Thought I would be back on track in the last few weeks with my training, but work had different plans for me. We are very much underwater with too few resources and too much business, so most of my days start when it is dark and end when it is dark. That makes it difficult to get any training in at all.
I have always had a challenge with working out too late in the evening as it keeps me from getting meaningful sleep. This makes it hard to get up the next day and makes the day even longer. The cycle is vicious and impactful.
Not sure what I am going to do about this as my next race is in about a month and I have given in to the fact that I will need to walk run to make it through. It makes me cringe to say that but if I push too hard, it will be very difficult to recover so I can start training for my next race.
Travel has been crazy the last few months (writing this while sitting in a seat on a flight from MSP to PHX), and I don’t see it getting too much better. My training has definitely suffered as it is had to find time to get even a small run in. The body and mind are willing but the location is not always able. I know I can try harder to make that happen and I need to do that soon, as the Dark Side Half in Disneyworld in April is going to be painful.
I had hoped to finally get my sub 2 hour PR but I don’t think that is possible now. Running is not something you can catch up in quickly like catching up on email or even sleep. If you don’t put the mile in, you don’t get the results. You can’t do 11 tomorrow if you got 5 in two days ago but missed your 6 yesterday. That would not only be painful but also foolish for your body.
The focus not is planning for runs during travel, even if it means inclement weather locations like Minnesota this week. I have never had good luck with my lungs and running in cold weather, it always end up in a hacking cough and sickness. Perhaps I need to look into a nationwide chain of fitness centers like LifeTime, or even check on day passes if the weather is bad and my hotel does not have facilities. I have some homework to do.
Once again, the fine folks at the Chicago Half Marathon have generously donated an entry for the September 9th, Chicago Half Marathon, which takes place on a beautiful out and back course that is actually run on Lake Shore Drive. Details about the course and facilities etc. can be found here. You can view some of the highlights of the 2010 race here.
The Half Marathon starts at 7am followed by a 5K start at 7:45am. All runners receive the following:
Commemorative Technical long-sleeve T-shirt
Computerized Timing & Scoring
Great course support
Entertainment throughout the course
Outstanding post-race party in beautiful Jackson Park
Water & Gatorade Endurance available at 10 aid stations along the route
USATF certified course
and finishers receive a Custom finishers medal.
Post-race party complete with Michelob ULTRA (ID required) and free Chicago Style pizza
Packet pickup will be at Navy Pier, Exhibit Hall B at 600 N. Grand Avenue. Expo hours are Friday September 7th from noon to 7pm and Saturday September 8th from 9am till 5pm. Admission to the expo is free and open to the general public but you will need to pay for parking. Just plan ahead, get there early and walk around the pier and enjoy what Chicago has to offer. There is NO Race Day Pickup on Sunday the 9th, so if you forget, you will be watching the race from the sidelines. The deadline for race entry is September 2nd.
I am on the road quite a bit and one of my biggest challenges is staying on track with my training while traveling. I often go to locations that are quite a bit higher in altitude than Chicago and need to cut back on miles, or I am in and out of town for a one or two day trip with no time to even put my sneakers on.
To enter our giveaway for a free race entry, just comment on this post and let us know how you stay on track for your training while traveling or on vacation. I will pick the winner at random on Sunday July 29th at midnight, so you have 3 weeks to enter. We will send the winner an email with their free signup code. Please only enter if you are able to attend the race and use the code. You are welcome to comment even if you don’t want to enter, but let us know in the comment to exclude you from the drawing. Good luck and see you at the race.
Note: If you are participating in the Allstate Half tomorrow (June 9th) you are also eligible for the Windy City Challenge which will net you a third special finishers medal if you also complete the Chicago Half on September 9th.
Update: I gave the drawing one more week and will be selecting the winner on August 5th
Congratulations to Matt M. You are the lucky winner of the free race entry. See you at the finish line.
I was traveling again this week and had a chance to try out the Westin Workout while staying and the Westin Imagine in Orlando, right across the street from the convention center. Trying to workout while on the road can always be a challenge, but at process at least helps simplify the solution. During check-in, I mentioned that I would like to participate in the rental of the workout gear. The woman checking me in simply asked what size shoes, shit and shorts I needed (woman can get capri pants or a sports bra as well). We finished check-in, and she stepped away for maybe 3 minutes before returning with a mesh draw string bag that contained all the gear. She explained that I just needed to leave the gear in the bag in my room when I was leaving for checkout (I was staying for only one night) and that I would be charged a small fee of $5 for the rental. The rental also includes a pair of padded shortie New Balance socks that you get to keep, so the total cost is really just a few bucks.
All four items in the bag were clean and fresh smelling and the shoes and socks were brand new. The shoes were in the retail box with the normal crushed paper stuffed in each shoe and the socks still had the not for resale zip tag on them. Also included in the bag was a 10% off coupon for a next purchase on New Balance gear from the New Balance website, and a small postcard explaining the program and the philosophy of the program. You can also request maps of local running trails or paths when you request your gear. I did not this time as I knew my time for a run was short (explained below).
Each item fit very well and the shoes themselves were fresh, shiny New Balance model 759s. The shoes were very light and comfortable to wear. I laced them up and went downstairs for a quick workout. I unfortunately had recent back surgery (external) so I was only able to do a quick run so as to not aggravate the wound. Since I knew I would not get to do a full 1 hour test of the shoes, I had planned to go over to Downtown Disney and walk over to Saratoga Springs for dinner, wearing the shoes as a test.
I spent a good 3 hours in the shoes today and overall was impressed with their weight, comfort and size. They felt a bit less supportive than my Brooks Adrenaline 11’s, but I think I need a 1/2 size smaller next time. I was not a picky during this process as I would normally be if I was buying so I just estimated on the size I normally wear.
Bottom line is this is a great program if you forget your workout gear or if you just want to try some new equipment. The possible downside is the property could be really busy with health conscious gests and could be sold out (rented out) of your size. Since this program is so new, that was not an issue for me. I will be adding this to my list of positives when I am deciding on which property to stay as during my business trips.
What do you do to stay on track for your workouts when you are on the road? Please leave a comment.
Being on the road so much I needed to choose a hotel loyalty program that meets my needs and has properties in most of my destinations. I choose two a few years ago and have attained top level status for both of them. I choose Priority Club because you can find a Holiday Inn or one of their other properties in pretty much any town in the US or Canada, and I choose SPG because I live the rooms, the upgrades and the points I can earn with Sheraton and Westin properties.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Westin has recently started a program called the WestinWorkout whereby guests at a Westin property can ‘rent’ gear from New Balance during their stay. In addition to gear, the hotel will provide running maps for local routes and in-room video workouts to help you stay on your training track when you are away from home.
If you ever wanted to try New Balance shoes (I am a Brooks guy myself), this would be a great way to be able to do so at very little cost. They are offering the 759 as their rental shoe as of this article. For clothing, they offer the NP Short and Tech Tee for men and the Fitness Capri and the Tonic Crop plus CB Tempo Short Sleeve Tee for women. The product types and availability will vary by property so you should check before you arrive at your hotel.
If you don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes, thoroughly washed or not, you can wear your own, but this is great if you forgot to pack your own stuff and want to stay on your training regiment. I buy lots of my items at the local thrift store so this does not bother me at all.
The email I received says the rental is only $5 for shoes and clothing but does not say if it is $5 each or for the whole package. I will do a little research and find out. You can find more information at westinnewbalance.com.
I have two stay in Florida this month so I will try the rental program and report back.
Update: I called the Westin Imagine in Orlando and she confirmed that it is a flat $5 fee which includes the shoes and the clothing.
I ran the home team charity run again this year with my sister in law Mary, a fun little race that benefits the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox charities. Last your was the inaugural event and the 10K course took us from the United Center down to the south side for a finish in the US Cellular field parking lot. This year was a little different as they concentrated the course around US Cellular and that gave them the flexibility to fit in a 5K as well.
The weather was about the same as last year, a bit cold and damp at the start but no rain, and a little bit of sunshine and a warm-up for the finish and post race festivities.
Since the course was basically an out and back, this allowed the organizers to have the 5K runners follow the same route as the 10K runners, and just turn around at the 2.5K mark for their return. The 10K runners ran out to our 5K half way point and then turned around for our return. The 10K runners got a 15 minute head start which lessened the overlap at the point where our return leg mixed in with their return leg.
One benefit of the 10K was the on field (warning track) finish. The 5K runners started and finished at the same line outside the stadium, but the 10K runners entered that back of the stadium and picked up the warning track in center field, made a left and ran in front of the right field bleachers, past the visitors dug out and finish just before home plate.
We got to mingle for a few moments around home plate for pictures before heading up the stairs (right past our season seats pictured at right here) to the exit down the ramp into the parking lot for the post race pizza, beer (or coffee) and the entertainment.
The pizza and coffee lines were huge so Mary and I went over to the beer corral for our free beer. The two guards did not even card me (sad for me ego). We downed our cup and walked around the lot to see what else they had going on. In addition to the refreshments, the were post race massages, autographs with some of the Chicago sports legends and you could get your picture taken with the 2005 White Sox World Series trophy or one of the he Bulls NBA Championship trophy. We opted to avoid the lines and just relax and enjoy the moment.
All in all it was an excellent race and I recommend it for a good starter race if you are training for a half marathon or a full marathon this year. Thank you to all the volunteers. We will surely be attending next year.
I have been meaning to write this review for a long time now and was finally kicked in the butt by a recent conversation I had with my race partner. Turns out, Disney will not be repeating the relay next year or even in years to come. This is unfortunate as I had a fantastic time, reconnected with some old friends and made a new friend all in a few glorious days.
The 2012 Disney Marathon weekend was the first time (and sounds like the last) that the Run Disney program allowed a team of two to compete in the full marathon as a relay. The race was divided evenly between the two runners so each of us had a chance to run a full 13.1 across the 26.2 course that the full marathoners would run. The only choice a team would need to make was, who would run the first leg and who would run the second. I had one more choice: who would I run with.
When I first heard about the relay I immediately decided I wanted to do it but I would need to find a running partner. I took to the Disney message forums, of which there are many specifically for Disney runners.and after many weeks of looking and asking, finally paired up with a fantastic woman Charrissa, from Connecticut. She and her husband are avid Disney fans and runners and like me, she likes the half as a preferred distance. We exchanged messages for a few weeks before finally speaking on the phone to finalize our team name (Keep Moving Forward), our travel plans and our meet up logistics.
My wife Lorie and I had plans to go down to Orlando on Saturday, the day before the race with our good friends the Demskis who I have know for over 30 years and we were going to say into the next week post race to enjoy the parks. Charrissa would be getting there on Friday and leaving out early Monday to head back home. She was coming down solo as her husband and she had just been down for the Wine and Dine Half so he was not able to get off work again.
We had the first flight out from Chicago so there were no delays and we were in Orlando, on the Magical Express and at the Brach Club Villas before noon on Saturday. I called Charrissa and we agreed to meet up at 3 over at the Big River Brew pub on the boardwalk, which is just across the lake from our resort. It was a bit strange meeting your running partner for the first time less than 24 hours before you were going to run together, but we were all excited to meet her for the first time. We were just finishing up lunch outside on the boardwalk when she walked up. We had a meet up and discussed the logistics for tomorrows race.
We had decided ahead of time that she would run the first leg, as she had never run through the Magic Kingdom before (I have on the Full and Half Marathons that I have done there in the past) and that would give me a chance to run the second leg which passes right by our resort with just under 2 miles to go. There, hopefully, Lorie, Rick and Yvonne would be standing by with an cold beverage for me, or at least an encouraging hug. With everything planned out, we were ready for Sundays race.
Both Charrissa and I need to be at the Epcot parking lot by 5am for the walk to the starting corals, which means that even though I would be starting my leg about 2 hours after hers I still needed to get to the main starting area at the same time as her. We decided to meet under the orange and white strip tents in the queue area where she was waiting with some other Disney forum runners she had raced with before. The main area were we all gather is very well marked with various colored roof tents (the little 10ft wide ones with no sides) and some larger tents for medial, bag drop-off and paid admission prerace eats and drinks. The layout makes it very easy to plan your meet ups both pre and post race.
Charrissa made her was to the starting corals which is about a 15 to 20 minutes walk from the main queuing area, and I made my way to the relay bus corral ( yes they had us in a little fenced in area like little excited ponies) for my ride over to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. My ride took about 15 minutes and I arrived at my waiting area by 5:30, about 15 minutes before the first wave was to start back at Epcot. It was a bit chilly out there in the open and Disney had provided ‘butt warmers’ for us to sit on as part of our race packet. I decided to forgo the warmer and instead had procured an extra large hoodie just for this purpose, so i just pulled that down over my legs and sat on part of it like my own little tent. Many racers will bring a piece of clothing to this event an plan on leaving it behind when they start their run, which I also did . Disney collects the garments, washes them and then distributes them to local charities.
I had about a two hour wait as Charrissa’s estimated finish time was 1:50 so I alternated a little rest and some roaming around taking in the various events that I could see from my lot. This being a Chip and Dale themed relay, the two boys them selves made an appearance in our lot and posed for photos with anyone who wanted to participate. I could also see a row of classic cars to the left of our lot and could hear the classic rock the DJ was playing along that stretch of the course. At the front of our lot was a stage with a giant view screen and the transition area where we would ‘hand off’ to the second runner, We had our own DJ to keep us motivated during the wait and the jumbo screen was showing live shots of the runners from the starting gun all the way through the Magic Kingdom.
From this are I was able to see the elites run by to our left as the ran towards the Magic Kingdom, and to our right as they came out. I had never been able to see them so far out ahead by themselves so this was a pretty special moment. I noticed that many of the runners did not even see them going by but I had been looking forward to seeing this and started watching about 10 minutes before I estimated they would come by.
I believe one of the reason they are not going to do the relay again was complaints form the second leg runners who had to wait around for the first leg runners. I was fortunate that Charrissa was a sub 2 hour runner so my wait was really pretty good ( I tend to enjoy any time I have down in Disney even if I am sitting around waiting for something), but I can see how the second leg runners who had a 3 plus hour first leg runner would be getting a bit antsy by the tie they showed up. The only way to get around this, in my opinion would be to have the team do a true estimate of their first leg partner and get over to the MK parking lot 1 hour before that estimated time. But that would mean the second leg runners would need to get to the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center by the Magic Kingdom) directly instead of going over to Epcot as a starting point. So, Disney would need to provide busses from the hotels to two different locations and a monorail from Epcot not just to Epcot which would probably be too confusing at 4 am. Or perhaps if they at least provided a warm tent with a few characters and maybe a little food, that could make the wait a bit more bearable for the second runners.
The other thing that would have been nice would be to have your first leg partners name show up on the jumbo screen wen they were within 5 minutes or arriving at the exchange point. That would be easy enough to do as we were all wearing D-Tags on our shoes for timing and they knew who the first leg runners were. They would just need an extra strike pad 1/2 mile or so out to make this happen.
I started looking for Charrissa at about the 1:40 mark and saw her coming up on the shoot at 1:45. She was right on the mark and actually PR’d the race (way to go Charissa!) I pushed and excused myself through the other waiting second leggers and stepped out into exchange area. If I had been thinking ahead I would have given Charissa an acorn to carry for a hand off as there was nothing provided for the exchange. It was more of me flagging her down doing a quick hug and congratulations and then I was on my way.
It was still before 8 am when I took off so the weather was a perfect sub 60 degrees. I wont bore you with a mile by mile account but I did do better than I expected. I had been training for a 2 hour half like Charrissa, and was right on track for most of 2011, but I ended up getting a chest infection that prevented me from running for three months.which pretty much wiped out all my hard work. I had estimated that I would fining in about 2:40 and ended up doing a 2:25 which is OK considering my retraining window.
I mentioned earlier that our resort, the Beach Club Villas, was just under two miles from the finish, right along the running route. We try to stay there every year during the race so I can run by the family on my way to the finish. I pass right in front of the resort before entering the back entrance of Epcot for the final mile around the countries, past the big golf ball and exit out to the finish line in the parking lot near where we started.
I was really looking forward to seeing my wife, Rick and Yvonne at this late point in the race for a little moral boost. They did not disappoint me. As I approached their cheering section Lorie jumped out and gave me a hug, to which the lady next to her said ‘eeeewww, how can you hug him when he’s all sweaty like that?’. Lady we have been married for 25 years and she has seen me a lot worse. I was able to get a quick hug from Yvonne and Rick as well then I pushed on to the finish.
One of my favorite parts of the Disney marathon, which I wrote about here also, is the full on live gospel choir they have about 300 yards from the finish. Just when you feel like you can’t go any more you get a nice boost that helps me quicken my step towards the finish line.
Charrissa and I had planned on meeting under the same orange and white test post race so I got my knees wrapped in ice, stood for my post race photo, grabbed a banana and PowerAde and headed over to meet the group. Everyone was all smiles despite the obvious pain some of us were in (things obviously hurt a little more as we get older) and we all recounted our high points and low points of the race. I stuck around for a little while then we exchanged hugs and discussed when we would talk next to exchange photos etc. I made my way, slowly, to the bus for my ride back to the hotel. There were a few finishers near me on the bus, who had just run for the first time here and were wondering how they would feel over the next few days. I suggested that they should step out sideways on Disney transportation for the rest of their stay. What I mean by that is instead of walking straight down the stairs to exit a bus (going up does not really hurt too much), you stand at the top of the stairs then turn either left or right so you hip is facing the stairs. You then take your steps down that way which put less stress on your knees. Believe me it works and you can easily tell who the runners are when they exist any transportation.Back to the hotel for a much needed shower and a race debrief with my friends.
Once again, I had an awesome race experience here at Disney (thanks Charrissa)and I look forward to next year. A special thanks to Rick and Yvonne, for sharing the experience with us.I hope we can do it again in the future. We had talked about not coming down for 2013 as we will be going to Disney Hawaii for our 25th anniversary, but I have such a good time and it gives me something to train/look forward to for the next year, that I think I need to do it again. When does sign up start for 2013?
In a previous post from March 1st, I wrote about my need for a new pair of running shoes and my proposed selection process, such as it is. After a combination of research and happy coincidence, I ended up selecting the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11, and could not be more thrilled with my selection.
The research part was a combination of online resources and the vast staff knowledge at Dick Pond Athletics in Lisle Illinois, where I purchased the shoes. The happy coincidence was that a Groupon popped into my inbox the week I was doing my research. The offer was to purchase a $50 certificate for $25, good at any Dick Pond store and since I was already going to make a purchase there, I jumped on the offer right away.
I visited Dick Pond and discussed my needs, past experience and future plans with the staff. They had me try on a few different pairs for sizing, comfort and I’m not ashamed to say, looks. They have an in shop treadmill so I was able to do a few miles before making a final decision. The Brooks ran a little smaller than the Kayanos, so I ended up with a size 11.5 instead of the size 11 that I had in the Asics. The brooks were also $40 less expensive, not cheaper, that the Asics so with the coupon, tax and tip I was out the doo for less than $75 dollars US.
I have already used them to run the Home Team Charity Run 10K in Chicago and they performed very well, with no rubbing, plenty of stability and an abundance of comfort. I realize this was a short run but was none the less a good test for a new pair of kicks.
Next step is to keep an eye out for clearance deals so I can stock at least one more pair for the next Disney Marathon. See you there.
Once again, the fine folks at the 13.1 Marathon Series have generously donated an entry for the June 4th, 2011 Half Marathon, which takes place along the beautiful Chicago lakefront path. Details about the course and facilities etc. can be found here.
Packet pickup will once again be a Fleet Feet Pipers Alley at 1620 N. Wells Street. If you have not been to the Old Town area in a while, parking is hard to find, so you may want to go with a friend and have one of you run in for pickup while the other circles the block. They had parking validation at a garage around the corner last year, but if that garage is full you are out of luck. Just plan ahead, or better yet, plan on spending a few hours, get there early and walk around and enjoy the neighborhood for a while. Pickup is on Thursday June 2nd from 4 – 8 PM and Friday June 3rd from 10am – 8PM. There is NO Race Day Pickup so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
To enter our giveaway for a free race entry, just comment on this post and let us know how the cost of race entry fees has affected your choice of races to enter. I will pick the winner at random on Thursday April 28th at midnight, so you have just over two weeks to enter. We will send the winner an email with their free signup code. Please only enter if you will be able to use the code. You are welcome to comment even if you don’t want to enter, but let us know in the comment to exclude you from the drawing. Good luck and see you at the race.
UPDATE: 4/28/2001 – The drawing is tonight so get your entries in.
Update: 4/29/2011 – Congratulations go out to Kristan Huenink who is the winner in our random drawing for the entry in this years Chicago 13.1. Thanks to everyone for your insightful comments on the high cost of racing. We will have more giveaways this year so keep in touch.
Today I experienced the first annual Home Team Charity Run 10K in Chicago. The event brought together 3 of Chicago’s professional sports teams to raise money for the local charities that each individual team already has relationships with. A portion of the $60 sign-up fee ($15) was divided equally between all three teams charities. During sign up, you were asked to select a team to support by selecting a particular race shirt design. You could select from the White Sox (my choice), the Bulls or the Blackhawks and your shirt would reflect that team in color and in lettering on the sleeve. All three shirts had the same logo on the front and white lettering on the sleeve. Besides being a White Sox fan I liked the fact that the Sox shirt was black, fairly unusual for a race shirt, while the Bulls and Blackhawks shirts were both the same red. I did notice while on the course that there was a much greater amount of Sox fans than the other two teams.
You may be wondering why they left out the Cubs. Well, it’s because the start and finish of the involved the stadiums were the three participating teams play their home games.
We started off at the United Center at 8am, in 41 degree windy weather, and finished at US Cellular field in 50 degree windy weather. It’s sounds a bit unpleasant but it was actually very nice once we got going and as long as you kept a few layers on the weather was unnoticeable. We were lucky enough to dodge the predicted rain, which held off until about 30 minutes after we finished the race.
The race was fairly small with just over 2000 entries that showed up and they handed out the bibs based on last name instead of by sign up date. A bit unusual but it was kind of fun looking at peoples numbers and truing to guess their last name ( the guy wearing number 9, I guessed had a last name like Aaron). The start was also pretty loose with people just lining up wherever they wanted to at the start. One nice surprise was we were treated to a rousing rendition of the national anthem, sung by none other than Jim Cornelison, the gentleman who sings the anthem at every Hawks home game.
With such a small number of runners, there was not much going on along the route except a few water stations, an aid station, one Mariachi band and one bag piper. While on that subject, thank you to all the volunteers who came out to provide the water and some support. It was pretty early on a Sunday for Chicago residents to be up and about in the neighborhoods.
The race went pretty quick winding through the city streets, some of which were in bad shape from the nasty Chicago winter we had this year. There was one long stretch of almost half the race down Loomis towards 35th. Once we turned onto 35th we could see US Cellular less than a mile away so we knew we were almost home. The streets were wide enough that passing was not a problem and there were no four or five wide groups to deal with.
At the finish in the north parking lot of US Cellular we were treated to a band, a free beer and a chance to have our picture taken with the Sox World Series trophy or the Bulls NBA Championship trophy. Southpaw, the Sox mascot, and Benny the Bull were also on hand for picture opportunities.
I ran the race with my sister-in-law Mary, who is also a middle-aged runner, sorry Mar. She is a bit younger than me and a bit faster, so although I PR’d today, she beat me by about 30 seconds.
All in all it was a very pleasant way to start a Sunday and it was nice to be out there with all the other Chicago sports fans having fun and supporting a good cause. I look forward to doing it again next year.