Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Giveaway: Chicago F^3 Lake Half Marathon

One of the best ways to stay motivated as a runner is having a race firmly planted on your calendar. This especially holds true over the winter months. As soon as I finished my last race, I realized my upcoming calendar was oddly empty of running events. For a variety of reasons, I've tried to avoid "filling the weekends", but it quickly became obvious that I needed a new goal to cling to. My running shoes (and waistline) were depending on it.

Thus, the F^3 Lake Half Marathon, presented by REM-Fit appeared on my radar.


The timing was just right, and it came well-recommended by a friend in Chicago. Now you might question my idea of "timing"... January 24 in Chicago? Mid-winter in the Windy City?  13.1 miles of snow and cold?  To me, that sounds like the perfect challenge to keep my booty moving thru the holidays and well into the New Year!  (If you're not up to 13.1 yet, there is also a 5K option.)

If you're not sold on the challenge, how about the perks!? Check out what's included in your entry...
  • Beanie Hat with pom
  • Tech Gloves (my personal favorite!)
  • Finisher's Medal with built-in bottle opener
  • Free Photo Downloads
  • Pre and Post-Party at the Union Club inside Soldier Field.
  • First Pint of Beer courtesy of Goose Island Brewing Co.
  • Hot Cocoa and other treats provided by sponsors
But most importantly, the bragging rights that come with running in the dead of winter along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. 
#Boom. 
Instant Bada$$ Runner.

I invite you to come "Run With Jess" on January 24th along the Chicago Lakeshore.  Enter below for a chance to WIN a free race entry + a bonus gift (the new REM-Fit Active, a sleep and activity tracker).  Or register now -HERE- utilizing discount code CAEB15 for $10 off your entry.


ENTER TO WIN A FREE RACE ENTRY
Plus a BONUS GIFT from REM-Fit!
Enter via Rafflecopter app below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The #ElfRun - Virtual Race


Gather up your friends for a holiday-themed virtual race... 
The ELF RUN!
Proceeds benefit the St. Jude Children's Hospital.
We RUN to fight childhood cancer!

What's a virtual race?  A virtual race is running a specified distance (timed) without being present in the actual race location.

DATE:  Saturday, Dec. 6 - Sunday, Dec. 21  (two-week window)
The race begins on the same day as the St. Jude Marathon, which I will be running as a member of the St. Jude Heroes team. Proceeds from this virtual run will be donated to the St. Jude Children's Hospital.

LOCATION:  Pick your favorite local route or hop on a treadmill. 

THREE EVENTS!  Choose the event that works best for your current fitness level. You may participate in more than one event. Earn 1 entry into the prize drawing for each event that you complete (3 max entries). 
- Run/Walk 5K  (3.1 miles)
- Run 10K  (6.2 miles)
- Run Half-Marathon  (13.1 miles)

PRINT YOUR RACE BIB HERE 

This is a great opportunity to organize a holiday fun run amongst your running friends. My local run group enjoys hot cocoa, coffee and Christmas cookies after our run. If you live near Peoria, IL, please join us on Sunday, December 20 at 8:00am for either the 5K or 10K distance. We will start/finish at Running Central and run along the riverfront trail. 

FINISHER'S MEDAL:  $11.00 (pictured above)  Orders will ship out on or before December 1st. U.S. shipping is a flat $3 rate per order. (International orders, I will send you an invoice for $7 extra.) You save when ordering multiple medals in one order. So rally up your friends for a fun holiday run, order together and save!
SORRY, SOLD OUT 12/1.


Follow me for race updates...
Connect with other #ElfRun-ners in the Facebook Event.

RESULTS:  After you've finished your #ElfRun, report your race time(s) HERE before Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 12:00 noon CST.   This is a fun race; no Garmin/treadmill photo required to verify your time. You will earn one entry into the prize drawing for each event (5K, 10K and/or Half) that you finish. Each event may only be completed once. For example, a 5K only counts as one entry, regardless of how many times you run it. Maximum of 3 entries per person.

PRIZES:  When the #ElfRun results window closes, prizes will be randomly drawn from finishers who reported results. Winners will be announced before 12/24/14.  List of prizes...
   (1) Tough Chik "Run Like You're Being Chased" t-shirt
   (1) Tough Chik hat
   (3) BondiBand headbands
   (1) Canister of CLICK protein drink
   (2) Holiday knee-high socks
   (1) Package of GU Energy Gels
   (1) $20 Amazon gift card 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Run Challenge

If you're like me, the thought of running a fall race sounded delightful... cool morning air with colorful scenery as the leaves changes colors. It sucked me in and I registered for the "perfect course" in a flash. Months have ticked away since that fateful registration day and now it's time to train.  Summer has officially started!  I am now reminded that all the training for that dreamy fall marathon will take place in the hot humidity of summer. Oh dear, what was I thinking?

Perhaps you're also training for a big fall race? or just need a little extra motivation to keep up your daily runs? or just like to win prizes?  Whatever your situation, I invite you to join me in the Summer Run Challenge!  My Winter Miles Challenge was such a huge success and motivator for people that I wanted to offer the same encouragement over the trying summer months.  The Summer Run Challenge is FREE to participate, and you receive...
  • Accountability: weekly reporting of your mileage
  • Helpful tips and advice via a weekly e-newsletter
  • Weekly chances to win prizes!
  • Encouragement and support from others
  • A fun virtual race to test your speed
  • Templates for tracking your progress and training tools 
June 30 - August 10, 2014
FREE Participation!

The Summer Run Challenge is about keeping yourself accountable to your weekly goals and overall training. At the end of every week, you will report back your completed mileage. If you hit your weekly goal, you will be entered into the weekly prize drawing. It's that simple! This is about keeping youself motivated - saying "YES, I DID IT!" at the end of every week.

HOW IT WORKS
The Summer Run Challenge is six weeks long. Participants accumulate miles (run or walk) Monday through Sunday, and report back their completed miles each week. Every week you hit your goal, you receive one entry into the weekly prize drawing...

{1}  June 30-July 6   -  2 Toms Prize Pack for blister, chafing & odor prevention
{2}  July 7-13  -  Block Island Organics Prize Pack for skincare in the summer sun
{3}  July 14-20  -  ProCompression marathon socks for ultimate muscle recovery
{4}  July 21-27  -  GU Energy Prize Pack for fueling and hydration on the run
{5}  July 28-Aug. 3  -  Workout DVDs for the cross-training and "it's just too hot" days
{6}  August 4-10 -  NINE different prizes in combination with the WatermelonRun

READY TO START?
• Follow RunWithJess HERE on Facebook for challenge updates, prize winners and daily motivation.

• Join the SRC Facebook Event here to meet and motivate other participants. I encourage you to post pictures and success stories within the event. Invite your friends to join in the fun!

Set your weekly goal... 10, 20, 35, 50... as far as your legs will take you! The number will no doubt vary each week based on your training plan and racing schedule. You don't have to tell me your individual goal; however, I encourage you to make it public on social media or your blog "My goal this week is to run xx miles in training for the XXX Marathon."  Putting it out there will give you added encouragement to get it done.

RUN!  Track your mileage Monday through Sunday.  Use a notebook, Daily Mile or my weekly tracking template. I highly encourage you to journal your pre-run meals, what you use for you on-the-run fuel, and how you felt. This is essential for successful training - to ensure a foolproof plan on race day.

Report back your weekly miles HERE once your final run of the week is done.  In order to earn an entry into the weekly prize drawing, you must report in each Monday before 12:00noon. Weekly prize winners will be announced every Monday evening, starting July 7th.

That's it... SIMPLE. Now repeat for six weeks! 


SPECIAL EDITION 
SUMMER TRAINING TANK
This special edition tank is 100% polyester Xtreme Tek moisture-management fabric that is breathable in the summer heat. UV protection built-in with anti-bacterial treatment.  Racerback Style.

Limited SIZES still available... Please check the size charts before ordering:  Ladies size chart  |  Mens size chart. For whatever reason, the gold seems be a more relaxed fit and the black runs a bit smaller.

The Summer Tank features the popular African saying:  “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle... when the sun comes up, you better be running.

Choice of colors: 
GOLD/ORANGE
Fabric is gold; design printed in dark orange.
BLACK/YELLOW
Fabric is black; design printed in yellow. 

See shop for available sizes.



** VIRTUAL RACE **


One of my favorite things about summer is WATERMELON. The fruit itself is so refreshing after a hot summer run... and unlike my other post-run cravings, it's healthy!  National Watermelon Day is August 3 in 2014.  Let's celebrate the final week of the Summer Run Challenge (SRC) with a virtual race!  See what your training has done so far and test your speed. Plus, you will earn bonus entries into the SRC weekly prize drawing. We're ending SRC with a bang - there will be a bunch of ADDITIONAL PRIZES in week six!
How The Watermelon Run works...
Invite your friends for a run/walk. 
Buy a big ripe watermelon. 
Run/walk a 5K (3.1 miles) in your favorite location (Aug. 3-10) 
At the finish line, reward yourself with Watermelon Bling (order below)
Cut up that watermelon in big chunks and enjoy the juicy fruit of summer! 
Don't forget to take pictures!
Report back your finish time for a chance to WIN PRIZES!


Crown yourself with BLING after your Watermelon Run. This 2 1/4" finisher's medal has a gold finish and red ribbon.  Limited quantities, so order quickly!
SOLD OUT

Please invite your running friends to join the challenge!
It's going to be a great summer, and I'm delighted to have you along 
as a virtual training buddy. Good luck on your summer goals!  
Many happy miles... ~Jess

Friday, June 20, 2014

Product Review: Thermo Heat

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Thermo Heat.

I've never been that lean running machine that is glorified on magazine covers. My entire running journey has been combined with weight loss and management. In fact, weight loss is the sole reason I started running (again) five years ago.  Now I continue to run (bike, yoga, and workout) for a plethora of other reasons, but I feel my weight is still a hindrance.

Yes, I run well and am happy with an 8:49 pace in my last race... but my mind is always telling me, "Ten pounds less and I could have been a minute faster" and so on. Truth is I'm not even close to my goal weight right now. That's nothing new, but lately I've surpassed my happy weight. And that affects me on so many levels - not only in my athletic endeavors, but also my personal relationships and overall well-being.

One thing I have learned is that everyone's weight loss experience is different.  Bodies react differently to workouts and diets. I've kept an open mind (and tried) so many options and variations.  Initially, I may lose weight on fad diets, but it's impossible for me to stay with a routine of no carbs, only juice or protein shakes. So personally, I'm not a gimmick type of gal.  Through the years, I've found the classic balance of exercise and healthy diet works best in my lifestyle. I enjoy physical workouts and have no problem racking up the "activity points". The problem is I also enjoy food (and drink!).  So the only way I make significant weight loss is tracking food and managing the calorie equation... burning more calories than you consume.

For anyone whose been on a significant weight loss journey, the plateau is practically unavoidable. Eventually, the pounds stop melting off even though you're working your butt off. The longer you sustain a calorie deficit, the more likely you are degrading your metabolism (the rate at which you burn fat and calories), which in turn slows down the weight loss numbers.  I have battled the plateau and must admit, it has beat me down pretty much every time. This past year, I watched a good friend find success. She was already in great shape (and in my opinion, had nothing to lose), but she had gained 10 lbs over a separate battle with cancer. One day while we ran, she told me about a supplement that she started taking. She felt it was making the difference in creating downward scale movement.  I've always been leary of pills of any sort.  They seemed gimmicky and somehow in my mind, it felt like cheating to me. But I trust my friend's advice and experience, so it opened up the option in my mind.

When the opportunity to test out Thermo Heat presented itself, I jumped at it.  Thermo Heat was just introduced to the market this past spring. It is revolutionary in nature as it takes a different approach than other fat burning supplements...
"Thermo Heat is formulated to stimulate brown adipose tissue (BAT).  
BAT is made up of fat cells that generate heat, due to its high concentration
 of UCPs – uncoupling proteins.  UCPs uncouple fat oxidation from ATP 
production allowing the body to generate heat without making energy.  
BAT is usually activated in response to cold temperature exposure, which is termed
 non-shivering thermogenesis.  Recent research, however, has discovered that there 
are other ways to stimulate BAT, including a few effective ingredients that you 
can find in Thermo Heat. These include caffeine, capsaicin and tyrosine." Source


Turning Fat into Tissue
Yes please! I'm game to turning my body's fat into just about anything! Thermo Heat promises to help your body turn fat into thermogenic tissue. The list of ingredients are long, but each component serves a purpose in igniting your body's fat burning ability. Thermo Heat switches on the metabolically inactive white adipose tissue so that it acts more similar to the heat-producing brown fat (BAT) of the body.

Stimulate the Pathway for Fat Burning
The Beta-3-Adrenergic System is a key pathway for fat burning that Thermo Heat safely stimulates. This helps to raise one's resting metabolic rate without impacting heart rate or blood pressure.

Supports Thyroid Function
If you've dieted for long periods, your metabolism and thyroid function will typically begin to slow due to a calorie-restricted diet.  Thermo Heat provides several ingredients to help trigger thyroid production, boosting the stimulation of brown fat thermogenesis.

Beyond the clinical research results above, here is what I can attest to with my personal Thermo Heat experience...

Enhance Energy and Alertness (without Over-Stimulating!)
For anyone who knows me personally, they're thinking right now, "Jess needs more energy?" But let me tell you, every afternoon I reach a low point. Typically the kids are napping.  Many times I doze off as well, or I find myself alone in the kitchen. It's not a good situation for me! Mid-afternoon was a key time for me to take a Thermo Heat supplement, which contains noradrenaline and dopamine activators. These neurotransmitters are chemicals that regulate the activity of neurons in the body... controlling thermogenesis, appetite control, mental alertness, food cravings, sense of pleasure, feel good and reward responses.  With safety and efficacy guiding Thermo Heat formulation, the combination of ingredients are designed to enhance your body's energy and focus without the uncomfortable (or unsafe) level of stimulation.

Manage Appetite.
This is a big benefit for Thermo Heat for me personally. It's where I struggle the most in my weight loss journey.  Thermo Heat's special blend of ingredients works together to activate your body's own appetite-suppressing hormones and neurochemicals responsible for bodyweight control.  Net-net, it helped me say NO to that afternoon sweet tooth.

Putting Thermo Heat to Use...
Thermo Heat instructs new users to start with 1 capsule in the morning and 1 in the afternoon for three days. If your body tolerates, double the dose, but remaining at no more than 4 capsules per day.  I had mixed emotions on whether I should take more, so I have stuck with 2 per day.  After taking one Thermo Heat capsule, I felt that energy boost within 15 minutes.  It was not overwhelming, but I certainly felt a warming effect on my body - similar to if I would have started a slow jog. I've heard people mention nervousness or jitters when taking fat-burning supplements. Personally, I didn't experience that with Thermo Heat. The only side effect that concerns me was the shortness of breathe. Again, it felt like I had started exercising - while at rest. It took me by surprise some days, and other times it passed by with ease.  In my experience taking Thermo Heat, I did not see a dramatic drop on the scale, but I honestly can't say I combined it with the best diet.  I will continue to use Thermo Heat until my trial runs out - as I had no adverse effects. I hope to report at a later date movement on the scale as I combine it with a more controlled choice of food.

Thermo Heat is available for purchase here. 120 capsules run $79.95.

Have you ever used a fat-burning supplement before?
I'm interested to hear your experience...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Race Recap: Peoria Marathon Relay

There are some races that you just can't pass up. No matter where you live, your hometown race is probably one of them.  It's like one big family reunion... because running friends are the family you pick for yourself. There is magic in those shared miles and trials.

The Peoria Marathon (also known as Run River City) is quickly becoming that 'can't miss' race in my city of Peoria, IL.  I had so much fun participating in the 2013 inaugural race that I vowed to return.  For the second year, I put together a women's relay team to cover the 26.2 distance. I'm typically not a fan of relay races, but in this particular race, I enjoy moving around the course and seeing my runner friends of all speeds at different mile markers.  It's the best of both worlds - I get to cheer and run!

This year, I created a team with three other ladies from our Sole Sisters running club. The hardest part was coming up with an outfit idea and team name before we could register.  Finally, we agreed on Rainbow Racers - a name built soley around these rainbow-colored checkered flag skirts.
The skirts were ordered from Sparkle Athletic.
I designed the logo and Runner Decals made an iron-on for our shirts.

This past Sunday, May 18th was finally race day!  There was so much excitement and nerves in the air leading up to the Peoria Marathon. When you're part of a team, there's just something inside that makes you want to perform your best - not just for you, but for the whole team. Going in, I knew I was the slowest on the team, but just hoped to give it an honest effort.

Sole Sisters group photo before the race.

The Peoria Marathon, relay and half all started together at 7:00am.  The 5K would start 30 minutes later and the kids mini marathon kicked off at 12noon. A lot of races in one day!  It was ideal race weather - in the 50's and beautiful sunshine.  Crystal lined up at the starting line for our team and set us up nicely from the beginning. She ran leg 1 in 52:39 (8:08 pace), and then handed off to Missy.

Crystal handing off to Missy

At the first exchange zone, we got a peak at our competition by watching the batons run by. Competing in the open women's division, we were counting how many female-to-female exchanges came before us... one... with a second right by our side.  Missy took over to run leg 2. She had the big Main Street hill to climb, but killed it in 53:25 (8:18 pace).

At the second exchange zone, Missy handed it off to me. We were officially halfway done at mile marker 13.  There's something about a baton that makes me sprint - perhaps a little leftover gear from the high school track? By time I was a couple blocks down, it felt like my heart was going to explode. With a quick glance at my Garmin, I realized I was indeed sprinting... a 6:40 pace my Garmin said! Holy smokes, I didn't even know I could do that!  Mile 1 - 8:50

The first half of my 10K leg was flat and very enjoyable. At first, there was a quiet stretch through neighborhoods and then entering into the pretty shaded Bradley University area. I run these streets often and felt right at home. We zigzagged back and forth, making it easy for my hubby and kids to catch me at three different spots.  Little Girl jumped out to run a block with me every time I saw them.
I love that we are perfectly in stride here...

The marathon course reconnected with the half marathoners by Bradley Park. For the next 2 miles, it was real fun passing people and seeing a lot of my friends in the final portion of their 13.1.  By far, this was my favorite part of my leg.
Mile 2 - 9:01 
Mile 3 - 9:12

At mile 17, the full marathon turned off and headed up North Street. I drove this portion of the course the day before, so I knew it would not be heavily spectated nor would it be easy.  There was a gradual climb up North Street that lasted about a half mile. It wore on me and I plugged in my music for some push. My mantra was "just keep working". I just wanted to give my best, knowing my team was waiting for me.
Mile 4 - 9:36

The course was pretty sparse at this point, but every once in a while, someone would pass me. We turned onto Loucks Ave and there was another climb up to reach the Sheridan intersection... again, not an awesome part of town so very sparse on spectators through this section. But halfway up the hill, I heard my hubby's voice. There he was at the top of the hill yelling at me with a bullhorn in one hand and a camera in the other.  Gotta love that guy!
Mile 5 - 9:35

Little Girl out to run with me once again... and again, we are perfectly in stride!

It seemed like I reached the final turn onto Isabell Ave all too sudden. I knew this section well, as it's part of my running route from the gym. I knew I didn't have much mileage left until the exchange zone.  I putzed with my ipod and found my "bring it in" song. Powering up the final stretch of my leg, there were a bunch of cheering spectators through this nice neighborhoods.  Mile 6 - 9:30  I tried to give a finishing sprint before handing the baton off to Karen.
My Leg 3 - 56:56 (9:19 pace)

So relieved to hand that baton off. Go Karen Go!

Karen killed the last (and longest) leg of the marathon in 53:47 (7:36 pace).  We met her downtown for the last 1/4 mile of the route.  The course narrowed and we got caught up behind a shirtless male relay team.
Excuse us fellas... get out of our way!

I guess there are worse problems than being trapped by half naked men... but hubby was trying to get a picture of our whole team running. We slowed down to get the money shot...


 Official Chip Time 3:36:50
8:17 avg pace
2nd place Open Womens Division (out of 25)
12th place Overall Relay (out of 85 teams)

I had so much FUN running with these incredible (fast) ladies!

We hung out cheering in fellow runners for hours after our relay finish. The kids mini marathon didn't start until 12noon and you know I couldn't miss that!  My kids had trained for 8 weeks, compiling their 25 miles before race day. On Sunday, they ran the final 1.2 miles to complete their marathon!!
Big Girl and Little Girl kickin' it down the finishing stretch!
Look - Their medals are BIGGER than mine!

The 2nd annual Peoria Marathon was a blast!  Yes, I will be back again next year. I hope you will join me in MY town for this great race.  I was delighted to see several Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters on the course. This marathon will easily become a destination race, and continue to grow every year.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Double the Training

This week begins a new phase in my training... preparation for my June Western Double.  The challenge is simple - two half marathons, two days, two different states.  It's efficient in both time and travel finances; but without doubt, also exhausting.  I've done this "Double Half" challenge twice before along my quest to #RaceAll50...
March 2013 Southern Double - Alabama + Georgia
October 2013 New England DoubleConnecticut + Rhode Island
Honestly, a Double is a fun adventure. I enjoy planning the logistics and the drive between races. I really get to see a vast area of the country I'm visiting.

This year's Western Double will comprise of the Bear Lake Half in Idaho (Fri, June 13) and the Jackson Hole Half in Wyoming (Sat, June 14).  I'm really looking forward to a western race for a change in scenery. I've completed the majority of my state races in the middle of country. The Idaho course is fairly flat, followed by mixed course in Wyoming.  My biggest challenge will be the change in elevation, as I've never run at high elevation (over 6000 feet). I have no time goal on either race except to finish and arrive home in time for Father's Day on Sunday.

When I ran the Southern and New England Doubles, I trained like I would for a normal half marathon. Let's just say the second half was not nearly as enjoyable as the first one. This time around, I've decided to change up the training in hopes that day two won't feel so shitty tough.  I'm currently trained to finish a single half marathon (just did two weeks ago in Nebraska).  So mileage is not necessarily my concern. What I want to improve is "running on tired legs," so instead of just one long run, I'm running back-to-back long runs each week. Back in January, I planned out my training long runs for the entire year. (No OCD here. Nope!)

In the month leading up to my Western Double, here's how my long runs look...
Week one - 7 + 8 mile runs on consecutive days  (this week)
Week two - 8 + 10 mile runs on consecutive days

Week three - 10 + 12 mile runs on consecutive days
Week four - 10 miler (taper)
Race week - Idaho/Wyoming Western Double 13.1 + 13.1


Since I'm running as part of a relay team this weekend for the Peoria Marathon, I moved my long runs to the early part of this week. I'm delighted to say that I got week one in the bag!

Yesterday, I met up with a local group to start my miles. It was a fun run organized by my buddy Anna, who was celebrating her one year cancer-free anniversary. She is a cervical cancer survivor! Being the awesome person she is, she used this special occasion to raise money for St Jude Children's Hospital... $750 in one day!


I ran four miles as part of Anna's fun run, gave a quick hug and snapped a few pictures. Then I was off to finish my first long(er) run of the week. I ended with 7.4 miles at a 9:51 average pace.


Today I procrastinated all morning. I just didn't feel like running 8 miles after yesterday's run (plus Spinning class in the evening).  It came upon the time of day that I HAD to get out there if I wanted to beat the school bus.  As I started off, I could feel tiredness in my legs (that's what I wanted, right?). As the miles ticked off, I felt better and better though. I finished 8.1 miles at a 10:07 average pace. With that, week one's long runs in prep for the Western Double are complete. Whew! Made it!

Now I can rest up before my race this Sunday. I'm the slowest runner on our relay team, so I want to bring my best!

Have you ever run back-to-back races before? How did you train for it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Race Recap: Race for the Cure 5K

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time offline - enjoying the summer weather with my family. My hubby and kids spoiled me for Mother's Day, and I couldn't help but relish every moment.
"My cup runneth over" Psalm 23:5

I ran this race as a member of the
 Peoria Air National Guard team.
Saturday was particularly perfect. I started off the day at one of my favorite races ever, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K.  This event has special meaning since it was my very first race (2001).  It's also our community's biggest fundraiser for breast cancer, the disease that took my grandmother when I was just a toddler.  Always the Saturday on Mother's Day weekend, it's heart-warming to see the crowds that gather for this occasion - grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and each year more men participate too.  By far, the largest hoopla you'll ever see surrounding a 5k run/walk.

I arrived about 45 minutes before the start, for the mere purpose that I wanted a good getaway parking spot.  The race started a 8:00am and I had to teach Spinning at 9:00am. Talk about an incentive to run fast!  My plan was to finish the 5K in under 30 minutes, run through the finish line straight to my car, and then jet off to the gym.

I purposely didn't plan to "meet up" with anyone pre-race. It was a nice change of pace to just show up and run. I relaxed on a curb pre-race, soaking in the beautiful morning sun while listening to the pre-race ceremonies from the stage. I love watching the huge group of survivors and big crane up in the sky that takes their group photo each year.
The Survivors.  Photo from the Susan G. Komen FB page

After a quick jog around the parking lot to warmup, I bumped into some friends near the starting line and waiting there for the official start. I haven't run the Race for the Cure in a couple years, so I was surprised to see all the men lining up in front. The race has evolved through the years. The first year I ran, there were no male runners - only a "mile of men". Then it had a waved start - women first and then the men 10 minutes later. We ran the same course, but it guaranteed a woman winner. I always used it as an incentive... my goal being to reach the 2 mile marker before the lead male came zooming past me. Now it's all merged together as one - probably for the best - but personally, I liked the wave start best.

I haven't run a 5K in a long time, and certainly had not trained for the speed that these shorter races require. My only goal was to finish in time to make my 9am Spinning class!  It was a silent flag start, and just like that, we were off. I knew the course well, but hadn't given it much thought when I registered. I completely forgot how hill-challenging the course is.  In the first mile, we did a gradual climb up University Avenue. There's a clock at the top of the hill to mark the end of the first mile, and I sadly noted that I was a full minute off the last time I ran this one. Sigh...

The latter miles circle through pretty neighborhoods, adding in several more hills. I always like to see residents sitting out in their yards, cheering runners on. What I wouldn't give to live on a race course!
My friend Cassie was out cheering along the course and caught me as I ran by...

I hauled it in for the final mile and finished with an official chip time of 28:44.7
That averages out to a 9:15 pace. For now, I'm okay with that!

I hurried off to the gym and continued the Pink Celebration with my For The Cure ride in Spinning class. It's an inspiring but tough ride. I left the gym with a big smile on my face, happy to have squeezed in both a race and a Spin class - all before 10am.  

My hubby and kids had been busy too. They spent the morning cleaning the house from top to bottom and doing laundry. I walked in the door and my kiddos yelled out, "Happy Mother's Day!"  We spent the rest of the day shopping for and planting flowers. It was truly the best day ever.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Race Recap: Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon

State #21 is done!
On Sunday, I made Nebraska state #21 on my quest to Race All 50 during the Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon. This is an event that sells out fast (less than a day!), so you gotta decide quickly if you're in.  Registration opened at midnight on New Year's Eve. So while everyone else was raising a toast and playing kissy face, I was at my computer trying to get into Lincoln. With such demand over a race, I assumed it was 'thee one' to run in Nebraska.

On Friday afternoon, my friend Anna and I began the 7 hour drive across Illinois and Iowa to reach the eastern edge of Nebraska.  Ugh - Iowa is one long and boring state to drive. It was nice to have someone to travel with - especially someone whose BFF lived in the race city. Thanks for hosting us Bry!

We had a nice leisurely Saturday morning (coffee and a magazine on a warm sunny deck) and finally got motivated to hit the race expo around lunch.  It was a busy moderate-sized expo. Easy in; easy out for the most part. I tried not to shop much, but I did snag an autographed book from Dane Rauschenberg after chatting with him.
Most important part of the race expo is THE BIB of course!

Saturday evening, Bry brought us to the Project Purple pre-race dinner. I felt a little out of place and awkward at first - since I wasn't "on" the team, but everyone made us feel welcome. (And I sure was thankful I had preciously donated.)  I met some truly amazing people that night. Their stories touched me more than they'll ever know. I left the party wishing I had joined the Lincoln Project Purple team - running to beat pancreatic cancer.

Race morning came and **TMI Alert** I was constipated. Some people have problems with going too much and have to take immodium. I have just the opposite problem, but thankfully just when I travel. So my body was not feeling light and quick like I want it to on race morning. All I could think about was... well, you know. The first place I headed when we arrived to the starting line was the the bathrooms. Unlike most races, there were no outdoor porta-potties. The only restrooms were inside the Coliseum, which was packed. As we entered, someone told us, "Go downstairs to the locker rooms." It was better down there, but still a jumbled mess. Men had no line while the womens wound down the hallway. And oh dear, hold your nose once you got inside the locker room, where everyone was pooping... Not a pleasant start to race morning. All that and I still couldn't go.

We all wore purple to support Bry's run for Project Purple.
Anna and I waiting for the start
The race began with a staggered start to accommodate the 13,000 runners. It was the kind of start where everyone picked their finish time and basically hopped in wherever they wanted.  I was waiting on the sidelines for the 2:05 pacer, but after nearly 27 minutes of watching people start before me (whom I knew I would pass later), I finally jumped in.


The race started smoothly and we had the full road to run. I tried to find a comfortable pace and just settle in. Once the first couple splits ticked off, I'd have a better idea how this race was going to unfold. I had originally selected this race for a sub-2 run. Training had not gone as planned (at all). I knew a sub-2 was not going to happen today, but I wondered how close I could get. After all, someone had told me this was a flat fast course. (P.S. It's not.)  At mile 1, we passed the Nebraska State Capitol building. Other than that, the sights along the early part of the course were basic city streets.
Mile 1 - 9:27
Mile 2 - 9:27

Inside the third mile, we hit a long gradual climb, which my Garmin stats say was the largest elevation gain on the 13.1 course. We entered some nice neighborhoods and the spectators through this area were in plenty and very supportive. The course continued to roll...
Mile 3 - 9:41
Mile 4 - 9:29
Mile 5 - 9:35

The course suddenly crunched and became congested. I could feel the slow down all around me.  I found myself wondering what was going on... Is there something up ahead? or are they just getting tired as we near the halfway point? I pushed onward trying to hold my pace and weaved around people.  And then we hit the trail... a paved bike trail that is not big enough for a race of this size.  The next several miles were finally flat, but oh so frustrating... weaving around walkers and the side-by-side friends that create a wall. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who block the course for others.
Mile 6 - 9:20
Mile 7 - 9:13
Mile 8 - 9:35

Finally, we turned off the trail. I'm pretty sure a "Thank God" slipped out of my mouth as we spread back out on the street. And then I looked up to see another climb in front of me. Aw shoot! The sun was out in full force all morning and the temps were on the rise. Combined with the unexpected hills and congestion and I was turning into one crabby runner.  I realized that I hadn't taken an energy gel yet, so halfway up the mile 9 hill, I walked to eat my Caramel GU, that squirted out all over my hand. Seriously, can I catch a break? I wanted to quit.  But as I crested the hill, I came upon the highlight of the race - ORANGES!!  Everyone knows how much I love oranges when I run!  I dodged across the road and grabbed me a big ole fist full. I tried to pace myself as I popped piece after glorious piece into my mouth.
Mile 9 - 10:04
Mile 10 - 9:34

I don't recall much of the last part of the race... except desperately looking for the finishline. At one point, I thought I might have passed the half/full split. The final miles were quite boring as we made our way back towards Memorial Stadium. I wish I had my normal finishing kick, but it was missing today. We had to make a little climb to get up to the stadium entrance and I'm pretty sure I cursed out loud.  As we entered the football field, the grass felt squishy under my feet (unlike the other fields I've run across at Illinois and Marshall).  Instead of a sprint, I slowed and concentrated on my stepping... Oh please don't let me trip and fall. My feet were like dragging bricks across the finish.
Mile 11 - 9:59
Mile 12 - 9:56
Mile 13 - 9:41
The finish pictures show National Guardsman along the finish.
Funny, I never noticed while I was running.
Wish I hadn't been so worn down at that point.

I crossed the finish and collected my medal. It was pretty crowded in the finish chute and we were being pushed off the field quickly. Despite volunteers constantly telling me to "keep moving", I paused to take a photo on the field and collect a space blanket.

Half #26 
State #21 - Nebraska
Official Chip Time 2:06:27
average pace 9:39 
overall  #3299 out of 7175
females  #1582 out of 4347
F35-39  #300 out of 817

So Lincoln wasn't my best feeling race, but it was my best time so far in 2014.  I can't lie; I was disappointed in my run. It just proves that you can't fake it without putting in the training, which I clearly did not.

It was crammed quarters trying to find my way out of the stadium, but I finally found Bry and Anna (who crushed her PR by over 4 minutes!) for a post-race celebration.
Thanks Bry for your hospitality, and Anna for the great road trip!
Rumor has it this was the best Lincoln medal in years. Score!
The official race shirt. I kinda liked it, but not everyone did...