Review: Run Mag Mile 10k 2019

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Run Mag Mile 10k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

BibRave was kind enough to give me an entry to the Run Mag Mile 10k on Saturday September 7, 2019, so I could run it for the first time! 🙂 I know I’ve lived in Chicago for 5 years and it’s a little sad I have not run it, but if you are a long time reader of Black Bean Queen you know that I have spent my fair share of those years injured… Anyway, let’s discuss the race weekend!

Packet Pick-up

As is tradition for most Chicago RAM races, packet pick-up was at Fleet Feet Old Town. I went on Friday late afternoon, since I did not have class and was already in the area. It was a little crowded, but I was in and out quickly. It was a little confusing when I showed my race registration to claim my bib and they told me my bib was already picked up…but this little snafu was solved quickly. I just had to go to a different spot of the store to grab my bib since all the elite bibs were pulled ahead of time apparently. Which bring sme to my next point, I was seeded as an elite for this race and that offered me some cool perks that I was not expecting, such as a separate bag check, an elites only tent, preferential placing in the start corral, and snacks/beverages! I was also a little surprised to be seeded as elite because I consider myself to very much be an aspiring sub-elite runner at this moment in time.

Pre-Race

I live within a mile of the start line of the race, so I decided to jog over with my husband who came to spectate for moral support. I was not as early as I wanted to be because I had to ummm….go to the bathroom before I left, but hey, better at home than a porta potty when given the option, right? 😛

Anyway, I quickly ran to the elite tent to check my bags and ditch my layers. I could not help, but feel out of place. All these legit athletes were with their coaches talking race strategy, changing into Nike Vapor Fly or Next %’s and here I was by my lonesome checking that my Saucony Kinvara’s were laced up tight enough…But I reminded myself that I belong there and it’s not a fluke! I am getting faster! And I did run competitively in college and never reached my potential due to injury and burn-out, so why not now?

I made my way to the start corral to do some strides and drills. The weather was perfect, not too hot or cold and hardly windy! I felt decent considering all the 50 mile marathon training weeks on my legs leading into this race. This race was just for fun and to change up my training, since the Chicago Marathon is the goal race! I did not taper for it whatsoever, so going into the race my legs were quite tired. 😛 My goal was a sub 40 10k because that’s been a goal of mine for a while and because my workouts during marathon training indicated this was possible. Read more to see if I reached that goal!

I loved that I got to start at the very front of the corral as an elite, because start lines stress me out. Especially after my experience at the Boston Marathon 5k where I lined up at the proper spot, but no one else did…and then I ended up weaving in and out of slower runners all race. I prefer to be as close to the front and by the least amount of other runners as possible, but I know that is a wish most of us share 😛

The Race

I did a race recap on Instagram, so here’s a slightly longer/more detailed version of that recap:

-Miles 0-2: Woah, I’m going low 6 pace- this could be bad…or good 😂 But I feel strong. I am glad I saw my friend Elin cheering (& congratulated her on her engagement the night before 💍) & later my hubs because they both gave me a boost ♥️ Plus, my husband snapped some cool running photos without me having to ask him (see below)! He’s a true IG husband through and through :P⠀Around this point a few corral A runners, mainly males began to catch up to me.

-Mile 3: Okay, with a 20 flat 5k, a sub 40 is possible, but I need to negative split 😬 I was hoping to be under 20 minutes, but because I took out the race a little hot this did not surprise me at all. More corral A males were gaining on me and the top elite female group was 1-a few minutes ahead of me and then the rest of the elite females were behind me at this point.

-Mile 5: Woah, I’m tired & basically alone. Can I still push? You’re falling off pace Amanda- get it together…😑 ⠀

-Mile 6: So tired 😓 Keep that dude from corral A in your sight…Oh man a 6:35 mile… now you need to basically sprint to have any hope of sub 40.

-Mile 6-6.2: I saw the clock say 38:25 at mile 6 & I knew it would be close 🤞🏻 I think I was a little aggressive pace-wise in the beginning of the race. But I gave it everything I had the last 0.2 miles. My husband apparently saw me when I made this realization and start to kick it in because I took two more photos (below)…

I ended up at 40:20, which was 21 seconds over my goal and an nice positive split of 20 flat for the first 5k and 20:20 for the second 5k , but I’m still proud of myself for this effort on tired marathon legs! A 3 minute 10k PR on tired legs gives me hope for future races! 🏃🏼‍♀️

Post-Race

My good friend and fellow Heartbreaker teammate Emily also ran this race on tired marathon legs and earned a PR, so naturally we took a photo together!

Then, they had beer, canned Moscow Mules, and other goodies for us post-race. I went to find my warm-ups because I was surprisingly chilled post-race. The weather on this late summer race felt more fall-like than today’s weather to be honest, but we are only two days into fall, so I guess we need to give it time.

Overall, I cannot wait to run the Mag Mile 10k again. It was flat, fast, and fun! 🙂 Have you run the Run Mag Mile 10k before?!

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Review: Endure Strong Coaching

Disclaimer: I received coaching from Endure Strong as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

Since becoming a BibRave Pro in December 2017, I have had the opportunity to try some cool products and awesome races, but the Endure Strong coaching was unlike anything I had tried through BibRave before.

What made Endure Strong different? Well first of all, Endure Strong provided me with the opportunity to receive coaching/training plans from Olympian Jared Ward at the fraction of the price of other olympic coaching option. 😱 Second, it was more than coaching- it was a team. More on this later! 

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Why Endure Strong?

Those of you that are long time readers of this website or follow me on Instagram know I have had no shortage of injuries 😅 My last one occurred during my first marathon (the Chicago Marathon last October 2018). I was able to finish the marathon with some walking and stretching, but ended up with a hip/IT band injury that lasted until January 2019.  I then took a slow and cautious return to running, but was also busy with school, so I was not running much in early 2019:

-January: 14 miles

-February: 32 miles

-March: 73 miles

-April: 54.5 miles

I was signed up for a few late spring and summer races, as well as the Chicago Marathon in the fall and realized at the end of April that I needed to get my act together quickly with running. I am very competitive by nature and motivated, but I’ve always thrived from an “extra kick in the butt” from a coach or mentor.  When the opportunity to have a training plan/coach for my summer half marathon occurred I took it! I wanted to get back into serious training post-injury and go after some PRs, so the opportunity to train with Endure Strong was very timely. Thank you BibRave! 🙂

I started my new training plan at the beginning of May 2019 and decided to use it for the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 21, 2019. I have been wanting to be on a team/have a coach, but as a future Registered Dietitian, undergoing a career change and on a strict budget, a coach has been out of the question. Until now. Endure Strong gave me the guidance of a coach and the support of a team (through the online community) at a fraction of the price. It costs only $39.99/month (it was comped for me as I noted in my disclaimer) and there are no contracts or commitments. If it’s not for you, you can stop after your month is up, but I can guarantee you will want to keep training with Jared Ward and the team! 🙂

How does Endure Strong work?

Once you are signed up you have access to a variety of training plans from 5k-marathon. You pick a training plan based on your ability level and the coaching staff is happy to help! I chose the Advanced Half Marathon training plan that peaked at 55 mpw. I picked this plan because while my mileage had been low, I was previously a pretty competitive runner and had some big goals for my half marathon, so I thought it was an appropriate choice.

Once you chose the training plan that suits you and program which date the race is on the training plan is added to your training calendar which is accessible online or via the Final Surge iPhone app. I am often on my phone (lol), so i appreciated the convenience  of being able to look at my training on my phone versus a computer.

I also signed up for text message alerts about my workouts, which was nice. Each day at 6 am my workout was sent to me via text message as a reminder. I chose it to be at 6 am, but you could chose anytime that you want. I think the default time was 12 am.

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The workouts were assigned based on your pace ranges, which are programmed based on a recent race. See my training paces that I used on the plan below. These are just estimates, but helped me fine tune my training.

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Then, we also had biweekly coaching calls with Jared Ward where we could ask him anything we wanted during the call or ahead of time via e-mail by e-mailing the team manager Andrew. I was definitely a little starstruck the first coaching call 😛 Finally, we had access to a plethora of training videos from weight lifting to nutrition to previous coaching call questions. I found the training videos to be useful and watched many of them during my half marathon training. We also had a team group and chat that was accessible on the Final Surge app. It was fun to talk to each other about the ups and downs of training.

My experience with Endure Strong

I initially chose the intermediate half marathon training plan that peaked at 45 mpw, but in early June I realized the plan was not challenging enough for me. I chose intermediate because my mileage had been so low prior to May because of my injury and school, but from an experience standpoint I’m more of an advanced runner. I decided to change to the advanced plan that peaked at 55 mpw. I also made this decision since a sub 1:30 half marathon was my goal and I felt like I need some tougher workouts to meet that goal. This may not have been the smartest idea looking back, BUT it worked out fine and the change was easy- I deleted the intermediate plan from my Final Surge calendar and added the advanced plan.

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On the advanced plan I was supposed to run 2 hard workouts (Tuesday/Thursday) and then my long run was supposed to be at 8:05 pace or faster. The workouts were usually a tempo run or fartlek one day and intervals the other day. The long run was the biggest adjustment for me as I was used to taking my long runs around 8:20 pace. But this quicker long run pace has paid off big time for me- as I write that this post I’m now well into Chicago Marathon training and all my long runs have been in the low-mid 7s except for the long run I did after a race.

I will be honest, I skipped several of the hard workouts. I did the prescribed mileage and peaked at 57 mpw, but I probably averaged one hard workout a week, not two. The hot weather took a toll on me and caused me to change some hard workouts to easy runs. I felt like I was wimping out on some days…but it may have been a little aggressive for me to attempt the advanced plan anyway. Prior to Endure Strong I was running 5-15 mpw and no hard workouts, so this was a huge jump!  Regardless, things worked out well for me. And the daily workout reminders really held me accountable! On the workouts I did run, I saw dramatic improvement in my running as the 2.5 months on the Endure Strong training plan progressed. I had some set-backs initially as I was battling humidity and getting used to running hard workouts again, but then it become apparent to me that a sub 1:30 half marathon would be realistic. Also, it was really reassuring to be able to talk to my Endure Strong teammates about good and bad workouts, as well as battling the crazy hot weather this early-mid summer in the group chat.

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My PR going into Rock N Roll was a 1:34. I ran that 1:34 in 2018 while sick and on 25 mpw, so I knew no matter what I’d PR at Rock N Roll, but it was just a matter of by how much! After the last few weeks of workouts my fitness indicated closer to a 1:27-1:28, so that became my (somewhat secret) goal.  I continued to tell people my goal was a PR and ideally a 1:30, but really I want that 1:27-1:28. But then the heat wave rolled in during race week and Chicago was blanketed with 95-100 degree temperatures. 😦 The heat broke a little for Saturday morning’s race, but it was still humid and awful out. Any of you who know me know that I am am stubborn when it comes to running. I should have adjusted my race goal. But I did not…And until nearly mile 10 I maintained a 6:47 pace which would have earned me a 1:28:55. I ended up succumbing to the heat and just trying to hang on the remaining 5k. I ran a 1:32:11, so my pace fell off a lot, but that is still a PR! You can read more about the race here if you are interested. Regardless, I credit Endure Strong to me earning this PR and just becoming a stronger runner this summer! My training with Endure Strong really built a strong base for me going into the Chicago Marathon training and helped me earn a PR in the half, even if it was not what I wanted.

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Do I recommend Endure Strong?

I absolutely recommend Endure Strong! You get elite level coaching and training plans for a fraction of the price ($39.99/ month)! Nearly everyone on the team has earned a PR on their most recent race because the training works. Plus, everyone is super nice! My training plan has ended, but I still talk to a lot of the Endure Strong teammates 🙂 And where else can you get running advice and a call from an Olympian 2 times a month?

If you have any other questions about Endure Strong please do not hesitate to reach out to me! It made a huge difference in my training year this year! 🙂

Strava: the social media for endurance athletes

Disclaimer: I will receive an annual Strava Summit subscription and Strava merchandise to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

What is Strava?

Strava is a free platform where you can track or add your runs, bikes, and swims. In short is is a social media platform for endurance athletes. You can also join virtual clubs and challenges if you are the type of person that finds extra motivation that way- I know I do! You can like each other’s activities (it’s called giving kudos) and write comments on them, similar to Facebook and Instagram.

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You can also add photos of your runs (I’m known to share  photos of my beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront runs :P) You can also find new routes, which is especially useful when traveling/running in a new location.

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How Can I get Started on Strava?

All you need to do is create a free account with a valid e-mail address or your Facebook account-it’s that easy. You do not even need a smart watch to use Strava. Something I did not know until this summer. But a lot of people connect their activity trackers to Strava anyway, especially in the running community (So many of us are rarely seen without our Garmins, even on dates. haha). I’d also recommend downloading the free iPhone or Android Strava App, so you can upload or track activities, and give kudos on the go.

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Features of Using Strava

  • Ability to transfer activities from other devices onto Strava (i.e. run with a Garmin or Suunto watch and  then upload your run to Strava)
  • Track your activity without a smart watch (I did not know Strava could do this until my Garmin died mid-run a month ago and I was able to track the reminder of my run on my smart phone via the Strava App. You can track your entire run (bike or swim) via Strava if that is your jam
  • Get awesome metrics from your workouts that you didn’t know you needed, but you’ll soon wonder what you did without them (and use them to inform training decisions):
    • Distance
    • Pace
    • Time
    • Elevation
    • Calories Burned
    • Heart Rate
    • Cadence

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  • Track your activities to see how many miles you are covering or minutes working out each day, each week, each month, and even each year. This can help you see how far you’ve come or how you’ve trained for previous races as compared to the current race you are training for
  • Track the mileage on your shoes, so you know when you need to retire your current pair and get a new one

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  • Add friends that you worked out with when they forget their watch or phone. This only works if the friend is a current Strava member. My husband did this on an easy run while ago when my Garmin watch refused to connect one run and it saved me because as many of you know, I have to keep track of my running  #typeA
  • Create groups based on running clubs, cycling clubs, swimming clubs, traithalon groups, or other common interests and run challenges within the group (i.e. highest weekly mileage or longest time spent working out). I created a group for people who have the goal of running 2019 kilometers in the year 2019 and it’s been a nice little group. Feel free to join if aren’t already in it. 🙂
  • Join challenges to keep you motivated. Each month I join the monthly 5k and 10k challenge at least, but then they have many other ones from climbing to cycling to virtual races. Earn trophies when you complete the challenges!

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  • No matter where you live, there are sections of road or trail where people run frequently and there is a leaderboard showing how fast people have run those segments. So if you are competitive (like me 🤣) you can try to be the leader of the segment! Strava will automatically rank you anytime you run a segment. Even if you are not the leader, it is interesting to compare what time you’ve run on that segment at different points of the year or during previous years. Segments are all in good fun!
  • Privacy filters, so people cannot see where you live if you frequently run from your home
  • Advanced Strava features for a good price through Strava Summit. Some of the features of Summit include: weekly goal setting, training plans, workout analysis, just to name a few.

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So what are you waiting for? Join Strava today! Or if you are currently on Strava share your profile below if you want me to follow you! 

I Love the 90s 5k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the I Love the 90s 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When BibRave gave me the opportunity to run a new-to-Chicago race called I Love the 90’s 5k, I knew I could not turn it down! As a 1992 baby, the 90s hold some special memories. And yes, I know I was 8 at the turn of the century, BUT I still have many memories of scrunchies, overalls, choker necklaces, crop tops, and, of course, Gameboy!

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Anyway, let’s discuss the 5k race! I was not sure what to expect going into this race. Since it was a new race, I thought I may have a shot at placing in my age group, but I also had not been doing 5k targeted speed work, so I did not put any pressure on myself. Furthermore, my true goal race is the Chicago Marathon and the Rock N Roll Chicago half is my “check-in” race, so I’ve been running some serious (for me) mileage. I had been in the 50 miles per week range going into this race and the legs were feeling tired, so I just told myself to give it the best effort I could.

I was lucky that my husband and sister-in-law were willing to spectate and warm-up with me since I did not know anyone going into the race. We ran around 1.10 miles  for my warm up and then I made my way  to the start line. I put an extra scrunchie on my wrist, tightened my hat, chit chatted with people at the start line and then the racing gun went off…

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After the first 400 m it was clear I was going to be running a lot of the race solo. Two guys pushed ahead, then me, and then a sizeable gap before the next group of people. Had I known it was going to stay like this most of the race I would have pushed harder to be near the top two guys, which I think I could have done…but more on this later.

The first mile passed pretty unremarkably. I kept the two top guys and the lead biker in my view and ran a 6:09. I was going for a 6:10, so I was happy with it. I’m guessing the two leaders went out around 6 minute pace. I was feeling decent, despite my high mileage week. Soon after the first mile I saw my husband and sister-in-law. They cheered for me and snapped the photo below.

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Then, mile 2 was the most eventful mile by far. For those of you that know me in real life, the next set of events will come as no surprise. 😛 I was in 3rd place overall in the race and the two lead guys had gained some ground on me, so I could no longer see them or the lead biker. I came to a cross roads just before mile 2 and the arrow on the ground was partially etched away, so it was not clear if it was indicatin to go straight or to turn right…I guessed and started going straight as I screamed out “which way do I go?”, but heard no response because no one was near me… I had a sinking feeling I was going the wrong way and about 15 seconds later I looked behind me and saw in the distance the 4th place person (a guy), go right by that arrow. I quickly sprinted back toward the crossroad and made a right to go back on the course successfully adding on approximately 25 seconds to the race official 2nd mile (my watch hit the 2nd mile in 6:23). I was feeling frustrated that it was not clear where I was supposed to go and now I was in 4th place… I later hit the 2nd mile on the race course around 6:45. I was also feeling frustrated because I think I could have stuck closer to the top two guys and then I wouldn’t haven’t gotten confused at the cross roads, but I (falsely) figured they were running around 17 minute 5k pace, which is not the shape I was currently in. The photo below details how I was feeling.

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I vowed to put my 2nd mile behind me and just focus on the final 1.1 miles I had left and give it my best effort. About 200 m into mile 3, I passed the 4th place guy and was once again in no-(wo)man’s land running all alone. Thankfully the rest of the arrows were clear and I even saw a race photographer on some sort of electric scooter, which made me smile. Around 300 meters to go I saw my husband and sister-in-law, and told myself I was going to have to really kick it in to still be under 20 minutes with my course mishap during mile 2. I knew my true time was in the low 19 minutes, but what could I do, except kick at this point? I was determined as you can see from the photo below.

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I hit mile 3 at 6:25 according to my watch… And then I saw finish line in the distance and felt confused when I saw an unbroken tape. I knew I was not going to be the winner, there were two guys for sure ahead of me. Then I realized it was for me, because I was the first place female! I tried to sprint it in even more as I approached the tape and put my hands up because I had never broken a tape before and that’s what I saw all the pros do when they won a race. 😛 I ran 5:40 pace for the last 200 m, which is not really a sprint (for me), but I tried, okay?!

I crossed the finish line in an official time of 20:06, knowing very well that I had run an extra 200 meters with the mishap during mile 2. My Garmin showed that I ran 3.21 miles in 20:06, putting my actual 5k well under 20 minutes.

Regardless, I was 1st female and 3rd overall, which is pretty cool! And if anyone is interested, my 5k was actually around 19:28… 😛 I calculated that by putting in my Garmin pace to a pace calculator as seen below.

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When I found out 2nd place was 19:04, I thought to myself that I could have run that time or pretty darn close. Usually I don’t go out with the very lead guys in a race because the lead guys are typically under 17 minutes and I am certainly not in that kind of shape right now. But, what I do know, is that it is harder to push yourself when running alone, which is what I did most of the race and you just have to do your best! I probably would have had a more successful race (and would not have gotten confused during mile 2) if I stuck with those 2 guys. But oh well, I still had a fun race! 🙂

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Overall,  the race was awesome! The medals were cool, there was a costume contest for the best 90’s costume, and I won a free entry for next year, so I can try to defend my title. haha. Plus, the other top two females were super sweet and it was fun to meet them and take a photo with them at the awards ceremony. I also loved all the 90s music on the course and at the awards ceremony-I still have Barbie Girl in my head weeks later 🤣 I will definitely be back next year, it’s free for me after all 😉 And they will also be debuting their 10k race next year, if you are into 10ks more than 5ks! 😛

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Did you run the I love the 90’s Chicago 5k or do you plan to do one of their races in a different city!? If not, want to join me in Chicago next year?!

Chicago Spring 10k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Chicago Spring 10k  as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The old saying goes, better late than never, right? So, it may be nearly a month after the fact, but I am finally reviewing my experience at the Chicago Spring 10k on Sunday May 19th. It honestly feels like the race was just yesterday, but maybe it’s just me feeling like this summer is flying.

A LOT has changed for me running-wise since May 19th. At that point I was two weeks into a new training plan and consistent running. After healing from my injury sustained during/after the Chicago Marathon in October 2018 I slowly started running again in January 2019, but with my crazy busy student and work schedule, I just did not have the time to run more than 5-15 miles per week. I kept this type of training up until the end of April where I ran whenever I could fit in a run and even did a few untrained races. As a competitive person by nature, with big goals, I knew this is not how I wanted my training to go the rest of the year and promised to get more serious about it. I received an opportunity to get coached by Jared Ward through his Endure Strong team in April. My goal race is the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 21, 2019 and I started a new training plan the last week of April/first week of May. There will be a future blog post on my experience with Endure Strong. I also started a one month run streak through Strava on May 1st, so at the time of this race I was 19 days into my run streak.

Let’s just say I was not in peak shape for this 10k race. With two weeks of consistent running under my belt and an unusually humid May day, I did not have any great expectations. I had talked to my friend Katherine before the race and we had a similar race plan, so we decided we would run the 10k together and then if either of us felt good, we would break away with no hard feelings. Neither of us felt particularly good during the race though, so this was a non-issue. Plus, we had an adventurous start to the race, where all of sudden Katherine disappeared from her spot next to me, because the crazy wind swept up her lucky visor. She was able to chase after it and a minute later returned to her spot running by my side. We hit mile 1 around 6:45, which was slightly faster than our plan of 6:50, but did not feel terrible.

But then the struggle-fest began…it was not getting any cooler and I was low-key getting annoyed that we had to keep weaving around the 3 hour half marathoners in our lane and then not veer into the other lane where the sub 1:20 half marathoners were rounding the final few miles. The half marathon started about 45 minutes before the 10k in the hopes of avoiding race overlap. I’d say my only complaint about this race is the over-lap still occurred, but it’s not a huge deal. Anyway, miles 2-4 were a struggle. At this point Katherine and I were no longer running together 😦 . And I just felt clunky and overheated, but that’s to be expected when it’s extremely humid and you’ve only been training consistently for two weeks. My splits were 6:46, 6:48, and 6:55. The picture below summarizes exactly how I was feeling.IMG_9818

Then just before mile 5, I saw my husband cheering and I caught the 1:30 half marathon pace group. This gave me a little energy, but I was still feeling like garbage. I told myself if I could stick with them I could ensure my remaining miles were under 7 minute pace. I knew this was a tall task because I was also starting to have some GI issues (sorry for the TMI). I told myself to focus on sub 7 minute miles and not pooping (again, sorry for the TMI, but aren’t we all runners here? 😛 ). I was successful with my second goal (LOL), but not my first goal. Mile 5 was a 6:55 and mile 6 was a 7:05. I was able to kick it in around 6 minute pace for the final 0.2, but it did not feel great, especially with the GI discomfort. My overall time was 43:20, which is technically a 38 sec PR, but that’s not saying much when my first 10k last year was also run untrained. 

I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed with this race and time, but I need to give myself some grace. I had only been running consistently for 2 weeks going into the race and I had not done speed work. Now, nearly a month since this race, I can confidently say I would run a much faster 10k (maybe around 40 minutes), since my training is going well and I’ve been doing speed work! It’s good to have perspective of where you are at in your running journey. On May 19th, that was what I had to give. And in the near future I will definitely go after that 10k time. If you read Katherine’s review about this race, she had a similar experience. IMG_4652Overall, it was a well run race (minus the 10k/half marathon overlap) and it was fun. I loved that we all got a free plant for finishing (I still have mine, but it looks dead 😦 ) and the post-race brunch was a nice touch (even though there were not many vegan options, but that’s what I expected). The best part was getting to hang out with Katherine and finally meeting Katherine’s athlete and my Instagram friend Maddie in real life after the race. We all took some silly pictures and just giggled about how hard and hot the race was. I was in awe of Maddie because she ran the half marathon and I could not imagine how that would have felt, after the struggle I felt during the shorter 10k race. But, we all did our races and are stronger athletes because of it! And this is still a must-run race, because most years the weather is nice and the city/lake views you get during the race are outstanding. I plan to run the 10k or half marathon again next year! I also plan to be better trained this time around 😉 Processed with VSCO with c1 presetHave you run the Chicago Spring Half Marathon or 10k before?! Did you run it this year too? 

Cinco de Miler 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing Cinco de Miler  as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This is the first race I’ve done truly for fun and not for competition. And for this type A, competitive runner that was tough! But I have not had that much fun in a race in a long time, so I’m glad I did 🙂 I think the reason I had fun is because I agreed to run the race stride for stride with one of my good friends, Ben! He had just run the Illinois Marathon the previous week and I have just started seriously training, so there was no reason to run a fast, competitive race for either of us. I also do not think I was capable of a fast, competitive race at this point anyway. 😛

We lined up in corral A and agreed to keep our 5 mile race pace around 8 minute miles. And that is exactly what we did! Although it was technically a negative split! Mile 1 was 8:00 minutes and by mile 5 we were at 7:27, but this is because we saw my husband and the inflatable piñata that signified the finish line. The course was flat and fast along the lakefront path, although there were some spots of flooding from the recent rain. The volunteers were nice and helpful, especially with the spot on the course around mile 4 where we had to veer off the lakefront path. Post-race we were offered beer (although not me because I forgot my ID). And there was a mechanical bull, but I was too afraid to try it. It looked really fun though! And the breakfast buffet had tacos galore. I was thinking about tacos when the photo above was taken (not really, but I am that happy when I am running or thinking about tacos 😉 ).

Overall, the Cinco de Miler was an awesome race! The race day weather could not be beat, either. The race course is flat, fast, and it’s a rare distance, so it is an (almost) guaranteed PR (unless you didn’t race it like me). The post-race party was very festive, with the music and mechanical bull. And they had breakfast tacos, enough said! 😛 They also have free race photos and who doesn’t love that?! It is a race that I plan to run again, but to actually race the next time 😉

Did you run the Cinco de Miler this year or in previous years? What did you think?

Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

After not making it to the start line for the 2018 Shamrock Shuffle due to illness, I was excited to not only receive an entry for the 8k race, but to make it to the start line healthy 🙌🏻 I also convinced my husband to run with me as per usual 😉 Well, not with me, with me, because he is a lot faster than I am! As I previously mentioned, my training has not been stellar with my busy student schedule and I’m still easing into hard training post injury. I only did two fartlek workouts going into the race and I averaged 15 mi/week. My goal going into the race was to have fun and run 7 min miles. I was definitely surprised with my race result to say the least! I ran 33:15 (6:42 pace) for the 8k, which is not too shabby for such low mileage and little workouts. My BibRave friends and I decided not to enter the team competition, so I accepted a place on the Recreational Oiselle IL team and our team came in 1st! The results are age-graded, so my time did not put me on the scoring team (top 4), but it was still fun to run on a scoring team like the good ‘ol cross country days.

My Garmin was not working, so most of the race I had no idea of my pace and just tried to maintain a “comfortably hard” pace. Plus, I found myself distracted by all the race views and reminiscing on when I ran the same streets for my first marathon last October. 🙂 Anyway, when I hit the 5k in 20:39, I realized I was running sub 6:40s, even though I thought I was running 7 min miles. Then, I got a side stitch around mile 3.5 and slowed down considerably (or so it felt) 🙃 I am not sure if it was the oatmeal and dates I ate 1 hour before the race start (I usually need 2-3 hours to adequately digest) or my lack of training, but I told myself to jut try and hold on for less than 1.5 more miles, despite the pain.

Chicago Road Runners, a local running club, snapped the picture of me below trying to focus through the side stitch pain. lol. I was able to bring it home and only add 8 seconds per mile to my pace, so I am proud of that. And I’m seriously proud of what I was able to do in this race considering my circumstances. I think with hard work and consistency, I’ll be able to chase some of my upcoming (and lofty) running goals! 🙂

I have my sights on a sub 30 minute 8k in future years and I know I have to put in the work to achieve that goal. I cannot just coast by on 15 miles per week! Although, Ashlyn is helping me train more seriously and consistently starting now (Do I really have to do 400 meter repeats this week? :P) So hoping that helps me achieve my goals at my half marathons in May and July-do not worry there will be a blog post all those in the near future 😛

Other race notes:

-Expo/packet pick-up: The packet-pick and expo were held at the McCormick Center, which was coincidently the same weekend as a Comic-Con. So it was crazy crowded 🙃 experience at the expo last Saturday was fine, though. I was able to pick up my packet and swag, chat with some brands, and force my husband to take the below picture with me. He loves when I make him take pictures 😛

-Parking/transit: The race starts at Grant park and parking can be both challenging/expensive, so I recommend public transit, biking, or running to the start. My husband and I walked/jogged to the start line, since we live pretty close to downtown.

-Gear Check: This race had gear check, so I was grateful to be able to warm up in layers and then ditch my warm-ups at gear check. Although, after the race it took gear check over 10 minutes to locate my bag…that was frustrating and an unusual experience. Usually my experiences with gear check are smooth. I found out the worker just put my bag in the wrong section. I got a little short with the workers because I was chilly post race and I feel bad, but sometimes we are not our best selves post-race when we are hungry. Or maybe that’s just me?! I doubt whoever worked the gear check reads my blog…but if you do I am sorry for being short about my misplaced (and later found) bag. It was not a big deal!

-Start line: Unlike the Chicago Marathon (which also starts at Grant Park), it was super easy to get into my corral. That experience at the Chicago marathon was kid of stressful, I will not lie! I barely made it to the back of my corral (C) at the marathon. But at the Shuffle last weekend it took less than 5 minutes to get into corral A. I noticed a lot of corral jumping and lack of regulation at this race. It was stricter at the marathon. All around me there were people who should have been in corral D, but were in A with my husband and I. Oh well, though 🤷🏼‍♀️

-Swag: The swag this year was SWEET! I am obsessed with the hat. Although, I wish I did not need to run in such a warm hat now that it is the beginning of April, but also at least my hate is cute🤣I’d be fine waiting to wear it again until next winter, though 😛 We also received dry-fit short sleeve tops that I plan to rock all spring and summer. The medals are AWESOME (see above!). Mariano’s had a lot of free post-race eats at the finish as well. I took everything I could hold from mixed nuts, to fruits, to granola bars. I was grateful that they had a lot of vegan options. I actually forgot my post-race beer somehow 😭 But, we did get oat milk cappuccinos with my sister-in-law after the race, which made me feel better. haha.

-Post-race/Meet-ups: After the race we had a nice little BibRave met up in Grant Park. It was so fun to hang out with Mark and Ben again. And to meet Melissa for the first time. She even brought her dogs and they were the cutest! I missed Zenaida this time 😦 Maybe we can photoshop her into the picture below? I love that BibRave connects me to so many amazing runners across the country, but nothing beats actually hanging out with them in real life 🙂

I also FINALLY got to meet Amanda (not me 🤣) in real life after becoming Instagram friends, so that was awesome. I cannot wait to hang out and run more of the same races!

Overall, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was an awesome race! It is flat, fast, and it’s such an obscure distance, it is almost a guaranteed PR. The swag is worth it and I love how everyone gets decked out in shamrock and green attire. It is the race that signifies that start of the Chicago racing season and one that I plan to run again!

Did you run the Shamrock Shuffle this year or in previous years? What did you think?