Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trade 13.1 for 3.1 at Chicago Half Marathon Weekend

How far are these feet running? Credit
Sometimes shorter is better. When that applies to racing, it's less pounding on the joints, less pain the next day, less chafing, less worry about wearing the right socks (the ones that won't give you blisters 8 miles into a long run), and obviously less mileage. And all of those apply two weekends from now when the Chicago Half Marathon takes place.

Sure, you can run the 13.1 miles of the half--it's a great course, by the way, that takes runners past some scenery we don't often run by--but if you're not ready, willing and able, it could be more of a death march than a happy-go-lucky race. But a 5K? That's manageable, less stress on the joints, less time taken out of the day (or a not-so-early wake-up call depending on how you look at it)--and any other reason that'll justify 3.1 miles over 13.1. So sign up for the Hyundai Hope On Wheels 5K instead.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Finishes the Chicago Triathlon...Again!

Maybe Rahm is somewhere among the sea of swim caps?
How did Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, spend his Sunday morning? Doing the Life Time Tri Chicago. And considering he's not slow--he finished 27th in his age group this year--he was finished with the race before many of us (OK, definitely me) got out of bed.

Mayor Emanuel is no stranger to triathlon and endurance sports. His Wikipedia profile says it, he ran the Soldier Field 10 a few years back with his son (I swear Liz mentioned it) and supposedly was at the Ravenswood 5K this past April, and his wife and kids race too though you'll usually find them on the running circuit. He's no stranger to the Chicago Triathlon; he participated last year and finished ninth in his division, and his name is listed in the race results from the Fleet Feet SuperSprint Tri in 2004 and the Chicago Triathlon in 2003. But boy does the mayor's office do a good job--and the Chicago Triathlon race organizers too--of keeping it under wraps. Emanuel stunned many Chicagoans last year, participants included, when news outlets like the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times reported his participation in the sprint distance event.

But trying to confirm--or even find a clue--that he'd be doing it again this year was like digging for that darn needle in the haystack. You see, I spent half of July--or what felt like it--tracking it down and ending empty-handed though suspecting that he'd be among the 8,500 or so triathletes come August 26. And sure enough, I was right when I checked the results Sunday night. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fit-Pic: Best Spot to Watch the Chicago Triathlon

 Where's the best spot to watch a race? We all have our favorite locations whether it's for the marathon or the triathlon or any other event that comes through Chicago that brings spectators out to watch. My parents have their route mapped for the marathon. My husband has his favorite picture-taking locations at the triathlon--and usually surprises me when he pops up by the race photographers near T2. Ask anyone else, as I did for a Chicago Athlete article, and they'll tell you theirs.

Except I don't have any because I'm usually racing. But I always said that I'd want to stand on the North Avenue Bridge the morning of the Chicago Triathlon (now dubbed the Life Time Tri Chicago) and watch triathletes buzz underneath. I've spotted those spectators from below as a racer, and I remember someone telling me years ago that was a unique spot to watch the race. And when you want to watch the bike portion--and you're not about to sit in car traffic on Lake Shore Drive to do so--and you don't want to fight crowds by the swim start and finish line, this is about as good as it gets. As for identifying racers, that didn't seem like it'd be too difficult as long as you knew their race numbers and when they started--easy if you tried the triathlon's Athlete Tracker app. But then again, I wasn't cheering for anyone in particular or trying to read any race numbers.

Where do you like to watch the Life Time Tri Chicago?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fit-Pic: Iron Kids Race Verona

They say you're never too old to try a triathlon, but you're also never too young. Before we could even start on our bike ride--leaving Chicago later than we should have courtesy of me, the girl who couldn't wake up this morning, plus some slow-moving cars and a pit-stop at McDonalds--we saw kids of all ages and sizes powering up the road we usually pedal down to end our Ironman loop ride (a bit of a push especially when you're not on a road bike). They had road bikes, mountain bikes, bikes that had training wheels attached to them at one point. Some wore T-shirts and shorts, others wore their swimsuits, and others looked as decked out as mom and dad with the one-piece tri suit. We were impressed!

They were participating in the Hy-Vee IronKids Triathlon, which was staged from Fireman's Park in Verona, our usual starting spot. And instead of worrying about where to park and how late we'd be getting on the road to ride, we rolled down the windows, slowed down and cheered for those IronKids. Totally worth it to watch since I've never ventured to Foster Beach to check out the Chicago Kids Triathlon that's always held on Saturday before the sprint- and Olympic-distance races on Sunday.

Have you watched your kids do a triathlon? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

End of Summer Sale

Say it isn't so that summer has to end. I know I have to face the inevitable that Labor Day is just around the corner (is it just me or does time fly after the Fourth of July?), but I'm far from ready to surrender my outdoor sweat sessions, pool workouts and beach naps. Or complete an Ironman in less than three weeks. And don't even get me started on bundling up for chilly temps--I don't even remember what it's like to run in under 70 weather after the mild year we've had.

But if all good things must come to a close, at least let them go out with a bang. A summer-ending sale would do the trick--who doesn't like a little retail therapy as a pick-me-up? Equinox must have read my mind because The Shop @ Equinox's Labor Day sale started August 21 and runs until September 3 at all four of Equinox's Chicago locations. But here's where I really took notice. You can score 50 percent off select fashion and performance brands like Nike, RLX Ralph Lauren and Splendid. But what's better is shop early, as in through August 27, and save an additional 20 percent on sale items.

Ready to shop? Equinox is located at the following Chicago locations: 900 N. Michigan Avenue; Lincoln Park (1750 N. Clark Street); The Loop (200 W. Monroe St.); and Highland Park (799 Central Avenue).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fit-Pic: Running of the Elvi(s)

Think you can run faster than Elvis? If it were the real Elvis Presley, who was known to have a penchant for peanut butter and banana sandwiches (often with bacon) and was a bit on the pudgy side when he died 35 years ago today, you probably could. But if you had to challenge the Elvis impersonators at this year's Elvis is Alive 5K, then you could find yourself sprinting to the finish and gunning down those jumpsuit-wearing, microphone-toting runners. And lucky for them, it wasn't a sweltering evening for a fun run in polyester.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bo Jackson Knows Bikes?

Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball. Bo knows basketball, tennis and running. Remember those ads from the early 1990s where Bo Jackson played his fortes--baseball and football--and then tried his hand at other sports from cycling to surfing? Bo probably didn't expect that he'd be almost as knowledgeable about bikes as he is about football and baseball 20-something years after those ads went off the air. But if you're going to ride 300 miles across Alabama, like Bo did earlier this year, you kind of have to (maybe not the mechanics, but you get the idea).

Bo is bringing that knowledge and some bike safety tips to the Trek Store of Highland Park later this month. Trek, located at 1925 Skokie Highway, will be hosting the Heisman Trophy-winning athlete from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 30. Bo will share his bike safety tips alongside Robbie Ventura, talk about the ride he did across Alabama aptly called Bo Bikes BAMA, sign autographs, take pictures, and talk some football and baseball. With Mike Adamle emceeing the event, you'd expect to hear about some gridiron greats, but that also means some football memorabilia will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to Bo Bikes BAMA.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Go for Gold at Equinox's Summer Games

Don't burn out yet! Credit: chelmsfordblue
It’s hard to believe that the Olympic torch is going to be extinguished in less than 48 hours. Sure, I’ve watched my fair share of live feeds and primetime coverage, and I’ve read plenty of stories and Twitter updates about the 2012 London Olympics. But these 17 days of sports always manage to fly by faster than expected.

How is it possible that last night I was watching 1992 footage of the original Dream Team and by tomorrow afternoon the 2012 U.S. men’s basketball team likely will have clinched their gold medal performance? How is it possible that Abdi, Meb and Ryan will be running 26.2 miles tomorrow morning—and that Desi, Kara and Shalane are already thinking about their next races and not the Olympics? How is it possible that some Olympians are already back from the Games and back to the daily grind?

I know it’s bound to happen, but I’m not quite ready to put an end to the 2012 Olympics just yet. I’m not ready to wait four years for the Summer Games—I’m not even ready to wait almost two for the Sochi Winter Olympics. But enough of my whining…it turns out that Equinox is going to let me live out my Olympic dream a little longer. It might not be one of the medals that was locked in the Tower of London, but the Equinox Chicago Summer Games could be the closest I get to wearing gold around my neck (and even that I’m not so sure of).

Equinox’s Summer Games kicks off on Tuesday, August 14, with a special edition of the fitness club’s MetCon3 workout. MetCon3 is already a tough workout in itself—granted I have yet to try it due to my ever-growing to-do list that is getting lost in Ironman training at the moment, but that’s what I’ve heard and read. Short for metabolic conditioning, this workout targets the body’s three energy systems, phosphagen, glycolic and oxidative. Don’t ask me what exactly that means, but the big take away is that you max out your calories burned in the shortest amount of time to fire up your metabolism and keep burning fat hours after class is over.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Julie Culley: Before She Was an Olympian

Culley's No. 1!
I was cheering for Julie Culley to win the 5000m race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Not because the other women racing didn't deserve a spot but because she was the only person in the field, aside from Julia Lucas who won the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in March, who I knew. As luck would have it, I read about Culley's track accomplishments three years ago and interviewed her for the Mid-Atlantic edition of Competitor magazine.

Back then, Culley was 28 years old. She worked part-time at Pacers Running Stores in the Old Town section of Alexandria, Va. She coached track and cross-country at American University. She was a relative newcomer to the professional circuit when she ran the 5000m at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin--it was only her third time on a world championship team with indoor track in 2008 being the first and cross-country in 2009 being the second. She ran a personal best while racing in Belgium to qualify for Worlds--she ran another personal best to win at Trials. And she had goals of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics and said she was determined to make it happen.

Oh how right she was. Here's some of that interview:

How was the experience at the World Championships?
Worlds was much different than any other team and the experience was beyond any other. The whole city of Berlin was involved in the meet, and the stadium was sold out EVERY DAY. It was extremely significant because it was the first time a world championship was held in Berlin's stadium since the 1936 Olympics. The U.S. team made quite a big deal about this because it was also the Olympics where Jesse Owens cleaned up for the U.S. on the world's stage.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Daily Feed: Sites We're Searching 8/9

A little online browsing. Credit: n8kowald
You'd think that all of my Olympic excitement would have calmed down by week two. I almost wish it had though now I'm cheering for those running laps around the track instead of those swimming laps in the pool. This Daily Feed isn't as Olympic-themed as last week's, but it comes close. Check out what I've been reading in the last 24 hours.
  • Usain Bolt is fast, proven by his repeat gold medal win in the 100m dash. As he gears up to repeat his 200m win, a feat that would make him the fastest sprinter, Equinox takes a look at what makes him so fast.
  • Last week it was all about what Michael Phelps was doing in the pool. This week People may have had a little too much fun digging up the budding relationship between him and Megan Rossee on Twitter.
  • I'm totally intrigued by the Science of the Games section at How do Oscar Pistorius's blades work? What makes Missy Franklin fly through the water? What's up with Usain Bolt's biomechanics?
  • Thanks Barre Bee Fit for sharing this Cooking Light recipe. That salad needs to go in my!
  • Congratulations to Allyson Felix for grabbing her gold! Sports Illustrated takes a look at the 200m race.
  • I finally read more in The Washington Post about the women's marathon race last Sunday and what happened to that lead that Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher held. I feel for Kara: running with calf pain is awful.
  • Lake Michigan: good for sailing, swimming, kayaking and SUP-ing. Ready to take your stand-up paddleboarding to a new level? Try competing in this four-person relay on Saturday--or come out and watch me and the media team test our luck.
  • I've been searching but I can't find this Today Show link. Jenna Bush Hager finished her Today segment with a goof--I swear she said Ashton Easton instead of Ashton Eaton. The only problem is I can't find the video.
What's caught your eye online? What are you reading?

Photo grabbed from n8kowald at flickr.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Chocolate Milk Vote for Team Refuel

No doubt: Chocolate milk is my healthy food. pnoeric
Got milk? Is it chocolate? Where's my milk mustache?

I thought I was only going to have about 15 seconds of fame when I sat down in front of the camera to record my reasons for refueling with chocolate milk after a run. It was the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon expo. It was the Team REFUEL booth. It was something to get expo-goers to stop by the booth, get interested, receive a freebie or two (I walked out with a hand towel, perfect for my next tri transition). And I was flustered from my registration, running low on time, and sweaty from pedaling down to McCormick Place. Plus the last time I was on TV (thank goodness I can't find the link to that video), I sounded like a complete fool--and never managed to look at the camera. Good thing I went into magazine journalism and not broadcast.

But it looks like those 15 seconds of fame turned into a month's worth--and perhaps a little more. The big shocker arrived in my inbox yesterday: This Fit-Inker was now a Team REFUEL finalist for July. My video (which you can view here) put me in the running to be one of the five people who will receive a Team REFUEL sponsorship, which includes training gear, $500 in sponsorship dollars, the chance to race with the Team at destination races around the globe (is Ironman Hawaii included in that?), and the chance to star in a "got chocolate milk?" ad. I might not be begging to star in the commercial, but everything else, including the research behind why lowfat chocolate milk is awesome post-race recovery fuel, gets a huge nod of approval from this chocolate milk drinker. Who knows? Maybe it'll mean another opportunity to run with Dr. Andy Baldwin--except next time I'll try to stick with him for more than two miles.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Top 10 Workout Songs for August

Credit: Taylor Burnes
What are those Olympians listening to? If you've been watching even an iota of the Summer Olympics coverage, you've probably caught at least one person, namely the swimmers, wearing headphones as they stride onto the pool deck. Some are big--like those hiding under the hoods of Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Anthony Ervin--while others are the basic iPod earbuds. As for what those athletes are blasting through their ears to fire them up for their races, I can only guess, but I'd surmise that its loud and fast-paced.

That's what I'd want to listen to--and often do when I'm running a marathon or training along the Lakefront--when I need to get the adrenaline rushing. And while I might have a playlist that many would cringe at (hey, it works for me), I'm not too off-beat. Run Hundred's top workout songs, this month especially, are fast-paced and popular--finally a month where I've listened to most of the songs, and more than once. All but two among August's top 10, according to votes placed at Run Hundred, have more than 120 beats per minute, perfect for busting out a speed set even when you're not an Olympian.

Giving the Best to the Rest: Vision Quest Triathlon Panel

What do I put in my special needs bag? johntrainor
You can train all you want--or have time for. You can ask friends how they did it--and beg for their tips. You can scour the internet and poke your head in triathlon forums, read coach's articles and watch course videos. But a lot of times, if you want expert advice, answers to all your questions--to avoid that deer-in-headlights look that I had the morning of my first Ironman--or need some pre-race poking and prodding to make that lingering injury go away for good, you have to pay for it. A trip to the bike fitter. A visit to the physical therapist or massage therapist. A nutrition assessment to dial in your food needs. Another pair of running shoes. Buying a teardrop helmet. Renting, or considering renting, race wheels. So many questions...but not always easy to find the right answer.

As long as you don't have a triathlon to race this weekend (sorry, Udder Half-ers), you can get your questions answered and go into your next triathlon even more prepared to tackle the competition, your old PR or your pre-race I've-never-done-this-before jitters. Vision Quest Coaching put together what they're calling The Best of the Best Ironman Wisconsin Panel, covering every aspect of triathlon with a special focus on Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman races. This triathlon-centered event will be held at Vision Quest Chicago on Thursday, August 9, and it's designed to make you feel more comfortable come race day. Trust me, all the riding up in Madison over the summer only takes out a small chunk of the race calculations.

Robbie Ventura will be moderating this panel, which has everyone from the bike fitter to the first-time Ironman finisher, and he'll help answer those pesky questions we've all been wondering. Do I really need race wheels? How can I have a faster swim (answer: draft like your life depends on it)? Where can I make up time in my sports that still need a little work? What's event day like? If you aren't equipped for your next triathlon after listening to this group, learning the answers to questions that other athletes have asked, and asking a few q's of your own (VQ encourages you to ask away when you RSVP for the event), then.... Well, that might involve being stranded along the Wisconsin farm roads--or Lake Shore Drive if the Chicago Tri is your thing--and no one wants that. Here's a taste of who'll be doling out advice on August 9.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Daily Feed: Sites We're Searching 8/2

Wish we could watch swimming live. Credit: Ben Sutherland
It's the Olympics. It's swimming week. It's been four years in the waiting, or four weeks if you count the U.S. Olympic Trials that already had me fired up for this action. It's me a near-crazed lunatic (if there's a way that can even exist), shouting at the TV during a close race, cursing the computer when the live feed doesn't work (and then venting my frustration on social media), spouting off Olympics trivia and facts on the swimmers, and tweeting more than probably ever have in a five day period and wishing that I could get followed by--or retweeted or replied to by--a swimmer or two.

But if my husband has to listen to one more evening of me reciting swimmer stats or commenting on the awesome swimmer bods, I think I might wake up with duct tape over my mouth tomorrow morning just to shut me up. To keep him off my back, check out the swimming spotlight on today's daily feed:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fit-Pic: Light Like Flyknit

You know a shoe has to be good--or popular or too cool for words--when there's a special launch party for it. Lines used to form outside Niketown Chicago the night before a major Air Jordan release. Shoes seemed to be flying off the shelves the night the Saucony Kinvara 3's became available. Several runners packed into Fleet Feet Chicago to run at midnight when Under Armour released its first running shoe. It was no different for the release of the Nike Flyknit.


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