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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas Running Kicks Off With the Santa Hustle 5K

So it's December - which means that, as I said Friday, it's cold. But it also means that it's the holiday season. And that means that there are a bunch of holiday-themed races everywhere. Yesterday morning I ran one of the Christmas ones: the Santa Hustle 5K.

And, as I said in my Newcity review, it was a pretty good time.

There were around 5500 runners but, perhaps because of the gimmicky nature of the race, not that many in the first several corrals (from 5:00 minute miles to 8:00 minute miles). I - somewhat hopefully - got into the 7:30 minute mile corral before the race started (I ended up closer to 8) and they condensed everything up to 8:00 into one first wave. Though there were still a few runners who placed themselves up front incorrectly (as there are at any race) for the most part the start of the first wave was pretty clear, as was the rest of the run.

I used the Nike+ Running app to track my run for only the second time in preparation fro the Nike+ Chiberia Cha…

Nike+ Chiberia Challenge - Join My Team and Let's Win

You guys, it's cold outside. I know. And when it's cold outside it's harder to get motivated to run.

And Nike knows this too.

So they've created a thing called the Nike+ Chiberia Challenge. Go check it out.

5 teams of runners will be competing against winter (and against each other) to run the farthest the fastest (fastest in terms of days, not speed of running).

It's a pretty sweet challenge.

And I'm captaining one of the five teams. Other teams are captained by the likes of Cindy Kuzma, Runner's World contributing editor and nicest person ever and Maggie Wolff, most popular Chicago running blogger and second nicest person ever. But, really, who cares about them?? You only care about winning this thing right?

So, go check out the info about the challenge, read about the other (lesser) teams and then go join my team at the link below and let's win this thing:

gonike.me/ChiberiaChallenge_Zach

Also, good luck Maggie and Cindy and other teams (kind of).

Motigo: the Beta Test. And a Chance for a Lifetime Subscription

Last month I tested out a new running app called Motigo. It’s an app that, as the website says, is “the best way for runners and their biggest fans to make race day special.” That might be a bit of a stretch but it is certainly an interesting concept. What Motigo does is let runners receive cheers from their friends and family during a race - it runs in the background of whatever app you're already using (whether it's just to play music or to do some kind of fitness tracking). I know this sounds a bit unnecessary – I thought of Voxer and Snapchat, or just plain old calling someone, but those all require interaction with the phone when you want to be focusing on running – but passively receiving cheers from familiar voices through your headphones while running is an experience I hadn’t considered.

So I gave it a try at the Oktoberfest 5K.

Approaching the starting line with my plan to beta test this app, I realized something about myself with minutes to go before the race start…

I Spent 17 Crazy Hours In the Arkansas Mountains For the Arkansas Traveller 100

"Welcome to the dark side of the running world!" my uncle Jay says to me Monday morning. He's only partly joking... if that much. Because this weekend I did indulge in what to many (including those involved) would be considered the "dark side of the running world." Running a race with my uncle in the Ouachita National Forest sounds innocuous enough. But when you add in the additional fact that the race covered 100.3 miles and lasted almost 30 hours, it certainly starts to sound a lot crazier. And though I only personally covered 48 of those 100.3 miles as my uncle's pacer, I can say with relative certainty, that it is as crazy as it sounds.

Founded in 1991, the Arkansas Traveller 100 was one of the earlier 100-mile races to come into existence. Winding through the mountain trails of the Ouachita National Forest, it's both a beautiful tour of the countryside and a torturous trip to the edge of human endurance. It's also populated with some of the ni…

I Run-Draw These Streets

Sometimes as a mature adult with responsibilities and goals you have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning, put on your running shoes and go out and run 8 miles... in the shape of a dick.

So that's what RunKeeper and I did this morning on the streets of Chicago.

I feel so accomplished:


Thank you to the original dick-runner for the inspiration. My crude run-drawing skills are nothing to yours Claire.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Marathoner Profile: Joe O'Reilly

Sometimes those of us who live in the city can forget what a big deal the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is. Well, not really, that would be pretty hard to do considering just what a big deal it actually is. But, when you’re used to living in the city (and maybe you have a few Chicago Marathons under your belt) you can forget that this is a World Marathon Major (an elite group of marathons that only includes Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York City and Tokyo). And while we may just be taking the train downtown to run on October 12th, people will be coming from all over the world to run this marathon.

Joe O’Reilly is one of those people.

Coming in from Dublin next month, Chicago will mark O’Reilly’s 7th marathon (he’s previously completed four in Ireland as well as Paris and Berlin). Four years ago he wouldn’t have guessed he’d be making this trip. “I got into running as part of a weight-loss journey I took four or so years ago where I lost about 90-95 pounds,” says O’Reilly. …

Molly Coeling Massage - Helping Me And My IT-Band Run Through Injury

Back in April, after the Ravenswood Run, I got a post-race massage that was especially memorable to me (if you've gotten enough post-race massages, you probably know that they're helpful, but they also kind of start to blend together). This one was different and I wrote about it at the time (from April):

Before I left though I got a free 10-minute sports massage from Molly Coeling. She and another massage therapist were there for the Fleet Feet No Boundaries group but they were nice enough to let me slip in and get a massage as long as I promised to hop up if anyone from the No Boundaries group came over while I was there.
I told her about my IT-band injury from last year and she worked over my left side pretty well. Definitely something I needed done before I headed to the second race (and just in general). Luckily no one from No Boundaries came over while I was there so I got the full massage. 
This week, with my IT-band acting up and the Chicago Marathon looming (not …

Giving Divvy Bikes a Tri (Along With Some Swimming and Running)

On Saturday morning at Montrose Beach I completed my second triathlon: the Chicago Triathlon SuperSprint.

There were a few differences between this one and the North Shore Triathlon that I did last year.

The first difference was that this was a SuperSprint rather than a Sprint distance (375m swim | 10K bike | 2.5K run vs 750m swim | 20K bike | 5K run) or about half the distance. The second was that I was a part of the inaugural Divvy Wave of the SuperSprint, meaning that rather than needing to bring my own bike (or in the case of last year, Fuzzy's bike), I just showed up at the race site in the morning, grabbed a Divvy and set up my tri station stuff around it.

For your typical triathlete I would say that this is a less than ideal set-up. You're not going to have the bike you want and definitely not the speed you want and if you're going for time, you're going to be disappointed. However, for someone dabbling in the triathlon - such as myself and a few other Divvy c…

The Most American Run: The Freedom Trail

How American was your run today? Not as American as mine.

For serious.

Today I ran the most American run possible: The Freedom Trail.

There was a little bit of Commonwealth Avenue thrown in there for good measure but, for the most part, this run was all Freedom Trail - from the Visitor Information Center in Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, I ran all the history today.

And if you're ever visiting Boston, I definitely recommend it - if you can stand that much history in one run.

So here are some pictures from the run to highlight some of the most impressive/memorable spots along the trail.

$1 Per Mile Donated to Back on My Feet With the Mizuno Baton App

What if for every mile you ran $1 was donated to charity? 

Well, that's possible this week.


Some back story: a few years ago when I lived in River North I found out about an organization called Back on My Feet, a national organization that "uses running to help those experiencing homelessness transform their own lives and achieve employment and independent living." The group I ran with was based out of the Lawson House YMCA but there are three locations across Chicago.

Though I was only able to run with the group for a few months - in the dead of winter, no less - I found the entire experience inspiring. Not only are you getting a morning run in, but you're running with people who are looking to get "back on their feet" and are using the program as a method to make that happen.

All this is to say that Fleet Feet Chicago is teaming up with Mizuno this week to support Back on My Feet. As you may know, the Elvis is Alive 5K - hosted by Fleet Feet - is this Th…

What is a Sproing? Try a Free Class and Find Out

Sproing.

What?

Before I go any further I should probably give some description of what Sproing is - otherwise, if your mind is anything like mine, it goes to all kinds of places with that word.

Sproing is a new type of fitness class based on the Pose Method and - more specifically to Chicago - it's a new fitness studio that is now open in Old Town.

Back in May I checked out a Sproing class with a group of Chicago Running Bloggers. At the time - after a somewhat lackluster session that didn't leave me feeling very worked out - I wasn't especially impressed with the Sproing experience. Given that they were still relatively new at the time - having just opened in April - I decided to give it another try yesterday now that they've been up and running for several months.

And I'm glad I did.

Before I go into detail describing the class, let me just say that it is a serious (and seriously exhausting) high intensity, low impact workout. And if you want to try it out you c…

Rita Jeptoo Talks Training and Marathons at Nike Running Bucktown

Rita Jeptoo, eye-catchingly dressed in brightly-colored Nike running gear, with flashy pink fingernails that sparkle when she talks with her hands (which she does often), is surprisingly soft-spoken and reserved at first. Despite being the defending champion of both the Chicago and Boston marathons, she gazes around shyly as she offers a delicate handshake to each of us. She's instantly one of the most likeable people I've ever met.
Gathering around her with a small group of running bloggers (including Erica, Emily and Jen) in Nike Running Bucktown to ask her questions I can't help feeling like we were boxing her in, each of us slowly inching closer and closer to hear her almost-whispered responses over the din of runners preparing for a Monday night run. But as the circle slowly closes around her she actually seems to grow more comfortable, unleashing several lengthy stream-of-consciousness responses to questions about her training habits, her favorite marathons and how…

Storm the Stadium Discount Code

Several years ago my wife participated in the Hustle Up the Hancock stair climb. At the time we lived in a highrise in River North and she trained by walking up and down the stairwell in our 33-story building. I trained with her a few times and quickly found out that stair climbing is wayyyy harder than it looks.

Later, while participating in the Men's Health Urbanathlon I got another chance to tackle stair climbing. This time in Soldier Field. It was no easier. So, looking at the description for the upcoming Storm the Stadium (Chicago's longest and only open-air stair climb) at U.S. Cellular Field, I'm imagining that there are going to be plenty of people on event day showing up for an event that is a lot harder than they're expecting.

I'd love to be one of those people.

Unfortunately, I'm going to be out of Chicago that weekend so I'm not going to be able to. However, I do have a discount code for $10 off registration if you register before August 9th:

D…

A Flood of Runners: Chinatown 5K and the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (R.O.C.) 5K

If you were running on Saturday morning, you may have noticed that it rained a little bit.

That's a bit of an understatement.

It rained like Darren Aronofsky was in charge of the weather.

Luckily, I didn't see Russell Crowe walking around with crazy eyes anywhere.

But I did see a lot of runners who did not seem to give an eff about inclement weather - they signed up for a race and by god they were going to run it (hey, I was one of those people too).

When I got to Chinatown around 7:30 on Saturday morning, I thought I might find a sparsely attended (and possibly cancelled 5K), but what I found instead was a hidden village of dedicated runners hidden under every bit of shelter throughout Chinatown Square like little runner Easter eggs.

The race announcer made some pretty good jokes about the weather and about the race not being cancelled and, with around 10 minutes to go before start time, even the most reluctant of runners started braving the downpour to make their way to the…

Book Review: Spartan Up! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life, by Joe De Sena

Just finished "Spartan Up! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life" and I have to say that I haven't felt so strongly divided about a book in as long as I can remember. On one hand, the authors have penned a well-written and powerfully motivating self-help book that in simple, straightforward language gives the average reader an insight into how to improve their current state in life (above and beyond the arena of health and fitness). But at the same time a good portion of the book is spent repeatedly endorsing Spartan races as a sort of cure-all for what ails you (obesity, depression, loneliness, etc.) and the authors often quote research or make claims without properly citing or even substantiating their assertions.

But let's start with the good - and there is a lot of it.

By all accounts, Joe De Sena is an impressive guy (I did a brief interview with him a few months ago). And the Spartan race series is not only a …

The Clymb - Discounted Running Gear

If you're a runner (and if you're not at least somewhat of a runner, this blog will probably be really boring to you) then you probably know that your biggest expense for this relatively simple and otherwise incredibly cheap sport is your shoes. Not because there aren't cheap running shoes out there, but because cheap running shoes are not really going to give you the support that you need (or at least not for very long) and because even good running shoes need to be replaced every 300-400 miles or so.

I typically try to buy locally - both Fleet Feet and Universal Sole have great rewards programs and I shop at both - but I go through a lot of shoes and a few years ago I joined a mailing list that one of my friends turned me on to (he's on it mainly for hiking and camping gear): The Clymb.

On the site they describe themselves like this: "The Clymb offers insider pricing on premium outdoor gear, trend-setting apparel, and human-powered adventure travel packages.&…

Burgers & Beer 5K Discount Code

In 2012, Burgers & Beer went from a monthly fun run put on by Universal Sole to an official 5K with an inaugural run in Montrose Harbor. The first race was so popular that last year they moved it to The Park at Lakeshore East. And it looks like it's grown again because this year it's moved to Soldier Field.

Both the first and second year races were great (what's not to like about burgers AND beer?) so I think it's safe to assume that the third annual run on the evening of July 14th will be as well.

If you're interested in signing up, the discount code bnb2014 is good for $5 off registration

Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World

Night races are really starting to be a thing. And though I was a bit of a naysayer at first, I'm coming around. There's something cool about running on a course in the dark with a bunch of other people, especially when there are sweet lights and music and all that good stuff.

After driving back to Chicago on the night of Operation Pink Sky I headed downtown for the Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World. That's a really long title that somehow makes the race sound both better and worse than it actually was.

As I said in my Newcity review, putting a brand name at the front of a race title gives it a corporate sound - but this race didn't have that feel at all (despite the giant Energizer bunnies sprinkled around and the Energizer bunny ears everyone was wearing). Maybe it was just the fact that it was a night race but it felt much more laid back than a corporate race would.

Also, everyone had headlamps on which didn't help much at dusk but definitely looked coo…

Operation Pink Sky: I Jumped Out of a Plane Yesterday

Yesterday I jumped out of a plane. It already seems like a long time ago. It also sits in a weird place in my brain in that I don't think I could process it at the time and I definitely don't know how to process it afterwards. As I said in my original post about Operation Pink Sky, skydiving is not a thing that has ever interested me. But now I can see why people aren't just interested in it, but are addicted to it. It's completely exhilarating and unlike anything else I've done before. 

After raising money for Operation Pink Sky over the last few weeks I rented a car via Enterprise CarShare and head over to Chicagoland Skydiving Center to get checked in and ready to jump. Before you can even watch the training videos you have to sign about ten waivers basically stating that if you die your family can't sue them. Makes sense. It's a dangerous thing and they need to cover their bases. But also a little disconcerting.

I talked to Dina and Michelle about the j…

The Original Original 5K

Last weekend I ran Fleet Feet's latest race creation, The Original 5K, a 70s-themed race meant to take you "back to the 70s when American distance runners stood atop the podiums of the world’s most famous races." As I said in my Newcity review, it definitely made good on the 70s theme and was a good, fun race to boot (especially for only $19.72).

There was a good deal of facial hair and a lot of headbands and an especially large contingent of striped tube socks of varying colors (mostly because the race packet included a pair of these socks rather than a race shirt). Overall, a great morning for running and a really solid debut for a new race, especially one that was only announced a few months ago.



The best I could do for 70s theme was to throw on an old bowling shirt, but I think it was 70s enough for this race, though not the most comfortable shirt to run in. But the weather was perfect and the course was flat and open so it was a nice, fast race. I didn't break …

Memorial Day Weekend Running - Ridge Run Challenge

As I said in my last post, this past weekend included Memorial Day and the celebration was all about freedom. After running the Soldier Field 10 Mile on Saturday and resting on Sunday I got up early again on Monday to head down to south Chicago for the Ridge Run Challenge.

The Ridge Run is a race in Beverly that has been around for nearly four decades but that I just found out about last year. And after loving it last year (despite dealing with an injury) I couldn't pass it up this year (now that I'm not dealing with an injury). Basically, it's a normal race day with two separate distances: a 10K and a 5K. The unique thing here is that the races are spaced out enough so that you can do both of them. And they actually have a name for doing both of them: the Ridge Run Challenge.

On Saturday morning, Fuzzy and Erica picked me up at 6:00 and we headed to Beverly. Turns out there's no traffic at that time so we actually got there pretty early and had some time to walk aro…

Memorial Day Weekend Running - Soldier Field 10 Mile

As you are well aware, this past weekend was Memorial Day, which is all about celebrating freedom and remembering the men and women who have died serving the country. Like every other holiday, there are plenty of races in Chicago to help those who are so inclined celebrate appropriately: by going running.

Because of the long weekend I was able to make a double-header race weekend out of it (perhaps it can be classified as a triple-header, but more about that later) while still getting a rest day in between the races; I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile on Saturday morning and the Ridge Run Challenge on Monday morning. Both races celebrate Memorial Day and both are races that I've done in the past (past Soldier Field and Ridge Run reviews) and knew I would enjoy. And I did: the weather was nearly ideal (it got a little warm on Monday morning), the races were well-organized, the themes were solid and inspirational and I felt great during both of them.

Saturday morning I took the CTA to…

Operation Pink Sky: I'm Going to Jump Out of a Plane!

I've done a lot of races and promoted a lot of stuff, but I'm really not sure what else there is to say about this particular event I'm about to take part in, other than:

I'm Going to Jump Out of a Plane!
Now, I know that skydiving is a thing that people do. One of my friends (she flashes a thumbs up at 0:40) almost got hit by a meteorite doing it even - (okay, turns out it was just a lowly earth rock, but still). Anyway, I know people do it but it has never been something that has interested me. Honestly, it just sounds too scary.

But when representatives from Operation: Pink Sky - put on by Chicagoland Skydiving Center - asked me to join this event... I was still pretty scared. But I'm going to do it anyway because they're raising money to help fund breast cancer preventative research and access to care and if me jumping out of a plane can help even a little bit then I'll do it (but I'll still be scared).

So, if you can, please take a minute and donat…

Tough Mudder Chicago - Fun in the Mud

Two years ago, after reading about the growing popularity of mud runs, I signed up for the Warrior Dash. And while I ended up being disappointed at the relative easiness of the course, I also ended up having a great time and getting a clearer understanding of why these races are so popular: they're so much fun.

This weekend I headed out to Richmond, Illinois for the Tough Mudder Chicago (no, it's not in Chicago... or even Chicagoland). I was joined by my friend Logan, who decided to take a break from doing easy sports all the time to try a sport that actually requires some intense training and skill: running.*

*Immediate follow-up to anyone who does jiu jitsu: I am joking. Please don't hurt me.

Anyway, we met up with our other team members in a Super 8 parking lot and made all kinds of pre-race plans, including how we were going to get to the race, meet each other and check in and whatnot... did a team circle hand-raise thing and then drove to Country Thunder to park.

And…

Spartan Up! An interview with Spartan Race founder and author Joe De Sena

In case you hadn't heard, Joe De Sena, founder of the Spartan race series, has a book coming out next week about how to be hardcore (and other stuff too, judging from the lengthy title):

Spartan Up! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles  and Achieving Peak Performance in Life
I little while ago I got a chance to conduct a mini-interview with De Sena via email about the upcoming book (and other stuff too) and today seems like a good time to post it since his book comes out next week and I'm running the Tough Mudder in a few hours (which we talk about very briefly in the interview).

I've looked into the Spartan Race series but haven't attempted one yet. Perhaps after reading this book I'll be inspired.

Anyway,  check out the book when it hits the shelves and (more importantly) check out this little interview:

10th Annual Run to Remember - Part 1 of a 2-Race Saturday

On Saturday, I did another double-race 10K (two 5Ks in a row), though it didn't have the same continuity as the previous one.

This one coupled two very different races that started almost exactly twelve hours apart: the 10th Annual Run to Remember at 8 in the morning and the Glo Run at 8:15 at night.

For the Run to Remember, I got to Soldier Field early Saturday morning and met up with Kate from fit-ink and after stretching we headed over to the starting line. The pre-race announcements were very heartfelt (this race is to benefit Chicago police officers killed in the line of duty) and after a really impressive fly-over by a police helicopter during the National Anthem the race started. The helicopter swooped over the course a few more times during the race - sometimes with the siren going - which was always cool.
It was a great day for running and I liked this race even better than I did when I previously ran it in 2012. They said this was the largest participation they've …

The Most Important Character Arc in Chicago Fire Season 2 Episode 20 (A Dark Day)

If you watched the latest episode of "Chicago Fire" last night (Season 2 Episode 20: A Dark Day) I bet you're probably thinking what everyone else is thinking:

Who was that incredible actor with the surprisingly subtle (but inspiring) character arc?

Well, the media pressure has been too great and I don't think I can stay quiet much longer, so I've decided to break my silence on this front and come forward (on my own terms).

It was me.

That's right. Over the course of three days of filming I created that mysterious character that you were all breathlessly watching last night throughout this first episode of what's going to be a three-part story (crossing two episodes of "Chicago Fire" and one of "Chicago P.D.").

Now, because the character arc IS so subtle I thought I would break it down here for those who may have missed some of the more nuanced character development (it is a fast-paced episode so it can be hard to keep up with even the…

Build Your Own 10K: The Ravenswood Run and Phi Delta Chi 5K

The Tough Mudder is only a few weeks away and in terms of half marathon training (the Tough Mudder is only "10-12 miles" but I figure I should be able to at least do a half to compensate for the obstacles and the mud) I was supposed to run 11 miles today. I didn't do that. But I did do a little bit of what could be considered interval training (with a little imaginative considering).

Making use of Chicago's crowded spring running calendar I scheduled two 5Ks back-to-back, leaving enough time to run from one to the other:

Ravenswood Run (Hermitage and Wilson): 8:00am Phi Delta Chi 5K (Montrose Harbor): 9:30am
Luckily, the first race started only about a mile from my house so I met my friend John at his place down the street at 7:30 and we jogged over to the starting line to get a little warm up in. As with most races put on by Fleet Feet, the gear check was easy, the corral system was clear and the takeoff was smooth. My full review of the Ravenswood Run is up at www.n…

5K March to College: An Interview with Marybeth Lernihan

Last year, one of the more interesting races that I ran was a little weekday evening run called the 5K March to College.

Started in 2012, this race is hosted by Companies That Care and is used to promote higher education to the students involved in their mentoring programs as well as to raise awareness about their programs to a greater audience. To that end, a college fair takes place a few hours before the race kicks off and each participant's shirt represents where they currently stand in relation to their college career:
Like CollegeCollege BoundIn CollegeCollege Graduate To find out more about both the race and Companies That Care, I got on the phone with Marybeth Lernihan - a board member of Companies That Care since 2009 and an integral part of the coordination of this year's 5K March to College.

Doyle's Emerald Necklace Road Race

Since I'm in Boston this week visiting Brynn I figured we should be hitting up some of the Boston-area races (especially since neither of us is fast enough to run the Boston Marathon). So, in searching for the most convenient race for us to take on this weekend I stumbled upon the Doyle's Emerald Necklace Road Race - a race now in its 18th year and deemed "legendary" by race organizers. It didn't hurt that this race started at 11am and that the weather was predicted to be sunny and in the mid-60s.

Unfortunately, Boston chose not to cooperate and the weather was in the mid-50s and raining yesterday morning as Brynn and I made our way to the starting line (via bike - her on her own bike and me on a Hubway - the Boston equivalent of Divvy).

We got to what we thought was the starting line at Doyle's Cafe - a small pub/cafe in Jamaica Plain - and checked in to get our race bibs. Here we found out a few things: 1. This race is much bigger than we anticipated (aroun…

When There Are Two Distances, Choose the Shorter One: Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K

In the middle of last week I decided that after running outside for the Shamrock Shuffle last weekend and then hitting up the treadmill again all week I needed some kind of race to get me outside again this weekend (well... last weekend now). I did some searching and decided to sign up for the Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K.

I thought about signing up for the half but I figured that after running on a treadmill for distances only ranging between 3 and 6 miles all winter I would just end up hurting myself like I did early on last year and ruining the rest of the year for myself again. So I signed up for the 10K instead. Good idea.

Good advice that I gave myself a while ago that I hardly ever follow: When an event has two distances, sign up for the shorter one.
So, I did some hill work on Saturday (and by "hill" I mean setting the treadmill to random elevation) and then Sunday morning Divvied over to Lincoln Park for the race.