Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Friday, October 23, 2015

Who Are the Runners in Chicago?

Taking a step away from a blog all about me me me... I know... insane..

I want to share some information I collected on the runners in Chicago.


Four months ago I created a survey for a forum I created to gather some anonymous information from the readers. There is a little over 1200 subscribers and 96 of them responded.

Here are the results (pdf) or for a photo of it. Below is a thumbnail of it, but it doesn't enlarge too well. Just use one of the links!
click me!

I also merged my map of select running clubs in Chicago (with pretty static locations) with markers where runners responded to looking for people to run with, Link.

You can see some areas of Chicago that are Running Club deserts. Groups on and Facebook pop up pretty often, but pretty often dry up after lack of attendance.

I would like to see Park Runs pop up, that would be fun.

Some data I didn't chart out: Where do runners like to run? Lakefront path the overwhelming victor, followed by the 606, and Prairie Trail.

I had thoughts of doing this on a neighborhood level, but I didn't have enough data.

 Any thoughts, suggestions, or types of data you'd like to see?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Prairie State Marathon - My Recap

Wow! Hey Blog, sorry I left you on the wayside like a New Year's resolution. I am totally not using you just an avenue to indulge in my own ego.  This post isn't an update to life, maybe if I get back in the rythem of blogging, I'll do that. This post is my recap of the Prairie State Marathon.

Too Long, Didn't Read: Finished 3rd Overall, 3:02:30. Proof.

Wait.. you're still here?

Okay, well if you really insist on reading my poor prose...

Prairie State Marathon was my first race since Chicago Marathon 2013, when I developed asthma mid race and just couldn't breathe enough to run more than a very slow pace. The race left a very bad hit on my ego and human limits. 2014 was multiple injuries (not running related to all you haters of running) that kept my out for 7 months, so I never got more than 3 months of running in a row in, and over half of that time was a slow return to run and base building program.

Come February 2015, while still in PT with my physical therapist, Rachel from Athletico, I started a return to run program...again.  During my humbling rebuilding of my run base, the Chicago Marathon lottery opened, and I didn't want to gamble $200 against my recent history of 3 months max injury free. So I just went on my running business, getting trust back in my legs and lungs...Until Annabelle mentioned the Prairie State Marathon the day before the Chicago Marathon.. I had a soft goal.

I started the Hanson's Marathon Method, and hit all the marks for the training. I added an extra 10-12 general aerobic miles a week. yada yada, training.   Now to the race.

238 people finished the marathon...A nice small race.

Annabelle and her mom drove Edgar (Ironman and BRC member) and myself to Libertyville for the race. I felt bad as not 10 minutes after I left, my son woke up, then my much for my wife getting any more sleep!
We arrive to Vernon Hills, the weather was crisp, 45...perfect fast weather.

There was a half marathon being held at the same time, and they would run the first six miles with the marathon people...No problem right?

I was roughly in row 5 (4 wide).  The race started, and hot damn, everyone's legs were bursting with speed in this cool air. I kept telling myself to just run my race and go by feel. I quickly saw that feel was like 6:18 by the half mile mark on my GPS, I tried to slow down gently and not get ego hurt by people enthusiastically flying by me....just let them go..
I found my space in the race and tried to not catch the half marathon people, they were like candy while on a diet.. After mile 6, the marathon group separated and it got quiet for awhile, just saw one person ahead of me and one person behind me, and an occasional pocket of cheering fans...but size doesn't matter!
Annabelle giving some much needed cheers every few miles
Annabelle and her mother raced religiously to marked spectating areas in the race to take photos (as seen in this blog, official photos aren't posted yet), run for a few seconds to chat, and hand off needed gels!

The course itself...while no huge elevation climbs, there were a lot of mini ones. 459 feet of total ascent, 377 total descent.  A few that you had to dig down for, but never burned out your legs.
Elevation Chart per my GPS

Visually the race was beautiful! Totally would do it again. Had to watch out for some wild animal droppings and a few stones that you could slip on.  The water stations catch you off guard on blind turns, the first one I was stumbling to get my gu out in time and not drop my water.  After that stop, I would have a gu ready in hand to not get caught off guard.

The second half of the race, the marathon path loops back and runs into the half marathon people in the second half of their field.  At this point, I know I have one chaser behind me, and can't see the guy in front of me.  I had to do a lot of yelping: ON YOUR LEFT, to get around the halfies, often running the path fully wide or with head phones. I knew my pace was going to get uneven with surges, but not many other options.  I felt kinda rude forcing myself into water stations, like cutting into a lane on the highway with barely any space...but I had places to go people!

The one pro's of running through the half field... you get an ego boost from people chatting as you pass them...oh look! It's a marathoner! A MARATHONER! Only three people ahead of you! wow!
You feel like a small town elite suddenly... And you feel your training show off as your pace feels a lot faster with slower relative points.

Through mile 18, I felt pretty on pace overall, considering elevation grades, but I also knew I went out too fast and would probably pay for it at the end [my 10k split was a 6:38 pace average]. Looking at the race results, the first person with a negative split was in 26th, so I'm sure we all faced our speed demons with that fast cold air. Good company I guess.  Through 20 I slowed down, but I didn't feel tired yet, so whatever, I was still doing okay. Then  I goofed...

At roughly mile 21.5, there was a water station..and the path splits immediately.. Me, not memorizing the race, saw people running towards me from one direction, so I decided to go the other way, not remembering it was a loop back to the finish line and I'd be running against traffic. (I couldn't see the guy in 2nd place).  I went out .05 of a mile, realized I went the wrong way, freaked out, stopped for a second or 5.. swearing in my head..when an angel on a bike saw me, asked if I needed the bathroom... i said.. no!! NOO!! He realized I went off track, pointed me the right way, I quickly got my body to not give up since I stopped moving for a moment, and got back on my way. I had to run an extra .1 of a mile total, not a big deal, until you realize that extra minute could mean I miss the Boston Qualifying cut off.
Looking at the map, I could have reconnected anyways with the path, but I would have been short on my distance and not accept my run time.

The last 4 miles I could run, but I had to pay the penalty for running too hard the first 6-8 miles. In my head I kept recalculating time to hit 3:02:30, roughly this year's cut off for Boston Qualifying.  When I saw I the end, I put out all I had left for the last 100 meters and hit exactly 3:02:30... And the first thing I thought of was... I really wish I had that minute I lost going off track.

I knew I came in third just by who I passed, and I was elated! While not my A reach goal, this time would get me into Boston, if the field was the same.  AND my age group was.. WINNER! Small race perk!

The post race vibe was low key. I chatted with the kid (he was 19) that finished a little ahead of me in 2nd. He didn't even follow a training plan! He is going to be super fast if he gets organized, kudos to him!  I hung around the announcers to get my winner's medal! (no podium photos or stuff like!)
I'm kind of a big deal...
Then I caught up with Annabelle and Edgar to chat and be proud of the 4 months of training I put into this race.

Annabelle's mom handed me my phone, and saw my social media blowing up about my race. I was in awe, humbled. I was afraid I would fail and not want the praise as I knew I hadn't done enough...but not today. I was extremely happy.  I called home in excitement and almost cried from happiness talking to my wife, and got to tell my daughter, yes, daddy was one of the winners. Her excitement rivaled mine, I was proud she (4 years old) could understand how good that feels, while still thinking 26.2 miles is just a touch more than a run down the hallway at home.
Shoot for the heavens, even if you fall you're still a star
I accepted that for one day, I could be a winner. Thank you everyone for your kind words! To my wife and kids for putting up with my long Sunday runs and fatigue. To Rachel at Athletico for always getting me both physically and mentally back on track, to Annabelle for keeping me inspiring to do this race, take me to the race, and be my cheering group, and to my BRC and Daily Mile friends for always keeping me honest and never settle for being lazy ya'll are inspiring runners!


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Marvel at This!

No, I didn't achieve some superhuman run time, but some totes awesome things have hit the webs! In case you have been living under a rock, here are my picks!

Ant Man:

Star Wars:

And Batman vs Superman:

 I can't rave enough about Daredevil on Netflix either!!

Okay, enough nerdasming!

Running stuff.

Pretty standard week of running, 5 runs, two rest days. Focusing a lot on listening to my body to tell me what to do for each day. I may have my force back, but still have to deal with a lot of stretching and not push extra miles just to reach more mentally fulfilling daily miles.

The most interest run of the week was on Friday (hello 78 degrees!) I had watched this video:

And, while not for everyone, it inspired me to try to make a difference in someone's run. So during my lunch run, before I made it to the lakefront path, I ran into a lady (maybe my age?) running the opposite direction, who was putting in work on her pace. I figured this would be my best chance, as the lakefront is too busy to stand out from the crowd.

I got my high five hand ready, eye contact, hand up, CONTACT.

What else....
I got to see see part of the last Bull's game of the regular season on Wednesday and see some of the players' friends and family!
Before the gates opened!!
And that's all I got for the moment! Thinking of some ideas for more common sections in the blog (like, favorite kidisms of the week/day, favorite ebay tie finds of the week)

Everyone running the Boston Marathon, have fun! You don't need luck if you made it that far!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Hello Blogness My Old Friend!

The day is August 21, 2014.. oh wait. That's what I would said if i was even an amateur blogger who kept up with his blog. Instead, the day is the 11th day of April, 2015, and I'm here in bloggers anonymous. I have a blogger and I have a commitment problem!

So where have I been?
(TL:DR Having kid #2 really put a full court press on open time, being sidelined from running for another 3+ months, really puts a damper on motivation to blog about...running.)

These minions have monopolized my time and energy:

Having a threenager and a very needy baby boy maxed out my motivation and energy for the year.

At the time of my last post, I was running and getting a really good return on my distance runs.... Until October...When I got  pes anserine bursitis... while rocking my baby boy in his sleeping apparatus with my foot. Soak it in and see how well people believe it in conversation. What happened was (6+ hours after my run and stretches), I was resting on the bed and rocking the baby's rocker bottom with my foot, I stood up, took 4 steps and my left knee gave up and I couldn't walk. I quickly got into the doctor and got sent to PT  (Holler Athletico!). The timing was ironic as I was discharged on Friday, the injury happened Sunday and I was back the next week. I think they have a voodoo doll of me just to bring me back and test new CIA black site torture techniques on me.
Their face when I check in for "therapy"
I tried to run a few times, but my balance was way off and I was in some abnormal pains after the runs. So I was shut down for 3 months. Any runner will tell you, every day off feels like 5 when you're sidelined. The downtime was tough, right as I was hitting my stride again and running with friends on the weekend, I'm sitting on the couch again. I tried to look at the pro's of this, take advantage of the extra sleep as the baby was found of seeing us through the night and all the totes cool [bruising] time I got to spend with my physical therapy family. Being set up for a long time at least has the benefit of not having the anxiety of trying every morning for some miracle. 

Moving forward to 2015, I'm released to start the return to run program, which is mentally embarrassing to a running ego. Having just done the program in the Summer of 2014, I knew I was looking at three months of being humbled, forcing my patience, and acceptance. I was looking at three months of trying to develop trust in my leg wouldn't give out on me again and losing the injury weight.

The baby thankfully has slept more at night, so I have been able to get up earlier to get a longer runch (run during lunch) in at work. Getting those short sparks of muscle memory in my legs kept my spirits alive and hopeful. Seeing small leaps happen every week gave me more trust to not get complacent. 

And here we are in the now. I'm running 5-6 days a week. I'm trying not to focus on forcing a certain weekly mileage or treat every week as the crux week of a training cycle. I'm just trying to love running again and get to the point where I can keep up with my speedster friends again and get back in the mix.

So my status? down about 15lbs, my interval speed runs have moved from 5:52 to 5:50 (and maybe to 4:40s) pace and I can do 16 mile runs without trouble again. I feel like I'm in a good position again and hoping I don't fall down randomly and hurt myself soon #jinx #doublejinx

What else is going on? I've been loving the Flash on the CW

Archer on FX

And so far, Daredevil on Netflix:
Also, I have grown an appreciation for nice ties! (christian grey brand.. wait no)

I'll end here and I promise I'll try to start pushing updates and even reading some blogs (old and new!) in the future.

So please, leave a comment, tell me how you've been or is this your first time? Happy Spring!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

If finding a running partner was like using a dating website

In a complete change of pace for this blog, I thought I'd make a pretty off color joke post! ( I know, I make a dirty joke or 100?)
Just remember:

After stumbling upon a post on from an app maker to find running partners in your area (I can't find the link now, woops!) , I began to think of what the profiles that aren't super competitive might look like:

Early morning runner looking for someone to watch more than the Sun rise

Looking for someone to help me reach the climax of my runners high!
Looking for someone that needs help going deep into a long run
I want to help you finish faster and PR every time
Looking for someone to help me build a good sweat even in the winter.
I have trouble getting in a good stretch after I run, can you help me?
I never spill a drop of gatorade at water stations in a race
I never waste any of my Gu / I love Gu on all my runs

Anyone else when they run? They always get all over my face and in my mouth, a small source of protein..gnats
I promise that more than your shoes will be zero drop after you run with me.

I could go on and on, but I don't want you browser to freeze from so many gifs! If this post if popular, maybe I'll make this a regular weekly or biweekly post!

What do you think?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Facing the running hubris that was me

I've been running for a few weeks now without having to walk (even though my lack of endurance kind of misses it) and every step I take reminds me how difficult the journey is to be a better runner. How easily you could settle where you are, rather than pushing yourself to where you want to be.


How much wretch and desperation is involved in the process of getting faster and running distance more easily.
I completed my first double digit mile run, 10 miles, on Sunday and it was a world of nope. 
I did a lot of things wrong, from timing my pre run snack to running in the middle of the summer heat. My pace crashed hard, I was just happy to make it home and put ice all over my neck and head.

The thing that keeps me going through all these runs is not the saddening amount of weight I gained while not running, or my actually run times that I refuse to log right now. What inspires me is what I was capable of doing just a few months ago. Just a few months ago I was making great strides in all my run types, I believed I could be better, I wanted to be better. 

Now I look back to my previous excitement and clamoring about my run times and simply think...the hubris I committed. My motivation is also my frustration. I hope that I can carry lessons learned from this lengthy rehab period to push me even harder when my body is ready to start pushing my running limits again.

I'm still hoping by October I'll have my legs back. I'm waiting for that one run where I will find my inner running demon and join my running justice league friends again.

Okay, what else is going on Declan? Well I'm still in Physical Therapy, they added treating Thoracic Outlet Syndrome to my treatment (pain down my arms and thumb, pinched nerves mostly!). 

I got a few sunrise runs in!

I got a new pair of running shoes! Saucony Kinvara 5.

The children are good!

And I found the perfect post run drink:

Sorry for the long time between posts! Time is short! I've been fiddling with the idea of just doing a podcast or Vlog.

So what's up with anyone left reading my blog? One of these days I'll get back to my blog feed!