Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Runner's Soul

I was reading a story about a runner who stopped to take pictures of Meg's memorial.  (if you're not sure what I'm talking about, learn about Meg Menzies here and here)  I didn't know Meg personally, but if you're a runner you feel like all runners are a part of your family.  We're all connected in some way through our passion for lacing up our shoes each day and hitting the pavement (or trail, or treadmill) even if we may not always appreciate and honor what a blessing it is to do so. It made me cry but I was also left with this overwhelming sense of pride. Runners are part of a community that not many appreciate or comprehend unless they're a part of it.  From the outside looking in you don't understand it and from the inside looking out you can't explain it. We are a collection of some of the strongest and most determined people on the planet. The soul of a runner can never be killed because it will always run free. We possess an unconquerable spirit that thrives on challenges and grows stronger with each test. Why are we so strong? Because we run with our heart, not our legs. A runners power doesn't come from their ability to run, but their undying will to persevere and conquer.  That strength lies within each and every one of us, just waiting to be honed and nurtured. Whether its a one mile walk or a 64 mile trek through harsh conditions,we just keep going. We refuse to accept defeat. The truth is, it isn't about the number of races you've finished, how fast you went or even how many miles you traveled, its about not giving up.  The moment you overcome the thing you once believed you weren't capable of doing, that is when you find just how unstoppable you are.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Race List (updated 7/21)

Here's what I have so far, it's a work in progress but it will give you a pretty good idea of what I have coming up this year in case you'd like to join me for a race or two :)  I'm also open to any suggestions you might have!

Name Type Place Date
Commitment Day 5k RR Chicago 1/1/2014
Polar Dash 5k RR Chicago 1/11/2014
Biggest Loser 13.1 RR Alabama 2/9/2014
Pulaski Inaugral 10k RR Chicago 3/1/2014
Get Lucky 7k RR Chicago 3/15/2014
Shamrock Shuffle 8k RR Chicago 3/30/2014
Flying Pig 3-way 5k/10k/13.1mi RR Cinci 5/3/2014
Color Me Rad 5k RR Detroit 5/10/2014
Spring Half 13.1mi RR Chicago 5/18/2014
Soldier Field  10mi RR Chicago 5/24/2014
Mudderella 5-7mi OCR Chicago 5/31/2014
Michelob 13.1 13.1mi RR Chicago 6/7/2014
Biggest Loser 5k RR Rockford 6/14/2014
Warrior Dash 5k OCR Chicago 6/15/2014
Pride 5k 5k RR Chicago 6/26/2014
Dirty Girl Mud Run 5k OCR Chicago 6/28/2014
Hit & Run  5k OCR Chicago 7/5/2014
ROC 5k OCR Chicago 7/12/2014
Strike Out ALS 5k RR Chicago 7/15/2014
Christmas in July 5k RR Lisle 7/18/2014
RNR Chicago 13.1mi RR Chicago 7/20/2014
Diva Dash 5k OCR Chicago 8/2/2014
Biggest Loser 5k RR Chicago 8/3/2014
Chicago 10k 10k RR Chicago 8/10/2014
Pretty Muddy 5k OCR Chicago 8/16/2014
Chicago Tri Olympic Chicago 8/24/2014
Badass Dash 7k OCR Chicago 8/30/2014
Chicago Women's 13.1 13.1 RR Chicago 8/31/2014
Chicago Half 13.1mi RR Chicago 9/7/2014
Women Rock 5k RR Chicago 9/20/2014
Detroit Marathon 26.2mi RR Detroit 10/19/2014
Monster Dash 5k RR Chicago 10/25/2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

First medal of 2014: Polar Dash 5k recap

2013 Polar Dash with Abby & Johnny
Chicago weather is tricky.  From Monday to Saturday there was a 50 degree jump in temperature which as you can imagine lead to some difficulties on race day for the Polar Dash.  The course was riddled with puddles and mud, I guess it was sort of my introduction to trail running in a way.  It doesn't help that I was in no condition to be running Saturday morning, but my pride wouldn't let me sit this one out.  The night before the race was the wedding of two very close friends of mine.  In fact, I ran last year's Polar Dash with both of them, making it our first of many races together.

Sam and I, post race
Last year, this was my first Team Ortho race and it had a few problems then as well.  First of all the weather turned out to be 50 and balmy that day so we were all terribly overdressed.  Once on the course there weren't clear markings or course marshalls to direct runners along the correct path so some runners did a 7k while others only did a 3k for what should have been a 5k race.  I had my reservations about signing up for this years Polar Dash, but luckily I had saved up enough Team Ortho points to register for the entire series without paying anything additional out of pocket.

Pre-race Wampa goodness
My Midwest Vikings Family :)
Fast forward to this year.  Thankfully the weather warmed up a bit so it wasn't completely intolerable to run in.   The only problem with this Chicago "heat wave" was that it melted a good portion of the snow build up and made some giant water obstacles.  Not far into the race we were faced with one such puddle that was impassable, giving runners only one option which was to climb over some snow and run through the mud.  There wasn't really anywhere along this course that I was able to pick up any speed.  Between dodging puddles, climbing through snow and trying to pass slower runners there just wasn't an opportunity to break into my pace.  For the most part I was able to stay dry, but I still got caught in a few puddles and by the time I finished the race my feet were freezing.  With the course as narrow as it was, having traffic move in both directions was close to impossible.  On the bright side I saw some of my favorites at the race.  Before the race started Eric and I took a picture in our matching wampa hats, I chatted with his friend Jennifer before lining up, along the course I ran into some of my fellow Midwest Vikings and while waiting for some friends to finish the 14 miler I got to catch up with Sam and discuss future races.  It seems like the more I run, the more friends I make who help keep me motivated.

I'm still signed up for the remaining races in the series but I'm not sure I'll take any of them on again next year.  Even if they do include some pretty sweet swag...

The swag

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Run in the New Year

This New Year's Day I decided to trade in that icky morning hangover for  a runner's high...well sort of.  The conditions out there were pretty rough today and to not risk injury I decided to walk most of the 5k.  Along my journey through the wind, sleet and snow I realized that in the last year I've made some huge strides towards being the best version of myself I can be.  I've broken up with my doubts, conquered my fears and let go of everything holding me back.  I'm starting this new year fresh with tons of positive energy and excitement.  I'm hoping that it's infectious and those around me are able to cross a few goals off their lists as well.

The race itself was fairly small, I'm guessing the 9am start time combined with the weather conditions made it an unappealing choice this morning.  As always the lake was beautiful along the course but that particular section felt like I was crossing through Valley Forge.  I'm really trying to enjoy winter running but I just can't seem to get my body to agree.  I definitely think I'll have to stick to short distance races because I'm not sure I could handle anything longer than a 5k in this kind of weather. 

Running this morning was exactly what I wanted to do to get my day started off right.  Especially after having such a great time last night.  I'm not big on going out, I prefer staying in with friends and doing something low key.  My roommate and I have a tradition of trying to do as many NYE superstitious traditions as we can.  We eat the 12 grapes, wear red underwear, light candles, turn all the lights on, run around the block with luggage, fill a pouch with 12 different coins, eat some lentils and a whole host of other random quirky traditions from around the globe.

This year we added a few new ones and I'm glad we did.  We read that in Russia people write their wish on a piece of paper, burn it and then drop the ashes in their champagne and drink it.  It sounded crazy but that's sort of what NYE is all about for us so we tore off tiny pieces of paper to write our wish on and got a lighter out to turn it into ashes.  Aside from that we also made 2 lists, one to keep and one to burn (those ashes went to the trash though).  The first list was a list of all the wishes and goals we have for the new year along with what we plan to do to accomplish those goals.  It seemed fitting that I jot them all down on my race bib so that's exactly what I did.  I wanted to carry them with me on my very first run of 2014 and having them on my race bib was my way to do that and keep them in front of me as I hit the ground running.  The other list was of all the negative things we wanted to leave behind before starting the new year.  That list got burned and disposed of so that we had a fresh start as the countdown reached midnight. 

While most people tend to write resolutions, I think it's equally important to acknowledge the pitfalls you encountered so that you're sure to avoid them in the future.  It was therapeutic to get it all out and symbolically wipe the slate clean.  If you haven't already, start your lists, it's never too late to make a change and start fresh.  As for me, I've already started attacking a few of those list items by registering for my first full marathon (Detroit 10/19) and my first olympic distance triathlon (Chicago 8/24).  This will be a tremendous year for me as I continue to develop as an athlete and work towards becoming the best possible version of myself.  So join me, let me know what you hope to do this year, maybe we can tackle some of those goals together...