Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good Old-Fashioned Southern Road Trip

3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 200m-300-400-500-600-700-800-700
-600-500-400-300-200 w/60-90 sec. rest
Actual: Above, starting at 5:30 pace down to 5:15-5:10
2 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

Charleston's Cooper River Bridge

After a few hectic weeks of work and travel, I was beyond excited to spend a few days relaxing with my parents and Jordan in Charleston, SC. Though Jordan frequently visits accounts there (and was actually in town the previous week), neither my parents nor myself have ever been. After receiving what turned out to be a fabulous hotel recommendation from a friend and a vague idea of some touristy things we wanted to do, our trip began to take shape. Once my parents touched down in Charlotte on Sunday afternoon we set off for our riverside peninsula destination.

Ma mere et mon pere

In short, though the trip was wonderful from almost every perspective, one area that proved less than pleasant was running. With lows barely bottoming out at 80 and highs cresting the mid-90s (with humidity percentages following suit in the inverse), finishing a run with shorts that looked as though I'd fallen into the Cooper River was pretty much the norm. On Monday morning's easy run with Jordan and my pops I didn't mind it so much. The pace and conversation flowed easily and we were able to steal a few patches of shade, plus it's hard to complain about the gorgeous view with the Battery to our right and the harbor to our left.

Enjoying some R&R on the pier near our hotel

Tuesday morning was a different story.

At Jordan's suggestion, we rose before the sun to venture across the bridge to Mt. Pleasant for a track workout. He's worked out once or twice before with Irv and his crew from On the Run, so we hoped to meet up with them for a few laps together around the oval. As we exited the car and eased our groggy legs into a long warmup jog, I remarked to Jordan that even at 6am the conditions were reminiscent of the sweltering 13.1 Chicago from several weeks ago. An auspicious portent it was not. Even though the workout Jordan had prescribed (read: made up during our jog) didn't sound terrible, my already sweat-soaked shirt indicated that it wouldn't much matter. With a burgeoning bad attitude rising quicker than the sun, I rather petulantly whined to Jordan that he should have to pull me along, just like old times. Though I'm pretty sure he hasn't done so much as a stride in the past few months, he agreed without hesitation. I had my old partner back in action and just in the nick of time. Within the first few intervals I could tell that my breathing was unusually labored and my heart rate quicker than normal. The hot, damp air seemed utterly devoid of oxygen as I struggled to gulp enough down in between intervals. After the first few I stopped clicking my watch and instead concentrated on not falling off Jordan's hip or, worse, dropping out. I overheard Jordan saying that the 800 was 2:40 and the second 400 was 75, but other than that I honestly don't know many splits. It's been a while since I felt quite so terrible during a workout, and that's saying something. It wasn't my finest hour, but thanks to JSK I got it done.

Though the workout conditions weren't ideal, our recovery protocol certainly was. The expansive whirlpool tub in our room and easy access to the hallway ice machine made a post-workout ice bath a no brainer. I replenished (possibly over-replenished) my lost calories with pumpkin french toast at breakfast at our hotel, the Vendue Inn, and a huge burger from Pawley's in Columbia on the drive home (as seen on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"). Not surprisingly, a few good meals proved to be a great way to cap off our trip and erase any lingering disappointment from my workout! I can't wait to travel to Charles
ton again--only maybe I'll wait until autumn next time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week In Review

70-71 miles
2 doubles
4 days in CHI
3 AFDs (oops)

As promised, I enjoyed a relative down week of training. Though my mileage wasn't terribly low--and, in fact, would've been higher if I hadn't confessed to Jordan on Saturday afternoon that I was already at 65 miles, thus inciting him to relegate me to a measly five mile run on Sunday--there were really no workouts to speak of. True, I did do 16x1 min. on, 1 min. off with Caitlin at an ungodly early hour on Tuesday morning, but what the session delivered in speed it made up for with a relative lack of volume. The remainder of my runs took place in Chicago with new friends like Jill--whom I originally met at 13.1 Miami, then 13.1 NYC, then hung out with in Dallas, then reunited with at 13.1 Chicago--and old friends like Claire Shearman, my former Mizuno co-worker who now designs apparel for New Balance. Five or six years ago we both moved to Atlanta sight unseen to undertake new positions in the running industry and quickly became inseparable morning running buddies. Some of my fondest memories of the ATL include Claire, which made it a real treat to be able to spend some time with her and countless other industry peeps at the Fleet Feet conference this past week. (It's like a high school reunion, only with people you actually want to see!)

The best part of this week in running? Knocking out my Sunday five miler with JSK by my side. I've missed my running buddy over the recent weeks and months as he struggled through a series of debilitating injuries, and nothing makes me happier than the prospect of returning to our almost daily routine of matching each other stride for stride (that is, when I'm not making him block the wind and drag me through workouts while I stare at his back).

Looking ahead, my mileage increase will begin on schedule tomorrow. Several of my early runs will take place in Charleston, where I'll be traveling with Jordan and my parents after they arrive later today for a much awaited visit. A running mecca it is not, but the one positive about logging the miles in Chucktown is that it will make Charlotte seem cool and devoid of humidity by comparison when we get home. Either way, it can only make me tougher.

Let the summer training begin!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week in Review

87 miles
3 doubles
3 days in DC
2 runs with Jilane
5 AFDs

As the month of June rapidly comes to a close, with it comes a respite from the seemingly continuous racing I've been doing the past few months. Now that the Running of the Bulls 8k is in the books, I don't really have anything else coming up until the Beat the Heat 5k in a double fortnight. (Okay, that's probably not an actual expression. Damn you Wimbledon!) With all of the top five finishers from last weekend slated to return for the 5k champs, Beat the Heat could end up pushing all of us to some pretty quick times.

Though I do hope to be competitive at that race, the 5k is definitely not my focus. After talking at length with Jordan about how we want my training to shape up before I begin my marathon block in preparation for the Trials, I think we're going to use the rest of the summer as an opportunity to gradually increase the mileage and strength while backing off a bit on the intensity. If you look at my log, I've more or less averaged 80-85 mpw for the past three months excluding a few planned down weeks. Now we'll look to bring that number up into the 90-100 range while still utilizing strategic breaks when sensible. One of those breaks will actually take place this coming week, as I'll be traveling to Chicago for the Fleet Feet Conference and most likely won't have time to log many high mileage days. (Workouts are even less likely.) Whether I'll reach 60 or 80 on the week is TBD, but either way it will mostly be slow and casual. Once I return to Charlotte and have a (relatively) extended stretch at home, the mileage bump will begin. Knowing my propensity for injury I'm aware that I'll have to be diligent in monitoring any seemingly minor aches or pains, but as of now my body feels healthy and strong. I'm excited to begin this next phase of my training cycle as I progress toward my ultimate goal, the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Running of the Bulls 8K

2+ mile w/u + strides
Target: 8k race @5:45 pace (28:40) or faster
Actual: 28:14 (5:41 pace); 2nd female, $300
4 mile c/d
Total: 11 miles

I'm so tempted to take the easy way out since Caitlin just penned a great recap of yesterday's race, but she already told me that such laziness is unacceptable. Thus, I will try to share some of the action from my perspective without completing rehashing what she's already written. (Okay, and because I'm just a little bit lazy.)

For starters, while we're on the subject of Caitl
in, I award all the credit to her for running such a tough, smart race and for keeping the pace honest throughout. There were several sections during the middle miles where I would've gladly slowed down to return to my rapidly diminishing comfort zone, but she forced me to stay focused and on my toes (literally) for the better part of 30 minutes. Without her efforts we surely would not have had five women finish faster than the time Caitlin ran to win the darn thing last year. While during the 2010 race Caitlin pretty much ran solo from the gun, today we had an amazing group of five women who stuck together through the first two miles, then three of us who continued to battle it out all the way to the finish. This speaks volumes for the current quality of women's running in the state of North Carolina and also for its breadth, as today's top five hailed from Charlotte to Wilmington and nearly everywhere in between.

Two of those ladies, Heather Magill and Lucinda Smith, were familiar faces from last month's Capital City Classic 10k in Raleigh. They were tough competitors then and proved to be just as much so today. The third place finisher, Jackie Kirby, is the one I knew the littlest about and also the one who gave me the biggest scare! Once the three of us began to separate from the rest of the pack midway through the race, I tried in vain to shake Jackie from my shoulder. She kept falling back slightly on the uphill sections--at which point I would breathe a sigh of relief that she'd finally been broken--only to see her doggedly fight back into contention with each corresponding downhill. Finally, with about half a mile to go, I was convinced I'd finished her off. Caitlin, one of the strongest hill runners I've ever seen, was in the process of pulling decisively away from me but I was convinced I had second in the bag. As I accelerated down the final hill leading into the former Durham Bulls stadium (which signaled roughly 250 meters to go), I casually looked over my left shoulder only to make sure my position was clear. To my chagrin (or, more accurately panic), Jackie was practically close enough to reach over and give me a love tap. For the remaining minute I was literally running scared, convinced that she was going to come sprinting past me and my pathetic attempt at a kick at any moment. Mercifully that dreaded moment never came and I managed to barely beat her to the line, but it was no easy feat. Though I hated it at the time, in hindsight this is exactly the type of competition that we need here on the regional racing circuit! (And just in case you're wondering if we are all arch-enemies, in reality Caitlin and John and I enjoyed a lovely cooldown jog with Heather and Jackie and Molly Nunn and several other racers. I can't imagine there are many other sports where your heated rivals turn into casual buddies as soon as the competition is finished.)

Almost being (unknowingly) caught on the final hill

Despite being handed my first defeat in quite some time, I was quite pleased with today's result. There's nothing I could've or would've done different from a tactical standpoint to change the outcome.
Simply put, Caitlin was just too good. And, quite frankly, if anyone is going to beat me I'd prefer it to be one of my closest friends and teammates. In the process we smashed our time and pace expectations on a humid--albeit relatively cool--morning, which says more about our current state of fitness than a high placing necessarily does. For me, this race also quantifies some significant improvements over the course of recent weeks. On April 30th Caitlin and I ran 29:30 for five miles (and took our now infamous hand-holding photo) at the Heart & Sole Five Miler. If you extrapolate today's 8k out to a full five miles, we bested that time by a solid minute on a comparably difficult course. I also learned that my near-nemesis Jackie ran 16:34 on the track this spring, which is also an encouraging indicator of my current fitness level. Finally, deep down I'm just relieved that I've apparently been able to shake any lingering effects of the heat and dehydration from 13.1 Chicago a fortnight ago. (Sorry, but every year when Wimbledon rolls around I get the urge to incorporate "fortnight" into my everyday conversation.) After a full week of feeling sluggish, fatigued and just generally exhausted, I'm finally on the rebound and feeling like my normal self. There's always room for improvement, but the Running of the Bulls 8k shows that I'm on the right track.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rock Creek Park Fartlek

3 mile w/u
Target (in mins.): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
w/rest jog equal to half of the preceding interval
Actual: Above
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 13+ miles

After two aborted workouts attempts last weekend, I would be lying if I said my self-esteem wasn't suffering just a tad. With one of my summer goal races less than a week away, feeling overwhelmed with fatigue on lethargy on every single run isn't exactly ideal. With that in mind, I wanted Jordan to write me a workout for Tuesday that could be based off of time and feel rather than pace and distance. I also knew that I would most likely be running on the bike path in Rock Creek Park, which, while a great place to put in some miles, is not marked (as far as I know). So Jordan came up with the above, giving me the weenie option of omitting the 6 and the second 5 if I wasn't feeling it.

I spent the majority of Monday afternoon and evening making the 7-hour trek up to DC before finally stopping at my friend Owen's pad for the evening. I stayed up for a bit socializing and going on a late-night roommate grocery shopping trip, which meant I was in bed later than I'd planned and thus slept in until 7:30 this morning. Normally a 8:00+ workout start would be a suicide mission in the oppressive summer heat, but lucky for me--and I wouldn't realize just how lucky until later in the workout--a welcomed cool front blew into DC yesterday. This meant that when I stepped outside it was 65 degrees and what felt like zero percent humidity, more like a crisp autumn day than the dregs of summer. In a word, it was heavenly.

Despite the auspicious conditions, I started off tentatively, wary of the leaden tiredness I expected to descend upon my legs at any moment. When that feeling never came, I began to open up my stride and really challenge the pace. The sun was shining brightly overhead and the trees were buffeted by a cooling breeze, making for the most enjoyable workout weather I can remember in some months. Of course, the amazing scenery of Rock Creek didn't exactly hurt either. I've traveled far and wide and will contend that DC has the best urban running environment of any city in the US. As I passed through the foliage of Rock Creek toward the heart of the District, with the Potomac River and Virginia to my right and the National Mall and all its monuments to my left, I found myself thinking about the times this winter I'd trudged past these sights on frigid solo runs in the snow or wind. Today the trails were flooded with other runners, cyclists and pedestrians, some using the path as a via point and others simply out enjoying the day. As the workout progressed I found myself feeling stronger and stronger, at some moments focusing on my form or pace and at other moments enjoying the beauty of my surroundings. I have no idea how fast I was going, but I do know I finished up quicker than when I began.

Another way I mentally "tricked" myself into doing this workout was resolving not to focus at all on the distance covered. I didn't even add up the segments in my head beforehand or try to approximate how far the entire run would take me. If you'd asked me to guess ahead of time, I would've probably put my estimate somewhere in the 10-mile range. Imagine my surprise, then, to read 1:17 on my watch as I clicked off the final interval. I was over 11 miles in before even beginning the cooldown! Given the spectacular weather I wouldn't have minded meandering around for a bit, but since I have a fun run scheduled at Pacers tonight I knew I needed to take the most direct route back to Owen's. This is the first time in a long time I've actually been sad to see a workout end, a testament to the powerful effect the weather can have on performance (and confidence!). On the mostly uphill cooldown my legs felt bouncy and fresh, my body energized and invigorated as opposed to fatigued and depleted. Whether this translates to Saturday's race remains to be seen, but I am incredibly grateful for this experience out on the trails today.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week in Review

85 miles
3 doubles
4 days in Austin
5 AFDs

The summer heat has descended upon us in full force, and nowhere is that more apparent than Austin, Texas. While I love running there, I can't say I was thrilled about 100+ degree temperatures all week. Though the intensity of my runs wasn't anything out of the ordinary, the sheer volume of mileage coupled with the weather and my travel schedule translated into some wicked dehydration come the weekend. At one point on Friday night, out to dinner with my friend Allison and her boyfriend, I looked down at my feet and almost gasped out loud. They were puffy and swollen almost to the point of being unrecognizable as my own (although when in doubt, the bunions are a dead giveaway). A sluggish run on Saturday and a failed "workout" on Sunday so pitiful I can't even bring myself to write about it further reinforced the realization that I need to take some time to truly relax and recover. With the 8k less than a week away, this is a slightly worrisome feeling.

Unfortunately, that rest won't happen right away. I'm driving up to DC on Monday afternoon for some account visits and a run club at Pacers on Tuesday. I'll make the return trip sometime on Wednesday and have a little less than two days to hang out at home before traveling to Durham for the race. Caitlin and I have grand plans of working together and really putting forth an honest effort, so needless to say I'll be extremely disappointed if my body decides not to cooperate. I'm going to take serious measures to ensuring I'm as rested and hydrated as possible by then and hope that my legs will be able to do the rest.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

20x300 Fail (Sort Of)

2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 4x(5x300m); first set in 60s, then 59s, 58s, 57s
100m jog @30-35 b/t reps; 500m jog b/t sets
Actual set avgs: 59.5, 58.5, 57.5, 57-flat
2 mile c/d
Total: 10 miles

Every time I attempt a version of this workout, the same thing happens. I look at it on paper and think it's going to be a complete breeze. I mean, come on, starting at 80-second quarter pace? That should be cake. Never mind the fact that I'm in Austin and it's a million degrees and I only have 30 seconds between intervals. Pish posh.

In reality, inevitably, this workout kicks my butt. Every time. I'm still not entirely sure exactly what it is that does me in, but by halfway through the second set--that is, only a third of the way through the entire workout--I was already bargaining with myself for legitimate excuses to stop. Each set went something like this:

First 300: I feel great! Nice and relaxed. This is so easy.
Second 300: Not bad, not bad. A little short of breath but my legs feel strong.
Third 300: Hmm...this is getting a big harder...wait a minute, am I wheezing??
Fourth 300: This sucks. I hate running. I can't believe I have to finish two more before I get a break.
Fifth 300: (Cannot be printed here.)

So, how can I put a positive spin on this? The reality is that this workout directly exposes my weaknesses; namely, well, running fast. I can maintain 6-minute pace virtually all day long, but ask me to break 5:10 for a mile and things will get ugly in a hurry. So as much as I have to drag myself kicking and screaming through this kind of speed work, it's probably one of the absolute best things I can do to increase fitness. With the 8k coming up in 10 days, I'll take any boost I can get.

Also, I choose to look at it this way: When I finished the final interval, my watch read exactly 39:00. If you subtract out the three one-lap jogs and Nuun breaks in between sets, each of which lasted almost exactly 3:10, that would bring the total to 29:30 for 20x400m, or five miles. This means that, including each of the 100m jogs after each interval, I averaged 5:55 pace almost continuously. Not great, but not too bad. (Actually this could be completely wrong. I calculated it all out during my cooldown when my brain was certainly devoid of oxygen. But I'd appreciate it if you don't burst my bubble.)

Overall, though I'm still inclined to label this workout a fail--I honestly thought I could average 55-56 pretty comfortably--I'm just happy to have completed it. And yes, that's the second time in less than a week I've said that about a running performance. Deal with it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Week in Review

82 miles
3 doubles
4 days in Chicago
5 AFDs

Is it becoming a bit repetitive to say I had a busy week? Spending more than several consecutive days in my own home is a rare occurrence and this week was no exception. Our next 13.1 isn't until Minneapolis in August, but I still have tons of travel on tap before then, including another visit to Texas on Tuesday and a return trip to Chicago for the Fleet Feet Conference at the end of the month.

As for training, I think I've thoroughly exhausted the topic of yesterday's thoroughly exhausting race. I capped the week off with a fun, relaxed trail run at Sherman Branch with some CRC buddies on Sunday, followed by iced coffee, the French Open, pool time, froyo, a trip to Trader Joe's and some relaxation time with Jordan and Weezy--I challenge you to tell me a better way to relax on a post-race Sunday! I'm looking forward to next week's soft surface runs at Town Lake in Austin and hopefully a solid workout mid-week. The Running of the Bulls 8k is less than two weeks away and I hope to feel fit and fresh by then. Onward!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

13.1 Chicago Race Recap

~1 mile w/u + strides
13.1 miles in 1:21:42
Total: 14 miles
1st place female, $1000

It happened just before mile 12. Turning to the man pedaling his bicycle alongside me, I mustered up enough breath and energy to ask how much distance separated me from the next female. It was the first time I'd spoken to him all day. He arched casually over his right shoulder to scan the pavement behind us, then turned back to me. "She's at least two or three blocks. I can barely s
ee her." I breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you," I replied. "Because I think I might need to stop and walk."

Not exactly the words you'd expect to hear from the mouth of the lead runner, I'll admit. But this was no ordinary race. This was a death march, a war of attrition, any other number of militant doomsday metaphors. It was, with no exaggeration, the hottest and most difficult race of my life. The only thing that kept me from succumbing to exhaustion and walking during that final mile was the knowledge that six minutes later I would be a thousand dollars richer. I am not ashamed to say there was no sense of pride, no intrinsic moral fortitude, propelling me forward. It was straight up cash money.

I knew from the moment I woke up that it was going to be a rough day for everyone involved. When my coworker picked me up from my hotel at 4:30am, it wa
s already 76 degrees. The sun began steadily ascending on the horizon as we set up the Karhu and Craft booth at the race site. With it rose the temperature and humidity. After jogging barely a mile to warm up I found myself already thirsty and perspiring excessively. I put about a dozen ice cubes in my sports bra before walking over to the start line for the 7:13 gun time. Other than my friend Jill, a Chicagoan whom I originally met at another 13.1 earlier this year, I didn't know if there were any other fast women in the mix. Prior to the rapid weather deterioration--I'd been in Chicago for three days, any of which would've been perfectly acceptable for racing from a heat/humidity perspective--my plan was to take the race out hard and distance myself from the field within the first 5k. Now I knew that type of strategy would be reckless if not downright dangerous. Instead I decided to make a conscious effort to go out conservatively and see if others responded.

Despite those intentions, I found myself running solo less than a
mile into the race. I split 6:07--faster than I wanted, but it felt like a jog--but my only female companion had already fallen back slightly. I knew the course would make a U-turn around mile 7, which meant I'd have an opportunity to assess the competition. I decided to keep pressing with the same effort until that point, then determine whether I needed to keep up the intensity or whether I could back off. Easier said than done, as less than two miles in I was already thirsty and oppressively hot. The flat, fast course was more or less an out-and-back along the South Shore lakefront path, which could've made for blazing fast times under other circumstances. Today, all metrics were tossed out the window. The sun continued to rise, its heat seeping onto the race course and its rapidly wilting participants. If there was a quarter mile stretch of shade along the entire route I never found it. Instead I continued to slowly bake, like the ill-fated frog brought to boil in a pot of seemingly innocuous water. By mile four I realized I couldn't look at the remainder of the race in its entirety. I had to literally focus on one mile at a time or else the enormity of the task at hand would overwhelm me. If you think I'm being overly dramatic, you'll learn later in this story just how dire the situation was.

As promised, the turnaround presented itself just before the seventh mile. Soon after I passed the second place female coming from the opposite direction. Was she thirty seconds behind me? A minute? Two? Fatigue had dulled my reasoning skills and I honestly couldn't tell. (In reality, she was probably 60
seconds behind me at that point.) At the time I thought that there was a sliver of a chance she could be within striking distance, especially considering my rapidly deteriorating physical and mental state. Despite this potential to be overtaken, I began walking through the water stops from mile 8 on. In most competitive half marathons I wouldn't even take water, much less literally stop running in order to drink. Today I was willing to absorb the extra 5-10 seconds per mile just so I could ingest a full cup of water and a full cup of Powerade without spilling precious drops. There was also a cold towel station at mile 9, which again I would not heed under normal circumstances but today grabbed with greedy hands. Each time I approached a mile marker I would dread splitting my watch, certain there was no way it could be sub-7, and each time I was downright shocked to see something in the 6:10-6:20 range. It felt like my legs were moving in quicksand, yet somehow I wasn't completely imploding. Every once in a while I would overtake a male competitor, but for the most part it was just myself and the assigned lead cyclist. As I approached the final few miles I could feel heat rising like a wave of panic in my throat, and I knew I was dangerously close to overheating. If the second place female was anywhere close, it was all over. That's when I turned and, without preamble, asked my cyclist companion to update me on the situation.

Pretty much the exact moment when I wanted to start walking.
Photo credit Ali Engin.

I knew then I had just over six minutes to go, and for over $150 a minute there was no excuse for walking. I focused all my energy on putting one foot in front of the other until the cyclist spoke again. "You're there," he said. "It's been an honor riding with you." An honor? With my poor attitude and performance? I was instantly humbled. At that moment I wished I'd taken a few seconds to thank him for his help out on the course, but with a burst of speed he was quickly gone. I never saw him again.

A few seconds later I rounded the final turn, once again shocked to see a not-too-terrible time flashing on the clock. Somehow I found the energy to "sprint" in to the line, if for no other reason than the knowledge that ice cold Powerade and water awaited me there. I was done, in every sense of the word. Grateful for the win but utterly exhausted. I hung around in the finish chute to congratulate the second place female and my friend Jill, who placed fourth, before my coworker Jeff insisted that I walk over to the medical area to cool down. I promptly sat down in a kiddie pool filled with ice cubes and gulped down another water. I could palpably feel my body temperature cooling with every passing second and knew that I was out of the danger zone.

As it turns out, others would not be so lucky. Twenty minutes later, just before 9am, the race committee made the decision to downgrade the race conditions from Red Flag to Black Flag. This meant that the race was effectively over. No more times would be recorded and runners were strongly advised to stop in their tracks and take a shuttle bus back to the finish. It was eerily reminiscent of a similar 2007 situation that unfolded, ironically, at the Chicago Marathon. This time the race management team was expertly prepared and fully competent, but some runners were still no match for the extreme weather conditions. I learned later in the day of the tragic death of one athlete and the hospitalization of 10 others, an unfortunate end to what should have been a fun and light-hearted event.

As for myself, I was extremely satisfied with my race efforts. My time was unremarkable and undeserving of $1000, but there were easily half a dozen moments when I seriously considered dropping out and wogging back to the start line. As cheesy as it sounds, I'm proud that I finished. I feel like if I can conquer conditions like today's, then I have no excuse for not doing the same in any and every race going forward. The same can be said for all of today's finishers. Congratulations to everyone who persevered today at the Chicago 13.1--I hope you'
re drinking lots of water and maybe even a beer or two to celebrate your triumph over Mother Nature!

Jill and I post-race. We've previously met
in Dallas, Miami and NYC. Neither of us live
in any of those cities.