some new flavors (orange and strawberry lemonade).  I quickly saw Bart Yasso at the end of his presentation but did not get a chance to say “Hi” to him because there were people waiting to take pictures with him.

After the expo I headed back to the hotel.  I took a quick break to cool down.

Then I went to my room to watch TV.  Luckily I did not need wifi to watch some shows on Netflix.  I did not want to get up but realized I still needed to eat dinner.

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For dinner I went to a restaurant around the corner from the hotel.  It was crowded but found a place close to the bar but even better because I had a much better view of the Mexico vs. Paraguay soccer game. 

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I did not stay too long because I knew I had an early wakeup call since the race started at 6:30am.  Gorgeous sunset!

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I did not sleep well last night and did not want to get up.  I struggled.  I made coffee and quickly changed.  I wore a tank top because I knew it would be hot and indeed it was.  I got to the start line at 6:15 but went to the convention center to use the restroom.  Of course there were long lines.  Once I was done I went back to the start line and could hear the end of the National Anthem.  Of all of the races I’ve run, I don’t think I’ve ever missed the National Anthem. Apparently there were also fireworks which I missed too.

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Finally it was time to run.  I knew I was in trouble before Mile 1.  I was too HOT.  More hot than usual.  Plus, I had a headache.  I started too fast and my first 2 miles were my fastest (10:45 and 10:04).  After that it was downhill (mile 6 was 10:36 which I am surprised).  I struggled the rest of the way.  I was literally running one mile at a time and counting down each mile till the finish line.  I thought about dropping out because I was feeling horrible.  I felt better (and did much better) at my previous race in WV and that course was even more difficult.  But it wasn’t as hot like today.  I knew dropping out meant I would have to come back (or pick another race in NY) and I did not want to do that (nothing wrong with coming back here but I did not want to cough up the money).  Plus, I had been attempting to do this race for a few years and this year was the year to finally do it.

I did not like the course.  The one thing I did like was that most of it was shaded.  I am thankful for that because I know it would have been much worse.  It is also flat but nothing gorgeous or exciting to see along the way.  There weren’t many spectators but there were great volunteers. There were plenty of water stations and a few even gave us cups filled with ice.  Plus the locals used their water hose to cool us down and that felt wonderful.  I did see three runners on the ground needing medical assistance. Scary!

Seriously, why make us run through this?

My favorite sign.

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Done.  I was very happy when I crossed the finish line.  I drank a cup of Gatorade, got a water bottle, and ate a few orange slices (delicious) and walked back to the hotel.  It felt like a LONG walk back to my hotel.  

I know every race will not be a great race and this was definitely one of them.  There was nothing I could do about the weather.  I did my best to enjoy the race and to finish it.

Next race:  Elmhurst 4 on the 4th, July 4.

BCT Harpers Ferry Half Marathon

Last weekend I traveled to West Virginia to run the BCT Harpers Ferry Half Marathon which makes it state #35.  While it was a hilly and challenging course, it was still beautiful.

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I left Friday morning for Baltimore and met up with Jaime for lunch.  She went back to work and I went to the National Aquarium and was very impressed with it.  I saw turtles, sharks, frogs, so many types and fish and birds.  The best part was touching the Moon Jelly.  They felt so weird sort of slimy.  I found Nemo but could not find Dory.  Afterwards I got a coffee from Corner Bakery and waited for her to get off work.

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After work we met her husband and went to a bar while enjoying the best crab pretzel.  Yummy. Then we relaxed and enjoyed a baseball game between Baltimore and Detroit.  We did not stay too late because we had an early wake up call in the morning to drive to West Virginia.

The next morning we were out the door by 5:45.  We knew it was about an hour drive to Harpers Ferry but didn’t really know how much longer it would take to get to the start line.  We were there by 7, met her friend, Justin, picked up our bib, used the restrooms and waited for the race to start.  It was a small race with no more than 400 registrants.

A quick announcement from the race director (no National Anthem but there were playing “Take Me Home, Country Roads which made me smile) and off we went.  There was no special mat at the start line so my time started right at 8am.  I had a timing chip secured with ziploc twist ties and was afraid of it becoming loose and actually losing it.  Throughout the race I made sure to look down a few times to make sure it was there.

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Here is the race description:

“Local runners have crafted one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons in the country. The half marathon course is almost completely enclosed in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the preserved Civil War era towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry.  The route includes close to 1000 feet of total elevation gain and 2000 feet of total elevation change.  You will experience a mix of trail, road, and crushed gravel paths.  You will view the confluence of the Two Rivers- the Shenandoah and the Potomac.  The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will. The fun and challenging downhills will be a wild ride you’ve rarely experienced in a run.  Breathtaking views of the rivers, historic buildings, mountains, scenery will stimulate the senses and inspire you to reach the finish line.”

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Harpers Ferry Battlefield

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I think this is The Shenandoah River.

Running through Harpers Ferry.

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This is how I felt going down and up the hills.

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It may be a simple medal but let me tell you that I earned it.

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Even though it was challenging and tough, it was a beautiful course.  I did like the variety of running paths.  The volunteers were wonderful.  I knew I wasn’t going to PR so I took my time, walked up the hills, took pictures, and simply enjoyed the race.  I wore an Oiselle shirt and shorts along with a blue Sparkle Athletic skirt and got many compliments on it.  I was so happy it wasn’t hot and that it did not rain.  I did get warm while running but was never uncomfortable.

Post race I had two slices of pizza and a bagel.  I was very hungry.  We stuck around for a little bit longer and left after the start of the One Mile Fun Run.

Next race is the Buffalo Half Marathon on May 29.