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Showing posts from 2015

Kevin Runs His Hart Out With Nike+ Run Club

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:
Chicago, Get Ready. Field Museum on 7/31– Running @ 7:36AM! REGISTER HERE: http://t.co/UqOx1FcMAm#RunWithHart#NRCpic.twitter.com/AVHfzBlYej — Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) July 29, 2015 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 certa…

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:

"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.

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


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 fe…

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).


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 …

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-com…

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&#…

Bastille Day 5K & 8K is coming up - and I've got a discount code

Over the years I've had mixed reactions (bad, good) to the Bastille Day 5K & 8K Run,Walk & Block Party (starting with that lengthy title), but it has been around longer than I have (this will be it's 34th year!) and it remains a popular summer race in Chicago.

I skipped it last year, but I'm ready to head back next month to check it out again. This year the race is in front of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum again and takes place on Thursday, July 9th with the 8K kicking off at 7:15pm and the 5K kicking off 15 minutes later.

One thing this race - which, according to the Special Events Management website "commemorates the French Revolution" - always has going for it is cool race shirt design (the 2013 race shirt was my 2nd favorite of the year) so I have high hopes for the event in that area. And this year promises an indoor post-race block party, which should be nice in mid-July.

So without further pontificating, here is a code, good for $4 off regist…

Humana Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon - Remix Challenge and Discount Codes

Alright runners - the Humana Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon is back in Chicago on July 19th. And, in fact, this year it's basically a running festival from Friday through Sunday (July 17th-19th), with the expo on Friday and Saturday, a 5K on Saturday and a 10K and half on Sunday.

And this year if you run the 5K on Saturday and then either the 10K or half on Sunday you get a special "Remix Challenge" medal. Because these kinds of "challenge" gimmicks always work on me, I'm now registered for both the 5K and the half.

I'm not saying you have to do both... but...

If you're ready to register today, it's $20 off because of the Blackhawks' win last night:
Discount code: CHIWINS Valid: 6/11
And if you're waiting to register and want to save $15 on the half, here's some info that might be helpful:
Discount code: SAVE15 Valid: Between 6/13-6/15 Registration link: http://www.runrocknroll.com/save15

Terrapin 5K Makes One Last Appearance in Chicago

If you've read about RAM Racing's Terrapin 5K over the last few years (maybe here or maybe over at Fuzzy's blog, or really all over the place) then you know what the basic theme is. If not, then you should know that it's a 5K nestled in a music festival and it usually takes place the Thursday night before Lollapalooza starts. This year, though, it's on Thursday, July 2nd. Fittingly. It's the Thursday before The Grateful Dead perform together one last time at Soldier Field

And it's the last Terrapin 5K. Mirroring the final performance by The Dead, the Terrapin website claims that the "Terrapin 5k is Headed Back to Chicago for One Last Time!" I checked with RAM Racing on this one to make sure it wasn't a publicity stunt and a representative confirmed: "This is the last time we are doing this race."

So if you've never run it before - I highly recommend you get out there next month and check it out! And if you have run it before,…

Volition America Half Marathon - the Most Patriotic Race in Chicago

Saturday morning I woke up at six with a cold that I had been dealing with for a few days, took some DayQuil and caught a train downtown. Since DayQuil is basically magic (at least for a few hours) by the time the race kicked off at 7:20 I felt totally fine. And the race - the Volition America Half Marathon - was totally fine too (check out my Newcity review for some elaboration on that sentiment).

When I got to the starting line it was pretty packed - both with runners and with American flags. I didn't realize until after the race that there were over 600 runners. Organizers did a good job of packing us in there without making us feel so packed in.


Pretty much everything about this race was well-organized, especially for an inaugural race. The gear check was the size of gear checks that I've seen in much larger races (there were around 800 runners in both the half marathon and 5K) and I was able to check my bag right after arriving.

Gearing Up For the ABC7 Gibbons 5K: An Interview with Arleen Boudart

I've been eying the long-running ABC7 Gibbons 5K for the last several years but still haven't run it. But this year - and even more specifically, this month - I'm finally going to go out on a Thursday afternoon (June 18th!) and run it. And since it's a race I've been interested in for a while I thought I'd get a little background information before I cross the starting line two weeks from now.

Luckily, Arleen Boudart, Special Events Director for the Leukemia Research Foundation (the group who organizes the race fulfilling their mission of being "dedicated to conquering all blood cancers by funding research into their causes and cures, and enriching the quality of life of those touched by these diseases") was able to give me some of her time to break it down a bit.

Most importantly, the race was started 21 years ago in memory of Jim Gibbons from ABC7 after his death from leukemia in 1994. Boudart explained that an evening slot for the race was chose…

The Starved Rock Country Marathon or How to Live Up to Your Braggadocio

Have you ever talked a big game and then found yourself having to back it up? It's not a particularly exciting position to be in. And at mile 21 of the Starved Rock Country Marathon this morning, that's exactly where I found myself.

Just last weekend I was talking to a dude at a bar (The Grafton Pub, to be specific - cool place if you're in Lincoln Square) and he was describing watching runners getting pulled from this year's Illinois Marathon due to rain last month. He asked me what I would do if that (being told to quit a canceled race) ever happened to me.

"I'd just ignore them and keep going," I said.

"But what if they're like, 'The course is closed - you HAVE to stop running!'?" he asked.

"I'd just run around them."

So... it sounded pretty straightforward to me at the time. But this morning as I was halfway through the course and it started pouring (not raining, seriously pouring) and just as I found myself on a l…

Starved Rock Country Marathon Q&A with Race Director Matt Skelly

At the end of last month I ran the Big Sur International Marathon. And I'm not going to lie. It was hard. It was so hard that it didn't just hurt my legs. It hurt my feelings.

And as I was sitting at home thinking about my hurt feelings I saw another upcoming marathon that looks picturesque and unique: the Starved Rock Country Marathon. So, I did the appropriate thing and signed up for another marathon - why let all that hill training from last month go to waste!? The race starts Saturday morning (May 16th) at 7am in Ottawa, Illinois.

Previous to Big Sur I had only done large marathons (Chicago, New York, Athens) and after getting a taste for what a smaller marathon can be like, I'm excited to go even smaller (right now there are around 230 people registered for Saturday's marathon). This is only the second year for the Starved Rock Country Marathon, but judging from the course (part of the course goes through Starved Rock State Park!) and the feedback to last year…

The Big Sur International Marathon or What's With All the Hills???

Five days ago I woke up in Carmel at 2:30 in the morning so that I could head to a local middle school and wait in line for a school bus that would arrive at 3:30 and take me 26.2 miles away to Big Sur, just so that I could wait two hours in the dark and then run back along a windy, hilly stretch of highway.

Taken on its own, that sounds like madness. And while I'm not one to dispute that appraisal, I should perhaps add that there were several thousand people taking this journey with me. That many people can't be crazy right? Debatable.

This early morning odyssey - followed by the arduous return journey - is the Big Sur International Marathon, a race that in its three decades of existence (last Sunday's race was the 30th running) has developed mythical status in the minds of most runners of a certain distance. I know I've had my eye on it for several years now. Unlike other well-known races, this one doesn't take place in a major metropolitan area or boast big nam…

Universal Sole Four Mile Classic Is Back (Discount Code Included)

Last year the Universal Sole Four Mile Classic took place on an incredibly windy day in Dusable Harbor. A day so windy that one of the covered tents from the basecamp got blown straight into the lake. It may have been windy but it was still a great race with an even better post-race party (seriously, all-you-can-drink 312). Well, that race is coming back for another go-round, but this time it's moving farther north to Montrose Harbor - where the first official Burgers and Beer 5K was hosted (also by Universal Sole).

The press release says that runners can expect "the usual USOLE perks (swag, beer, prizes and a great party)" along with a "flat, fast 4 mile run along the northern stretch of the Lakefront Path." And they also have an post-race party planned.

This one will be on the roof top of Lakeshore Sport & Fitness in Lincoln Park where they'll host a "killer raffle" with Goose Island beer and food.

I can't miss the promise of a weekday …

Fleet Feet Sports and RAM Racing join forces for packet pick-ups

Great news for the Chicago running community!

Fleet Feet Sports and RAM Racing just announced in a joint statement that they will "now have packet pickups for all our races at our own stores as well as at each others' stores, making it easier for all our participants to pick up their race packets closer to work or home."

"As friendly competitors we were challenged on how much we could collaborate in serving the Windy City's endurance athletes," says the statement, signed by both Dave Zimmer and Steve Ginsburg. But based on recent changes the two say they can now "work together and blanket Chicagoland with the best retail, coaching and racing services conveniently located for everyone in the metropolitan area."

Fleet Feet has six locations in the Chicagoland area and Running Away Multisport is in Deerfield.

Zimmer and Ginsburg conclude by saying, "We will both continue to bring Chicagoland the highest caliber races and running events in the nat…

Bank of America Chicago Marathon - Infant Welfare Society of Chicago Entry

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon lottery closes at noon on Tuesday (tomorrow). If you're like me, then you've probably already put your name in. But if you want to avoid the anticipation of knowing whether or not you got into the race - or if you're just a good person - you can get a guaranteed entry spot now via a charity.
If you're looking for a good charity to run with, one of my neighbors, Michelle Di Benedetto, is leading the charity team for the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago (IWS).
IWS actively engages in preventive care through medical, dental, optometry and behavioral health services and our marathon team is part of that mission - celebrating healthy lifestyles and early intervention.
"Our Associate Board decided about three years ago to run the marathon to raise money for our community health center and to showcase healthy living and prevention," says Michelle. "It's been a great way for us to raise awareness and money for our mis…

Nike Free Lakefront Speed Run With a View

Earlier this month Nike Running put on a very sweet speed training session on the lakefront where we got to test out the new Nike Frees (which are incredibly light and very cool). But it was a bit more elaborate than a standard speed training event, as this ABC7 news clip (complete with video of me and my terrible running form) describes: