Friday, March 11, 2016

Life of Pi: The Pi Day Pi K Returns to Fleet Feet Stores Across Chicago


I have run a grand total of ONE time since crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in October of last year. I know, I know, I'm disgusted with me too.

So when I got Fleet Feet's notice about the Pi Day "Pi K" Fun Run this coming Monday evening (3.14 - PI DAY, get it?) it seemed like a pretty solid way to get back out on the running trail without getting myself up super early or registering for a timed race where I would embarrass myself. Also, my wife and I ran this race back in 2014 and had a great time.

Plus, after an article I wrote for the Tribune about xkcd creator and all-around baller Randall Munroe speaking in Chicago at an Illinois Science Council (ISC) event, I know a little more about the organization behind the Pi Day Pi K and their mission.

Quick excerpt from the Trib article:
Founded in 2006 by nonscientist Monica Metzler (who also serves as executive director), the ISC was created to help engage adults in science and technology "with a fun, nonstuffy approach." ...Metzler, who has a law degree and two degrees in public policy, was quick to point out what the ISC is not, before discussing what it is: "We're not scientists talking to scientists," she says. "We are about raising awareness, understanding and appreciation of science among the lay public. It's about people like me who aren't in the science field but are interested in this."

She understands that many people are intimidated by the complexity and difficulty of scientific topics and through the ISC has been working to remove the (sometimes imaginary) barriers to engaging with the material. "We want people to understand that this stuff is interesting and fun and enriching," she says. "And, yes, entertaining."
So I registered for the race and got on the phone with ISC executive director Monica Metzler again today to find out a little more about the Pi Day Pi K.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Kevin Runs His Hart Out With Nike+ Run Club

Kevin Hart tells us all to be healthy and whatnot

Yesterday morning I gathered with several hundred other runners at the Field Museum for a "spontaneous" run along the lakefront with comedy superstar (seriously, he just sold out the United Center for three shows) Kevin Hart after he tweeted this on Wednesday afternoon:
It may have only been a day and a half notice, but I say "spontaneous" because Nike+ Run Club had this event decked out like it was planned months in advance (wagering a guess that they had). This also proves Hart's stardom in that an organization like Nike would invest the time and money in prepping to host (the event included gear check, a race shirt, a post-race towel, water, food and dozens of volunteers, pacers and coaches) a free event that would only get around 36 hours of promotion. But the effort certainly paid off in turnout.

Around 1700 people registered (with around half of those showing up to the starting line, a Nike rep told me afterwards). That was enough to not only be the biggest Run With Hart so far, but also the biggest Nike+ Run Club run yet. Below you can see the swarm of runners at the starting line - many sporting the Run With Hart Nike shirts that were given out when you checked in.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How a Nerd Works

I'm not just a runner. I'm also a nerd... but not in the cool way these days of knowing a lot about the Marvel Universe or microbreweries... in the way of being a programmer. Anyway, I got profiled by the Social Science Research Center at DePaul University in their "How I Work" series. So here's me NOT in running clothes for once:

https://ssrcdepaul.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/how-zach-freeman-works/

But there's still a running quote in there:

What do you do to stay inspired?
I go running. If you run far enough it’s like meditating because your mind gets cleared.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thursday 5K Doubleheader on the Lakefront: ABC7 Gibbons 5K and Monsters of the 5K

Pre-race rain left the base camp a bit soggy for the ABC7 Gibbons 5K

As I mentioned last week, I went in for a double header this past Thursday with the decades old ABC7 Gibbons 5K at 6:25pm and the newly minted Monsters of the 5K/10K at 7:15pm. Since I went over the basics regarding each race in previous blogs I'll just touch on race day highlights for each here.


Pools of post-race water at the ABC7 Gibbons 5K
First off, the ABC7 Gibbons 5K was a lot bigger than I had anticipated. While there were only 747 chip-timed runners (I know this from checking the results) there were a lot more 5K fun run participants and 3K walkers. Pre-race the announcer claimed that registrations were up "about 45% this year over last year" so despite the race having been around for a while I'm not sure if they were ready to handle this many participants... at least at the starting line.

The starting line began on Columbus just south of Balbo and snaked around down Balbo. While there were pace signs clearly posted, the announcer only did the call for faster runners to get forward, which I personally feel is much less effective than asking slower runners to move back. Especially for such a tight starting line down a narrow sidewalk, this led to a little bit of a cluster at the starting line and in the first stretch of the race.

Once we got out on the lakefront, though it was a lot more open - despite it being an open course. There were plenty of volunteers to direct traffic and enough space to spread out and run. There was a little wind at this point but it hadn't picked up too badly yet. I ended up finishing with a 23:09 which I was pretty happy with. But I didn't have much time to bask in my own glory.

As soon as I finished I headed straight to gear check, grabbed my bag, changed into the ABC7 Gibbons 5K shirt, switched to my Monsters of the 5K race bib and started walking towards Soldier Field for the next race.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Ran a Mile in Maggie Daley Park

Saturday morning I ran a mile in Maggie Daley Park.

That might not sound that exciting but it was part of a new race - the Run the Ribbon Mile Race - that had its first running this weekend. And while I haven't run a straight mile since high school, I had a pretty great time with this one (even if I did trail my wave by almost 20 seconds with a 6:32). As I said in my Newcity review, this is definitely a race with room to grow that should attract some attention from the running community (especially if mile races make their promised comeback).
Participants line up for a wave at the starting line for the inaugural Run the Ribbon Mile Race


The set-up around the ribbon was pretty cool, with runners and spectators lounging on benches and stretching out before or after their waves. There was also an announcer kicked back in a chair calling out names and placing during waves - and making some photo finishes even more exciting. Overall, it was a pretty cool set-up. Especially since the climbing wall was right in the middle of everything. It felt like running around a giant outdoor play area... which I guess is what Maggie Daley Park is really.

And running five laps made it even more entertaining - as you could see the other runners in your wave through the climbing walls as they circled the track as well. The start/finish line was positioned near the only building in the area, providing an obvious base camp and spot to spectate the finishes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Run the Ribbon - the Mile Race is Making a Comeback!


Just a few weeks ago I read this article in Chicago Athlete talking about how the mile race was starting to gain popularity. So I looked around for a mile race to run... and found the newly minted Run the Ribbon Mile Race, taking place this coming Saturday morning in (or maybe around is a better word) Maggie Daley Park.

Not only is it a mile race, it's a mile race in a sweet newly created location with a catchy title. And it's hosted by CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association). Which means it's legit.

“With mile races making a comeback, we thought a grass-roots running event would capture the attention and interest of our running community," says Ed Zylka, Executive Director of CARA. "So we set out to combine the mile, arguably the most revered distance in racing with the uniqueness of the skating ribbon course to create one of the most memorable race experiences around."

The race starts at 7am and is limited to only 500 runners (with youth, open and all-comer categories) with cash prizes for the top three male and female finishers (based on chip times).

I'm definitely not shooting for any kind of time prize, but I'm interested to see how fast I can run a mile - I haven't run that distance since high school. I imagine my single mile is not that much faster than my mile that goes along with twelve others... but we'll see on Saturday morning.

Online registration ends tonight at midnight so register now!
(You can also register or get more information at (312)666-9836.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Joining the Monsters of the 5K/10K - a Thursday Doubleheader

As I've mentioned (and even occasionally demonstrated) I like a good multi-race adventure. Especially when the races are very close together. Well, this week I've got two races that couldn't really be closer together without it becoming impossible to do both of them.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I'll be running the Jim Gibbons 5K this Thursday the 18th. That one starts at 6:25pm. Well late last week it came to my attention that there's a new 5K in town launching its inaugural run this Thursday evening... at 7pm. That race is the very sweetly named Monsters of the 5K/10K. This one starts at 7pm. Jim Gibbons is in Grant Park. Monsters is at Soldier Field. By my (extremely precise and careful) calculations that should give me exactly enough time to run Jim Gibbons, hop on a Divvy and make it to the Monsters starting line in time to experience both. We'll see. I've been known to miscalculate.

Luckily, Monsters is chip-timed so if I miss the exact start I'll still be good to go.

Either way, I'm now registered for both. And I'm excited about this second race not just because it has a very cool name (and a pretty awesome poster as well) but because it's a charity run benefiting the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, the Jarrett Payton Foundation and the Jerry Azumah's ASAP Foundation. Three cool guys, three cool foundations. One sweet inaugural race.

And Universal Sole is coordinating. That's a group that knows how to put on a race and throw a party afterwards. And I'm going to need a party after these two 5Ks.

And in case you're already registered for Jim Gibbons and not up to running two races in a row, the race site says:

If you cannot join us on race day, please consider donating or become a virtual runner to be eligible for all of the fantastic prizes we will be giving away! Registration is available on Active.com and signing up as a virtual runner is only $25.

Anyone else planning on a doubleheader this Thursday? If not maybe I'll see you at one race or the other.