Cinco de Miler

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Cinco de Miler 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 Cinco de Miler is a must-do race for the whole ambience and fun race atmosphere. This was my first time running this race but I’ve always been a huge fan of the RAM Racing series and now that Fleet Feet has partnered with them, it can only get better! This was a 5 mile race (if you didn’t translate!) and I overheard a few people saying that they thought it was a 5k. Surprise – two more miles for you! Every time I run one of the races downtown with such a beautiful backdrop I swear I’m moving here. This was such a well run race and the crowds seemed to have a great time even though the weather took a turn for the worse.  I also had the pleasure of meeting fellow BibRave Pro Eric!

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When I arrived, the weather was sunny and mid 60’s and I thought “Perfect running weather!” As we looked north above the skyline, we saw dark clouds making a quick entrance and a few lightning strikes took center stage. The race organizers took immediate action and guided everyone to take some shelter under the Waldron Deck. Everyone herded across the street and waited out the quick storm. We were probably under shelter for about 10-15 minutes before if passed over us. As we made our entry back over to the starting area, the winds had changed and it was definitely a little cooler out. No one seemed to be bothered as everyone made the best of it and still enjoy a fun race.

The Packet Pickup/Swag – I love when there are multiple dates and locations for the packet pickups and since the Deerfield location was closest to me, I opted to pick up here. I was pretty darn early for my pickup and that didn’t even matter. They were well prepared and already handing out the race bags for a super quick process. The RAM Racing bag came with the bib and pins and a super colorful shirt.

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The Starting Line – The starting corrals were well labeled with big signs until the heavy winds knocked them down. They were big enough for the groups and each corral was let out every 3 minutes. Before heading out on the course, we were greeted with the anthems from Mexico and the Star Spangled Banner. The announcer really got everyone excited to be out there. He was followed up by some grateful words by the Fleet Feet Owner David Zimmer. After that, the CEO of the 100 Club also thanked everyone for begin out there and a little about the charity.

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The Course – After running off the starting gun, you head out south under the McCormick tunnel through a bit of darkness and then south for about 2.5 miles before turning around and heading north along the lakefront. How can you go wrong with the Chicago skyline and running along Lake Michigan? The volunteers did a great job with the water/Nuun stations and seeing all of the excited kids handing out the drinks was pretty cool. I like the mile markers with digital clocks to give me an idea of how I was doing without having to look at my watch.

The Finish Line – To be honest, I’ve never seen a bad finish line! You don’t see it until the last 1/4 mile and once it comes into sight, that last bit of energy kicks in and the crowds lined up a few hundred feet before the end. It’s always nice to hear the announcer saying your name as you finish and congratulate you!

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The Post Race Area – After you get your medal (Cool pinata!) and you round the corner, you are greeted by more beverages before you go back to the starting area for the post race goodies. This year, the food included a warm tamale, Tostitos and salsa, and Coronas! You get one free beer with your bib ticket but can purchase more tickets nearby. I didn’t get a chance to ride the mechanical bull but it sure did look fun.

When all was said and done, I was happy with this race aside from the imperfect weather. Everyone seemed to have a great time. They truly did a great job with the course and entertainment.

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(Not so much) Running week of April 25-May 1

I’m actually disgusted in this week for my running and fitness.  It started with a mild sore throat on Monday night which really wasn’t that bad.  Tuesday morning, my body just let me know that things weren’t right.  I don’t get sick often but when I do, I’m a big baby and it’s debilitating.  The rest of the week had it’s ups and downs and the late mornings and afternoons were pretty good.  Then I obviously overdo it and the evenings are rough.  I feel drained and know that I push things to hard out of guilt.  Friday, I seemed to feel pretty good and went for a short run but just could not catch my breath at all.  I know first runs are tough after an illness but this one sucked.  I decided to take a couple more days off this weekend and start fresh Monday morning.  I plan on running some muddy trails before shift begins at the firehouse and get in some much needed legwork in preparation for Battlefrog in 27 days!

Monday 4/25
Bike ride for 4 miles until another flat tire

Tuesday 4/26
No run – sore throat

Wednesday 4/27
No run – sick

Thursday 4/28
No run – sick

Friday 4/29
3.62 miles at 10 minutes 55 seconds average
Neighborhood trail run
Nike Air Zoom

Saturday 4/30
No run

Sunday 5/1
No run

Weekly Mileage
3.62…horrible

 

Promise to myself – more Runcations

Now that I’m getting to a ripe age and always said I’d travel more, I actually plan on doing it.  I’m in a situation where I can actually go out and see the country while enjoying my love of running.  There are so many beautiful areas of the U.S. that I’m really excited to get away and see.  I’ve taken a couple of short trips as of late and ran in such beauty that I made that promise to myself to see it all before I perish!

Running last year in Monterey, California has changed my mind about the west coast.  Taking those steps along the Pacific Coast Highway and smelling the ocean has me drawn to coming back out there – hopefully soon.  There are so many places to enjoy the outdoors across this country that it’s hard for me to plan it all out!  I do however, plan a couple more before year end and am in the process of figuring out where I want to go next year.

I’ll be partaking in the mountainous trails of Aspen, Colorado this fall and then immediately back out west for the Big Sur Half Marathon in California.  Look at this scenery and tell me that we are surrounded by such incredible beauty!

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So where else do I have on my Runcation Bucket List?

  • Boston – maybe running the Freedom Trail because it’s been years since my last trip there
  • Coastal North Carolina
  • Mountains of Vermont – haven’t been there since I used to mountain bike race there
  • Arizona – for the beautiful desert scenery
  • Montana – I’ve always wanted to run the Yellowstone tour but can do without a possible Grizzly attack
  • New York – I just want to run the boroughs and maybe do a pizza tour
  • Oregon – I’ve heard such great things about the trails out there
  • Texas – not sure where but I have friends in the Austin area that swear by it

These are just the continental U.S. spots I plan in the upcoming years.  I haven’t even begun to think about the rest of the world…

Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver

Disclaimer: I received a free Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuiver 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!

So I received one of the Orange Mud Single Barrel HydraQuivers to test out and have found myself running a lot more trails and mountain biking because of it.  I never thought I’d run with a hydration pack because the ones I’ve seen are usually too bulky, too flimsy, or just don’t seem to be functional for my needs.  That’s where the HydraQuiver comes in.
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Right away, you could see the quality of work when you unpack it.  It comes in four colors and I opted for the gray but you can get black, orange, or pink as well.  The features that put this over the top are the low profile so it doesn’t cover the whole back and make you sweat, an easy access deep pocket for valuables, adjustable velcro strap for various sized water bottles, and a good amount of padding that ensures comfort while wearing.

For running: The Single Barrel HydraQuiver was extremely easy to put on.  I put some items (camera tripod, ID, keys) in the pocket that I would normally put in my shorts pocket but am so glad to free myself of that burden.  Putting the vest on is best when you release the straps to the longest point and then slip it on over the head.  I have a Youtube video below that shows how I put mine on.  Right away, I could feel how comfortable it was and how it sits high enough on the shoulders and back to be practical.  Tightening the shoulder straps was easy with a direct pull downwards to your liking.  The shoulder straps have two easy to use velcro straps for energy gels and open downwards so be careful when you go to pull them open.  I really like how padded the pack is and it doesn’t bounce around when running.  The vest was tested thoroughly through some heavy duty singletrack trails and it didn’t disappoint.  Many times I’ve run the trails and hills without water much to my detriment and have found myself running longer and harder now that I can carry a hydration vest that doesn’t burden me with uncomfortable chafing and weight.
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For mountain biking: I do not have water bottle mounts on my mountain bike and really never carried water with me on my bike rides.  I like the option of having a hydration vest during my long bike rides.  The one thing I had to adjust when using the HydraQuiver during biking as opposed to running was lowering the water bottle with the velcro strap as it hit my the back of my head a few times.  That’s why I think it’s great to have that adjustable option.  A quick velcro pull to make the pocket deeper fixed that issue.
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All in all, I am extremely happy with the HydraQuiver for the many features that I was looking for in a hydration vest.  It’s a well designed vest that takes comfort and practicality in mind.  I don’t mind carrying water now that I’ve found a good way of carrying it.
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Orange Mud had a lot of other great products that you can see HERE

Join us on Twitter for the Orange Mud sponsored #BibChat on May 3rd at 8pm CST!

Check out what my fellow BibRave Pros think about it too JenniferMarkGinaEmilyRachelKatieSamanthaShannonJanelleJenJessica, Laura, Sarah, …

Running week of April 18-24

So this week my intended goal was to get away from the 5 miler runs and get in some speedwork and long runs but again, life happened.  It was birthday week and eager anticipation to get into the Golden Leaf Half Marathon in Aspen as well as finding out about getting into the Chicago Marathon.  I’m following a Nike+ training plan for the marathon so I know my daily mileage and training will be different.  I plan on following this closely and do it right for my first marathon.  Fingers crossed…

Monday 4/18
5.25 miles at 8 minutes 36 seconds average
Neighborhood run
82 degrees and sunny
Nike Air Zoom
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Tuesday 4/19
5 miles at 9 minutes 31 seconds average
Savannah trail run
52 degrees and drizzling
Nike Air Zoom
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Wednesday 4/20
4 miles at 8 minutes 27 seconds average
Treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
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Thursday 4/21
No run

Friday 4/22
5 miles at 8 minutes 51 seconds average
Baseball fields run
60 degrees and sunny
Nike Air Zoom
4-22-16

Saturday 4/23
5 miles at 9 minutes 38 seconds average
Savannah trail run
75 degrees and sunny
Nike Air Zoom
4-24-16 (2)

Sunday 4/24
No run

Weekly Mileage
24.25 miles

 

My thoughts on getting into the Chicago Marathon

So after getting my acceptance email for my lottery entry into the Chicago Marathon, a lot of things have gone through my mind.  I got my notice around 6 am and obviously couldn’t go back to sleep.  Yes at first I was elated and wide awake.  Not more than 10 seconds later, I found myself asking if I was really ready and able to do this.  I’m not one for doubting my abilities both on the job and in my personal life.  Honestly, I’m not young anymore and hitting a milestone birthday on Saturday (To me at least).  I’ve been pretty darn consistent at running and have achieved a lot in my 4 years of running.  I still remember being winded at my first 5K race and yet, 2 years later I took second in my age group.

I know that I’ll dedicate myself to proper training for this as I don’t want to just wing my first marathon.  I want to do my best and bring home a respectable time.  Shooting for 4:30 is my realistic goal and I just can’t fathom running for 4 1/2 hours straight.  Now that I know a bunch of people who also got in, I plan to run and do some training with them as this has got to be the most supportive sport I’ve played or participated in.  The Chicago CARA group always has a fun looking 20-mile training run that I’ve always been envious of and I plan to be a part of it this year.

I’m running a beautiful 1/2 marathon in Aspen, Colorado 2 weeks before the Chicago Marathon and since most of the terrain is high altitude and narrow single track, I’m getting nervous about hurting myself right before my first marathon.  I’m sure I’ll be fine and just enjoy the 1/2 scenery instead of going fierce for a PR.

I guess it really hasn’t hit me yet but after realizing that the training plan I’m using starts in 4 days I’ll wake up and smell the challenge…

Running week of April 11-17

So this week I barely hit my goal of 20+ miles and I really need to vary my distances.  I seem to top out and ceiling at 5 mile runs.  I skipped a couple of long runs as I just didn’t have it in me.  Next week will definitely be different as I’m on vacation for a couple of weeks and the weather seems to be steady at tolerable numbers.  I’m going to push it for at least one run >13 miles.  We shall see…

Monday 4/11
5 miles at 8 minutes 32 seconds average
Treadmill run on duty
Under Armor Micro Optimum
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Tuesday 4/12
Day off

Wednesday 4/13
5 miles at 8 minutes 22 seconds average
Treadmill run
Mile 1 8’27”
Mile 2 8’22”
Mile 3 8’22”
Mile 4 8’22”
Mile 5 8’15”
Nike Air Zoom
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Thursday 4/14
No run

Friday 4/15
5 miles at 8 minutes 36 seconds average
Alleghany Baseball Field run
Nike Air Zoom
68 degrees and sunny
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Saturday 4/16
5 miles at 9 minutes 8 seconds average
Savannah trail run
Nike Air Zoom
72 degrees and sunny
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Sunday 4/17
4 miles at 8 minutes 27 seconds average
Treadmill run on duty
Nike Air Zoom
4-17-16

Weekly Mileage
24 miles

 

 

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones

Disclaimer: I received a free pair of Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones 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!

So being lucky enough to try a pair of the Aftershokz Trekz Titaniums, I can honestly say that I’ve found the perfect pair of headphones for me.  I have truly gone through so many headphones just to find major disappointment in most of them.  They either fall out of my ears or they just don’t feel good.  I’m pretty hard on my gear as I test them running, mountain biking, hiking, and my hectic workouts at the firehouse.  I expect them to fit my shaped head/ears, have pretty good sound quality, be worth the price, and just look good.  That’s where the Aftershokz come into play.

So what makes these headphones special?  Take a look at the product specs:

  • Bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds
  • Titanium wraparound headband is lightweight and flexible for durability and portability
  • OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness and comfort during long-term wear
    PremiumPitch+™ guarantees a premium audio experience, including wide dynamic range and rich bass
  • Wireless Bluetooth® 4.1 connectivity and convenient multipoint pairing
  • LeakSlayer™ technology significantly reduces natural sound leakage
  • IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust and moisture, from workouts to wicked weather
  • Enjoy six hours of continuous music + calls on a single charge
  • EQ presets boost bass and reduce vibration on the go
  • Dual noise canceling microphones exclude surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech
  • Audrey Says™ voice prompts guide users through power, pair, play and talk
  • Hassle-free 2-year warranty

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Simply, they work for me because they fit well over my ears and since nothing goes inside the ear, they keep me safer so I can hear the ambient noises.  Plus, they are super light and flexible and virtually weigh nothing.  As for the sound, I was honestly reluctant of how the sound quality would be since nothing actually goes into the ear but was pleasantly surprised how clear the sound was.  I had a few songs that really sounded incredible coming from these headphones.   One in particular was at 1:17 of the song “The Mighty Rio Grande” from This Will Destroy You.  Wow – the headphones vibrated and just seemed to get you moving.  Try it and see for yourself.

The few phone calls I tried using the headphones were crystal clear and the button to answer calls was easy to locate and press while I was running.

I also had the opportunity to use these headphones during my Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago and since I really hate running without my music, they did the job without any problems.  I make race specific playlists depending on the venue and the Trekz allowed me to not only hear my motivational music, but also to chat with a few runners during the race.  Plus, they look pretty stylish as you can see in the following picture…
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After all was said and done, I am a huge fan of these Aftershokz and have recommended them to a few fellow firefighters as well as a couple of people at my gym.  You can’t beat a lightweight headphone that fits well and is so flexible.  Plus, they come with ear adapters, earplugs, and a great case to store them in.  The charge seems to stay strong for about 6 hours of continuous use.  You can get yours here at Aftershokz and use the code BibRave20 to save you 20% on their products!

This week’s #bibchat will feature AfterShokz. Stop by Twitter on Tuesday, April 19th at 8pm CST to discuss the weeks happenings with fellow runners!

Please check out these other reviews from my fellow BibRave Pros:

Katie, Heather, Rachel, Emily, Amy, Abbie, Christine, John, Gina, Lisa, Mark, Jenny, JenniferJessica RAndrew, …

Running week of April 4-10

So this week I was coming off of a half marathon and thought my legs were doing pretty good.  Well apparently I was wrong.  They felt heavy this week with dull pain in the calves that the foam roller just wasn’t helping….ouch.  I ended up with much less mileage than I anticipate but maybe the extra rest days will do me good in the long run (Pun intended).  The lovely Chicago has been wet, cold, and windy but not too much of a surprise since I’ve lived here most of my life.  I don’t have another race until the Cinco de Miler in May but I need to work on my speed and distance for the Battlefrog at the end of May and the North Shore Half Marathon in roughly 8 weeks.

I’m also dedicating the next few months (maybe weeks) to do more yoga, stretching, and cut out the sugars in my life.  (Food that is)…

Monday 4/4
5 miles at 8 minutes 37 seconds average
Treadmill run
Under Armor Micro Optimum
4-4-16

Tuesday 4/5
Rest Day

Wednesday 4/6
3
miles at 8 minutes 30 seconds average
Treadmill run
Under Armor Micro Optimum
4-6-16

Thursday 4/7
5 miles at 8 minutes 29 seconds average
Treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
4-7-16

Friday 4/8
4 miles at 8 minutes 30 seconds average
Treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
4-8-16 (2)

Saturday 4/9
5 miles at 8 minutes 26 seconds average
Treadmill run
Nike Air Zoom
4-9-16

Sunday 4/10
Rest Day

Weekly Mileage
22 miles

Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to race in the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. I value authenticity & honesty; 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!

 

So this is my first race running for BibRave and I couldn’t have picked a better one! This is a must-do race for anyone looking for a fun-filled scenic and historic 1/2 marathon. I always heard great things about the race and had it on my to-do list. I’m glad I had the opportunity to participate in a race that goes all out to ensure the runners have a memorable experience.

Expo – The expo was held at the Double Tree Hilton in the Ballroom and while I didn’t stay at this hotel, it seemed to be well organized. I stayed across the street and walked over around 5pm and was greeted by the friendly volunteers who guided you to the lines (alphabetically). The volunteers handing out the packets couldn’t have been more polite and enthusiastic. After receiving my goodies and bib, I walked around to see everything else around the expo. The first thing that caught my eye was the pacer boards. I’ve never seen a posterboard of bios on those that will lead you through the coarse. It showed how many times they’ve run the Lincoln Half as well as how many marathons they completed. It was nice to see what their goal was for pacing (Neutral splits, start off slow, etc). The rest of the expo had some vendors selling miscellaneous tshirts, socks, GU, and other running items). The last spot I stopped in at was for the Rolling Meadows beer samples. I tried the Abe’s Ale and the Lincoln’s Lager and well, loved them both. They were small cute shot sized samples just to tempt your senses.
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Prerace – I always love the excitement of everyone walking to the start line and scoping out the competition. This start line at 6th and Washington was such a perfect spot in front of the Old State Capitol with plenty of spots for prerace photos. I of course with fellow BibRave Pros, opted to get in some photos with the Abe Lincoln impersonator. This guy is a treasure for this race. They picked the perfect guy to play Lincoln. He was genuinely attired and played that role to a tee with a little humor added in.
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Race/Scenery – The start line pacers began to assemble in the area and I picked my pacing group in anticipation of getting a realistic PR. Before we began, the Race Director gave out a few encouraging words and handed the microphone over the Abe himself for a great funny speech before the sounds of firing muskets starting us running. I loved that part of the race that gives you chills to the roaring crowds! The race takes you through some extremely beautiful areas through cobblestone and brick streets in some areas. Running past some historic buildings with actors dressing the part and encouraging you as the runners went by. There was so much support along the coarse from residents cheering from their home as well as police officers and volunteers offering their support. Running through the cemetery and along the scenic river were two of my favorite spots to run around. But, nothing beats the finish line. Before you round the corner, you can hear the roars of the crowd and once you see the finish line itself, you get that last bit of adrenalin to push on.
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Postrace – Thank you to those volunteers handing you the medals. They were so friendly and congratulating everyone with a medal and some hugs. Right after that, you get enticed with the usual postrace needs like water and gatorade. On the lawn of the Old State Capitol, you can already smell the goodness that is beer and donuts! They also had orange slices, banana slices, and trail bars but of course the postrace beer and Krispy Kreme donuts were the popular choices. The band that played on the stage by the Capitol was just awesome! I’m a fan of any band that has a banjo in it!
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All-in-all – This was such a fun race and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for such an interactive historic race. The Race Director does an incredible job to ensure that everyone has a great time. The Abe Lincoln impersonator is icing on the cake. You can tell that every detail was thought about throughout the entire experience from registration to finish line

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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