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?!

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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?

It’s the Shamrock Shuffle 8k race week: training update & goals!

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!

Happy Wednesday friends! I cannot believe it’s already race week 😱 Time is flying this year, it think it is because I am school and we just had midterms 😛

I’ll be honest and say my training has not been going great. With my busy school schedule, work, and the long commute it has been tough. I am doing the best I can! Sometimes the best I do is a little core or lifting, rather than a run. But, the fact that I am running injury free is a reason to celebration in it of itself 🙂 I’ve been averaging 5-20 miles per week since I’ve recovered from injury in late December. I’ve only done 2 or 3 speed workouts. My longest run has been a touch over 8 miles. You can see just how little I’ve been training below or if you follow me on Strava, you know 😛 Although, I’ll be honest, I sometimes forget to update Strava, but as of recently it is up-to-date! No judgement on my lack of training please, I am well aware 🙃

My last two weeks of running (or lack thereof 😂):

Monday 3/4/19: OFF

Tuesday 3/5/19: OFF

Wednesday 3/6/19: 6 miles with a 2 mi w/u, ( 2 min on, 2 min recovery jog) x 6. Paces were 6:40, 6:35, 6:31, 6:21, 6:18, 6:15, and then a c/d for the remaining miles

Thursday: 3/7/19: 6 miles with Ben

Friday 3/8/19: OFF

Saturday 3/9/19: 8 miles with Janna and Marisa

Sunday: 3/10/19: OFF

Total miles: 20 miles

Monday 3/11/19: 7.8 miles with Danielle

Tuesday 3/12/19: OFF

Wednesday 3/13/19: OFF

Thursday: 3/14/19: OFF

Friday 3/15/19: OFF

Saturday 3/16/19: 8.2 morning miles with Marisa

Sunday 3/17/19: OFF

Total: 16 miles

My goal races are the Chicago Spring Half in May and RnR Chicago in July, so this 8k race is honestly just for fun. But of course I still have a goal for my first post-injury race this year 😉

So what is my goal for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k?! Well, first and foremost the goal is to finish! Any race finish after injury is a celebration. I am corral A and that means you are supposed to be able to run under 7 minutes/mile. So that is my second goal, a 7 min/mile pace or faster. This could be tough with my lack of training, but we will see! I would have loved to go after a 6 min/mile pace for this race, but that I just not realistic at this point. That will be the goal once I have a several months of solid training under my belt. 😛 Moving forward my goal is to run more days/more consistently (even with my crazy schedule) because I have the Boston 5k in less than a month and the Chicago Spring half will be here before I know it 🙂

Regardless, I am excited to run the Shuffle with so many of you! I am going to expo on Friday 🙂 Let me know below if you are running the Shuffle and if so, which day you are going to the expo 👇🏻

Athlinks: the online race results social platform

Disclaimer: I am reviewing Athlinks 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!

Just when I think that the social media around running can’t get any better: Hello, Strava, Bibrave, Garmin…it does! The latest and greatest in running social media is the relatively new (to me) website called Athlinks!

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So, what is Athlinks? It is an online platform that let’s you claim your race results, compare yourself to others, and add yourself to the start list of most races. All you need to sign up is a Facebook account or you can use your e-mail address. Once you sign up you do have to use your name, location, and birthday, though.

The reason for needing all this information is simple: it will be easy to determine if it is you or not when claiming your race results. Plus, if the results you claim are determined to be yours, then they will be added to your profile! Your profile will show your personal records, stats, location, and rank. For this reason, you can use Athlinks to scope out your competition and follow them similar to Twitter. If you love data like me you will find it all very interesting! 😉

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The only thing I do not like about my profile is that my 5k PR is wrong. A lot of my college race times are not on Athlinks, but generally Athlinks will have most, if not all of your race times, so I am probably in the minority with this issue. That 5k time is from a Turkey Trot I did during during Thanksgiving break my freshmen year of college. It is a decent time, but my actual PR is faster! I have not done many road races, post college, due to years of injury, so I guess that means I need to run (and PR) another road 5k to replace that time 😉 I’m not competitive or anything…😂

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(I only have 15 races on my profile and only 3 in the last year- but if I can manage to stay healthy for a reasonable stretch of time I plan to add many, many more! I love competing!) 

How to claim: When I got married last year I went from having an uncommon name to a very common one. Thankfully, Athlinks lets you claim race results under more than one name, which I was grateful for because a majority of my race results were under my maiden name! It was a little tricky to find race results under my married name initially, but if you use the advanced search mode (pictured below) it is pretty easy! Once you search your name, you can apply additional filters by birth date and location.

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(None of those results above are mine, but I find it fascinating that my name has so many unclaimed results. I’m waiting for the day I run the same race as someone else who has my name. I’m sure it will happen soon :P)

Rivals: Once you start following other people, you will notice that if you have at least one race in common with them they will be added to your “rival” list. My current rival list is small and I’m looking for more, so please add me if you have run any of the same races that I have!

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(Of course my husband is kicking my 🍑! Fun fact: his one loss is a Turkey Trot in 2012 that we ran together with some family and friends where we all crossed the finish line at the same time. I guess they opted to give me the place ahead of him just to be nice in the official results. 😛 )

Adding yourself to the start list: Another fun feature (and way to scope out the competition) is to add yourself to the start list of upcoming races. You can also indicate a goal time and change your goal time at any time. As a competitive person, I naturally like this feature 😉 The races you add to your start list will also be added to your profile.

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(My next three races with goal times subject to change. I have a faster, scarier time in mind for my first marathon, but I’m not sure I will update that anytime soon. 🙈 We will see what happens as I start training!)

Do you have an Athlinks account? If so, please request me or comment below with the link to your Athlinks profile. I’ll follow you back and if we have any races in common we can be rivals 😉 If you do not have an account, what are you waiting for?! Make one! 😛

Illinois half marathon review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois half marathon 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!

I had the fortune of running the Illinois half marathon on April 28th. I say fortune because with my injury history there is no guarantee that I will toe the line for the races I sign up for. :/ Luckily, I made it to this race in one piece..although I was unlucky enough to pick up a cold a few days prior to the race. 🙁

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I credit making it to the starting line to my amazing coach Heather! She helped me get up my mileage after a stressful job ended, I solidified my new career path, I started two part time jobs, and I missed many runs due to illness the week of the Shamrock Shuffle. 25-30 miles per week is not ideal for half marathon training, but that is MUCH better than my mileage was while I was teaching. Heather made sure all my miles counted and provided me a good base for my further out races (like my 1st marathon in October 😉 ). Despite having a cold, I am happy to say I crossed the line in 1:34:06, good for a 6 minute PR. The highlight of the race weekend, though, was my husband’s massive 26 minute PR in the marathon. He finished in 2:42:57 good enough for a 2019 BQ!

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Other race notes:

Expo/Packet pick up: My husband and I encountered wicked Friday late afternoon Chicago traffic and an hour into the trip knew we were not going to make the expo in time. Thank goodness for our friend Mikey (who ran the 10k race) and saved the day! He picked up the packets for us and then delivered them to us at dinner at Biaggi’s.

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Parking: Parking was free and easy to find. We were able to leave our hotel, drive, and park in less than 20 minutes. Definitely a huge pro to have a low stress parking situation!

Waiting for the start: It was a little chilly so I wore a “throw” shirt, but everything was easily marked with signs. I made my way seamlessly to coral A. I actually run into fellow BibRave Pro Zenaida on my way to the start line, so that was pretty cool! We chatted, wished each other luck, and took a picture.

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Once I was in corral A I ran into another fellow Bibrave Pro, Kim and I met fellow instagram runner Katherine in real life. It was nice to run into some familiar faces!

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Last start line note: there seemed to be enough porta potties and the lines moved quickly. I didn’t use one, but that’s always a pro in my book!

Race course: The course was flat and fast! Perfect course for a PR. It went though campus, nearby neighborhoods, and a park. There were tons of spectators throughout the course, which was a nice morale boost. There were ample aid stations. I only took in water, because I don’t fuel for half marathons, but they also had Gatorade and GUs. I also remember one aid station that offered sliced oranges. I’m not sure how to eat while running (hence one of the many reasons I’m not ready for an ultra. lol), but it was a nice gesture.

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The energy toward the finish was unreal! The last mile of the race you made your way toward to finish in the stadium and it was so cool! I was in awe of how beautiful the campus was and excited to be close to the finish. 😛 I can imagine that people who attend/attended University of Illinois for college felt emotional at the finish! I know if I ever return to my alma mater to run the race that finishes on our track that I will get emotional.  The stadium finish was hands down my favorite part of the race! 🙂

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Post race/after party: At the finish, in the stadium, I was wrapped in a heat sheet, offered water, offered a sports drink, and offered a stretch from the Athletico station. There were also ample opportunities for photos, which I took as I waited anxiously for my husband to finish the marathon. I took some photos with Mikey after his 10k, Kim, Katherine, and alone while I waited. I also got stretched out at the Athletico station which felt awesome on my tight hips and IT band.

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Once my husband finished in an astonishing 2:42:57, we took a few more photos with and without the PR bell. The PR bell had received a lot of love at this point and was broken…we took photos anyway, but that is why we are laughing 😛

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After the photos we made our way to the post race party to check out the beers and snacks. My husband got a beer and there were a lot of snack options! None of us were hungry at that point yet or we would have eaten something. Mikey and I cooled down and then we all headed back to the hotel so we could all shower before check out and the long drive home.

Swag: Every finisher got a sweet medal (regardless of race) and free finisher photos. For running the half I got a dri-fit long sleeve shirt and my husband got a quarter zip for running the full. Our hotel was super cute and made us little good luck goodie bags as well, but I forgot to snap a picture 🙁

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Athlinks: At the Illinois Half Marathon race, I was able to run a new half marathon PR, even with a cold! 🙂 So of course I claimed my shiny new PR on Athlinks. I’ll be sharing a post about what Athlinks is later this month. You can see my claimed results here! Athlinks is an awesome way to track all results for your races. I also use it to figure out what goals I should shoot for my next race by adding myself to the start list. I definitely suggest creating an account and claiming your results too. Share your Athlinks profile link in the comments below and I’ll follow you! 🙂

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Overall, it was fun and well organized race! It’s flat and fast which is perfect for obtaining a PR or BQ. I definitely want to return!

Did you run the Illinois half marathon (or a different race distance) this year? If not you really should register for next year! I’m already thinking about it 😉

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P.S. check out my Illinois half review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂

 

Top 5 reasons why you should join me at Run for the Zoo on Sunday June 3, 2018

Disclaimer: I’m received a free entry to Run for the Zoo 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 will be my first time running Run for Zoo and I’m not sure what took me so long to sign up! 😛 When I first moved to Chicago about four years ago I even lived across the street from the zoo and would regularly take a lap through the zoo in the middle of my runs…at least until I got injured 🙁 What can I say, I’m a sucker for cute animals🦁🐵 If it weren’t for all my injuries over the last few years, I’m sure I would have run it sooner! YOU SHOULD RUN IT THIS YEAR WITH ME!!! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Run for the Zoo below. And if you read the whole thing I’ll even give you a discount code (or you can scroll to the bottom right away for the code, but I’ll know you didn’t read)!😜

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Run for the Zoo:

1. The course weaves through the beautiful Lincoln Park Zoo! If you have run many races in Chicago ,you know that is is a treat because most races occur on the Lakeshore Path. Granted, the Lakeshore Path is gorgeous, but it’s fun to shake it up. 🙂

2. Multiple race options. Do you have a competitive side? Do you have a little one at home? Or trying to convince a reluctant spouse to try running for the first time? This is the perfect race for all three options! There is a 5k, 10k, and the Safari Stampede race for kids ages 3-6. There is chip timing, it is a USTAF-certified course, and there are wave start times, so you can go for that elusive PR OR take leisurely walk-run through Lincoln Park Zoo. The choice is yours!

3. Proceeds from the race go directly to Lincoln Park Zoo to keep it up and running for FREE 365 days a year!

4. You will receive fun swag and attend a post-race party! All finishers get a tech T-shirt with the new an improved logo, plus admittance to a fun post-race party with a DJ, free beer (for those over 21), and snacks!

5. I’ll be there! I’m running the 10k for the first time and you know you’ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life 😉😜  And yes the Black Bean King (AKA my husband is also running) Plus, if there’s interest I could host a shake-out run the day before or a warm-up the day of the race. Just let me know on social media or via e-mail!:)

This is a picture of my husband and I is from Zoo Lights in December 2017. It is a free month long event during Christmas time that is open to the public. It is made possible through generations donations and proceeds from events such as Run for the Zoo. Just incase you needed a 6th reason to run 😉

Have you done Run for the Zoo before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! Sign up by using the code “BIBRAVE” for  10% off your race entry!

Illinois half marathon training weeks 1 & 2

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon 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!

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I can’t believe I’ve made it through the first two weeks of Illinois half marathon training! It has been tough to balance training with my (relatively) new teaching job…Things are going well training wise, though, and I really hope it stays that way! I’m nervous because of my injury history, but I am optimistic, especially after I wrapped up week 2 yesterday! So without further ado, let’s take a look at my last two weeks of training! 🙌🏻

Week 1: Monday February 5th -Sunday February 11th

-Monday February 5th: REST

-Tuesday February 6th:  3 miles @ 7:42 on the treadmill followed by strength work

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-Wednesday February 7th: REST/XT

-Thursday February 8th: REST

-Friday February 9th: Unexpected day off work (snow day) resulted in a fun, but snowy/slippery 5 miles @ 7:59 pace

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-Saturday February 10th: 4 miles @ 7:31 pace

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-Sunday February 11th: REST

WEEKLY TOTAL: 14 miles

Week 2: Monday February 12th -Sunday February 18th:

-Monday February 12th: 3 miles after school at 7:18 pace followed by stretching

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-Tuesday February 13th: REST

-Wednesday February 14th: 3 miles @ 7:07 pace. I ran by feel, but ended up with a run that was almost at tempo pace…

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-Thursday February 15th: Late and dark 4 miler at 7:49 pace. This run didn’t feel great…

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-Friday February 16th: REST

-Saturday February 17th: 1 mile w/u, 3 miles @ goal half marathon pace (6:49, 6:54, 6:48), and 3 mile c/d

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-Sunday February 18th: 5 mile recovery run @ 7:39 pace followed by yoga

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WEEKLY TOTAL:  21 miles 

Tonight’s question: What races are you training for this spring? Will any of you be joining me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉

Top 5 reasons why you should run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k

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!

I’ve lived in Chicago for 4 years now and this is the first year I’m running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k!😱 If it weren’t for all injuries over the last few years, I would have run it sooner because it’s a really awesome race! Don’t be like me-run it this year too! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k below. And if you read the whole thing I’ll even give you a discount code!😜

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k

1. You can’t beat the amazing city views on the race course! 😍 I may be biased because I live in Chicago, but dang the views are gorgeous! You get to run through scenic downtown Chicago where you get the best of both worlds: city AND lake views! And if you’re not up for the full 8k, the 2 mile walk course still boasts some stellar views! 😊

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2. Beer! 🍻 Need I say more? You get one free Michelob ULTRA beer at the finish line (if you are of age of course)! There is live music, great city/lake views for that post race insta 📸, and then you can head over to the post race party. This year the post race party is at the Scout Waterhouse & Kitchen (1301 S. Wabash Ave.). If you bring your race bib to  the Scout between 2 pm and 1 am they will give you another free Michelob ULTRA!

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3. The race is such a big deal that NBC 5 Chicago covers it! So, if you’ve ever wanted to be on TV, now might be your chance 😉 The cooler your outfit, the better your chance of being featured on TV (ok I made this up…but dressing up is part of the fun 😝)!

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4. The race is competitive. There’s even an elite corral! So you just may be able to admire one of your favorite runners from afar!  Each year over 30,000 runners run the Shamrock Shuffle! So, regardless of your pace,  there is bound to be someone to race against and push you toward an ever elusive PR! And if you are extra competitive you can form a team and race in the team competition division. Plus, the finisher’s medal is pretty if I do say so myself!🥇

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5. You just might PR! An 8k is a unique race distance (4.97 miles) that you may have not done before. And anytime you run a new race it’s a PR, right?

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BONUS REASON: I’ll be there! I’m running it for the first time and you know you’ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life 😉😜

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Have you run the Shamrock Shuffle before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! If use the code “SHUFFLE” at the following link: http://haku.ly/dd2567 you can save $10 on your race entry!