Saturday, October 31, 2009

New York Goes Hollywood

The paparazzi need to leave Tinsel Town for the weekend and focus their lenses on New York City instead. OK so New York has its own fleet of cameras tracking the celebs, but they'll need to be out in full force come Sunday's ING New York City Marathon. Why? Because one look at the race's roster and you'll recognize famous names from elites to age-groupers. People always say New York does things bigger and better, and well, this is definitely bigger. With a race cap of 40,000 runners, this race gets close to that number toeing the line on Staten Island (I'm convinced the lottery and race appeal helps with that). And among those 40,000 runners, you'll definitely find famous faces--like Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Sean Combs/Diddy in 2003 and Katie Holmes in 2007. It's almost like hanging out in Hollywood. Keep your eye out for some of these names running the boroughs of New York on November 1.
  • Tara Costa. I was psyched months ago when Costa, a finalist on The Biggest Loser's seventh season, announced that she was going to run New York. Now I'm just as excited to see how well she runs--I'm hoping she beats her time from the race she ran on the show and am thinking it's a possibility since the last 26.2 only had four weeks of training and included running through the sand to finish.
  • Brian Boyle. If you watched the coverage of the 2007 Ironman World Championships or the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Championships, you'll remember Boyle as the young man in the horrific car accident who was thankful to be alive after dying on the operating table eight times. He finished both of those races as well as several others in between those championships and since, too. I can't decide what I love more about Boyle: the fact that he recently released a book sharing his story or that the New York race will be his third marathon in less than a month. He ran the marathon at the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival on October 10, then the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25 and now New York on November 1. No wonder he's titled his book Iron Heart.
  • Ed Norton. This actor admits he's never run a marathon before, also claiming that before now he's pretty much only run as a means to something else and not just to run. Running for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, he has already raised more than $280,000.
  • Anthony Edwards. The ER alum won't have to worry about a call schedule or medical emergency get in the way of his marathon dreams. But his thoughts won't drift too far from the medical field--he's raising money for shoe4africa to build the first public children's hospital in Kenya.
  • Alanis Morissette. She only ran her first marathon a few weeks ago at the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon in northern California, but she must have enjoyed the distance enough to be a late-entry into this race. Man, it's good to be a celebrity and have that opportunity. Morissette ran her first marathon to raise awareness on eating disorders and this time she joins Ed Norton and running with the Maasai warriors.
  • Matthew Reeve. The name Matthew Reeve might not stand out on its own, but add Christopher and Dana Reeve to the equation and it does. Reeve is running and fundraising for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and he'll sport bib No. 1275 to represent the 1,275 million people living with spinal cord injuries.
  • Peter Sagal. The NPR voice of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me has made his mark on the Chicago Marathon on numerous occasions and will surely have some tales after tackling New York.
  • Ryan Sutter. Famous as the guy the first Bachelorette Trista Rehn fell in love with, married and started a family, Sutter adds another marathon to his resume.
  • David Blaine. I'm not sure if or how Blaine might bring his illusion craft to a 26.2 mile race, but it'll definitely be one sure test of endurance. He's also running for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.
Other famous names include Donal Logue, Sarah Jones, James LeGros, Dan Jansen, Pat LaFontaine, Brennan Swain, Ian Rosenberger, Nikolai Fraiture and Pieter Christiaan Michiel. Camera worthy? For sure, especially if you're spectating. You could get more celeb glimpses in New York than Hollywood this Sunday. Photo grabbed from Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Posted by Kate

Friday, October 30, 2009

New York 09: Where the Elite Come to Race

You know there's always at least one recognizable name among the elite field at the major marathons--New York, London, Chicago, Boston start the list rolling--but never do you find a race as stacked as the 2009 ING New York City Marathon. Rather than lone rangers to watch for, you have elite armies and it's a question of who has the faster legs on November 1 that's deciding the victor. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the New York City Marathon is holding nothing back. The loaded elite field has been touted by as the best elite marathon race in America, and a group of past race champions have been invited back to run a race that put them in the history annals. You can't miss these names running the boroughs of New York--most will be near the front of the pack.
  • Paula Radcliffe. Radcliffe has won New York before, most recently last year, and holds the world record for the fastest women's marathon, which she set at Chicago in 2002 and lowered it in London in 2003.
  • Ryan Hall. Hall-elujah fever hits New York and Central Park will be going crazy when Hall approaches the finish line, gunning for a winning race if all goes well.
  • Meb Keflezighi. Known for his bronze medal in the Olympics marathon in Athens, Keflezighi can turn out a good run on this course as he's proven so before.
  • Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot. This 2009 Boston Marathon winner has shown he's fast in the past and may have scared some of his competitors by being a late entry to New York.
  • Salina Koskei. She surprised everyone by winning this year's Boston Marathon and pulling ahead of Kara Goucher and Dire Tune in the final stretch.
  • Brian Sell. At one point it was announced that this 2008 Olympian would be making his NYC Marathon debut. Although most likely bothered by the heat and humidity in Beijing, Sell usually puts up impressive times, but he may have to run a personal-best if everyone runs fast on Sunday.
  • Abdi Abdirahman. Abdirahman's name frequently pops up as a fast 10-miler, but he's not snail at the marathon.
  • Past champions: Rod Dixon, Hendrick Raamala, Steve Jones, Orlando Pizzolato, Marilson Gomes dos Santos, German Silva, Gary Muhrcke. Raamala and Gomes dos Santos stand the best chance of capturing the $70,000 bonus for any returning NYC champion who wins this 40th running. Muhrke won the first running back in 1970 and returns to conquer the course again at age 69.
  • Lyudmila Petrova. Petrova is no spring chicken, but at 41, she's showing no signs of falling to the back of the pack. Last year she finished second in NYC and broke the world's best time for women over 40 with her 2:25:43.
  • Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. This 2008 Olympian ran fast enough in Boston in 2008 to make the Olympic team and stands as the U.S. hope for a top finish.
  • Joan Benoit Samuelson. "Joanie" as she's affectionately called by friends and admirers has paced for Lance Armstrong at this race while also running it on her own. And with the 40th anniversary of the New York Marathon coinciding withthe 25th anniversary of her gold medal performance in the first women's Olympic Marathon, Los Angeles in 1984, she's back.
And for those running--to say you shared the course with this field will make many a runner jealous. There aren't many races where so many top runners past and present make a presence--maybe Boston with its rich history and qualification standards. But the eye is on New York this time of year. Photo of Paula Radcliffe at NikeTown New York at the pre-race pep rally, courtesy of Nike. Posted by Kate

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Songs for a Spooky Spin or Sprint

With Halloween just days away, it's no wonder the costume store around the corner stays open later, the candy is flying off the shelves and haunted houses are the talk of the town. But it wouldn't be the holiday without a little theme music. And we're not talking about music playing on the car radio, at the costume party or through the store. Try during a workout--tunes to bring out the ghouls, witches and vampires on the run or the bike. My friend compiled these songs for a Spooky Spin planned at the gym tonight after searching the internet and Spinning websites for Halloween ideas. Maybe a few will make it onto your playlist?

Theme from 'Halloween'
Theme from 'The Exorcist'
Pearl Jam - Black
Nine Inch Nails – Dead Souls
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Halloween
Ministry – Every Day is Halloween
David Bowie - Scary Monsters
The Specials - Ghost Town
AC/DC - Highway To Hell
Beck - Devil's Haircut
Van Halen - Runnin’ With the Devil
Rob Zombie - Meet the Creeper
The Cramps - I Was a Teenage Werewolf
The Ramones - Pet Semetary
The White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Smashing Pumpkins - any song would work
Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
Vampire Weekend - any song would work
INXS - Devil Inside
Limp Bizkit - Take a Look Around
Pendulum - Slam
Pendulum - Midnight Runner
Rolling Stones/Fatboy Slim - Sympathy for the Devil (8 minute version)
Beatniks - Sabre Dance
Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood
The Police - Spirits in the Material World

Michael Jackson's Thriller also comes to mind as a perennial favorite, but in light of his death might not be the best to play this year. And then I can't help but think about oldies like the Monster Mash.

But everywhere you turn, the spirit of Halloween lurks from the grocery store to the gym. The gym, you ask? Yes, it's an odd place to conjure up ghosts and goblins--unless it's haunted--but mine is one spot where the Spinning instructors decided it'd be fun to hold Spooky Spins. Calorie deficit to splurge on those spooky treats, fun size candy bars and handfuls of candy corn, and creative license to devise a costume that works while sweating or doesn't look odd while wearing cycling shorts. The music is the easy part for the Spooky Spin, it's the costume where I'm running into problems. Photo grabbed from manitou2121 at flickr. Posted by Kate

From Big Apple to Belfast

Running this weekend's New York City Marathon but already have your eyes set on running another 26.2 after the ground thaws? Not running in NYC but searching for a spring marathon to keep your legs busy this winter? Even if you can't answer yes to these questions, you might reconsider once you hear that Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital, wants you to run its Belfast City Marathon on May 3, 2010. So much so that runners participating in the New York City Marathon and across the globe will have the chance to enter to win an all-expenses-paid trip across the Atlantic.

NYC Marathoners can meet race organizers from Sport Northern Ireland at the NYC Marathon Health & Fitness Expo and submit their entry for a chance to win. Find the Belfast City Marathon at booth 108 in the Javits Center and enter any time during the expo's hours from Thursday, October 29 at 9 a.m. to Saturday, October 31 at 5 p.m. In addition to on-site contest entry at the Expo, runners everywhere can enter online at www.belfastcitymarathon. Two lucky winners will be announced November 9, 2009.

Still not convinced? Running in Belfast doesn't necessarily mean running another marathon. The race, celebrating its 29th running, prides itself on offering a marathon walk, wheelchair race, team relay and 3-mile fun run in addition to the marathon, although a 26.2-mile journey is never a bad way to tour a city (or at least this marathoner thinks so). Held on a Monday, May 3 is also a bank holiday, which means plenty of spectators for the 18,000 runners. Save 10 percent by signing up for the race at the NYC Marathon expo--perfect if you already know you want to run or know that you don't stand a chance at winning contests (that luck of the Irish just never goes your way) but still want to run and save some dough. And a vacation with a run built in--excuse enough for me--never disappoints. Maybe some soreness or blisters afterward but checking out Ireland's countryside makes it all worth it. Photos grabbed from Belfast City Online. Posted by Kate

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Short Report: Kate's Chicago Marathon

If your legs can be set on cruise control, mine definitely were dialed in at the Chicago Marathon. They kicked in as I crossed the start line on Columbus Ave. just after 7:30 a.m. and eased to a stop after crossing the finish line further south on Columbus after a roundabout city tour. No speed increase or sprint in the final 0.2 mile with the finish line in sight. No walking breaks through a water station, to catch my breath and reevaluate my strategy, or to stretch my tight calves. My Nike+ SportBand proves it too...when I synced the results post-race, my speed clocked at each dot on the screen (roughly each mile) was nearly the same across the board and formed one of the straightest lines I've seen when plotting race results. But no complaints because my race ended the exact way I thought was impossible after the season I've had. Instead of clocking a race that would only be special for the fact that it was my 10th Chicago Marathon in a row--something I was determined to notch even if I had to walk the entire 26.2--the race turned into my personal best.

And more than a personal best as shown by the time: weather conditions, physical well-being and mental toughness were more than on par. Cold weather--my favorite--and unnoticeable wind, if any. Even the sun stayed around. Leg pains that have ailed me since June were nonexistent. And hip pains aggravated by the pavement pounding never arrived. Hitting the mental wall and not wanting to run anymore never happened. And as shocked as I am to present it, these had to help with the 3:38:24, a Boston qualifier, on the board. Right?

I still don't know. I've over-analyzed, over-thought and over-examined the day's events in my head a million times to the point where I've over-exhausted the race and how I did or didn't prepare. It's only a marathon but yet all the forces collided for what I'd like to think was a near-perfect race day that I keep thinking that something had to go wrong somewhere but I just didn't notice it. And in hopes of keeping this success-track running, I'm writing it all down to repeat in the future (i.e. April's Boston Marathon where I've never had a good race although I partially chalk that up to training or lack of training through a Chicago winter). Or remember when I have another off training season. But I have to add a disclaimer not to try this on your own. I don't know how or why I ran as I did after not being able run--and barely walk--only a month ago after yanking my left left through 13.1 miles at the Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. But while grateful and elated, something has to be amiss. Not sure as to what but this type of race strategy should be shunned.

But hey, Chicago Marathon No. 10 is in the books. From the pre-race 10 I displayed before darting into the start corrals (top photo) to what my mom likes to call the Miss America wave pose when I ran past my parents at mile 17 feeling far better than I had at that point in the last two years (middle photo). And then flashing that 10 again with my 10th medal around my neck and a smile on my face since I felt like I did the impossible (bottom photo).

As for all the details, I still have to wrap-up the long, drawn out version. But stay tuned as this is one race I want to remember. Posted by Kate

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Make Marathon Miles--Or Any Distance--Faster

Have a need for speed? Searching for more marathon motivation or a way to get to the finish line with your personal best? Want advice that can stick with you or three ways to prepare your body and your mind for the challenge? It's not every day a coach offers up free tips--while we wish it was the case, more often than not we learn through trial-and-error, a training program or personal coach, or reading material--but Mike Thomson of CoreFitness Chicago, a coach, leader of Core Running classes and a Boston Marathon-qualifier, has some speedy secrets. And he let Fit-Ink learn three key rules, applicable to the marathon as well as any race on your schedule.

Visualize. Racing is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental, so you want to know the race inside and out. Learn the course, its turns, its hills, its hydration stations and picture yourself running the route before the race. Then come race day when you hit a steep uphill, brace for a descent, or know that you need to refuel at miles 6, 12 and 18, your mind has already been there.

Taper volume, not speed. In the week leading up to the race you want to keep your speed but reduce the amount of training. Keep the epic workouts at bay especially those long runs and century spins. But do continue at the same intensity so you'll have that speed on race day.

Ban the expo eating. Free food? Who wouldn't turn that down? Well, you might want to if you don't want to mess with race performance. All of those energy bars, gels and gummies are great for giving you energy during a race or long ride, but that sugar high can spike insulin levels and dump glycogen if you're just sitting around. Don't use the expo as a grocery store unless you're stocking up for during or after the race.

That's not to say that these are the three golden rules of a fast race performance. Training, sleep and a good diet have to be present too or you might find yourself drifting off pace in the final miles. Or start off too quickly because you feel great (maybe leftover sugar-high from expo nibbling) and then sputtering at the end. Whatever the case, it's all about smart racing and smart prep. Posted by Kate

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Costume Find from the Race Course

Non-running friends always say running 26.2 miles sounds so boring, and then they ask, "How can you run and keep your mind occupied?" My answer? People watch, especially keeping my eyes out for the crazy costumes and get-ups that runners, walkers and even spectators devise. These costume-clad folk also provide great inspiration for Halloween.

So if you're still in need of a Halloween costume, especially so you don't have to whip out the same tired bunny ears or ladybug wings (that's me) for each party this year, consider these options. Heck, if someone can pull it off for 26.2 miles, surely you can wear it for a few hours.

Green man. Before I read about the "Green Man" phenomenon on ESPN, he ran past me at the Chicago Marathon. Here I am, running down Wells near Chicago Ave., heading back into the Loop, and green spandex comes flying by. I say flying because this runner was totally having fun out there with his arms and legs floating out as he moved by. And I couldn't help but think he had a smart wardrobe choice on that chilly morning with the extra tights layer--but he was sweating a bit down his back and I can only imagine that navigation could get a bit tough at times, having to peer through a green screen.

Cow. I swear this is one of the more popular costumes on the running path, I see at least one of these every year--maybe not always in a marathon but the cows definitely leave the pasture for one of Chicago's Halloween-themed races, Pumpkins in the Park, or the Trick or Treat Trot.

Banana. This is one peel you won't have to worry about slipping on. Maybe it's partially spurred by the Jamba Juice Bananaman, or maybe it's just an old promotion to see if you can run faster than a banana, but in the past I've seen pre-race announcements that encourage you to keep you eye out for banana runners on the course and to run faster than them. Some make the running look easier while others struggle to move their legs past a waddle with that peel confining their strides.

Male genitalia. Not the most glamorous costume but talk about eye-catching. I didn't believe this one until Time Out Chicago found a picture of a runner sporting this get-up in the Chicago Marathon. And at the 2007 race nonetheless where the last thing you wanted was to don a costume in the sweltering heat.

Bride and Groom. At the Las Vegas Marathon, brides and grooms can tie the knot at a wedding chapel along the course so it's not uncommon to see makeshift tuxes and dresses or the real thing. But you'll also spot couples donning their formal wear--or a similar shout out to wedding day attire--at other races too.

Liver. Not so much costume as mascot for the American Liver Foundation, this pink, felt-like organ replica sticks out along the sidelines at several Chicago races.

Soccer game. I wish I had a picture of this one, but this costume was on the Chicago Marathon course years ago and it stuck out enough for me to remember it. A man had constructed a miniature soccer game on a board game that he affixed atop his head, complete with mini players, a net and a ball. Think fuseball for a pretty accurate representation. I honestly can't remember the rest of the outfit beyond a soccer jersey I was so fascinated with the headpiece.

Kitchen appliances. This image says it's based off a Threadless T-shirt that features a refrigerator running, and the more I stare at it the less real and more PhotoShop'd it looks. But a big box and some construction paper could make for a refrigerator, oven and range, or a microwave.

Name That Super Hero. Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman...if you need even more of an excuse to wear tights, the marathon is it. Plus you can wear a cape and stand out for the crowd. And if you didn't think you were super human already for running the marathon, donning the costume really solidifies the feat.

Elvis. If anyone wants to shed light on the running Elvi phenomenon, please do, but Elvis jumpsuits always make an appearance on the race route. Chicago has a 5K devoted to Elvis each August, Elvis Is Alive, and at one time the Las Vegas Marathon promoted the running Elvi mixing in with the throngs of runners. This Elvis even used his jumpsuit's belt as a fuel belt.

Chicken. You know you can ride a pony but how about a hen? This runner tried during the 2007 Chicago Marathon, and according to the Flickr caption he didn't even see this custom-made costume until just before the race. I wonder if he kept it to wear at Halloween parties because it's too elaborate for one-time use.

Yoda. Or any other Star Wars characters--Han Solo would be a relatively easy one--are always good for a costume. And like the superheroes can help to boost your spirits when you hit the wall, Yoda's fight scene moves (Episode II sticks out in my mind) can also strengthen those down miles. Plus isn't it too cool to get to carry a light sabre?

The Nina, the Pinta or the Santa Maria. I couldn't believe this photo when I found it on flickr, but at the 2003 Chicago Marathon, three runners donned boats and 15th century outfits for their 26.2. Let's just hope it didn't take them as long to finish the race as it did to cross the Atlantic.

Papa Smurf. I grew up watching The Smurfs on Saturday morning TV, so when I spotted this costume from the London Marathon, it needed a call out. I recognized Papa Smurf even before I saw the blue body paint. That's a dare alright--how would that blue not sweat off?

Any other fun costume ideas? I'm all ears, as I have both a Spooky Spin on Thursday and a Halloween Spin on Saturday to find costumes for. And the ladybug can't come out again--not only did I wear it last year, but the wings flap too much on the bike. Photos grabbed from Mike F., digital_grid, japx, Andrew Swanson, Fuzzy Gerdes, cshimala, greg kellerman, mrtopp, aL!!!, bobcaroline, MissKubelik, kyleroth and Blitzy72 at Posted by Kate

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Few, The Proud, The Marine Corps Marathon

Another major marathon rocked the nation's capital this morning--the Marine Corps Marathon celebrated its 34th running with a field of roughly 21,000 toeing the line, pretty good for a race that capped participation at 30,000 runners. I'm too focused on running Chicago earlier in October to take part in this east coast classic, but it's definitely on the radar screen.

My college friends have a knack for moving east, especially Washington, D.C., leaving me to learn more about the area and its events in hopes of participating when I visit. First it was my roommate, who after one year post-graduation decided it was time to go to grad school and packed up and moved to the capital. And for some reason I've always remembered two things she told me about the relocation: how there are a lot of Northwestern alums and that the D.C. running scene seemed so much different from the Chicago one. And this is before she became a runner, but even she picked up on the trend that left only a few road races able to run the streets of the capital city (although the Washington Running Report makes me think times have changed a little) and of those, it was nearly impossible to gain entry if you hesitated because registration closed as quickly as it opened. And D.C. folks can correct me if I'm wrong, but the Cherry Blossom 10 in the spring, and the fall's Army 10-Miler and Marine Corps Marathon fill in a heartbeat. But when race-day comes, that's thousands of enthusiastic runners, many of whom are local because they've learned these sign-up secrets, trekking the D.C. streets and reveling in a capital city tour.

That certainly held true this morning at the 34th running of the Marine Corps Marathon, a 26.2-miler that's gained recognition among the ranks of New York, Chicago and Boston as a must-do race. And for those that battled the heat and humidity during those summer long runs, they finally had a chance to show what their bodies are made of with much more desirable race-day temps in the high 50s and low 60s. Forget heat-altered performances like a Runner's World article explored this summer--talk about making a runner slogging through elevated temperatures at Chicago in '07 and '08, and Grandma's Marathon '09 feel better about a slow performance. The wind behaved itself on race day with gusts not pushing levels that Marine Corps Marathon runners have faced in the past--I remember a friend running the 2006 race and was going great until the final miles where she felt like she was running through a wind wall. I've been there on my bike this summer and wouldn't want to repeat it on my feet.

Anyway...for this year's classic, Andrew Dumm was trying to defend his 2008 title, where he crossed first in 2:22:44--in his first marathon nonetheless. But it was another first-timer who took home the victory in 2009. John Mentzer, a Navy lieutenant commander, crossed first in 2:21:47, just edging out Air Force Capt. Jacob Johnson. That's one cool part about races in the Washington D.C. area--both Marine Corps and the Army 10-Miler fill with speedy service men and women. For the women, Cate Fenster, who was also running her first marathon, won the 2008 race in 2:48:55 but was not toeing the line to defend. With the female field wide open, Muliye Gurme of Ethiopia won in 2:49:48, capturing the lead over Air Force Capt. Jayme Marty in the final two kilometers. Check out more about how the top finishers fare at the Washington Times.

As for what else happened as the 26.2 miles went down...I'll be adding to this report as I learn more, and check on the progress of how some Team in Training athletes did. Tune in for more, but in the meantime, check out the race-day results and news at Semper Fi! Photo of winner John Mentzer grabbed from the Washington Times. Posted by Kate

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How To...Dress for a Cold-Weather Marathon

Brrr, it's cold outside. When there's a chill in the air and you're supposed to be running 26.2 miles, it's no longer a matter of how to stay cool on the course but how to prevent those muscles from freezing or the entire body from chilling. It may seem like a hotter race would be dealer's choice, but as an article in Runner's World pointed out this summer, our bodies perform better when it's cooler. Maybe not at freezing temperatures--the information presented uses 50 degrees as ideal--but we can expect times to slow as the mercury rises.

Enough about mercury rising though, as most of the fall marathons are having uncharacteristic lows come race day. Chicago? 33 degrees at the start, warming to 36. Detroit? 28 degrees at the start, rising to roughly 41 by 10 a.m. Twin Cities? 46 at the start and warming to 50. And don't forget the snow that's already made appearances in Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts and more.

But with this cold temps the question becomes, what do I wear on race day? You need suggestions and we have answers.
  • Arm warmers. All the rage these days, retailers from Nike to Sugoi and Asics to lululemon have these sleeves on the shelves. Affordable, adjustable and available in various thicknesses for degrees of warmth, you can't go wrong with these on race day. Slip them on as an added layer when you get dressed in the morning and peel them down around your wrists when you warm up--forget fumbling with pulling a shirt over your head and tying it around your waist. Plus even the elite runners--Kara Goucher donned them at the Boston Marathon and Ryan Hall swears by his pair, promising to bring them when he runs New York in a few weeks--wear them during cold races so there has to be some merit, and cool factor.
  • Hat. You probably learned long ago that heat escapes through your head, so wearing a hat would be the obvious choice to keep you warm on a chilly day. Only problem is that after a while it can also make you hot, trapping in all that extra heat. Still a hat is easy to stuff into a pocket or your waistband, and easily replaceable without breaking the bank if you lose it along the route.
  • Headband. Is the hat keeping you too warm? Know that you're an overheater but get cold ears? Keep the head cool but the ears warm with a headband. Also good at concealing headphones, but luckily we don't have to worry about that as much anymore since the USATF raised the headphones ban and most races have welcomed them back into races.
  • Gloves. The extremities are the first body parts to get chilled. And handling all of that cold water and Gatorade/Powerade/Cytomax/etc. at the aid stations can make them even worse. You don't need to go all-out and get fancy gloves for the occasion--the $1 or so variety from the drugstore (the woolly kind) hold up to the elements and are easily replaceable if you drop one on the road. The only downfall is they make it more difficult to adjust an iPod's volume and dig for Sport Beans in a pouch. But warm digits are better than numb ones.
  • Sweats. I'm all about staying warm before the gun goes off, but I hate parting with a favorite sweatshirt or having to track down a replacement for the sweatpants I just left on the side of the road. While it takes a little planning--or spare time come race week or weekend, depending on how close to race day the weather takes a chilling turn--a visit to Goodwill or the Salvation Army for a discounted pair of sweats, or even a blanket, can provide cheap comfort at the start. And you're even doing a little recycling with whatever you leave in the start corrals and along Columbus Drive--the clothing is donated after it's swept up. Or a runner staying at my parents' hotel claimed he purchased his sweats for $4 at Walgreens around the corner. That's not a bad deal either.
  • Space blanket. Because I hate parting with my clothing and I never make it to the Salvation Army for a pre-race outfit, I've devised a different method that works for me. I come armed with a space blanket that I've acquired from a previous race. My mom thinks I'm nuts for saving them, but I only have one in my stash--and it folds up flat and tiny in the drawer--and I bring it out in the cold weather. It's wrapped tightly around my legs until I shed my fleeces and then I wrap it over my shoulders to cover my arms too. The only problem is tossing it to the side when I'm ready to leave it at the start line: this year I tried to toss it to the curb but the blanket flew up in the air and glided onto another runner's head. While it was great for this race, I think my mom tossed the one I acquired at the finish line, foiling my plan for the next chilly day.
Do you have other items that keep you warm before and during a race? Share your ideas in the comments. Photo of gloves grabbed from Posted by Kate

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Heart CorePower Yoga

I never thought I'd be saying I was hooked on yoga. Not just any yoga though--it has to be CorePower Yoga. That's the only yoga I've ever found myself wanting to go to on a regular basis--and it's not just the free week of unlimited classes to first timers that has me hooked. The stretching? Feels sooo good, especially after crampy legs post-marathon. The sweating? Awesome, and gives me the type of workout I crave (one where I have to change my clothes afterward because the others are soaked). The moves? Challenging for this inflexible runner, but beneficial in the long run.

And this comes from someone who was turned off from yoga after a sour experience a few years ago where the thrill of having a class of two was ruined by an instructor who wasn't too keen about my inflexibility. I thought I'd be getting more instruction with only me and another student in class but instead I get singled out. Instructor corrects position. Glances at my feet and notices a round of dry skin and blisters that are part of marathon aftermath. Asks, "Are you a runner?" I answer yes, thinking this means I'll receive more help getting pushed into the right moves. Instead, "Oh, that explains everything." And I feel shunned for the remainder of class and want nothing more but to leave or burrow my head in shame, as I kind of do with each return to down dog, feeling instructor's eyes staring at my poor stance and feeling like trying doesn't even count. Sure I may have misinterpreted the instructor but I never wanted to return for fear it would happen all over again.

That's where CorePower Yoga comes in, bringing comfort back to those up and down dogs and making me feel less intimidated even when I'm sweating more than everyone in class and struggle through each move. Everyone is so focused on their practice--with the exception of the instructor whose sharp eye knows when to push my back into a proper down dog or suggest I slide my foot forward for more of a lunge and better balance--they could care less about how I'm three steps behind and making the sweat squeak as I slide my feet across my mat to warrior two. My sister keyed me in to CorePower's addicting forces over the summer when she started attending classes in San Diego. Knowing that I'll try just about anything involving fitness, she suggested I check out the Chicago studios. Due to my previous experience and reluctance about being embarrassed again, I opted to wait until Chicago's second location opened so close to my house I really couldn't avoid going.

But it was a blessing in disguise. Not only did I feel like I was sweating toxins out of my body (most likely thanks to rich desserts at the Cubs games the night before) at my first C2 class, but I could feel the moves stretching all of my trouble spots that sent me straight into physical therapy. Talk about feeling limber. And sore, too. My body often doesn't flow in those directions, and positions like boat work my core to the point of break down. Break down because before CorePower I fooled myself into thinking I had a relatively strong core thanks to running and cycling--so not true when I can't even mimic the rowing boat motion when my torso and legs without flopping over and giving up, or hold my legs a few inches off the ground and scissor kick, an exercise that came easily when I was 13 and doing the same exercise during drylands at swim practice. That's not even touching on my trust factor, which poses a problem when it comes to believing my hands and forearms can support my body weight in the crow position.

Even if I can't touch my toes and my dancer looks less graceful and more glued to the ground, C2 is strengthening my body. My ailing calf feels better like it does after a physical therapy session, my abs seem tighter thanks to all of those chairs and crunch-like moves, and my hips finally lost their stiffness during the warriors and lunges. I'll even take the cracking in the joints later in the day as a positive sign. But I'll admit I was relieved when the last few minutes of the hour or 75 minutes hit and it was cool down time--lying still on the mat and doing a few easy stretches never felt so good. No complaints, it's definitely a class to add to the repertoire.

Need more convincing? Stay tuned for the experts' insight on CorePower Yoga and its benefits. Photo grabbed from lululemon athletica at flickr. Posted by Kate

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Daily Feed: Sites We're Searching 10/19

Another busy marathon weekend in the books and another round of me perusing the race results and reading up on what went down across the country. That and I'm still catching up from the weekend before where I was wrapped up in my own 26.2 adventure (and I swear that race report is coming, I'm just struggling with making 26.2 miles sound interesting over boring). So here's what's on my radar screen and hit list from the past two weekends.
  • Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival. This event has become so large on the East Coast running scene that it turned from marathon/half marathon to festival. With events of all distances, it was all about running through Baltimore on October 10. Check out the results.
  • Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Flat and fast--so fast that even the cold didn't keep Sammy Wanjiru from setting a course record on October 11. Runners toured the Windy City, packing its streets with foot traffic rather than car traffic, and many scored PRs in the process. Click here for results.
  • Steamtown Marathon. Smaller in scale than Chicago but not amiss on the running scene, this Scranton, Pa., race is ranked among one of the fastest marathons in the country. And easily accessible for East Coasters, New Englanders and Midwesterners, especially those looking to avoid massive crowds. Find the results here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Five Ways for an Active Fall

The calendar says October but you think it feels more like late November or December where you let the belt buckle out a notch, stay off the scale and enjoy that holiday reveling. But alas we have yet to don our Halloween costumes—much to the chagrin of retailers who are already pushing holiday product—and we have yet to accomplish fall race goals. Whether you’re training for the next event or simply using the fall and winter to refresh for next season, consider these five ways to stay in shape and motivated without feeling like you’re training full-throttle. 

  1. Test yourself at cyclocross. Combine road biking with steeplechase and you’ve got yourself a way to brush up on your bike skills, play around in the mud, and burn mass quantities of calories pumping pedals, hefting your bike over and through obstacles and rushing to the finish line. Plus it’s a sport that’s up and coming in Chicago seeing mass growth in the past few years that there are just as many newbies taking to the course as there are regulars so the pressure’s off.
  1. Take up indoor riding. Carrying on a conversation pedaling along the Lakefront Path or along a busy street isn’t exactly the easiest thing. Nor is it much fun to have to bundle up when the mercury drops and return home from a ride chilled to the bone. But if you hook your bike up to a trainer at one of our indoor clinics and join a few other hearty souls, the conversations make the minutes fly by, and being protected from the elements makes the rides more enjoyable and consistent.
  1. Take a break from the routine to cross train. You’ve gone swimming, biking and running—or maybe just running—all summer. But have you ever considered adding a new element to the mix? Try swapping out a running day for a pool workout or hit the bike.
  1. Channel your core. Going with the cross-training theme, consider harnessing your energy, breath and movement through yoga. Add a yoga day to the routine to stretch out any tight muscles and improve flexibility in an attempt to ward off injury. While you’re sweating and balancing on your limbs, your body will be working to strengthen, even tone, tiny muscle fibers.
  1. Strengthen with stairclimbs. Fall and winter in Chicago mean a circuit of stairclimbing events around the city’s and suburb’s tallest buildings. Your heart rate might sky rocket as you sprint up the stairs—94 flights if you register on Nov. 2 for the Hustle Up the Hancock in Feb. 2010, 103 flights if you sign up for the SkyRise Chicago on Nov. 15, or 80 flights if you choose the Step Up for Kids in Jan. 2010—but those lung-busting minutes will only help come spring. Plus the views from the top are priceless!
Photo grabbed from Dave Haygarth at flickr. Posted by Kate

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Biggest Loser Alumni Run the Motor City

Just call it Motor City marathoning with former fat folks. Maybe not the nicest way to refer to former cast members of The Biggest Loser, but face it, they once were lively spirits busting out of their clothing and barely able to make it through a workout of easy proportions. Now with their slimmer selves they're out and about, working out, helping out and rocking out. And this weekend it's all about running a half marathon. I was excited to hear that Losers from seasons past--and not just a scant few--would be racing on my hometown stomping grounds this weekend at Sunday's Detroit Free Press Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay and 5K.

Yes, Liz and I have a thing for The Biggest Loser. Perhaps we haven't gotten as hooked this season as in years past--and it doesn't help that the Chicago connection is already out of the running--but we're still caught up in the drama. And that especially holds true when the creative challenge geniuses throw events like marathons, spin-a-thons and triathlons to the competitors. But enough about this year, this post is about the old contestants who've already logged the days at the ranch, lived through Bob and Jillian torture and made those live-changing alterations to daily life. And they're reuniting in Detroit to run 13.1 miles.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Free Fitness Find

I'm all about freebies whether it be samples at the grocery store (Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, especially) or signing up for a perk that gives me something in return (like Nike's Race Day Challenge and Nike+ member benefits at the marathon that scored me a massage and swag). While I'm not complaining about the food fuel, the free finds where I can score something that I'd otherwise be paying for are my faves. Think gym memberships for a day, fitness classes and you've got yourself a winner. So when I heard of this latest freebie, I was all over it.

If you're a CorePower Yoga follower then you can appreciate this one. The Windy City just scored its second CorePower location, opening at 12 W. Maple in the Gold Coast. To celebrate the opening earlier this month--October 2 to be exact--and commemorate the one-year anniversary of the South Loop location, they're hosting a Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday, October 17. But this isn't just any party. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with an hour-long free, donations-accepted yoga class led by studio manager Chris Nassivera. Proceeds from the class will benefit the Breast Cancer Network of Strength, which provides emotional relief to anyone affected by breast cancer and endures that no one faces the disease alone.

The party really gets started beyond the studio after the stretching and sweating are done. You've revved your inner energy so starting at 7:30 p.m. and running until 10:30 p.m. comes the entertainment with music, appetizers and cocktails. And if that wasn't enough, you can save 15% on anything you purchase in CorePower's boutique all day on Saturday. Perfect time to score a yoga mat or Yogi Toes to keep from slipping when the sweat is dripping--or at least that's what happens to me at the C2 class I've been sampling all week.

Know you want to make Saturday a yoga day? RSVP to In the meantime, read up on the studio here or join its Facebook fan page. Photo grabbed from lululemon athletica at flickr. Posted by Kate

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Marathon Morissette

AlanisMorissetteprahaI'll save the pithy references to the Jagged Little Pill album, Ironic, You Oughta Know and any other Alanis Morissette song that recalls memories of high school for me. But last week FitSugar revealed news about this singer that caught my eye. While I was running through the 26.2 miles of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Alanis Morissette was running the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon through the Lassen National Forest in northern California.

Running with her brother Wade, Alanis ran the race to fundraise for the National Eating Disorders Association, an organization close to her heart after suffering from anorexia and bulimia. According to the FitSugar article, she was using the marathon to raise awareness as well. Good news is that Alanis can now call herself a marathon finisher. After only beginning to run last year, she crossed the finish line of the Bizz Johnson race in 4:17:03, good enough for eighth place in her age group (30-34) and as the 57th woman. She even beat her brother, who crossed the line in 5:27:42. "That experience was truly beautiful and electric and traumatic and exciting and horrifying and surreal and moving and unforgettable," Alanis wrote on her website. Congratulations and read more about the experience first-hand here!

Photo by Serendipity seren (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Posted by Kate

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fast Times at Chicago Marathon; Wanjiru Wins

The 32nd running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon had its fair share of stories from the start line to the finish line and all along the course. While I'm still trying to figure out how to recap the race from my point of view on the course--and am crunched for time at the moment to be able to sit down and really write something--I had news from a press release that recaps the elite and wheelchair race. So without further ado, here's how the front of the pack fared per the press release with a few comments from me...

Today's Bank of America Chicago Marathon witnessed 34,792 participants at the start and 33,419 official finishers, a men’s course record, a new female champion, a three-time wheelchair champion and a sprint finish in the women’s wheelchair competition. Exciting, but shocking that once again the race was capped at 45,000 runners and more than 10,000 registrants didn't toe the line. Amazing though that not even 1,400 runners who started the race couldn't finish.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ironman World Championships Knows Its Winners

It's amazing what can happen at a race you're following if you just go away from the computer. I was out to dinner, loading up on fuel for tomorrow's marathon, and by the time I returned the Ironman World Championships had its champions. And not just the top man and top woman but we're talking the onslaught of athletes finishing in roughly 10 hours and 15 minutes or less.

So without further ado, here are the results.

Craig Alexander once again topped the men to defend his title as World Champion. Finishing the race in 8:20:21, he came on strong in the marathon to win the race over Chris Lieto, who's know for his speedy cycling legs. Lieto, who we're used to seeing push on the bike to be one of the first or the leader into T2 then losing momentum on the run, held his guns and fired off a second place finish just minutes behind Crowie in 8:22:56. It's also the top finish by an American since Tim DeBoom finished fourth in 2007--Andy Potts was the U.S. best last year in eighth place. Rounding out the top three was Andreas Raelert of Germany in 8:24:32.

As for the women, it was all Chrissie Wellington once again. She three-peated in defending her World Champion title and did it in record-setting time. She's starting to look like Natascha Badmann who previously dominated the women's race, winning an impressive six times, and Paula Newby-Fraser who holds the record at eight wins and had her course record broken by Wellington. Wellington finished in 8:54:02 and rolled across the line in memory of the Blazeman Jon Blais, who completed the 2005 race after being diagnosed with ALS. Nearly 20 minutes after Wellington crossed the line, second place was nabbed by Aussie Mirinda Carfrae, a triathlete who has excelled at a variety of shorter distances and has won the 70.3 championship. Carfrae finished in 9:13:59. Taking third was Virginia Berasatequi of Spain in 9:15:28.

Age groupers and pros are still spilling into the finish line, capping off their Ironman experience, while others are just getting their running legs going. It's amazing how you can catch up on the day just by following the live race day coverage. I've learned that Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a bilateral above knee amputee on the road to his first Ironman, is dangerously close to missing the bike cut-off and not being able to start the run. And due to his prosthetics, he's powering those 112 miles mostly with his gluteal muscles. Yikes! Then Ken Glah of Pennsylvania finished his 26th Hawaii Ironman in a row--the 46-year-old continues to be a top racer and grabbed at time of 10:17:08. And Brazilian Fernanda Keller, a star when it comes to Iron-women, has raced as a pro in Kona since 1987...23 times. And at 46 she's still got it, crossing at 10:37:44.

More stories are unfolding by the minute, but I have to tear myself away from the coverage or I'm not going to get any sleep before running tomorrow. I was already antsy and rode my bike for a little while to loosen up my muscles but sleep is always key before a marathon, even if it is restless. Congrats to all the Ironman athletes and good night! Posted by Kate

Chicagolanders Do Kona

I just posted this at (I'm also the Chicago Endurance Sports Examiner over there) and figured I may as well add it here. Enjoy some Chicago-centric content surrounding the Ironman.

Admit it, sometimes it's a little easier or more satisfying to cheer for the hometown crowd when you're following an event like an Ironman, marathon or cycling tour. It's nice to know who those athletes are ahead of time, But sometimes you don't know who those people are until you peruse the results list and go, "I didn't know they were racing." An athlete acquaintance could be reserved over his or her athletic accolades and not share his or her competition schedule until after the race is over. Regardless of the scenario, if you want to know some athletes with local connections swimming, pedaling and running their way through an Ironman day at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, check out the list below. Also please note it's not listed in any particular order.
  • Adrienne Saeger, Naperville. Runs Power of Your Om yoga studio and qualified at Ironman Wisconsin 2008.
  • Erin Kersten, Chicago. Qualified at Ironman Canada 2009.
  • Dan Litwora, Chicago. Qualified at Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2009.
  • MJ Slikas, Orland Park. Qualified at Ironman Louisville 2009.
  • Julie Woods. Recently relocated from Chicago to Hong Kong and qualified at the super-hot Ironman China.
  • Natalie Schaefer. Recently relocated from Chicago to the Bay Area and qualified at Ironman Wisconsin 2008.
  • Adam Zucco, Elburn. Partners with Joe Friel at Training Bible Coaching. Qualified at Ironman 70.3 California and did Ironman Wisconsin 2009 as a trainer for Kona.
  • Bob Scott, Naperville. This 79-year-old is one of the oldest competitors in Kona.
  • Adam Brown, Aurora. Coaches and blogs on triathlon, teaches too.
  • Mike Adamle, Evanston. You've seen his face on NBC 5, also played for the Chicago Bears and hosted American Gladiators in the '80s.
  • D'Arcy Dawson. Recently relocated from Chicago to Indiana and qualified at Ironman Louisville 2009.
  • Keith Bowersox, Wilmette. Won a lottery spot in the April drawing.
  • Lindsey Hankus, North Riverside. Won a lottery spot in the April drawing.
  • Cyril Khairallah, Chicago. Won a lottery spot in the April drawing.
  • James Robesky, Quincy. Won a lottery spot in the April drawing.
  • H. Scott Sarran, Chicago. Won a lottery spot in the April drawing.
  • Travis Schroll, Beardstown. Won a lottery spot in the April drawing.
  • Matt Woleben, Evanston. Won a lottery spot in the April drawing.
Some athletes are probably missing from this list, but at least it's something to start from when cheering. Check out more details and competitors at Photo grabbed from Marion Doss at flickr. Posted by Kate

Friday, October 9, 2009

Name Dropping at Ironman

It's less than 24 hours before the 2009 Ironman World Championships. The pros have signed their autographs and had the meet and greets. The age groupers are spotting familiar faces and their competitions. They all have been shuttling between the beach and Lava Java, donning their skivvies for the infamous underwear run and sporting those buff bods all over town. But before the cannon goes off on October 10 to start the big dance, we thought it'd be fun to take a look at some of the names and faces among the 1,876 bibs (164 professionals) that will be dotting the course--or crammed like sardines in Kailua Bay. So without further ado, here's our version of name-dropping at the Ironman.

Craig Alexander. Alexander returns to Kona to defend his title in 2009 after besting Eneko Llanos in 2008. He finished second to Chris McCormack in 2007 when he first tackled the distance and has an impressive triathlon career.

Andy Potts. I'm curious to see how this speedster fares simply because he suffered a bad crash at the Chicago Triathlon--he got side-swiped by an age grouper while pedaling 35 mph on Lakeshore Drive. He can perform but the question is did the crash affect his performance much like Michellie Jones' '07 drop-out due to a perforated ear drum (let me double check that fact).

Chrissie Wellington. What doesn't stop this Iron-woman prowess? She first raced Ironman in 2007, then won the World Championship. Then in 2008 she crossed first with a speedy marathon time--and almost got stranded out on the bike course with a flat and busted CO2 cartridge.

Bree Wee. Local to Kona, she's an age=grouper turned pro who's back to race on her home turf. Plus I just love reading her blog.

Hillary Biscay. She won Ironman Wisconsin 2008, finished third in 2009--and I happened to luck out and body-mark her that morning--plus she's been racing like crazy at the Ironman distance with no slowing down before Kona. She was in Barcelona for one of the Challenge series races before landing in Kona.

Adrian Fenty. The mayor of D.C. is a triathlete--a good one at that who's had impressive finishes at the Nation's Triathlon--and gunning for Ironman.

Mike Adamle. Chicagoans know Adamle well for his history playing with the Chicago Bears, a Northwestern alum and sportscaster on NBC 5. Adamle is also a triathlete who's returning to the Ironman distance to ring in his 60th birthday.

Matt Hoover. By name his name might not ring a bell, but if you add winner of the second season of The Biggest Loser, then maybe you'll remember this overweight former wrestler who shed enough weight to best his competitors. Hoover, who married Suzy from the show and had two kids, was starting to look a little pudgy on The Biggest Loser recaps, but he announced earlier in the year that he wanted to do Ironman. A bib was assigned to him so let's hope he makes it to the finish line.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson. Garcia-Tolson is one impressive athlete--and he does it all without having two legs. Always wanted to be the first bilateral above-knee amputee to complete the event, he's trounced the competition in Olympic-distance races.

Sr. Madonna Buder. If you've ever followed triathlon, you've probably heard of Sister Madonna. At 79, she's still competing in Ironman races and already finished Ironman Canada at the end of August. She has the record of being the oldest female to complete a triathlon--and that's coming from someone who only started running at 49.

Bob Scott. My eyes have been on Scott mostly because he's a Chicagoland triathlete. But at 78, his times are impressive and he can beat competitors easily half his age. I'll be curious to see how quick he is because age doesn't seem to be slowing him down.

For more athlete stories from those competing at the Ironman World Championships, read some of the coverage at And be sure to tune into the live webcast at beginning at 11 a.m., central time. Posted by Kate

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More Chicago Marathon-Specific Shopping

Running Sunday's Chicago Marathon and need a few items to add to your wardrobe? Even if you don't need any wardrobe refreshers, you might find Nike's Chicago specific items too hard to pass up (at least I did). With a call-out to the Windy City and highlighting some of its famous landmarks, these items are perfect for boasting a marathon accomplishment or shoving Chicago in the face of Olympic officials if you're still shocked and disappointed over the 2016 Olympics announcement that went to Rio instead.

Men's and women's items vary slightly in design and style but contain many of the same elements when it comes to shout-outs to the Chicago flag, the Bean in Millennium Park, Willis Tower (or Sears for all those who still aren't used to the name change, me included) and the city skyline. Plus you'll notice a mosaic theme that runs throughout many of the pieces detailing the city's famous phrases, el stops, key dates, nicknames, sports legends and more. The collection features everything from short-sleeve tees to warm fleeces--perfect to cuddle up on post-race since the latest weather reports are predicting a chill in the air. These goods are available at Niketown at 669 N. Michigan Ave., the Expo at McCormick Place, and the Hilton Chicago at 720 N. Michigan Ave. where the host hotel annually sets up a marathon gear store in its lobby. And a tent full of gear, including the exclusive finisher items, are available beginning at 6 a.m. race day and throughout the Post Race Festival. Or check it all out at

Some highlights to watch for include the Poster Women's Tee at $28 (pictured above) and Men's Long Sleeve Poster Tee at $32. Or dress your feet in a Chicago exclusive LunarGlide+ shoe at $100 (pictured)--no joke, this shoe is specifically designed for Chicago and includes an insole with elements from the city's flag and a tongue labeled CHI, plus the bright blue bottom is simply sharp (especially if blue is your favorite color like me). You'd also want to score these shoes if you're a shoe collector or crazy marathon runner--city-specific LunarGlide+ models will be available at a number of other well-known marathons over the course of the next year.

A few women's items to also watch for and their prices:
Women's Mass Runner Tee: $28
Women's Grey Sweatshirt with Yellow City Swirl: $55
Women's Heart Tee: $28
Women's Silver Bean Tee: $35
Finisher Women's Half Zip: $65 (I'm a fan of this one because the finisher label is subtle)
Finisher Women's Long-Sleeve Coral Tee: $32

Time to get shopping! Photos courtesy of Nike. Posted by Kate

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Niketown Pep Rally for Chicago Marathon

Sunday's the big dance in Chicago--at least for 45,000 runners who've had October 11's Chicago Marathon marked on their calendars since April--but the fun gets started on Thursday, October 8, at Niketown with its annual pep rally. And this year's pep rally, kicking off at 6:30 p.m. at Niketown at 669 N. Michigan Ave., has a star-studded cast, including Nike elite athletes and Chicago Bears' Johnny Knox.

Have a question before race day and want a seasoned pro's advice? Want to know how Olympic runners attack a race? Need to squeeze in a last minute run and want a great course along the Lakefront Path and elite company? Or just want to run? The pep rally delivers with Johnny Knox, considered a Bears speedster, plus Nike elite athletes who include: Joan Benoit Samuelson (winner of Chicago Marathon and Olympic Gold winner), Bernard Lagat (2008 Olympic Silver, Bronze winner), Shalane Flanagan (2008 Olympic Bronze winner), Matt Tegenkamp (American record-holder: 2 miles), Chris Solinksy (14-time All American) and Anna Willard (2-time national champion). They'll be on hand to advise and cheer on local runners and then head out for a training run after a Q&A session. Then come Sunday they'll be cheering on the high schoolers competing in the Nike Northside/Southside Challenge, the first-ever high school invitational meet taking place on the Chicago Marathon course, during the race itself.

Talk about excitement brewing in the Windy City. And a great running motivator especially to quell the jitters. Need more info, check out Nike's Chicago-specific section. Photo courtesy of Nike, featuring Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson who also attended the 2008 event. Posted by Kate

A Biggest Loser Resort Reservation?

Rather than steal the limelight from the Chicago Tribune, I figured I'd just post the news. Check out this latest story about how the popular TV show, The Biggest Loser, has gone even more mainstream.

You may not be able to work out with Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, but NBC Universal thinks that those checking in to the Biggest Loser Resort will be able to shed those unwanted pounds. All you need to do is head to southern Utah to the Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge that recently partnered with NBC's Biggest Loser franchise. For $2,000 a week, you'll get that ranch experience from the intense workouts to the strict and restricted meal plans plus classes to educate you on a healthy, active lifestyle. You'll even see some of the same products used on the show. So while guests may not have their time in the limelight on TV, they can still jump-start their weight loss efforts and move beyond that hopeless feeling many show contestants express when they attempted to lose weight at home. Not to mention, the scenery in Utah is just as cool or cooler than California. Check out the Biggest Loser Resort here. Posted by Kate

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Snow Wars: Loveland Beats Arapahoe To Open First

Let the 2009-2010 ski season beging...almost. Loveland Ski Area in Colorado is set to open for the season October 7. It's Loveland's earliest opening in 40 years. So for all those who want to get in those first runs, the time has arrived to beat the morning mountain traffic, sharpen the skis and dust the boots in the closet.

Credit has to be given to Chris Anthony--skier, adventurer, Vail-er, Warren Miller movie film star (at least in my book as I flipped out when Anthony sat down next to my husband and I at Two Elk Lodge in Vail a few years back)--for this news that totally brightens the gloom that looms outside my window. October in Chicago can be nice in some people's books with the leaves changing, the cooler but not frigid temps, and sunlight that hasn't disappeared into winter hibernation yet--but not mine. So when skiing news flies across my eyes, I'm all for it, and admittedly always look forward to that October announcement of which Colorado resort, Loveland or Arapahoe Basin, will win the battle of the resorts.

Colorado has seen snow falling from the sky, in the mountains at least, since September, and reportedly was even dumping a bit on October 1. Even The Huffington Post was reporting the Loveland and A-Basin were already cranking up the snow-making machines just after the turn to fall. But Loveland won the battle with folks set to line up at 9 a.m., October 7; and A-Basin isn't quite ready to open up shop. And to make the news even better, other Colorado resort openings are just around the corner. Keystone is next to open for the season on November 6, with Breckenridge on its tails on November 12.

I'm probably missing some openings so if you know of any early openings, please add them to the comments. Photo grabbed from AtomicLlama at flickr. Posted by Kate

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fit-Pic: Lindsey Vonn Pitches Wrigley

Lindsey Vonn may be an incredible skier, but she's not always practicing on the downhill. Before the ski season gets into full swing, Vonn did a victory cheer, but on the mound and not at the end of a speedy run. Vonn threw out the ceremonious first pitch at Wrigley Field on October 1 when the Cubs hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates. That's her above just after the pitch, and a successful one at that. Maybe Vonn can sub as a relief pitcher when she's not schussing?

See a few more pictures from the night here.

Photo by Jack Affleck, Vail Resorts, Colo. Posted by Kate

Marathon Memories: An Intro

Runners sweat it out in 2007's scorcher.
I feel like I've had this October planned for at least the last two years. I want to say that I've known since late 2006, after recovering from running 26.2 miles, that I'd be running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon at least through 2009. Call it stuck on a number, call it stubbornness, call it addiction (there are worse vices after all), I'm less than a week out from the race, battling through injury and poor training and excuses, yet still planning to run my 10th Chicago Marathon.

And in those almost 10 years, I've acquired my fair share of memories from registration to course changes to crazy weather. To get in the race day spirit--and since I need all the help I can get to forget any foot pain that likes to appear if I think about it--I thought it'd be fun to look back on the highs, lows and memories from this decade of marathons. Join me on my journey as I reminisce over those experiences. First one up...2000. Photo grabbed from Rhett Sutphin at flickr. Posted by Kate

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Daily Feed: Sites We're Searching 10/3

You'd think that with the change to fall, the start of October on the calendar (I'm still shocked how quickly May through September passed) and the days getting shorter from a sunlight standpoint that our active pursuits would also be waning into winter. Not so, as evidenced by the weekend calendar that has major running races scheduled across the country. And it only builds from here with each October weekend holding another major race. Check out these events and their results that had people racing this weekend:
  • Army 10-Miler. This races closes as soon as registration opens--the 30,000 cap filled in early April--but stands as a favorite fall race on the Washington, D.C., running scene. Find the 2009 results here (well, they're not up yet but promise to be by 8 p.m. tonight).
  • Lakefront Marathon. Milwaukee hosts this marathon that has become a popular event for Midwesterners, especially those shut out of Chicago. Offering a route with miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline, it's flat and fast and this year lucked out with perfect running weather. Click here for those results.
  • Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Another Midwest favorite especially because it's on a smaller scale than Chicago runs through the Twin Cities. This race is often held on the same day as Chicago, which worked to some runners advantage in 2007 when the Midwest was blessed, or cursed, with a heat wave and runners looking for Olympic Trials cuts and Boston qualifiers abandoned their Chicago dreams and rushed to Minneapolis instead. It's a good day in the Twin Cities between marathon dreams accomplished--elite runner Sally Meyerhoff ran her personal best to finish fifth--and the Twins battling the Detroit Tigers for the central division title in baseball. Check out the results.
  • Portland Marathon. In years past, this marathon gained notoreity, at least on my radar screen, for continuing to welcome music devices and headphones on its race course when they were banned by the USATF (thank goodness that rule was repealed). And it's still known as the mp3-friendly marathon while offering some great scenery and gentle hills. Find results here.
And that whole bit about the events just continuing? Just look at next weekend with the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (more athletes are arriving daily and there are events to get excited about even before the big dance), and the Baltimore Running Festival on October 10, and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 11. The hype is building even though the mileage is less. Photo grabbed from hans s at flickr. Posted by Kate

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fit-Pic: Remembering the Chicago Marathon

With many marathoners, or almost-marathoners for those tackling for the first time this year, wrapping up their long runs and going into taper or race mode, it seemed the appropriate time to bring up past memories. That and it's been so cold and dreary here that I wanted to remember warmer days. So in today's Fit-Pic, check out the scene at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2008. Not as sweltering as 2007 when the race turned into a survival mission at the halfway mark and some runners were transported on buses to the finish line, but still warm enough--at least for this runner who thinks 75 degrees is too hot for 26.2 miles. There's a reason I choose to run these distances in the fall--cooler weather--it's just that Chicago wasn't giving it to me.

But anyway, here's the mass of runners winding through the streets of downtown Chicago. Even with 45,000 registered, the crowds spread out by mile 12 at the latest thanks to no-shows and wide streets. Just beware of the pacing groups--if you're not running in one they can swarm you when they're ready to pass.

Look for more Chicago Marathon info as race day approaches. Posted by Kate

Friday, October 2, 2009

Goooo Rio!

I know I should show more pride in my country, in fact, more pride in my place of residence since it was the city I've called home for seven years up for contention as host city of the Olympics. But I'm actually glad and even a bit relieved that the 2016 Games went to Rio de Janeiro (yes I'm one of the 42 percent who voted for Rio on the Fit-Ink poll).

I'm not trying to stir any arguments here but as someone said last night when we started discussing all the Olympic hubbub, it would be "politically correct" for Rio to have the Games. They've never been held in South America. Brazil will have a huge dress rehearsal two years prior when they host soccer's World Cup. Rio has tried to host the Games four other times: 1936, 1940, 2004 and 2012. And from a media standpoint, whatever network is televising the Games will have pretty seamless coverage with Brazil being closer in time zones than Australia or China.

But it was pretty cool being able to watch the election process at the IOC in Copenhagen. Chicago was so excited about the bid that people were gathered in Daley Plaza and Washington Park, the news broadcasted info on the event since the middle of the night, NBC put local coverage on after only two hours of the four-hour Today Show broadcast, the newspapers talk about the decision on the front page. Chicago did have the best Olympic logo out of the bunch though, and I'm not saying that because I live there. Photo grabbed from SantaRosa OLD SKOOL at flickr. Posted by Kate


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