Running week of June 6-12

Monday 6/6
Rest day after Sunday’s 1/2 marathon, although I did actually plan to get a small run in.  With so much going on at home, I just didn’t have the opportunity to get it going.  My legs still felt like jello and I honestly needed this rest day to prevent injury.  It was supposed to be marathon training day 1 but you can start with a rest day right?

Tuesday 6/7
Today was marathon training day 2 and it was a track day with speedwork.  It was definitely different, but I like it.  My legs were a little better than yesterday and the rest intervals were much appreciated.  This was an on duty treadmill run as my hands were tied but I still needed to get it done to stick to my plan.
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Wednesday 6/8
I waited until later in the day to run after finishing my priorities and it was definitely cooler than the last few days.  That’s not a bad thing but I feel like I’m actually strongest in my running in the 70 degree range.  I ran about 5 miles at an 8 minute 10 second pace with my legs feeling much better.  It was about 59 degrees and while not that cold for the Chicago area, I probably could have used a long sleeve t-shirt.  This was Chicago Marathon training day #3.
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Thursday 6/9
This was all about hills!  I ran uphill for about 1/4 sprints about 16 times!
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Friday 6/10
I ran 3 miles on duty at the firehouse on the treadmill.  It was hot and sticky out and the legs were getting tired.  After every 1/4 mile, I did 5 plyo box jumps at 36″.
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Saturday 6/11
Rest day

Sunday 6/12
Today was about 25 degrees cooler than yesterday and absolutely perfect to run outside.  I hit the Savannah in the early afternoon to do 6 miles at 8 minutes 26 seconds average.  There were a few super sprints for some speedwork and I looked at the Garmin to see my mile averages for those sprints.  The first sprint was at 7/mile.  The second sprint was at 6:30/mile .  The third was at 6/mile.  Finally, the last sprint was at 5:30/mile.  I really wish I could maintain those bursts!!
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Weekly Mileage
18 miles

North Shore Classic Half Marathon

“Disclaimer:  I received a free entry to the North Shore Classic Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

The North Shore Classic half marathon run by Ram Racing has been a popular race along the northern Chicago suburbs for many years.  I’ve run this race for a few years and it’s probably my favorite half marathon.  Besides being wildly popular by the local businesses and runners, the course is just beautiful running through the beautiful suburb of Highland Park.  If you haven’t run this race before, you definitely need to add it to your list of must-dos.

Training
I promised myself that I would train properly and shoot for that PR in my hometown race.  Even though I’ve run this race for a few years and know the course layout and what to expect, I still wanted to do my best and take every training opportunity seriously.  I knew that the Park Avenue hill would be brutal so I ran hills to gain some speed and strength on every hill I could find.  My best previous half marathon time was a 2:04 and I really wanted to break that 2 hour wall.  My strength and endurance was definitely where I wanted it to be but my race day mistakes got the best of me.  I neglected to eat any breakfast and should have known better that the body needs the calories and energy to sustain distance runs.  I also only carried a couple of GUs and took in only one of them.  And I wondered why I hit that “wall” around mile 10 for this race…

Lessons learned!

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Packet Pickup
Ram Racing has always done a great job for race packet pickups throughout the Fleet Feet stores in Chicago and Deerfield.  I obviously chose Deerfield since it was closer to me.  Being super OCD, I’ve always been early to the pickup and while I was 45 minutes early, they were up and ready to go!  The staff is always friendly and fast at what they do.  This years shirt was pretty darn cool and colorful and I heard a ton of people saying the same.  There were also some ads in the bag for future races.
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Pre-race
I woke up for the race around 5:30am and headed in anticipating that I would hydrate and meet some fellow BibRavePros before the race began. It was a pleasure to meet up with Heather (We met at the 2014 Chicago Marathon), Lisa, and Mark.  What a great bunch of enthusiastic BibRavers!  We met around 6:30ish near the start line to chat and take some pre-race photos.  I love hearing what the other runner’s goals are and live vicariously through them.  As for the whole pre-race ambience, it just cannot be beat seeing all of the excited faces and outfits that some of the racers brought.  The weather was about 65 degrees and overcast at that time with a bit of humidity in the air.  I don’t mind running in that weather but you’ll read more about that later.  The corrals are well organized and having pacers in this race was a huge help to people.  They were so motivating and friendly!  Everything began with the Star Spangled Banner and you’re off!

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Race Course
Being from and working in this town still makes me appreciate the beauty that the north shore of Chicago exudes.  As I’ve said before, I have run this race a few times and still look forward to running through parts with breathtaking views.  The first few miles run through downtown Highland Park heading south towards Ravinia and the small town feel.  It tends to get quiet through this part as you head towards Lake Cook Road and always challenges the mind in the beginning of a half marathon.  Once you head north for miles 3-7, you run through some beautiful neighborhoods and some very supportive residents with signs and highfives.  Then, you hit that infamous Park Avenue hill!  Going down is no problem as I like descents but that hill going up just takes its toll on the quads.  Once you survive that obstacle, the course runs north towards Fort Sheridan and all of the historic buildings.  This is where the crowds seemed bigger and got you more excited for the rest of the course.  You pass by a few views of Lake Michigan and then hit the Leonardwood North and South loop through the old parade grounds and some scenic views.  Then you head back south towards the last couple of miles and that spectacular finish line.  I always seem to find the last bit of energy I can muster on that last mile along St John’s Avenue with the huge supportive crowds.  I can’t say enough about the extremely supportive and active volunteer along the course route at the aid stations.  They were so excited and all gave some sort of encouragement by saying “Great job!” or “Push yourself!”

Post-race
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the sight of the finish line gets me every time.  The North Shore Classic and Ram Racing gets it right.  The intersection of St. John’s and Elm Place is about as nice as it gets for a smaller race.  The crowds gather on each side with their inspirational signs and loud cheers.  Ram Racing also announces the finishers by name and city as they cross the line and I’m sure it’s not an easy job!  Once you cross, you are greeted by the volunteers with your medal and an awesome cold towel.  You’re then greeted by the volunteers handing out water and finally you are greeted by the volunteers handing out the goodie bags.  You get the usual assortment of chocolate milk (perfect!), banana, pretzels, and bagel.

Ram Racing and Fleet Feet have partnered up for another great event and obviously well organized.  I will continue to participate in this race as long as my body holds up!

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Running week of May 30-June 5

So this week was last minute training for the upcoming North Shore Half Marathon.  At the beginning of the week, I felt great coming off of Battlefrog.  I recovered in time and did the necessary stretching and recovery runs.  Then midweek I had way too much to get done and skipped running for the three days prior to the race…mistake 1.  I was really hoping to have a hometown PR in this race despite the Park Avenue hill after mile 7.  Well, I just did not prepare properly for the race.  I didn’t eat anything race morning even though I know I should take in some calories.  A few more lessons learned but that will be under the blog review for the race itself!  Onto a much better week!

Monday 5/30
Memorial Day
5.75 miles at 9 minutes 8 seconds average
Savannah trail run
Nike Lunarglides
Hot and humid out 90 degrees!
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Tuesday 5/31
No run

Wednesday 6/1
5 miles at 8 minutes 30 seconds average
Treadmill run on duty
Nike Lunarglides
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Thursday 6/2
No run

Friday 6/3
No run

Saturday 6/4
No run

Sunday 6/5
North Shore Classic Half Marathon
The day started out pretty darn good with a little cloud cover and a cool breeze. Race time was at 7:30ish and I started in Corral E (2nd of the 1/2 marathon).  I felt good for the first few miles keeping up with the 9:00 minute pacer.  Right around mile 7 I started to pull back as I was just exhausted.  I didn’t eat any breakfast and I know I should have fueled my body somehow!  I only brought 2 GUs and used only 1 so that only added to my demise.  The last couple of miles were tough but I pushed through.
Mile 1 8:30 pace
Mile 2 8:47 pace
Mile 3 8:41 pace
Mile 4 8:50 pace
Mile 5 9:05 pace
Mile 6 9:19 pace
Mile 7 8:57 pace
Mile 8 10:15 pace
Mile 9 9:39 pace
Mile 10 10:16 pace
Mile 11 10:30 pace
Mile 12 10:52 pace
Mile 13 9:49 pace
Total 2:06:58 Half Marathon
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Weekly Mileage
23.85 miles

Running week of May 23-29

This week was all about Battlefrog preparation.  I wanted to get some good mileage in but I also wanted to get some strength training in for the harder events on Saturday.  I think I did well because my legs felt good all week and I did much better than I planned on during the events.  I was eagerly anticipating the Platinum Rig after last years failure and I did it!  All of my runs have prepared me well for longer distance and some strength events like the heavy carries.  I was definitely sore all over on Sunday but since I have a 1/2 marathon in a week, I wanted to keep moving.  Next weeks plan calls for some distance and speedwork runs.

Monday 5/23
5 miles at 8 minutes 30 seconds average
Treadmill run on duty
Nike Lunarglides
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Tuesday 5/24
7.50 miles at 9 minutes 10 seconds average
Savannah trail run
85 degrees and HOT OUT
Nike Lunarglides
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Wednesday 5/25
4 miles at 8 minutes 28 seconds average
Treadmill run
Nike Lunarglides
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Thursday 5/26
5 miles at 8 minutes 29 seconds average
Treadmill run on duty
Nike Lunarglides
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Friday 5/27
Day off

Saturday 5/28
Battlefrog Chicago 8K
Reebok All Terrain Super 2.0
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Sunday 5/29
3.11 miles of light recovery running at 9 minute miles or should I say jogging
Treadmill run on duty
Nike Lunarglides

Weekly Mileage
24.66 running
8K Obstacle Course Racing

Battlefrog Chicago 2016

This year, the Chicago venue was at a different location and while the drive was a little longer, the event was still top notch!  We had virtually the same fire department team as last year with one member not being able to join us and a new member being part of a great group.  We had another great year kicking butt on this course and currently am paying for it with a little soreness.
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I get that each city has it’s own different events due to terrain, location, and availability but I was happy to see this year was at the Cliff’s Insane Terrain Offroad Park.  I’ve been there a few times to go Jeeping so I kind of knew what the terrain was going to be like.  Getting there took a couple of hours but once there, the parking was easy and plentiful and the whole event was visible from the lot to get you excited.  Registration was a piece of cake too with boards out near the entrance with a list of each category race and your preassigned bib number.

There were plenty of things to see and do before getting in line for the assigned waves with a stocked merchandise area with plenty of clothes and gear, a food/beer section, a few vendors, and a bag check area.

Battlefrog does a great job of getting you excited for a race with inspirational music, a fired up motivational speaker (Coach Pain DeWayne), and a cool send off.  Our wave was 8:30am which is one of the first waves to take off though after heavy rains overnight, the course was still muddy!

I love the motivation that Coach Pain starts each wave off with by getting on a knee and thanking those that come before you.  He also breaks each wave into a couple of smaller groups that take off about 30 seconds in between so not to congest the obstacles.  The course this year was a little different than last year with some pretty good changes:

  • Platinum Rig was at the end instead of beginning
  • No big hill climb to start out destroying the legs
  • Jerry can carry was only 1 instead of two and a little shorter carry
  • Open water swim was much shorter and cooler
  • Pallet carry was fun
  • Lots more mud and water crossings
  • Better marked course with a bunch of hill climbs/descents
  • Climb and waterslide into a mud pool
  • Rock carry

I was pretty darn happy with this years event and can see why Battlefrog is becoming a top OCR racing event.  I can finally say that I finished the course with a decent time and destroyed the Platinum Rig in one shot!  There seemed to be a lot more cameras out on the course to capture us in action with some great volunteers throughout keeping you motivated.  I wore my Reebok Spartan shoes and can happily say that they were the best shoes I’ve worn on an OCR course.  They drained well and gave me incredible grip on the slick course.  It’s also nice to have a hose off area and tented changing area to get out of your brutally smelling clothes.

OFFICIAL RACE PHOTOS WILL BE ADDED WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE!

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XX2i Hawaii I Sunglasses Review

Disclaimer: I received a free pair of XX2i Hawaii I sunglasses as part of being a BibRave Pro. All opinions are my own. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I have always been a hat and sunglasses kind of guy for too many years.  I go through my sunglasses quite a bit due to my active lifestyle both at home and work.  This is why I am a fan of the XX2i line of sunglasses.  I look for a few things in any eyewear that I use and the Hawaii line fits that mold.  First comes the style.  I don’t like glasses that are too big to fit my face and I don’t like small that really don’t do their job of blocking out light.  Next comes the cost.  At these prices as well as using a pretty darn good discount, how can you go wrong?  Lastly comes the function of them.  I use them for many sports including golf, running, and biking and have a great polarized lens come in handy.

The Hawaii I glasses come in a great protective case with the zip bag and strap.  I use the strap if I’m doing any activity in heavy winds of mountain biking but they fit my face pretty well and don’t budge at all.  Plus, the nose piece is bendable to adjust to virtually any face shape for that extra snug fit.  They come in a few colors like the black with grey lens, tortoise with brown lens, and white with grey lens.
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The fit for me is just right and are so light that I sometimes forget I’m wearing them.  This is a huge feature for me because I’ve had glasses in the past that ended up giving me headaches by being a little too thick or tight.  This is why having moldable sunglasses that can be adjusted to fit your face is another plus.
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Finally, how about a lifetime warranty??!!  XX2i has a consumer friendly warranty with a no questions asked policy.  You can not beat that!  And you get a full year return policy to see if they truly are for you (which they will be). 

If your in the market for a great pair of sunglasses, please check out XX2i.  Plus, use the code XX2irocks for 50% off!!  They have a great line of both sport shades and casual shades.

See the reviews from some of my fellow BibRavePros!
Sarah, Christine, Jessica, Mark, Angie, Gina, Erin, Andrew, Jenny, …

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Running week of May 16-22

This week was a little better mainly because the weather has turned beautiful.  I always thought I was a cold weather runner but I’m realizing that I have more energy to get out when it’s hot.  Strange, but at least I’m hydrating properly.  Battlefrog is in 5 days and I can not wait to destroy that course again!  We have a pretty good team heading out this year.  Hopefully, I don’t get hurt during the course considering I have a 1/2 marathon in a couple of weeks!

Monday 5/16
5.75 miles at 8 minutes 37 seconds average
Savannah trail run mid-morning
Nike Air Zoom
65 degrees and sunny with a light wind
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Tuesday 5/17
3.55 miles at 9 minutes 30 seconds average
Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve trail run
Reebok All Terrain Super 2.0 shoes
55 degrees and partly cloudy
Then for run #2 I did some much needed change and speedwork
Run at 7.0mph 8:34 pace for 1 minute
Run at 7.5mph 8:00 pace for 1 minute
Run at 8.0mph 7:30 pace for 1 minute
Run at 8.5mph 7:04 pace for 1 minute
Run at 8.5mph 7:04 pace for 1 minute
Run at 9.0mph 6:40 pace for 1 minute
Run at 9.0mph 6:40 pace for 1 minute
Run at 9.5mph 6:19 pace for 1 minute
Run at 9.5mph 6:19 pace for 1 minute
Felt great to change things up!

Wednesday 5/18
Day off!

Thursday 5/19
5 miles at 8 minutes 34 seconds average
Savannah trail run
Nike Air Zoom
Sunny and 65 degrees!
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Friday 5/20
Day off!

Saturday 5/21
7.75 miles at 9 minutes 15 seconds average
Savannah trail run
Nike Lunarglide 7
Sunny and 75
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Sunday 5/22
4 miles bike ride

Weekly Mileage
22.05 miles

Running week of May 9-15

I keep saying it and now I sound like a recording but my mileage just isn’t where I’d like it to be.  In all honesty, this week was tough as I worked about 96 hours this week alone and then had home obligations to squeeze in.  I’m surprised that I got in 20 miles at all but thankful for those Fire Department runs to keep me honest!  This upcoming week looks like it’s going to be unseasonably colder and possible rain most of the week.  I don’t mind running in the rain but cold weather rain just sucks.  Summer rains are awesome but Midwest spring rains just freeze you down to the bone.  I’m hoping to ramp up my runs as well as get some cross-training on the bike.  My next race is in about 2 weeks and it’s an OCR race so strength training is a must.

Monday 5/9
4.25 miles at 8 minutes 39 seconds average
Night Treadmill run LA Fitness
1/4 mile at 11 degree incline at the end of 4 miles and wow is that hard!
Nike Air Zoom
Run felt great as my legs had zero fatigue
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Tuesday 5/10
Rainy day and 50 degrees

Wednesday 5/11
5 miles at 8 minutes 29 seconds average
Treadmill run on duty at firehouse
Nike Air Zoom
Run felt tiring as we had live fire training in morning
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Thursday 5/12
No run

Friday 5/13
5 miles at 8 minutes 26 seconds average
On duty treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
Run felt great except for the habanero juice I had on my face!
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Saturday 5/14
6 miles at 8 minutes 31 seconds average
On duty treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
Tiring run as I’m on a 48 hour shift
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Sunday 5/15
No run – just got off of a 48 hour shift and wasn’t feeling it today!

Weekly Mileage
20.25 miles and much less than I wanted but life happens

Buff UV Headwear

Disclaimer: I received a UV Buff to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Now after years of destroying my huge collection of baseball hats due to overuse and basic sweating/washing/drying, I thought I’d give one of the Buffs a shot as many of my fellow BibRavePros have been extremely positive in their reviews of them.  Many of them were female and I thought deeply if this was really for me.  I never really knew what a Buff was and the many ways it can be worn by moth men and women alike.  I watched a video on the buff and realized that this thing is pretty darn cool and versatile.  I pretty much live outside and do the usual outdoor activities like running, biking, hiking, etc.  There are way too many times that I have burnt my neck or forehead as I’m usually pretty bad about using any sort of sunscreen.

So what is a Buff?  Simply put, it’s a tubular headwear that can be morphed into a dozen or so ways to wear it!
Ways to Wear

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I pretty much wear my Buff like a headband and so far, I’m liking that I can keep the sweat out of my eyes and face and it gives me the much needed time away from baseball hats considering I’ve been wearing one since I was a kid.  I know that this summer when I’m out working or doing some sort of physical activity outside in the sun, that I will be wearing this and protecting my skin and neck with a UV Buff.  Did you know that the UV Buff can block up to 95% of the suns harmful rays?

It took me a few tries to roll it just right to get the different ways to wear it and after watching the company YouTube video, it’s now second nature.  What a versatile piece of headwear!  The website has tons of color choices and other Buff gear you can check out here.  I opted for the DY Brookie Flank UV Buff.  It’s extremely colorful and I’m just a huge fan of the multi-colored species of fish.  The price on these Buffs is $25 and well worth it to protect your skin.

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Want to win your own UV Buff? Join us on Tuesday, May 17, at 8:00cst for the Buff sponsored #bibchat on Twitter. Follow @BibRave on Twitter and join in on the fun question/answer session every Tuesday Night.

You can see the reviews from some of my fellow BibRavePros here:
Jessica, Gina, Mark, Jen, Katie, Abbie, Sarah, Shannon, Jenny, Heather, Brenda, …

Running week of May 2-8

This just happened to be another week of less mileage than I anticipated.  I’ve been promising myself to increase my mileage over the last couple of weeks but life gets in the way.  I think it definitely affected my race on Saturday as my endurance just seemed off.  I still beat my goal for the race but could have shaved a couple of minutes without doubt if I took the running more serious during the week.  It doesn’t help that the weather here has been so erratic with its ups and downs.  No more excuses this upcoming week and I have 20 days until the Battlefrog Chicago!

Monday 5/2
5 miles at 8 minutes 30 seconds average
Treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
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Tuesday 5/3
4.26 miles at 9 minutes 19 seconds average
Neighborhood trail run
Reebok All Terrain Super 2.0 Shoes
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Wednesday 5/4
No run

Thursday 5/5
5 miles at 8 minutes 23 seconds
Treadmill run on duty
Nike Air Zoom
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Friday 5/6
No run

Saturday 5/7
Cinco de Miler Chicago
5 miles at 8 minutes 47 seconds average
43:53 finish time
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Sunday 5/8
No run


Weekly Mileage
19.26 miles

 

 

Yiannis Christodoulou

European & National Aquathlon Champion (Age Group), GB Aquathlon team captain, 2021 National Sprint Triathlon Runner Up (AG) Representing Great Britain in the 2022 World & European Triathlon Championships (Age Group)

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