Saturday, May 28, 2011

Soldier Field 10

First comment: What a great race.

Never having ran this race which was now in it's 8th year I wanted to do it. Thanks to Clif Bar I was signed up. For me it started on Tuesday when I went to Fleet Feet and picked up my race packet along with four friends. It was one of the smoothest well planned race packet pick ups I've attended in and out in minutes with 5 race bibs, 5 T shirts in varying sizes.

Race morning my friend Danielle picked me up just before 5am and we drove over to a meeting point to collect four Windrunner club members and was headed to Chicago by 5:15am. Easy drive in and smooth parking around 5:40. This is one race it is best to get there early for. Danielle had some race flyers for CARA, I had to go to Clif Bar booth to get a Clif Bar running cap to wear during the race and the others had race packets to get. Back to the car to get ready, no gear check required. Danielle introduced me to more friends, boy is she well known!! We walked over to our race corral. There was six (AA, A, B, C, Open 1, open 2). I had been assigned to A down with the fast guys. I think that was due to Clif Bar. I felt sort of strange at the front so once the gun went off I ran to the side of the road.

The race started on time. First we headed south on either Lake Shore Drive or the frontage roads along side it for almost five miles then back north on the bike and running path. It was a good course even with the marina construction around 31st St.

I am one of those slow runners. I had speed at one time but after getting burned out on running then some medical and injury issues I've not yet got any speed back, distance yes speed no. I thought I could go 2:10 at this race (said I am slow) but deep down wanted to hit 2:00.

Due to being in corral A I hit the first mile in around 9 minutes, too fast. As the course went by my miles got slower. First four averaged just over 10s and I knew I'd slow down. I did but not by that much. I was excited to make the turn around at the big Clif Bar structure and head for home. This is generally one of the best city views you can get and only gets better has you get closer. Not today though as the city was covered in low clouds or fog. It reminded me of of when I got married at Navy Pier 21 years and 2 days ago (May 26) when it was also foggy. Oh well. Around mile 7 my friend Sarah passed me. I coached her to her first marathon many years ago via CARA. Sarah still calls me Coach and did today, love it. Finally I hit McCormick Place at mile nine. Checked my watch. WOW (for me) could I break 1:50. Along the bike path and make the turn on to the start line road along side Soldier Field. We had to head north and into the stadium via the service entrance, through a players tunnel and out onto the field. Fans are in the stands cheering us on, a camera crew is showing us on the jumbtron (nay didn't see myself) and I head across the grass and over the finish line on the half way line. I was done and yes broke 1:50 with a posted finish off 1:49:15. I was pleased with that.

Get a bottle of water. Walk around to soak it in especially as the finish run had gone by so fast. Left the playing field and got a nice medal, food bag and a souvenir blanket.

Easily found Danielle and gang. I was the slowest of the six so they had to wait for me join them, thanks guys. We all had good races. Drive back to western burbs was full of race talk and where to go for breakfast. Hmmm those pancakes and coffee hit the spot.

Soldier Field 10 is a great event. Everything from race sign up to packet pick up to race day organization to the shirts, medals and blankets. Kudos to Fleet Feet.

A big thanks to Clif Bar for my race number and being a race sponsor.
Another big thanks to Danielle for driving us all to the race.

I'll be back but first I have to run some trails just like my blog name.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Badwater Unsupported Solo

No not by me but by a friend of mine, read on.

Lisa and crew at Badwater Basin before 2007 race (photo by Ian Stevens)

You all know how much I like the Badwater ultramarathon. I've followed the race for years. First was just reading about it then along came the DVD "Running on the Sun" and then friends doing the race and yet more reading and checking results. Finally in 2007 my dream of being part of the race came true when my friend Scott from Downers Grove asked me to be on his crew team. The race blew my mind, unless it was the 125 degree July heat, maybe both. I had an amazing time at that race. In 2008 with no one friends to crew I found an Aussie, Kelvin needing a USA based crew so along with my friend Steve I crewed Badwater again. Kelvin then did the race again in 2009 so I crewed again. Sadly I could not attend in 2010 but followed the race on line and played all my DVDs (five in total), watched You Tube clips etc and even planned a noon time run at Springbrook with Cat.

One of my good friends is Lisa Bliss an ultrarunner from the Midwest currently living in Washington State. Lisa has been the Badwater head MD for years. Lisa as ran the race twice including in 2007 when she won. This year Lisa has decided to do a solo unsupported run from Badwater (282 feet below sea level) to the top of Mt Whitney (highest point in lower 48) in July. The race finishes at the Whitney portal trail head at nearly 9000 feet and after 135 miles. Lisa is going to around 14500 feet and 146 miles. (Race finishes lower due to current government rules). By solo unsupported she will have no support or crew, has to carry all her supplies (food, water, ice etc) in a cart that she'll need to pull or push and accept no help from anyone. Her boyfriend, Tim will be in the Valley for security and safety but that is it.

Here is Lisa's blog report:

This will be one long hard run. Even before Lisa gets to Mt Whitney at mile 122 there is miles of straight never ending roads, two mountain passes both around 5,000 feet with long climbs and descents, heat, wind, traffic and did I mention no restocking. Then the climb up Mt Whitney begins. First it is a steady doable uphill until you hit the switchbacks when the grade gets steeper. Then the paved road runs out and Lisa will have to hike 11 miles up steep switchbacks with some sheer drops in possible unpredictable weather than can include wind, rain, ice, lightening, snow - yes in July. Mt Whitney creates its own weather.

If anyone can do it Lisa can. To the best of my knowledge (and what Lisa writes) only one person has ever done a solo unsupported run. Some others have tried but Marshall Ulrich is the only success. Lisa can be number two.

This July will be a busy month for me, first following the Badwater race then following any reports that might come through on my friend Lisa.

If any one can Lisa can.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

10 days to go

I am less than 10 days away from my next race and only my second road/paved race in around 4 or 5 years. Looking forward to doing the Soldier Field 10. The race numbers and starting corrals where emailed to the near 15000 runners on Monday night. Packet pickup is next week at Fleet Feet store in Lincoln Park then race day is May 28th at 7.30am.

Although I am excited to do this race not looking forward to the numbers running but I'll just go out and enjoy myself, not everyday or even every month I get to run on the Chicago lakefront these days.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sad News

Media are reporting that Sammy Wanjiru has died from a fall (or jump) off a balcony at his home

In 2009 I had the honour of picking Sammy and Richard Limo up at the O'Hare airport and driving them into Chicago for the marathon. I got to spend 2 hours with them, more with Sammy as we had to wait for Richard to get through customs and immigration. Race day Sammy broke the Chicago and North American marathon time by 1 second, worth $100,000. Both guys were so nice. I am in shock

Here's my report from 2009