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Newcity Top 5 of Everything 2013 - Running Categories

Yesterday Newcity released its annual Top 5 of Everything issue. And like last year I have a few running lists in there.
There are also a number of other good lists in this issue (it is an issue of lists after all) so either check it out at a newstand or local shop near you (maybe this distribution map will help) over the next few weeks or view the complete list online via the link above. 
Last year I made a semi-resolution to run 52 races this year (after running 45 in 2012) but I fell pretty far short of that goal after my IT band injury... so maybe I'll move that goal forward and try again in 2014. 
Anyway, here are my running lists:
Top 5 Chicago 5K Races of 2013 Chi-Town Big Game 5K (February 3) Ridge Run Challenge (May 27) Chinatown 5K (July 13) Terrapin 5K & Music Festival (August 8) Carrera de los Muertos (November 2)
Top 5 Chicago Half Marathons of 2013 F^3 Lake Half (January 26) Chicago 13.1 Marathon (June 8) Chicago Women's Half Marathon (June 23) Rock 'n'…

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk aka The Trail Run You Didn't Know Chicago Had

It snowed all night. And it snowed all morning. And, as I write this, it is still snowing. In short, it's pretty snowy out there in Chicago right now. This morning - along with a number of other people who didn't know whether to be excited or concerned about all the snow - I ran the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.

And as the title of this blog implies, it was way more than just a typical Chicago road/sidewalk/Lakefront Trail race:

Chicagoland's SECOND Annual February Fool's Goal Half Marathon/Debacle???

An open letter to Muddy Monk:

I was just taking a look at the viewing statistics for this blog and noticed that the story about Chicagoland's First Annual February Fool's Goal Half Marathon/Debacle has gotten a big jump in views lately. So I decided to do a little research and see if this epically foolish adventure would be possible to duplicate in 2014.

As it turns out, things are shaping up quite nicely.

Carpe Diem Races and the Channahon Park District are keeping it old school and sticking with their schedules from last year. Check out the current schedules for these guys on 2/9/2014:

Cupid's Love Dash 5K at 8:20am
Channahon Frosty 5 Mile at 1pm

So, Muddy Monk, now we're just waiting on you to schedule the Frozen Five Mile. According to your website, you've already got it set for February, but are just waiting to nail down the exact date/time.

Might I suggest February 9th at 10am? Pretty please.

If you do settle on that date/time, I know at least three people foo…

Carrera de los Muertos 2013

I loved last year's Carrera de los Muertos so I had to sign up again this year.

I got a ride down to Pilsen with Fuzzy and Erica (because they're super-cool and because Pilsen is not the easiest place to get to from Lincoln Square without a car).

We got there with plenty of time to spare, which was lucky because we actually needed all that time to park the car and get a parking slip and all that. We ended up getting to the starting line just about five minutes before the race started. Luckily, the gear check for this race is impeccable and once I had my bag checked I think there was still about three minutes before start time. So I stood around looking at all the scenery: with the sweet costumes and bright purple race shirts, along with the (artistic) graffiti on a lot of the walls along the course, I think Carrera de los Muertos has to be the most colorful race in Chicago.

How to Get Your (Old) Nike+ FuelBand to Work with the Latest FuelBand App Update

If you're like me and you have a Nike+ FuelBand (and after the release of the Nike+ FuelBand SE on Tuesday I guess we could say the OLD Nike+ FuelBand) and you sync it with an iPhone, you might be experiencing a few problems with getting your FuelBand to sync with your phone after the latest update to the app.

Because I spent an annoying amount of time trying to get this to work again, I thought I'd list out all the steps in case there are others out there experiencing the same problem (you go to sync your FuelBand witht he app and nothing happens...).

First, go into your Settings app and go to Bluetooth. From there, find where your Nike+FuelBand is listed under DEVICESTap the little information "i" and tap "Forget this Device" Now, hold down the button on your FuelBand until the little Bluetooth emblem starts flashing.Nike+FuelBand should show up again under DEVICES but it will say "Not Paired" - tap the information "i" again and it wil…

Chicago Hit-and-Running - Fundraising For a Brave Cab Driver

Disclaimer: This is not about running. It IS about hit-and-running, but that's a different sport.

Anyway.


I've never made a petition or a fundraising page or anything, but for some reason this video made me want to help this guy (the cabbie that is). In the video the cab driver tries to keep a guy that hit his cab from driving off by standing in front of his SUV. The thing about the story that got to me was how since the driver of the SUV turned out to be driving a stolen car (which means he's going to jail and not going to be paying for any damages even though he was caught) the cabbie now has to pay his $500 deductible to get his cab fixed and he was also disciplined by his company and is missing a week of work.


Newcity Best of Chicago - Running Categories (er, Category)

It's that time of year again - the Newcity Best of Chicago issue is out! So go grab a physical paper somewhere! (All the items are also available on Newcity's Best of Chicago site.)

This year I wrote a lot more of them but now that I'm the Assistant Theater Editor most of them were theater-based (like Best place to see comedy, Best theatrical illness, Best portrayal of hipsters and Best apology for interrupting an opening-night performance, among others). Still, I managed to slip in one running-related item:
Best basecamp for a running event Nice job Chi-Town Big Game 5/10K - don't let me down and get a different basecamp next year!

Anyway, looking forward to the Carrera de los Muertos this weekend after almost a month of no races. Hope it's as good as last year!

A 5K in Hyde Park

Sunday morning I ran the incredibly long-titled University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital RBC Race for the Kids 5K Run. Other races take note: that's a race title. Although really I think they just call it the Comer Race for the Kids 5K (which is still not necessarily a short title - it used to be the Comer Kids Classic). Anyway, the main thing that interested me about this race is that it was in Hyde Park and, more specifically, started and finished on the University of Chicago campus.

I have a special place in my heart for that campus since I worked there for three years and earned my Masters degree there (in fact the starting line was right in front of the Ryerson building where almost all of my nerdy Computer Science classes were held). So, even though it took the better part of 90 minutes to get there (Hyde Park is not exactly easy to access via public transportation) I enjoyed the race and the morning of travel (it was nice to be reminded of the commute I…

The Five Coolest Things About the New Nike Running Bucktown

Until only a few years ago - and maybe even until last year - I didn't consider Nike a "running" brand. I knew that they had running stuff and that I could get all the running gear I needed at a Nike store, but it seemed like a weird decision to go shopping at a "sports" store when there are so many great "running" stores tailored specifically for runners. But over the last few years Nike has been working towards repositioning themselves within the running market, and it seems to be paying off.

Tomorrow morning (October 5th, 2013) Nike will open its 1st Nike Running store in Chicago (and 8th in the US) at 1640 North Damen in Bucktown. Keep in mind that a Nike Running store is different from a Nike store because, as the title suggests, it's just about running. Last night I had a chance to preview the store and check it out before their official opening this weekend. And I have to say I'm pretty impressed. I know, I know, the point of a store p…

Crossing Courses on a Saturday Morning - Friends of the Poor 5K

As I mentioned in my Newcity review of the Friends of the Poor 5K Run/Walk, there are a ton of races in Chicago (and a truly incredible amount of them if you count all the races in the entire Chicagoland area). Yesterday morning I ran only one of them, but because of the way this race and another (the MMRF Race for Research 5K Walk/Run) had mapped out their courses I basically ran both.

That breakdown is in my Newcity review, but I thought I'd give a bit more information here. I overheard some of the race organizers talking about the situation and thought it was pretty interesting. They said that everyone basically goes into the Chicago permit office around the same time at the start of the year and applies for their Special Event Permit. When they get their permit they're not informed about whether or not anyone else applied for (and received) a permit for a similar event nearby.

My First Tri: North Shore Triathlon

So, as I said in my Newcity review of the North Shore Triathlon, the triathlon is its own special animal - one part swimming, one part biking and one part running. And being good at any of those does not mean you'll even be competent at the triathlon as a whole. I definitely found that out yesterday morning when I competed in my first triathlon.

Well, maybe "competed" is a strong word. Let's just say I participated in it.

Obviously, being so involved in the running world I have heard a good deal about triathlons. A number of my friends do them and tell me how fun they are. But there's just never been a pull in that direction for me. I like to run and I don't really want to have to swim and bike before I can do it. Still, the triathlon concept is something that has been on the periphery for a while now and when a friend suggested I sign up a few weeks ago, I figured "Why not?" It's a first annual race, it's in a nearby suburb and it's a …

5K Run Against Traffick recap

Last year my friend John ran (and recommended to me) the 5K Run Against Traffick. So Saturday morning I snagged a ride with him to Diversey Harbor and we ran this third annual race along with around 700 other participants (a record for them) - with about half registering through Groupon.

Basecamp was just northeast of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where many other races have set up shop and things were well-organized, with a personality from Moody Radio providing the pre-race (and finish line) announcements.

It was an open course without any water stations ("There are lots of water fountains along the Lakefront Trail," Laura Ng reminded runners before the race) but with plenty of volunteers along the course directing traffic. This extra support along the course was extremely welcome, due to the amount of runners (both participating and just out for a morning run), especially at the turnaround and near the finish line (this is one of those courses where you think you…

On Being Cleared to Run Again and Overcommitting as a Result

After over two months of physical therapy (with the very friendly members of NovaCare!) I was finally cleared to run last week by my physical therapist. Not that I wasn't running leading up to that (as my race reviews will attest) but the therapist was only begrudgingly giving me clearance to run (mainly because they knew I would probably do it anyway) whereas now I've been given the all clear. Am I an ideal patient? No. But did I follow all of my prescribed exercises and whatnot? Yes.

This morning I ran a solid three miles without any pain which was really exciting, though I have now been incorporating about ten minutes of pre-run warm-ups and fifteen minutes of post-run stretches to every run. It adds a lot more time to my running (oh, for the days when I could just go out and foolishly run with no pre- or post-race stretching) but it's worth it to prevent more IT band issues.

So, to celebrate my newly cleared status (and to make up for the past month when I haven't…

Terrapin 5K & Music Festival

I loved the Terrapin 5K & Music Festival last year and I thought it was even better this year. Although it felt like there were more people than last year it turns out there were almost 1000 less runners at the Terrapin 5K than there were in 2012. But with just under 2500 runners it still felt like a big event. I went to physical therapy in the morning and then ran the race in the evening and felt okay. Looking at the results I was surprised that I finished with a 23:43 (I thought I was around 24:30) and my knee feels okay today... so maybe the physical therapy is actually working.

Anyway, my full review is up at Newcity.com so I'll just hit some high points here.

Race Preview: 5K Run Against Traffick

On Saturday, September 7th at 9am, I'll be running the Traffick Free 3rd Annual 5K Run Against Traffick in Diversey Harbor. Last year I missed this race but a friend who ran it enjoyed it so much he signed up for it again this year and encouraged me to as well. So, I did.

In signing up and reading about the organization (Traffick Free) I got interested in their mission and got in touch with them to get a bit more information regarding both their organization and the 5K. I was able to get an interview with Executive Director Laura Ng, who has been working with Traffick Free since the beginning of 2010 (and has been Executive Director since September of that year).

Traffick Free was formed at the end of 2008 by "a handful of people" and though it is now a non-profit organization, it remains an all-volunteer organization to this day, with no paid positions. Their goal is "to provide the greater metropolitan area of Chicago with tools and sustainable programs to combat…

BTN Big 10K (aka The Race With a Slip 'n Slide)

Even though I'm not a Big Ten graduate (like a good Texan I went to the University of Texas), I've been looking forward to the BTN Big 10K since last year. Partly because it's a well-organized fun race. But mostly because it has a slip 'n slide halfway through the course and last year I foolishly decided not to run off the course and slide on it (because I had my phone in my pocket but also because I was obsessed with getting a good time). Anyway, skipping that slip 'n slide last year was one of my biggest racing regrets so I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. So even though it was only 59 degrees when I hit the course on Saturday morning, I was still determined to hit that slip 'n slide during the race. Fifty-nine degrees is close to perfect for a 10K along the Lakefront Trail, but it's a little chilly for a slip 'n slide, especially when you have to run half the course soaking wet.

For an in-depth review of the race, check out my Newcit…

Celebrity Running: Dean Karnazes at RAM Racing

Last year I got to be part of a Q&A with Krissy Moehl at Patagonia in April and then run with and hear a lecture by Scott Jurek and Chris McDougall at Fleet Feet in June.

Wednesday night, I was once again reminded why I love running "celebrities" when I expanded my celebrity runner/running store connections at RAM Racing by going for a run and then being part of a Q&A with Dean Karnazes. If you don't know who he is you can find out more by reading my blog from when I became BFFs with him last year at the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon expo, but that was a pretty quick greet, shake, sign kind of thing and this was a whole evening.

It started out with a 3- or 5- mile run (depending on what participants wanted to do). I chose to just do three because of my IT-band issues but it seemed like most people did five, and Dean ran with the five mile group. We started at the Running Away Multisport on Clybourn and followed Webster to the lake before turning aro…

2nd Annual Burgers and Beer

With Universal Sole recently opening a new location in The Park at Lakeshore East, their super-catchily titled Burgers & Beer 5K moved downtown with them for its second annual running (from Montrose Harbor last year). They also moved it up from the end of August to the middle of July, which may have contributed to the increase in entries.

Though the race announcer attributed the rise in entries (entries more than doubled from 609 last year to 1229 this year) to the relocation downtown, I'd say excellent word of mouth, a very eye-catching title and an race earlier date also contributed to the race selling out. But, the race directors are right, the Park at Lakeshore East is a nice little hidden gem of a downtown park that other races really haven't taken advantage of yet. It definitely didn't hurt that the second annual race was held in such a beautiful, centrally-located location.

The Great Gatsby Wins Bastille Day 5K

Did anyone else see who won The Bastille Day 5K?


Pssh. I bet his name is really James Gatz. And he's probably not even an Oxford man.

Regardless, I snapped a picture of him a few minutes after his epic win:
He's a pretty gracious winner.
Also, I wish Tom Buchanan would have been in second place.

5K RUN! to End Homelessness and running with another first-time 5Ker

I've lived in Chicago for six years and I've never been to Douglas Park. To be honest, I don't think I'd ever even heard of Douglas Park before I signed up for the 5K RUN! to End Homelessness. Which is actually too bad since it's a pretty nice park with little rolling hills, a pond, a swimming pool and some nice trails.

Getting to experience Douglas Park this morning for the first time by running through it reminded me of a few months ago when I got to experience Warren Park for the first time by running the PAAWR to Empower 5K.

So, the first thing I learned (or, more accurately, was reminded of) this morning, is that running really introduces you to cool new places that you otherwise would not have experienced. Even in a city that you've lived in for six years.

The only issue with this location is that it's not that easy to get to from Lincoln Square early on a Sunday morning. Buses and trains run very infrequently at this time and it took me more than an…

Chinatown 5K and running with a first-time 5Ker

Last year I really enjoyed the Chinatown 5K (and even called it the Best Neighborhood 5K in Newcity's "Best of" issue), so I was excited to run it again this year. Race directors made it especially enticing when they offered the race for only $17 on Groupon, which is a steal for a 5K these days.

Because of the Red Line being down south of Roosevelt, I was worried it would take me longer than usual to get to Chinatown... which translated to me getting to Chinatown an hour before the race started - I don't know how quick it is to get farther south than Chinatown but the buses running between Roosevelt and Chinatown Square were super fast and convenient.

Bastille Day 5k/8k Run/Walk & Block Party

Well, well well.

Tonight was the Bastille Day 5k/8k Run/Walk & Block Party in Lincoln Park (just north of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum). I was originally registered for the 8K but, worrying about my IT band, I dropped down to the 5K just before the race (this change took all of 60 seconds at the registration table which was pretty impressive, especially since my time registered correctly afterwards).

Anyway, before the race, the set-up looked good. Beautiful weather, lots of outdoor space, a good live band and lots of runners. I even tweeted about how promising it all was.

And as I lined up on a blocked off Cannon Drive for the 5K with 943 other runners I still felt that way. I mean, these guys blocked off Cannon Drive, part of Fullerton and a big chunk of Stockton Drive. This was clearly nothing like last year's race.

Book Review: Kings of the Road, by Cameron Stracher

Another few weeks of going to physical therapy and not running, another running book. This time I read "Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom" by Cameron Stracher. This guy's an elitist, but the book is still a great read.

"Running is not soccer, or football, or baseball, where half the players on the field are victorious. There can be only one winner. Everyone else is a loser."

This sentiment, on page 91 of Cameron Stracher's exciting recounting of what he (justifiably) refers to as boomtime for running in America, also showcases his dual approach to this novel (his fifth). Aside from being an author and a lawyer, Stracher lists himself as a "competitive miler" in the mini-bio on the back of the book. And his competitive nature as a runner comes out pretty strongly in his writing. But I'll get to that in a bit.

Most importantly, Stracher is a compelling writer, with a firm grasp of what …

Book Review: The Longest Race by Ed Ayres

"The older I get and the more I learn, the less I know with certainty. And that actually feels right, although I really can't say exactly why." - Ed Ayres

Since I can't really run right now (curse you IT band), I've been reading running books instead.

I just finished The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance by Ed Ayres (a distance runner with a half-century running career) and definitely recommend it. As a running addict myself, I've written and read my share of race reports (many on this site, obviously) and, when you break it down, Ayres' book is essentially a 200-page race report.

The race in question is the 2001 JFK 50 Mile, a trail race that starts in Boonsboro, Maryland and covers sections of the Appalachian Trail. It's been going on since 1963 in response to JFK urging Americans to get in better shape in an article in Sports Illustrated called "The Soft American" and his challenge…

PAAWR to Empower Prize Pack

You may remember that I actually won a 5K a few weeks ago.

Give me a moment to think about that feeling again.

Right. That's what it feels like. Okay.

The race (the PAAWR to Empower 5K) started 40 minutes late, so after it was over I stuck around for a while, ate a really tasty black bean tamale and a not-so-tasty fish taco, chatted with some other runners, watched people play soccer... and then realized that even though there was an awards ceremony scheduled for noon, the odds that it would actually take place anywhere near that time were pretty low. Also I didn't know if there was any kind of medal or prize for first place anyway. So despite the fact that I have stuck around for way too many awards ceremonies that had nothing to do with me, I left the only race I will ever win without attending the awards ceremony where the crowning achievement of my running career would have been honored. (Maybe)

Super Sunny 5K in Burbank

Saturday morning in sleepy suburban Burbank, me and those two awesome runners in the picture over there -->
(Erica and Fuzzy) were trying to think of good adjectives for just how sunny it was:

ratherplentifullyimpressivelyemphatically Luckily, the race we were registered for had already taken care of this issue for us in the title. Whoever named the first annual Super Sunny 5K, coordinated by Garden Center Services and brought to my attention by fellow runner and Garden Center Services employee Annabelle is either extremely lucky or has amazing weather prediction skills, because the race name fit the morning perfectly. 
Burbank is about a 40 minute drive from Chicago and the only other time I've been here was for the similarly weather-themed Frosty 5K back in January. And, as it turns out, this race follows the same course, starting and finishing in the parking lot of the ever-popular Henry Lang Recreation Center. Surprising to almost no one, the weather in Burbank is quite a bi…

Ridge Run Challenge (10K & 5K) in Beverly

I ran the Ridge Run Challenge this morning. In case you're like me from a few weeks ago and don't know what that means, I'll give you a bit more info. The Ridge Run is both a 5K and a 10K racing event in Beverly (near Ridge Park). The Ridge Run Challenge is where you run both races (10K at 8 and 5K at 9:30). It's a pretty awesome idea - and a set-up like this probably would have saved us a lot of time back in February when we did the First Annual February Fool's Goal Half Marathon/Debacle.

This may exist with other races, but I've never heard of a race with multiple distances coordinating it so that participants could run both of them (this did involve them shutting down the finish line for the 10K after 1:20 - so if you're 10K pace puts you behind that finishing time... this race is not for you). I don't need to go into too much back story about the race though, since I think my Newcity review covers most of it, most importantly that the 10K is the olde…

Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K in pictures

So after my crowning running achievement yesterday, I woke up this morning ready for a more standard run (as in, me being more towards the middle of the pack than the front) and headed to Lakeshore East for the Chicago Spring Half & 10K (specifically the 10K part of that).

I originally had planned to run the half but after dealing with my IT band issues I decided to transfer to the 10K (which took an extra 10 seconds at packet pick-up - really convenient). The secondary benefit, aside from not having to stress my leg out, was that the 10K started at 7:30 (the half started at 7) so I got to sleep in a bit more as well.

Just like last year, base-camp was set up in The Park at Lakeshore East.

Winning a 5K and Being "That Guy" - P.A.A.W.R. to Empower 5K in pictures

Some organizations are not quite ready to organize 5Ks. And Pan-African Association (a group that provides "services and programs that benefit refugee and immigrant individuals and families") is one of those organizations.

They have a great group of volunteers, an ideal location for a race and plenty of other well-organized family activities around the race (including dance lessons, kid's races, etc.). And though this was the second annual P.A.A.W.R. to Empower 5K (Pan-African Association Walk & Run to Empower Refugees and Immigrants), there was very little in the sense of "organization" around the 5K, which was scheduled to start at 10:30 (see schedule below) but didn't get going until 11:10. (seriously? 40 minute delay? yes, seriously).

But before I start describing the bad parts of this event and sound like the Type-A runner that I am, I'd like to talk about all the good stuff. And there's plenty of that too.

First, and most importantly:
I WON…

5K March to College in pictures

Tonight I ran my first mid-week evening race of the 2013 season. I really love evening races and I'm glad the season for them has finally arrived (along with the weather to support them).

The race was the 5K March to College and this was the second annual running of the race (price: $35). I wanted to run this race last year but it didn't work out so I'm glad I could fit it in this year. Also, I started physical therapy for my knee yesterday morning (really my IT band - I know, I know, I'm a stereotypical runner with a stereotypical running injury) and already feel a bit better... which is good because I'm running a 5K on Saturday (PAAWR to Empower) and a 10K on Sunday (Chicago Spring 10K - I transferred down from the half because of my knee).

So anyway, below is a photo-filled breakdown of the 5K March to College from this afternoon.

The whole point of the race, organized by Center for Companies That Care, is to increase "college graduation rates among minori…

Race to Wrigley 8th Annual 5K Run in pictures

The Race to Wrigley is an interesting beast. It's an odd mix of a big-time, corporate race (after all, it's tied in with the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field and involves blocking off some major streets) but it also has an air of a smaller charity run (the shirt is polyester and rather plain and it's put on by Chicago Cubs Charities and proceeds - this year at least - went to Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago). The price falls right in the middle as well: $40 for timed and $35 for un-timed.

This morning, the run was kicked off with a warm-up by WGN's Dina Bair and The Biggest Loser's Danni Allen (I was lucky enough to get to talk to both of these lovely ladies just before they went out to introduce the race). Unfortunately, I missed their stage time because I was waiting in the incredibly long gear check line, which was hopelessly understaffed. The line was slowed down even more by the new security measure of volunteers looking through runners' bags befor…

Cinco de Miler in pictures

Last weekend I was in Zihuatanejo, Mexico for a friend's wedding, so it seemed only fitting to be running the Cinco de Miler this weekend as a follow-up.

I had a good time last year and have been looking forward to running it again (though not as a double-header with C4Miles and not even as a back-to-back run with the Run to Remember). I enjoyed both those races last year but both were yesterday morning and I was volunteering with the Northwest Side Housing Center to clean up a vacant lot (because I'm a really outstanding citizen, okay). Also, my knee has been hurting and I figure I better not push it more than I already am by running multiple races for a while. This is what happens when you turn 30 I guess...

Start Early 10K

I ran the Start Early 10K yesterday morning. My review is up at Newcity with more of a description of the race. Overall it was an okay race, mostly on the Lakefront Trail.

As I said in my review, I was pretty disappointed by the attitudes of several of the volunteers in the race day registration booth. I've only volunteered for a few races, and I know it can be mentally and physically exhausting, but if you're out there representing the group that you're volunteering for you should at least make an effort to smile at the people participating in the event. You might as well not volunteer if you're going to make the organization look bad.

Seriously though, the rest of the volunteers were great.

The Finish Line Never Gets Closer

I'm still working on my Vine skills but I thought this one from the Start Early 10K this morning captures the feeling of endlessness at the finish line of any race:


Isn't the finish line kind of like that hallway in Poltergeist:

You speed up and it just stays the same distance away.

And in the case of my Vine above, there's a little kid that you just can't catch.

Shamrock Shuffle Media Challenge

Last year was the first year I ran the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and it was a great experience.

But I think that this year was even better. Maybe because I knew what to expect, maybe because I haven't been getting to run as much lately and this was a welcome reminder of how much I love it... I'm not sure. My Newcity review has more on that.

Anyway, here's the starting line:


First off:
Since I found out about the Media Challenge last year as well (which my team didn't win), I was looking forward to getting a second chance at this.

The Media Challenge is a little competition that the race organizers do, pitting local media outlets against each other for a $2500 prize (which will be donated to the charity of the winning team's choice). Since Newcity doesn't have enough runners to comprise a team, I joined my friend Dina Bair's WGN team (I was also on her team last year). The team with the fastest average pace for the first four runners wins.

The competi…

Running in New Orleans

All last week I was in New Orleans working with the St. Bernard Project on a house in the Lower Ninth Ward. It was an incredibly rewarding experience but also eye-opening... and all those other things that experiences like this are. I'm well aware that there's no way to talk about it without sounding self-indulgent so I'll just stop there.

If you want to donate to the St. Bernard Project (they need all the donations they can get) you can do that on this First Giving site. And if you're ever in New Orleans I think St. Bernard Project even does just day-long volunteer assignments so you can help out for just one day if you have extra time.

But the main point is that while I was there I got some running done in the mornings and the city is pretty awesome to run through. Especially down South Carrollton Avenue where I was staying because there's a green space in the center of the street where the streetcars run. I guess that's where runners usually run (instead of…

Fox Valley Winter Challenge Trail Series: Trail Race #2

The several inches of snow that we got Thursday night (or early Friday morning, I guess) provided a perfect set-up for a trail race through the woods yesterday. You can read more about the Fox Valley Winter Challenge Trail Series Trail Race #2 (I swear that's what it's called) in my Newcity review.

Last year, I ran the inaugural version of this race (I say "version" only because it was a 5K last year and this year not only is it an 8K but the name is different and it's part of a three-race series) and had a surprisingly good time, given that I had no idea what to expect from a snowy trail race and that I still wasn't that familiar with outdoor running in the cold. Up until this point I had spent most of my winters in Chicago either running on a treadmill or just giving up running completely and waiting for spring to come around. This 5K was also one of the first races that I reviewed for Newcity (last year's review) which makes it an especially memorable…

Chicago Marathon Registration Time

In case you weren't aware, registration for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon opens right now.

So, if you're planning on running in October, and you weren't at the pre-registration unveiling last night at House of Blues, you better go sign up now. Seriously.

Last year the race sold out in only six days. In 2011 it was 31 days... so if that same increase in registration is maintained, then according to my (very scientific) calculations, that means the 2013 marathon will sell out in only 28 hours. So if you're planning to run 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago on October 13th, you have (according to my flawless math) between now and tomorrow at 4pm to register. Quick decision!

Chicagoland's First Annual February Fool's Goal Half Marathon/Debacle Completed!

If you were outside running yesterday, or even if you were just sitting inside looking out the window, you are probably aware that yesterday was a terrible weather day. All day. The temperature stayed between 34 and 40 with freezing rain falling on and off throughout the day.

But that didn't stop a trio of foolish runners from Chicago from completing the inaugural running of Chicago's newest half marathon:

Chicagoland's First Annual February Fool's Goal Half Marathon/Debacle 

Chicagoland's First Annual February Fool's Goal Half Marathon/Debacle

A few weeks ago I was looking through the race listings for the month of February and noticed that there are three different races this coming Sunday. All in different cities. As I was trying to decide which one to run I realized that they're all taking place at different times... and then I started thinking...

Why not just run all three?

I talked to my running homey Antonio and after some discussion about logistics, we realized that based on the timing and location of the races, this would be an insane dash from Chicago to Highland Park to Hoffman Estates to Channahon and back to Chicago, with just enough time to park, get our bibs, run the races and (after carefully stretching, of course) head off to the next one.

That's also when we noticed that by a pretty sweet coincidence, the three races just happen to add up to a half marathon. 

So, obviously we decided that it had to be done. We registered for all three and created a new race:

Chicagoland's First Annual Febru…

Chi-Town Big Game 5K in the snow

This morning was a cold one: about 12 degrees at race time (9am) and with a pretty heavy snow falling. Walking from the Roosevelt Red Line towards Soldier Field I was really happy that I registered for the 5K and not the 10K for once. Usually, I can't help myself and just register for the longest distance available. But even though I'm sure the 10K runners appreciated the snowy views all the way down the Lakeshore Trail to 41st street, I was more than happy to not be among their ranks and to be able to turn left just north of 31st street and start heading back towards the United Club inside Soldier Field. You can check out more about the race itself in my Newcity review.

With the wind blowing against me in both directions (or seeming to) I felt like I was running a lot harder than I really was the entire time.  
I ended up with a 22:55, which was good enough for 16th overall and 3rd in my age group (another reason to run the shorter distance - less competition!). And the aft…

F^3 Lake Half and the Abominable Snowman/Yeti

Before I say anything else about the race, I think it's most important to note that there was a yeti on the trail. The yeti is like Bigfoot, except that he's from Nepal. Somehow this mythical creature was able to sign up for the race, get a bib and start with the rest of us. Luckily I snapped a photo of him as he was about to attack me. That photo is on twitter and on my Newcity review. I hope scientists can use the evidence that I gathered to prove that the yeti does exist, and that he enjoys freezing cold, mid-to-long-distance races. Also, it looks like he somehow figured out how to put on sunglasses and headphones, two accessories that I forgot. Even the Abominable Snowman knows: preparation is key.

Park Forest Midwinter Cruise 5K

I headed back out this morning for the second 5K of my weekend double-header with my partner in crime Antonio. Luckily, today's race, the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club's Midwinter Cruise 5K, didn't start til 10:30 so we actually got to get some good weekend sleeping in before waking up to some freezing temperatures. I already wrote about the basics of the race for Treadmill.com but there's gotta be some extra stuff to add right?

First of all, I really liked that they gave out gloves instead of race shirts. I grabbed the blue ones and Antonio grabbed the grey ones. They were one-size-fits-all and they had about five colors - blue being the craziest - all with the running group's running turtle logo embroidered into the wrist.

Burbank Frosty 5K and Encouragement From Random Runners

I'd never even heard of Burbank, Illinois until I found out about the Burbank Park District's Frosty 5K run earlier this week. Luckily, my friend Antonio was down (on short notice) to head out to the suburbs for this one. And luckily again, Burbank is only about 20 miles outside Chicago (or at least 20 miles from downtown Chicago) and the race didn't start til 9am, so it wasn't like we had to crawl out of bed super early.

Overall the race was pretty straightforward: easy to find, flat course, nice people, good prizes at the post-race party, a not-too-chilly day and a dancing Frosty the Snowman - I think I covered most of that stuff in my review for Treadmill.

Frozen Gnome 50K (and 10K for the rest of us)

This morning I woke up at 5:40, put on several layers of running clothes (tights, shorts, shirt, jacket, socks, waterproof socks, shoes, hat, gloves) and headed out to catch a ride with my friend Matthew to Crystal Lake, Illinois (a city about 75 minutes northwest of Chicago that I had never even heard of until a few weeks ago).

We were heading to Veteran Acres Park, a wooded area in Crystal Lake where the McHenry County Ultrarunning Dudes and Dudettes (who call themselves M.U.D.D. for short) were hosting the first annual Frozen Gnome 50K and 10K.

Since we're only somewhat crazy runners, we were only tackling the 10K this morning and not going for the entire 30+ miles of trail running. The course promised to be challenging and it was about 25 degrees with a light snow falling, so the closer it got to race time the happier I was to only be running 6.2 miles through the snowy woods, but as we stood around in the heated pavilion waiting for race time to arrive and trying to stave of…

Top 7 Chicago Race Shirts (and a Hat) of 2012

Remember when race shirts were pretty much guaranteed to be over-sized white cotton, seemingly designed so that you could wear them once (if you really wanted to show that you ran the race) and then probably never again? One side had the race logo and the other had about 20 sponsors. And the long-sleeve ones had little cuffs at the wrists to make sure you got that nice puffed sleeve look that no one has ever asked for.

These days it seems like almost every race is giving out running shirts rather than old-school cotton, and mostly I'm thankful for this change because it seems like they spend more time picking an appropriate color and working on a legitimate design rather than just slapping their logo onto some cotton for you (although I did get a few race shirts this year that went with that style... surprisingly enough, those shirts aren't in my closet anymore).

Anyway, pretty much every race includes a shirt. Some are awesome, some are terrible and some are just... shirts. B…