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2015 Rock n Roll Chicago

The 2015 Rock n Roll Chicago helped me check off half marathon #20 and state #12.  I was happy to not have planned to race this event because it turned out to be a very hot weekend and humid race day morning.  I didn’t taper coming into the weekend, didn’t stay off my feet the day before the race and failed to properly fuel for a 13+ mile run (well, run, it’s hot, walk, run).  After all that, I was happy to simply hit my goal of getting out there, not having a heat stroke, enjoying the morning and crossing the Finish line.  Here are the details!

Location – Chicago, Illinois.  A city full of activity for any time of year, the mid-western summer can be absolutely gorgeous.  Travel to and from the city as well as moving around once you’ve arrived is simple.  The short Chicago summers make the July event a busy and exciting time of year to visit the metropolis.

Expo – The 2015 Rock n Roll Chicago expo was a typical Rock n Roll style event.  It took place in the massive McCormick Place Convention Center and was filled with vendors, free goodies and participants.  With a two day expo, I definitely recommend avoiding the big day before the race crowds, picking up your packet and doing your shopping as early as possible.  If you’re staying close to the Start or Finish, you’ll need a cab for this one.rock n roll chicago

Dining –  Big city, tons of great restaurants.  With lots of hotels within walking distance of the Start and Finish there’s a dining option for anyone.  Price points from $60 dry aged steaks to $10 juicy burgers make it easy to make your budget and your taste buds happy.

Parking – Traveling in from either of Chicago’s airports without a rental car doesn’t mean a thing.  It’s easy to get anywhere you need to go using public transportation and once you’re downtown, you can hop back on the train or walk just about anywhere you’d want to go.  Coming in from outside the city you might need to arrive more than a little early.  Parking lots fill up and with road closures, it might be challenging to navigate your way around.

Start – The half marathon and 10k do not share a start line.  I heard some less than great things about the 10k start situation but wasn’t there to comment further.  The half marathon was well done with easy access to gear check, Port-a-Potties and the starting corrals.  In front and to the sides of the first corral there was plenty of room to get in a nice warm up for a race that went off right on time.

Course – Mostly flat with the exception of a few bridges the course isn’t as scenic as I expected.  There wasn’t much running along the lake or by some of the bigger landmarks.  Many GPS watches lost signals repeatedly as the course traveled under other bridges, the ‘L’ and a few overpasses.  There are lots of turns as you loop around the city but for 95% of the race I had plenty of running room.  Around Mile 11 we headed under McCormick Place for 400-600M.  This was by far the worst part of the course for me.  You head out of the sun into a long, dark tunnel that is filled with loud music and flashing lights.  I got dizzy, slowed to a walk and almost stopped to sit down.  It was very unpleasant.

Course Support – There were not many fans out in the heat this year but that could have been the main reason the cheering crowds were mostly limited to volunteers at water stops.  There were plenty of well stocked water stops which was great for the hot day and GU was handed out around mile 10.  Ice water filled sponges waited around Mile 9 and several misters helped keep things cool after the 10k mark.  The music on the course wasn’t particularly notable and the course would have had long stretches of quiet had it not taken us through downtown Chicago.

Post Race – Big shiny medals are a Rock n Roll staple and this was no disappointment.  Iced towels, cold bottled water, chilled Gatorade, Power Bars and bananas all waited for those crossing the Finish.  Getting from the finisher chute to gear check was easy since it was in the same spot we dropped things off.

Great swag and good hot weather course support are two huge pluses while the biggest negatives were the tunnel under McCormick Place and lack of live bands.  Definitely not a PR race in the middle of July, I’d definitely support Rock n Roll Chicago as a great opportunity to hit the Windy City in the height of its summer season.

Meredith

Have you run Rock n Roll Chicago?  Raced in Chicago at all? 

Right Now: Pacing, Harvesting, Reading

It’s time for the July 2015 edition of Right Now!  This month I’ll tell you what I’m pacing this fall, what I’m harvesting this week and what I’ll be reading at the airport.  That’s right!  I’m on my way to  run the 2015 Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon where I’ll be hoping to finish a strong training run and stay cool on the course.

Pacing:  I’ll be pacing two half marathons this fall and couldn’t be more excited.  The first is one I had the honor of pacing last year, as well.  Rock n Roll Virginia Beach is coming September 6 and I’ll be out there with Hampton Runner leading the 2:15 group.  It’s always a hot one but at an easy pace, it’s a blast to cheer on so many runners to new PRs.  Hopefully there’s more music on the course this year!  My fall pacing duties continue with the Hartford Half Marathon 2 hour group on October 10 in Hartford, CT.  I’ll be checking off another state on my list while hopefully making some new friends and helping to set at least a few new PRs up north.

Harvesting:  I put my Miracle Gro AeroGarden together about four weeks ago and have started harvesting some of its produce.  I’m really excited to start cooking with the fresh, organic aerogarden growingveggies and couldn’t be happier with the ease and speed they grew.  The few pieces of lettuce I’ve snuck have been very tasty and my tiny tomatoes look delicious.  With the bunnies outside, this indoor option has been perfect and low maintenance for me.

Reading: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  This isn’t a new blockbuster best seller but I’ve finally gotten around to cracking it open.  It’s wonderful.  It is not only filled with solid, research backed facts about the monetary, emotional, support and expectation difference men and women face in the work place but offers suggestions to improve the situation without making a chance seem impossible.  A positive spin on a sometimes unfair and ultimately stressful circumstance, it’s a must read for anyone who wants to starting harvesting some serious success both inside and outside the home.

Meredith

What are you harvesting, growing, reading or racing right now or soon?

Mid-Summer Adjustments + Race Week

It’s race week and there could not have been a better time to finally find my hot weather groove.  Since I’ve made my mid-summer adjustments, I’m feeling much better about this summer adjustmentsweekend’s upcoming race, Rock n Roll Chicago.  Not only will I be traveling to a fun city, have more runner friendly weather than here in Virginia Beach and check another state off my list, I actually think I’ll enjoy myself.

This summer started of much warmed than last and I really struggled through some seriously tough workouts that shouldn’t have been.  I was pretty close to resigning myself to suffering through the next 70 days of torture when I decided to make some changes just to see if they helped.  Hey, things couldn’t get worse!

Originally I thought all of my problems were related to hydration and my higher than last year sweat rate.  I was wrong.  Not completely, hydration still plays a big part in a successful workout, but the real source of my problems (I’m pretty sure) also included food.  In cooler weather, I can eat my chia seed before a workout and not have my muscles fight the food for fluid.  This doesn’t work for me in the heat at all.  Neither does fasted running.  The extra energy I use to cool myself when it’s hot makes an easy winter fasted run twice as hard.

My most important summer adjustments are moving my daily chia intake to after my workout and making sure I eat.  Even my easy afternoon runs with Team RWB Virginia Beach requires me to eat something pretty solid about an hour beforehand.  In addition to these seasonal training changes, finding and using this calculator that advises pace decisions based on the ‘feels like’ temperature was a huge help.  It gave me a lot of reassurance that my summer adjustments aren’t a bump in the training road but a necessity that won’t hurt come fall.

I’ll be taking my summer adjustments to Chicago this weekend and instead of just fighting to finish, I’m looking forward to a successful training race.

Meredith

What kind of summer adjustments have you made this year?

Fit Friday: Sharing Workouts

It’s time to start sharing workouts again!  It’s been a while since I’ve shared my workouts mostly because I’m hanging out in maintenance mode while not training for anything specific.  Things haven’t changed much but I am only three weeks out from my next half, Rock n Roll Chicago.  I love stealing seeing other people’s workouts, it’s a great source of inspiration and is a good way to stick with one of my summer goals: don’t get bored.  Hopefully I can help someone else get inspired by sharing mine.

My mileage week technically starts on Monday but my rest day moves around and seven days of workouts are seven days of workouts, right?  Every other Friday I’ll be sharing workouts from the last two weeks so here we go!

Saturday (6/13):  Easy shakeout barefoot on the soft sand, 2ish miles.
Sunday:  Long Run, treadmill.  10 min warm up then 60 minutes at 5k+30 seconds.  12.5 miles.
Monday:  Crossfit – 20 min AMRAP 4 x muscle up progression, 4 x hand stand push-up progression (no upside down for me), 8 kettlebell swings.
Tuesday:  Run, road, 95+ degrees.  30 min at 80% of 5k pace.
Wednesday:  Run, barefoot on packed and soft sand.  Based on effort 10 miles.
Thursday:  Rest, 30 min mobility work.  Feet were very tired from Wednesday’s outing.
Friday:  Crossfit – Front squat to 3RM, then for time: run 200, 40 superman, 20 back rack Bulgarian split squats, run 400, 30 SM, 20 BSS, run 600, 20 SM, 20 BSS (12:09)

Saturday (6/20): Run.  1 Mile Time Trial then 60 min at 10k+25 seconds.
Sunday: Rest, 30 min mobility.  Partied hard Saturday night, oops!
Monday: Crossfit – Alternate every 3 min for 24 min:  1. row 20 cal, 20 goblet squats.  2. 2×5 pull-ups, 8 burpees.
Tuesday: Run, short intervals.  2 x tabata all out sprints in 90 degree, humid weather.  3.5 miles.
Wednesday: Crossfit – 4 min AMRAP x 4 hang power clean, 4 thrusters, rest 2 min and add 10 pounds to bar.  3 min AMRAP x 3 HPC, 3 thrusters, rest 2 min and add 10 pounds to bar.  2 min AMRAP x 2 HPC, 2 thrusters, rest 2 min add 10 pounds to bar.  1 min max effort HPC thrusters.
Thursday:  Rest, 30 min mobility.  No really good reason other than I was just not feeling it.
Friday: Run.  2 x 5k, barefoot, packed sand, rest 3 min between.  7 miles.

That’s what I’ve been up to in the gym and on the road lately and I hope you’ll enjoying me sharing my workouts more often.

Meredith

Do you like sharing workouts?  Does it give you ideas for your own?

2015 Future Race Plans

I have future race plans!  When my spring race season finished two weeks ago, I was beat up both mentally and physically.  Like most athletes, it’s the promise of testing myself on race day that keeps me pushing forward and I was a little bit lost about what my fall race schedule should include.  Fortunately I’ve recovered from all of that and looking forward to what’s coming over the next few months.

Do I want to race a target half marathon?  Of course I do.  I want the PR I know I’m capable of achieving and more.  Unfortunately, it’s the summer season.  Not exactly an ideal time for racing your best, especially when your next race is Rock n Roll Chicago.  Smack dab in the middle of July.  If the weather is on my side (rain?) I might go out and see what I’ve got.  If it’s not, it’s not.  There will be plenty of opportunities to reach my goal down the road.future race plans

As I sorted myself out after three rough race weekends in a row, I ultimately decided not including the 13.1 distance in my future race plans probably wouldn’t kill me.  If Chicago happens, it happens, no big deal.  It’s been a long time since I focused on training for something other than a half marathon and even longer since I raced a road 5k.  So…I registered for the Heart of Ghent 10k and Harbor Lights 5k with a plan to PR both distances.

I also finally decided on my first marathon!  It’s a long way out but next March’s One City Marathon in Newport News, VA is the winner.  Plenty more on this coming soon.

While my immediate future race plans don’t currently include racing 13.1 miles, I will be running a few.  I have back to back half marathons in Connecticut and Rhode Island in October.  I’ll be knocking out some two in a row long run training blocks and stretching my long run to 20 miles once or twice.  It’ll give me a good taste for the full training I’ll have over the winter but the truth is I might not be able to stop myself from the lure of 13.1 racing miles.  The Harbor Lights Half Marathon is flat, fast and super close to home.  It presents the perfect chance to go after a 2015 half marathon PR in a month I’m sure won’t be hot.  The fact that it’s the day after my goal 5k just gives me more of a challenge.

Meredith

What are your future race plans?  Trying a difference race distance?

RnR DC + Race Schedule

It’s RnR DC Race Week!  I got things rolling with an easy barefoot two mile shakeout run in the sand on a gorgeous day.  Sunshine, 65 degrees and a stiff breeze made it feel like spring and I am definitely ready to run in fewer layers.  rnr dcNext Saturday’s half marathon isn’t a target race but I’m excited to get out there and see how it goes after working on my cadence.  The work I’ve been doing seemed to pay off with yesterday’s 12 miler.  It was happily better than expected and left me excited for my second ‘race’ of the year.

RnR DC comes in week five of my spring target race training schedule.  The weather is looking a little rainy but I’m hoping that will change.  Good weather would be a plus in week six, as well.  It’s home to the Shamrock Half Marathon, where I’ll be pacing the 1:52 group and has been a little chilly and windy the last two years.  After the Shamrock, it’s down to business for six more weeks heading to my goal race, the Prairie Fire Half Marathon.  I’ll be checking Kansas off my 50 States list the first week in May and kicking off a busy month of racing.  Six short days later I’ll roll into the EquiKids 5k and on 16 May I’ll be toeing the line at the St. Michael’s Half Marathon in Maryland.  Three races in three states in three weeks, phew!

After that busy stretch in May, I’ll get a few weeks to rest and play before starting a mileage build for the fall that includes Rock n Roll Chicago.  Even though it’ll be a hot one, I’m excited to see the city in a new different way as I check Illinois off my 50 states list and complete the third race of my 2015 Rock n Roll 3 Pack Tour Pass series (RnR AZ and RnR DC are the other two).  After Chicago in July, my race calendar is wide open.  I have a few ideas for fall events but haven’t committed to any yet.

Here are a few potential fall races for me:  Smuttynose Half, Newport Half, Hartford Half, Baystate Half, Morgantown Half and Freedom’s Run Half.

Meredith

Are you running RnR DC?  What’s on your fall schedule?