Saturday, December 3, 2011

Running Resolutions for 2012

Traditionally, the end of the year is the time when people join a gym, pledge to eat healthier, start an exercise plan and vow to get in shape. My journey to getting fitter did not start with a New Year's Resolution, but with a late spring hospital stay, so I had a headstart on establishing better habits. Over time, running has come to mean more than merely a way of staying in shape and burning calories. It has become a form of meditation, of calming and controlling scattered emotions, of letting my body and mind get to know one another better. With all this in mind, here are my running resolutions for 2012:

1) To continue to take my running day by day, but to observe trends over weeks, months, and years.

2) To not care so much about speed. I am not naturally gifted with speed, and though I would love to run faster, I must realize not every run will be fast. Some runs should be slower than others. Some runs should be walks, or have walking in them.

3) To not be afraid of hard workouts--hill work and interval workouts especially.

4) To run a marathon's worth of miles each week, barring extremes of weather. I may never run an actual marathon, but 26 weekly miles is doable!

5) To get the right gear to run in cold weather, or rainy weather, or hot weather. This means I will not use the weather as an excuse, unless the weather is truly dangerous.

6) To hydrate more frequently, so I don't get the mid-run parched throat blues. In connection with this, to reduce my salt intake so that my running can work hand in hand with my HBP medication. One of the reasons I keep running is that it has reduced the amount of high blood pressure medication I'm taking to a single pill.

7) To have a good time at races, no matter how I finish. To enjoy the race, whether it is a small local one or a bigger shindig with lots of runners. To thank race directors and volunteers for all their hard work.

8) To learn to love 5Ks just a little more. If I could run a 24 minute 5K, that would be great. But if I do one in 28 instead, it's not the end of the world.

9) To run light--by that I mean to take running itself seriously, but not to take "being a runner" seriously. To have a fun attitude to go along with my ability to work hard.

10) To volunteer at a race and support other runners. Time to give back!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2011 Year in Review: Races, Places and People

2011 was my first full year of doing races as a runner. I did several races in 2010, but in 2011, I really started to run races frequently: 19 races in total. Here's the good, bad, and ugly of my race year.

2011 Race Records:

5K Races (6)

Snowman Shuffle 1/18/11 25:24
SIU Run From the Law 3/27/11 24:36
Nutrition 5K 4/9/11 26:47
Grace Race 11 6/3/11 28:52
iRun Homecoming 10/15/11 26:56
Women Together 11/12/11 26:04

Two Mile Races

Grand Avenue
Pumpkin Run 10/30/11 16:17

10K Races

Southern IL 10K 4/2/11 57:33
For Kids' Sake 9/24/11 55:54
SIUC Army 10K 10/29/11 54:03

10 Mile Races

Great River Road
Run 11/26/11 1:34:35

Half Marathons

Fly with the Eagles 2/12/11 2:09:58
YMCA CMT 5/22/11 2:04:56
Madison WI Half 5/29/11 2:08:56
Paducah Iron Mom 6/18/11 2:12:11
Bearcat McKendree 9/10/11 2:10:45*
City of Roses 9/18/11 2:10:25
Evansville Half 10/9/11 2:06:36
STL Track Club 11/6/11 2:04:14

*race was 13.25 miles rather than standard 13.1 half length

Favorite Race(s): St. Louis Track Club, Evansville Half, Great River Road Run
Least Favorite: Reveal Turkey Trot (the 15K I didn't finish due to getting lost on course)
Hardest Races: Bearcat McKendree, City of Roses--aka halfs with hills
Race with Finish Time I Still Don't Believe I Accomplished: SIU Run from the Law (was the course short?)
Most Fun Race: Madison Half (Madison is a great town to run in and a great place to eat! Viva cheese!)

Many thanks must go to my lovely husband Jon, who is not a runner and has not asked for a divorce in the wake of all these races and the hours I spend on training runs. I do not drive, so Jon has sacrificed to get me to races, has taken my finish line photos, has listened to me as I try on new words like "gel" and "chip time."

Also want to give props to my friends on Daily Mile--total strangers who have decided to invest in the athletic lives of other total strangers. It is so nice to post an average day's run and have folks give me compliments about getting it done. Folks on DM are often much kinder to my running self than I am.

Speaking of a running self, it's taken a while to develop one. But I've gone from "Oh, I'm not a runner, I just do the treadmill for cardio," to "Well, I've done some 5Ks, but I'd never do a half marathon," to a woman who has done 8 half marathons. I've learned to stretch myself, to go beyond what I thought I was capable of and love that I can do that, to listen to my body (and not my mind, which can be much lazier), and to take the advice I hear and read and decide which of it works for me. I read Runner's World, Running Times, Women's Running and practically all the fitness magazines (Health, Prevention, Shape, Women's Health, Fitness). They all have great advice, but not all of it appeals to me or works for me. I've learned to take what I need and leave the rest behind.

In 2012, I hope to continue to run safely and without injury. I haven't had any significant injuries. My worst problem is a really messed up toenail on my right foot (what color is that?!?). I think I've been lucky regarding injuries, but I also am not fast. I always conjecture that my lack of speed makes me more durable!

Will I ever do a full marathon? I don't know. I feel like I've accomplished plenty without doing one. I have yet to do a training run over 13.1 miles. My current goal isn't really to do a marathon; it's to do a single run of 14 miles or longer. My other goal is to do 13 half marathons before I even think about 26.2. I'm very much satisfied doing half marathon races, and don't think of myself as half a runner under any circumstances.

Redemption Song: 52nd Annual Great River Road Run

Today I ran the 52nd Annual Great River Road Run (Alton, IL) ten mile race. My chip time was 1:34:35. Here are my observations from the day.

1) After my failed 15K last week (Reveal Turkey Trot, Herrin, IL), I wanted to redeem myself and end my first full year of doing races on a better note. Several of the runners at that race mentioned this one--a 10 mile race in Alton, IL (about two and half hours from where I live). They said there's no way I could get lost on the the fast, flat course: five miles out, five miles back with the Mississippi River for scenery. I signed up and looked forward to getting a re-do with a race that's about the same length (15K is 9.33 miles).

2) Runners warm up for a race in all sorts of different ways. Some do sprints and drills and all sorts of stretchy acrobatics; some drink coffee; and some line up for the portable toilets. Jon (husband and runner support) dropped me off early, so I had no problem with lines at the toilets. I warm up by dancing: yes, dancing. I figure I'm about to run 10 miles, so why do I need to run right now? So I put on my headphones and shook my booty right on the corner of State and Broadway. I had some super tunes too--Marvin Gaye, Rick James, Chaka Khan, and Jermaine Jackson's epic "Let's Get Serious," with Stevie Wonder bringing the funk on backup vocal. Runners often get way serious before a race--but I want to have fun before any difficulties start! I figure the race will be tough enough.

3) Once again, I forgot my Garmin or even any kind of watch. This is so odd, because I don't ever leave my house for even a short run without one of my many Garmins strapped to my wrist. To have forgot a device that I previously thought essential means it must not be essential at all. To keep the pace, I'd pick out runners to keep in my sights (not necessarily to pass them, but to keep them within eyesight). If I did pass my pace runner, I'd pick a new one. My pace runners are usually other women, and there were lots of women at this race. The announcer stated before we started that there were more women than men running the race.

4) This was my first 10 miler, so it was automatically a PR. I enjoyed running next to the Mississippi and the Piasa Bluffs. Alton is an old river town, so there was something very powerful about running next to the river that has influenced so much of this country's history. Since this race was an out-and-back, I had no chance of getting lost, and I got to see the really fast winners come back toward me as I was headed to the five-mile turnaround point. The male winner did it in under 50 minutes; the top woman was in at 1:03!

5) This is a race with its own set of unique rules. It's not a half-marathon (Alton now has a half-marathon which I hope to do in the future). But with this race, the age groups are huge--0-39, 40-59, 60-99. Medals are awarded to the top 50 in each age group. So it is not a race where everyone gets a medal. I certainly didn't expect to get one! Imagine my surprise when I came through the finish chute and one of the volunteers handed me a medal. I made top 50 in this super huge age grouping!

6) Speaking of volunteers, there were plenty of them. But if you are looking for a race with a lot of frills (bands on the course, free GU, lots of cheering spectators), this is not the race for you. But if you are fine without those things, this is a great race. I got the feeling that a lot of the people had done this race before (one woman I talked with said it was her fifth time). This race is not advertised in the running magazines--it relies on word of mouth. Word of mouth among runners is a powerful thing though, and I thank those wonderful folks in Herrin who told me about this race.

7) Final Stats:

486 out of 907 runners
age group place: number 48 in female masters (40-59) division
Gun Time: 1:35:13.8
Chip Time: 1:34:35.7
pace: 9:31
first five miles: 46:07.8
last five miles: 49.06.0

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Dreaded DNF: Reveal Turkey Trot

My last race of 2011, the Kevin Reveal Memorial Turkey Trot, turned out to be an utter disaster. I am now trying to calm myself in the wake of the three letters every runner hates and fears: DNF.

I finished 10K of this race in 57:09, but it was supposed to be a 15K for me. This race is actually a series of races: a 5K, a 10K, and a 15K. I was looking forward to this race immensely because I had never done 15K before. I have done 10Ks and plenty of halfs, but the 15K distance is not offered a lot where I live. So I signed up for it. It had the advantage of being close--the small town of Herrin, Illinois is not too far from Carbondale, where I live.

I should have known that today was not going to be my day when I realized I had forgotten my Garmin. I had no timing device so I really didn't have a clue as to my pacing. The race itself was three laps of the initial 5K route. Many runners did the 5K, some did the 10K, but only a handful did the 15K. I finished the 10K portion and was into the final 5K lap when I realized that the surroundings no longer looked familiar. There was no one ahead of me any longer. There were no mile marker signs for this race, so I don't know what mile I was on when this happened. The only course markings were spray-painted on the ground. I missed one set of markings and ended up lost. I knew I was lost when I looked around found myself in what's known colloquially as "the projects." Oh yeah, I thought, I'm a single black woman lost in a town that used to be a sundown town (towns where black folks were forced to leave the city limits by sundown). The projects in this town aren't black or mixed-race populated; they are white. People's dogs were chasing me at this point and I was scared. I decided to bag the race, called my husband nearly in tears, and somehow found my way back to the Herrin Civic Center, where the race was headquartered.

Back at the Civic Center, I got hugs from some runners who listened compassionately to my story, and shrugs from the race officials. Apparently I wasn't the only one who got lost--six other people got lost today. Now if it were only me, I'd chalk it up to my tremendously bad sense of direction. But since six other people got lost, I know it's not just me. If I do this race again, I'll opt to do the 10K. It simply isn't worth it getting lost or hurt for a race.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Women Together 5K Run/Walk, November 12, 2011

I have a confession to make. I hate 5Ks. Strange thing for a runner to say, but I'm not naturally gifted with speed. I'd rather run 13 miles in 2 hours and change than run 3.1 and feel like I'm not fast enough. 5Ks are fast races and I am never happy about my times. But that aside, I signed up for this local race for several reasons far more important than my own selfish need for speed.

First, this race benefits our local woman's shelter, the Women's Center of Carbondale (which serves many more counties than Jackson, the county Carbondale is in). The Women's Center has had to face a $275,000 budget cut at a time when more and more women and children are seeking its services. Knowing that we were raising money for such a great cause makes me feel that it does not matter how fast I finish.

Second, this is an all-women's race (men ran the course unofficially, sometimes spotting a female runner, but they did not go through the finish chute and were not eligible for age group or overall awards). This is important since many women are still intimidated by the prospect of running, and need to feel there's a race "of one's own," to borrow a phrase from Virginia Woolf. I am not a big fan of the "Princess Half Marathons" where everything is cutesy and stereotypically pink, but this race is a home-grown community event sponsored by my local running club, so it avoids all those touches.

I ran this one in 26:04, better than my last 5K (26:56), but not better than when I ran this last year. I did win my age group, which was nice (see age group prize in photo). This is my last 5K in the 40-44 age group--the next one I do will be in 2012, most likely after my 45th birthday. I'm not looking forward to the age group change--the really fast women runners around here are 45-over 50 and they smoke me. I was talking to one woman whose daughter is on our university track team. She was elated because she'd set a PR at today's race. When I asked what it was, she smiled and said "I finally got under 22!" Wow. She's only a few years older than me, the mother of two, and she's that fast. This, my friends, is called runner's envy. It's an incurable condition, because there will always be someone faster than you. But when the race is for a cause as good as this, what does it matter? It really doesn't.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saint Louis Track Club Half Marathon: 11/6/11

Today I ran my final half marathon of 2011, the Saint Louis Track Club 32nd Annual Half Marathon, in a new personal best of 2:04:14. Here are my observations from today.

1) It's great to walk to a race.
Jon (husband and runner support) and I had a room at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza, which turned out to be within walking distance of the Center of Clayton, where the race was headquartered. It was great to get up, shower, put on my outfit and walk through Shaw Park to get to the race start. I was there very early because I was so close.

2) This race did not have great swag.
But it had one thing everyone loved: the snazzy blue long sleeved tech shirt that every participant got. It's a tacit rule among runners that you don't wear the shirt of the race you are running during that race. You can wear last year's shirt, but some runners think it's an amateur move to wear the current shirt on race day. This race was a big exception--lots of people had that shirt on because it was a great looking shirt, especially on women.

3) This race benefited a charity, but I wouldn't call it a charity race.
Proceeds from the race will go to the Special Olympics, but they weren't a sponsor. The Saint Louis Track Club just gives them race proceeds, which is very cool of them. If I lived closer to Saint Louis, I'd join. Heck, I'll probably join anyway, since they are the closest big city running club to me, and their members get discounts. They even had me marked down on my race bib as being from "Carbondale, MO," instead of Carbondale, IL!

4) This was not the Rock-n-Roll anything.
I'm cheap, so I am not looking for a race with bands on every corner and throngs of cheering supporters. Those Rock-n-Roll races have their place, and their place is not in my pocketbook. So while there were few people cheering the runners on at this race, the ones that did were hella enthusiastic. As were the volunteers--Saint Louis Track Club members, I surmised. There were no musical acts along the route, so I had my mp3 player on.

5) This race had the great scenery of Saint Louis.
Saint Louis is a city I know well, but not on foot. I really wanted to run this race because it would take me into Forest Park (the race was an out-and-back from Shaw Park/Center of Clayton/Clayton High School to Forest Park). We also ran past Washington University at Saint Louis, and coming back on the race route in front of Wash U was the only significant elevation. It was not at all a hilly route. But since it was an out-and-back, I knew we'd be coming back at an incline, and worked my way through that mile with patience.

6) My first sighting of a true elite runner.
The winner of this race was Kenyan runner Sammy Rotich, who now lives in Iowa. Why Sammy was doing this race and not the NYC Marathon (also held today) is beyond me. But it was more than awesome to see him headed back to Center of Clayton as I was on mile five or so. All I can guess is that he really likes halfs. Here's an article about Sammy:

7) Race and running:
Runner's World just ran an article about why more African-Americans (as opposed to African-born runners from countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia) aren't doing running events. I'm still digesting that article and coming up with what I think on the topic, but I didn't see a big black presence at this race. It may be that Clayton, as a tony STL suburb, feels alien to folks not from it. St. Louis can be quite segregated, and that may have kept people from coming to this neighborhood. This isn't an expensive race, so that should not have been a barrier.

8) Gender and running:
Lots of women, though, were participating in this race. Lots of women were also doing the half marathon walk. It was a little disconcerting to run past many strolling people in the midst of so many runners (the half marathon walk started a half-hour prior to the half-marathon run). But I loved seeing racewalkers (not those out for a casual stroll, but those who walk as fast as many people run)--they were cool.

9) My final stats:

chip time: 2:04:14 (new PR for a half)
chip pace: 9:29
finishing place overall: 629 out of 1174 runners
finishing place among female runners: 222 out of 596
finishing place among female masters (over 40 women runners): 79 of 225
age division place (F 40-44): 32nd of 72

No more halfs for me this year, but I'll have some shorter length races to finish out 2011. This was a great race and I hope to do it again next year--save me a room at the Sheraton!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two Mile Bunny: Grand Avenue Pumpkin Race 2011

Today I ran my second race of this week, the Grand Avenue Pumpkin Two Mile Run/Walk. Here are my observations.

This race was held last year and I had a blast. The race organizers encourage people to dress up in costume for the race--I was the only adult in costume last year, but that changed this year. I saw a man dressed as an orange traffic cone, a mother-daughter pair dressed as cop and prisoner (mom was the cop, the daughter was in the prison stripes), and folks dressed as pumpkins. I was a bunny this year (as compared to last year's tiger). I had bunny ears, which miraculously stayed for the entire race, and a fluffy tail to shake.

So many more people came out this year than last (which means I was shut out of the awards this go-round: last year I took third in my age group and won the costume award). A lot of folks signed up on site, which the organizers weren't expecting. It took a while to get everyone registered. Some didn't get a T-shirt, which I heard a little whining about here and there. I always send my race registrations in early, so I got one.

This race is only two miles, which causes some runners to underestimate it. I was actually torn on doing this race again since it is so fast. There are folks who can tear it up speed-wise (the winner was in at 9:53); if you try to keep up with them, you're toast without butter. Though I loved doing the race last year, I do remember sneezing and coughing A LOT afterward. It was if I had hay fever after. This year I was a bit slower than last (16:02 last year, 16:17 this year), and the sneezing and coughing, while present, was nowhere near as bad. This sneezing/coughing reaction does not happen to me after 5Ks, so I can only speculate that running faster than I'm used to for such a short time brings on this reaction.

My favorite moments during the race? I heard someone say ruefully as I passed them early in the race, "I just got passed by a bunny." As I was running the final stretch, I heard someone yell out "Yeah, Bunny!"

The race was over very quickly, but there was a raffle/award ceremony that took a while to get coordinated. The young women organizing the race (check their website here: must have been overwhelmed by the onsite registrations. Though I didn't win, place or show in my age group, I was really happy to be in the 16s, which I did not expect to happen. Speed is amazingly relative, isn't it?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10K the Army ROTC Way: SIUC 5K Run/Walk and 10K Run

Today I ran the SIUC Army ROTC 10K race. Here are my observations:

1) I haven't run as many 10Ks as I've wanted to, simply because that race length isn't offered a lot where I live. There are lots of 5Ks (usually charity races), but 10Ks are few. This race, sponsored by my university's Army ROTC unit, is in its third year. It consisted of a 5K Run, a 5K Walk and a 10K Run. Prior to the race, I spent some time looking at the Illinois Patriot Guard's Fallen Heroes Wall, a traveling exhibit of all the young men and women from the state whose lives were cut short by the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. A sobering sight--so many young beautiful faces looking out from that wall. By the way, a portion of the proceeds from this race will go the Anna Illinois Veterans Home, so that was something to be proud of and feel good about.

2) The race gave out some sweet swag: a Camelback water bottle and a technical shirt with the winners of last year's races on the back, all in a black tote bag.

3) The 10K runners were lined up a distance behind the 5K runners, and the walkers were lined up after the 10K folks. I thought we were going to have staggered take off times because of this, but we all started at the same time.

4) The alternate name for this event could have been Cadet Fartlek. The cadets were stationed along the course to direct us and encourage us. So I was basically running from one cadet to the next, asking for directions (I am way directionally challenged). The biggest challenges on the route were the two pedestrian bridges on campus--we ran up one on the way out and came back on the other as we headed back to ROTC headquarters on campus.

5) I finished first in my age group and got a PR. I was pretty certain that I came through the chute at 53 minutes, which would have been fabulous. At the award ceremony, the captain in charge of the race read my time off as 54:03, which would still be a PR, but I wouldn't be as happy with it. Did he transpose the numbers? Did I see the time on the electronic sign wrong? The announced time for the gentleman I was following was 52:14 and I finished behind him. So 53 minutes makes sense to me. This was not a chip-timed race, by the way. I know I shouldn't get obsessed with time, but like a lot of runners, I am. 53:04 sounds a whole lot better than 54:03 [NB: Final posted time on 10/30 was 54:03]. And I don't want to deceive anyone about how fast I run--including myself. But I was able to put aside my selfish concern about time long enough to donate to the Fallen Heroes Wall, which is privately funded. Whatever my own personal political views or convictions may be, I wanted to honor those beautiful young faces on that wall, those lives lost.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When Your Finish Time Doesn't Matter: iRun Homecoming 5K

I haven't run a 5K for a long time--one, because I've been concentrating on longer distances, and two, because they are painful. They are painful if you run them as quickly as you can, attempting to better your time each time. My fastest 5K time is 25:23; my slowest is 28:52. Today I ran this particular 5K at 26:56, not bad--good enough for second in the 41-45 age group at this small local race. But the most important thing I took away from today's race is to respect all distances, because you never know how your body will react.

First some background: this race was a fundraiser for Unite for Sight, an organization that helps prevent blindness in countries where eye surgery, for example, is not affordable for the general population. (More info at There are college chapters all over the country sponsoring races to raise money for the elimination of preventable blindness. The students who put together this race are to be commended--it's not an easy thing to put on a race, especially on Homecoming Weekend, a time where people would rather tailgate and party.

It was a cold morning and I tried various means to warm up: drinking hot chocolate, jumping up and down and dancing to the pop tunes coming out of the PA, etc. I noticed a young couple as I was prancing around: he was brown-haired, lean and handsome, she was blond, perky, slim and cute. I assumed they were a romantic pair, since they looked good together. They were doing drills and high kicks to warm up. I thought, surely those two are fast!

The race was over pretty quickly and I kept a good pace throughout--not too fast, but fast enough to pass some people. Why does the third mile of a 5K always feel like it's going on forever? I made it through the finish chute in under 27 minutes, which was what I really wanted today. After a bit of a cooldown, I noticed the blond girl from the couple. She was not breathing right after finishing the race, and then, she slowly melted down to the ground--not a full faint, but definitely a case of the jelly legs. I went over to her and asked if she needed some water, and she kept on breathing raggedly. I don't usually touch complete strangers, but I patted her back and tried to soothe her as it was apparent that she wasn't recovering right. A burly bald gentleman came to her aid quickly too--fortunately, he was a personal trainer and knew what to do. He had her lie down to try to recover her breathing and asked her friend (turned out they were not boyfriend and girlfriend) questions about her health. She slowly got her breath back, but kept on shivering. By now a crowd had gathered with all sorts of people offering help: the onsite massage person checked her pulse, and a group of women runners (from Chix in Training kept a watchful eye over the young woman. The young woman kept saying that her chest was aching, so the group got her into the young man's car and they went to the emergency room, just to be safe. I hope that she's all right, and that it was just a case of the unexpectedly cold October air getting to her. It was scary seeing someone that young becoming that vulnerable after a race.

After the couple departed, I realized that your finish time doesn't matter--what matters is running and racing safely. I tend to take for granted my new fondness for and ability to run (I was never a runner until two years ago this fall; tomorrow is my "runnerversary.") I often feel like I don't run fast enough, but that's not the point. This young woman's situation brought home to me how vital it is to stay aware of your body's needs before, during and after each run--whether it's a training run or a race. Take good care of yourself, and never take your abilities and health for granted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Notes on a Seventh Half Marathon: Evansville IN Half Marathon

Today I ran my seventh half marathon, the Evansville Half Marathon, in 2:06:36. Here are my observations from today.

1) Get on the bus.
This was the first race where Jon (husband and runner support) couldn't just drop me off at the start line. You had to go to certain drop-off points in E'ville to board a shuttle bus. We live relatively close to E'ville, but we don't know it well. I made it just in time from our hotel to get on the last shuttle bus. The shuttle buses took us to Reitz High School, which is high on a hill with little parking around it. So the whole set-up made sense--glad I made it.

2) You don't know a city until you run it.
I've been to Evansville plenty of times, but it's once of those cities dominated by one main expressway that everyone seems to use to avoid actual city neighborhoods. This half had me running through mostly city streets, though there was a smallish portion of on the city's bike trail. I know now what the neighborhoods in this city look like.

3) Volunteers once again make the race.
This race had a lot of volunteers helping out along the course: giving out water, gatorade and orange slices, yelling out splits, and offering applause and encouragement. There were spectators as well, not as many as in Madison, but quite a few there to root on particular people. Volunteers were also responsible for interesting signs along the way: chalking the names of cities participants had come from to run the race on the bike trail path, putting up signs with factoids (58% percent of the runners at this race were female, for example). One of my favorite slogans I saw today was also written in chalk on the bike trail path ("That's not sweat; it's LIQUID AWESOME!")

4) A race can take you to unexpected places.
At one point we ran into a minor league baseball stadium. I looked around and realized the stadium was where they shot the movie "A League of Their Own!" I love that movie, especially when Tom Hanks as the manager says "There's no crying in baseball!" There's crying in running, but that's because the sweat keeps running into our eyes.

5) Music, or not.
I didn't turn my music on at all. Seemed too much of a bother. There was music along the course though, both recorded music ("Staying Alive"? har-dee-har-har-har) and live acts. My favorite was the drumline that appeared just when I was lamenting the distinct lack of funk among the music selections I was encountering. Nick Cannon would have been proud.

6) Sometimes race directors don't lie.
The description for this half said "primarily flat." Thinking of what sadists race directors/planners can be, I thought "yeah, right." But this was mostly flat, far flatter than either my Cape Girardeau half or my half in Lebanon, IL. That flatness helped me get a great time (second fastest half ever).

7) Sometimes a goody bag, sometimes a bucket.
One of the fun things about doing races is what you get in the "goody bag" besides your race number and your timing chip. This half gave its participants a bucket (not a tote bag or a drawstring knapsack, but a pail you might mix paint in). This, I thought, was very weird. Runners from Evansville told me that this was standard practice for this half. One of the sponsors of the race is a plastics company and they provide the buckets. But still, a bucket is weird.

8) Return that timing chip or it's $35 bucks.
This race had a timing chip that looked like a mini hotel key with four holes punched in it. It came with a little orange twist tie. You were supposed to use the orange twist tie to put the chip on your laces, but I didn't realize this until I saw everyone else's twist-tie-and-timing chip combos. I put my laces directly through those holes and didn't use the orange twist tie. At the finish, the race volunteers just snip off the twist tie. Except for me, I had to unlace my sneaker to give them back this chip, which had I lost would have cost me $35 bucks.

9) I had gels before, but not during.
Tried two new to me brands: Accel Gel (I actually liked it) and Hammer (not so much). I had gels with me on the course, but didn't bother to use them, since water and gatorade were abundant, thanks to the race volunteers. I never had to fight to get a drink of either. And a first: ice pops, courtesy the Evansville Icemen, a minor league hockey team in town. They had their cheerleaders (skategirls?) handing out tasty ice pops. I was too eager to get my ice pop to consider whether or not their outfits were skanky or not. I just wanted one.

10) This was fun; let's do it again.
I liked this flat, fast half, as did a lot of people. The fastest times today were 1:11 for the top male and 1:25 for the top female. I also liked getting to know this city better, seeing the non-strip mall part of it. And the post-race lunch at Stoll's Country Inn? Delish, though I may have made up all the calories I burned racing at their buffet. But can you resist apple butter? I think not.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Joys of a (Very) Local Race: For Kids' Sake 5K/10K race

It had been a long time since my awful first 10K (see previous entry), so it was time to put my big girl sneakers on and try the distance again. Everything that went awry the first time went right this time, and I had a great time. Thus are the joys of a very local race. This race was sponsored by a local organization, For Kids' Sake, that raises money for orphans in Bangladesh. They have done various fundraisers over the years, but this was their first race. Here are my observations from today:

1) It's great to be able to run, walk or bike to a race.
This race was headquartered in Turley Park, which I regularly pass on runs or just on walks to the grocery store. I rode over on my bike. It was raining heavily this morning, so the race organizers pushed back the original 9 am start time until the showers relented.
2) What a difference a route makes.
This route was in my neighborhood--I knew the streets well, having run them many times before. In fact, the best gift this 10K gave me was this route, which I will continue to use. It is not a hilly route, but I knew exactly where the road would have a little bit of incline/decline.
3)For a first-time race, this was pretty sweet.
Lots of volunteers on the course (which was a little confusing, seeing that there were two races going on, each with slightly different routes), water stations (just water though, no Gatorade), pre-race yoga, pre and post-race massages, raffles for prizes, and treats for the runners (cookies and trail mix). They had a fun run for the kids--I love seeing young boys and girls run up to get their awards after fun runs).
4) Love the little victories.
I won my age group, got a PR, and finished in under 57 minutes (56:??--I didn't get the seconds exactly when I came through the finish chute) [update: 55:54 for the race]. At a local race, it's fun to hang around after for the award ceremony. I had a suspicion I had either come in first or second in my age group. I got one of those ribbons like the kind you get in third grade for winning the class spelling bee. I don't care--it's going in my running memorabilia book just the same.
5)Charity races rule.
I don't usually look to see whether a race I'm doing is for charity or not. But when one of the race organizers told today's crowd what a difference our entry fees and pledges would make in the lives of orphans in Bangladesh, I felt a surge of community pride and was happy to have just been a small part of it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Facebook Note Repost: How Not to Run a 10K

Since my next race is a 10K, I'm reposting this note from my Facebook page. Here's hoping my 10K (For Kids' Sake Race, Sept 24) goes better this time!

Notes on my first 10K: April 2, 2011

1) Make sure you show up ahead of time. This may seem obvious. I made the error of assuming that my 10K starting line was at the same place as my half-marathon starting line, since they were both in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. It was not. I forgot to bring a copy of our local running club magazine, which had the directions to the starting line in it, complete with GPS coordinates. I almost missed the start of the race because we took for granted that we knew where it was. The Refuge is huge though, and the miracle was that we found it just in time for Jon to drop me off and for me to run to the start/finish line.

2) Distractions are better left at home. During training runs, you have the leisure of thinking through problems and finding solutions. During a race though, you need focus and concentration. I was distracted by something that could have been huge--neither Jon nor I could find our checkbook, and neither of us could remember seeing it. I had visions of identify theft in my head. Turns out it was just misplaced. Turns out I could have concentrated better if I hadn't been distracted by that possible urgent situation.

3) A 10K is 6.2 miles. Your 10K race might be 6.3 or 6.4 miles. The source of my initial disappointment was seeing what I thought was an awful finish time (57:33) and thinking that was my time for 6.2. Turns out the race course was a bit off (I did not have my Garmin GPS watch turned on, but runners who did told me that the race course was a bit overlong. It makes a difference when you are expecting certain numbers and you get numbers that don't meet that expectation. Just to clarify, I'm not racing anyone but myself, and I was disappointed that this finish time was slower than my own practice runs. But my practice runs were on point at 6.2.

4) Decide if you are going to use music or not. Don't waffle. I waffled. I had my trusty SANSA Clip+ (product placement--hello! Sansa, send me free stuff) and headphones. But I was so discombobulated by showing up so close to race start time that I didn't turn it on. So the headphones (I use the over-the-head kind) became a liability, and I ended up carrying them in my right hand for the last two miles.

5) Expect hills. Unless the ad for the race/race flyer says "fast and flat," expect hills. Since this was partially the same course as the half-marathon I did in February, I don't know why I didn't remember that. The killer hill was the crest of mile 5 (during the half, I believe that same hill was between mile 7 and 8).

6) If you can't be good, look good. At least I was styling: pink technical wicking long sleeve shirt, black compression tights with dark pink racing stripes down each leg, and my trusty Asics (the same pair I used for the half).

7) Learn to grab that water cup!! Since I got to the race with only minutes to spare, I didn't get a drink in prior to running. I grabbed a cup at the first aid station; didn't at the second one. The second one was right before the killer mile 5 hill and I knew if I stopped to drink I would stop running. So I didn't get a second drink in. The first water cup I pretty much spilled on myself and only got a small sip of.

8) Make friends. I am still somewhat intimidated by the long-established runners in my community and get a little shy around them. But they are beginning to recognize me from these races, and they are always polite and interested in me as a runner.

9) Feel the disappointment and let it pass. That's what I'm working on right now, as I type this. I was convinced this was a horrible run (so many people passed me by; I couldn't figure out my "race pace;" I was thirsty, etc, etc). But later on I learned from a friend that I did get third in my age group. Since the race results have not been posted yet, I don't know how many were in that age group. I have to be proud of myself for getting a handle on my emotions (when we couldn't find the starting line, I was so upset I almost cried in the car), but I buckled down and ran the race. I could have bagged the whole thing, seeing that I was distracted and upset. But I'm working through it, and I'm looking forward to next week's 5K race. And because this was my first 10K, it's automatically my personal record (PR) at this distance.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Notes on Sixth Half Marathon: City of Roses Half Marathon, Cape Girardeau, MO

My sixth half marathon took place in Cape Girardeau, MO, a small city about an hour from where I live in Illinois. There's a certain comfort factor in running a race close to home, and I might have underestimated its challenge. Here are my notes from today:

1) More hills, more hills!: The race description said "moderate hills." Moderate hills, my ass. And it was my ass--butt, rear, glutes--that kept me going during this half. It was hilly at the the start, flat during some lovely scenery on the Cape La Croix bike trail and in the Cape Woods, and hilly at the end. There were four hills in the last four miles.

2) Race headquarters was the Health Point Fitness facility on Independence Street. If I lived in Cape, I'd definitely be a member of this gym: it was light, bright and welcoming inside. Because this was not a big race, I had plenty of pre-race bathroom access.

3) This may be a small race in a small city, but the Cape Road Runners have done it a lot: this was the 31st running of this half marathon. Everyone received a finisher's medal and there was a very nice wicking T-shirt to those who pre-registered (baby blue so I'll actually wear it). There were lots of race volunteers and I had no trouble getting water and/or gatorade while on the course. They did not give out GU however.

4) Hills are a physical and a spiritual test. I got towards the end of the race, mile 9 or so, and I'm thinking, "I'm just going to breeze on in to the finish line." So so wrong. If I had looked at the course map elevation before the race, I would have known that the last four miles had four significant hills in them. I observed a lot of different hill strategies: the walk to the top then run, the charge up and hope for the best, the steady swim. I am a proponent of the steady swim, even if on one of the last hills I had to really pick up my feet to keep going. I don't ever stop to walk during a half because I fear I won't start running again!

5) During the section in the lovely Cape Woods, we went over several picturesque wooden bridges. So nice to look at, so treacherous when wet. I tried to step lightly and prayed not to slip. On the bike trail, we encountered folks on wheels who looked startled to see a half marathon in progress. No collisions ensued.

6) Serendipity is a great and funny thing. One of the last songs my SANSA played was Billy Idol's cover of "Mony Mony," originally made famous by Tommy James and the Shondells. There's a great part of that song where Billy yell-sings "C'mon"--and he yell-sings it a lot. It was perversely encouraging. Also funny: there was some incidental construction right prior to the finishing area back at Health Point where there was a big temporary sign that read "Be prepared to stop." I said out loud "I love that sign" and a male runner in front of me pretended to hug it.

7) Chip time vs. gun time. Fleet Feet STL did the timing and they are quick and precise. My chip time for this race was 2:10:28 and my gun time was 2:10:44. The difference is that my chip time is my individual time for the race as determined by my own timing chip; and the gun time is the time from the gun going off to my crossing the finish line. The time in between meant there were folks in front of me before I crossed the starting line.

8) Some folks will cool down by running back over the course. Try not to hate these people. They will look relieved and relaxed, with a "my work here is done" expression on their faces. You will still be finishing. Like I said, try not to hate these people.

9) I saw a lot of women at this race. I would venture to guess that there were more women than men. Women seem to run in groups, men solo (though I did see couples and mixed groups). I am a solo runner, so if anyone wants to run with me, I'm game!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fifth Half Marathon: Bearcat Harvest Half Marathon, McKendree University

I thought that my fifth half was going to be the City of Roses Half in Cape Girardeau, MO on Sept. 18, but I caught wind of this race sponsored by McKendree University, a small liberal arts school in Lebanon, IL. I'm cheap, so the $30 price tag appealed to me and I signed up. Here are my observations from today's race, which I finished 13.1 of in 2:08:50 (more on that later).

1) Sometimes you get lucky and the weather loves you.
I had feared I might be running this in the rain--not just rain, but thundershowers. It didn't happen.

2) It's a small-town race--don't expect a medal.
This race only gave medals to the top finishers in their age groups, and the age groups were huge (39-50?). If you run a race this small, don't expect a finisher's medal. Everyone who pre-registered got one of those wicking T-shirts and one of those 13.1 decals you can put on your car (even though this race was 13.25 miles, not 13.1--more on that later).

3) Okay, so there's a 5K too.
The 5K and the half started at the same time. In order for both races to share the same finish line, the half was slightly longer than 13.1. It was 13.25 miles. A volunteer was positioned at the precise spot of the race that was 13.1 shouting out times, so that's how I know my 13.1 time. I didn't note my time on the giant clock at 13.25 because I was too busy looking for Jon (husband and runner support). [Update: my time for 13.25 miles was 2:10:45]

4) Speaking of volunteers, college kids make great ones.
Lots of volunteers at this race (someone joked that there were more volunteers than runners). I don't know if that was actually true, but there were a lot of McKendree University students, faculty and staff members helping out with the water stations, calling out times, giving out GU, etc. They were sweetly enthusiastic, and many of the runners made sure to thank them as they grabbed water cups. One advantage of a small race is that you don't have to fight to get to the volunteers with the water and the gatorade. I took in water or Gatorade at every single water stop.

5) Speaking of GU, it's awful. Take it anyway.
In my race in Collinsville, IL, I didn't have enough fuel in my system and I bonked on the course at mile 12. I got a PR, but paid for it--recovery was not fast. This was not going to happen today, especially since I am running City of Roses next week. I choked down two Power Bar Energy gels pre-race (slightly less gooey than GU), and during the race, when the volunteers handed out GU, I tucked mine away and ate it during mile 12. Nasty, yes. But did I finish the race strong with no bonk. Yes.

6) This race was hilly. So glad I trained on hills.
This race had a portion called "Hill Country." It began at 8.68 miles and continued until around mile 10. I didn't attack the hills. I kept a steady pace and tried not to let my form deteriorate (small steps, minimal arm swing, and head/torso up). There was a sign that read "You are now leaving Hill Country. Congratulations!"), followed by another sign ("Actually, this is the last hill"). I read it out loud and laughed.

7) For me, doing halfs is about pacing, not racing.
I try to keep a consistent pace. When people pass me, I don't try to catch them. But I do try to keep them within sight, which generally keeps me on pace.

8) Compress me, my love.
I had on compression socks under compression tights. Maybe a little much, but my legs feel pretty good overall. I also avoided blisters with some cocoa butter on my toes.

9) Music or not?
No music. Oh I had earphones on, but didn't play my music. At the pre-race briefing, the race director reminded the runners that this was NOT a closed course. We were running on small one-lane roads, and many drivers had no idea there was a race going on. I actually yelled "CAR" at one point, which I've done during 5Ks but not during a half before. I took what the race director said to heart and didn't listen to music.

10) Halfs always seem to end coming uphill.
I no longer panic when at the end of a half the elevation rises again. Race directors have sadistic little hearts and they want you working hard at race's end. So when I felt a rise at the end of this race, I just kept on chugging.

11) I could never do a marathon and be happy.
People ask me if I'll do a marathon. A very friendly woman runner told me before I did this half that once I did a marathon I'd be hooked. I'm keeping it open as an option, but I love how I can finish a half in about two hours and change, and then go do something else (get lunch, see friends, go shopping!). My goal is to do 13 halfs before the end of 2013. After that goal is met, I will think marathon. But I know if I never do one, I'll be perfectly happy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fourth Half Marathon: Paducah Iron Mom, 6/18/11

The Paducah Iron Mom Half Marathon was supposed to be back in May, but the wicked flooding on the Ohio River made the race directors postpone it until today. This morning, I was thinking this race was cursed, because today's weather forecast was predicting serious thunderstorms. Fortunately, no thunderstorms occurred during the race, though there was rain and wind throughout. The rain I referred to as "God's Water Station." I really enjoyed the race--it was flat, and had lovely sections that took the runners through the Paducah Greenway and Bob Noble Park. If I lived in Paducah, those would be regular running spots for me.

I had no trouble spots during the race, but my overall time was slower than any half I'd done before, somewhere around 2:12. I am disappointed, but I have to ask myself, what is it that I am running for? Is it for the end product (fast times, personal records, etc) or is it for the journey? I would have to say that it's for the journey, for the feeling I get of freedom as my body's in motion, for the scenery that changes as I pass by and as time passes by, and for the notion that I can really get somewhere--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually-- if I just put one foot in front of the other.

The actual race was sweet: lots of enthusiastic volunteers, water stations at every mile, GU available on the course (I still have a heck of a time choking that stuff down, but it does help). My main problem was with the pace groups--there was one available at a 2 hr half pace and another at a 2 hr 20 min half pace. I guess it's not easy to find pacers! My last half in Madison had a 2:10 pace group, which was perfect for me. Had I had the same sort of pace group in Paducah, would I have done better? Who's to know and who really cares? In the end, I had a great run in a pretty little city by a river, and I didn't get hurt or even really get tired.

My next half marathon will be in another pretty little city by a river, the City of Roses Half Marathon in Cape Girardeau, MO. It's not until September though, so I have a bit more time to chase that elusive PR.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Notes on a Third Half Marathon: Madison Half Marathon

For my third half marathon, I chose the Madison Half Marathon, a much larger race than I'd ever done. There were 3479 finishers in the half marathon alone! There was also a wheelchair race (amazing competitors), a full marathon, a quarter marathon (6.55 miles) and a kids' fun race. Here are my observations from this weekend:

1) So glad I chose this race. Though it was bigger than the small races I've done closer to home, it felt intimate, because everyone was friendly. Madison is a city that feels like a town, and that community spirit was evident throughout all the proceedings. Plus, Madison is a great food town!

2) This was my first time at a race with a runner's expo, which is a trade show for runners. There were booths from all sorts of running-related companies, freebies (I got free gels; more on gels later), and information on upcoming races. I could have dropped a lot of money at the expo, but I exercised self control. The expo would be great if you forgot something necessary at home though. This was also my first time with the timing chip you tie onto your shoe.

3) Since I ran a half last week, my legs were still coming around. So I remembered my compression socks and my compression tights and ran in those. Though I felt like I was stuffing myself into a sausage casing, it totally worked and my legs feel so much better after this half than last week's. My stylish lilac top came from Madison's totally awesome Goodwill store on State Street.

4) Last week, I experienced the dreaded runner's bonk--I hit the wall during mile 12 and needed assistance on the course. I got a PR--personal record--but at a cost! I had blisters on my toes, needed a two-hour nap after the race, and was achy for days. I was so sore that I thought I might change to the quarter marathon. But there was no point in going to Madison for something only a bit longer than a 10K. So I rethought all I'd done wrong and didn't do it this time. In Collinsville, I ran faster than I should have. In Madison, I stuck with the 2:10 pace group. If you get the chance to run with a pace group, take it! I really loved the way sticking with the pace group forbade me from running too fast. In Collinsville, I didn't use gels--those packets of sticky-sweet goop that taste like frosting gone wrong--because my weight loss was keyed by sugar reduction. But running 13.1 miles requires sugar from one source or another--or your blood sugar will plummet and you will bonk. So in Madison, I used one of the free gels I got at the expo and used one that was given to me on the course by a volunteer.

5) Speaking of volunteers, this race had great ones in charge of the water/gatorade/gu/orange slice stations. But a bigger race means that it's harder to get to the folks at the water stops--some water stops I passed up because there were too many people in front of me.

6) In addition to proper fueling and hydration, I didn't run with music. Oh I had my headphones and one of my many mp3 players, but I decided early on to listen to what was going on around me, to look at the lovely town of Madison (how can you not love a place with this many lakes) and to appreciate the spectators. It was great seeing people out on the course--most were looking for specific people to cheer for (a lot of "super Mom" signs), but some were just there to cheer people on. My name was on my race bib (first time for that), so I got cheers of "Go Allison" from strangers. The spectator signs were great: "Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon," "Nice Ass," "Stop Reading, Keep Running," "Beat Oprah," and many more that made me laugh as I ran. In Collinsville, I ran to music, but the music was faster than I should have used. My new rule: never run a race to music you've not run to before!

7) I worked on my form as I ran. I remember that one thing that caused my bonk in Collinsville was breathing raggedly because I was running too fast and overstriding as a consequence. I deliberately made my stride shorter and quicker, kept my breaths even, and didn't overswing my arms, keeping my upper body stable. I also tried to run from the hips, not from the knees--if that makes any sense at all.

8) Race directors always seem to throw in an extra obstacle at the end of a race. This race started and ended at Wisconsin's state capital. We started off at a decline; so at race's end, we were coming up an incline. It wasn't that bad, but I saw a lot of folks start to walk at that point. I was damned if I was going to walk at that point. But neither was I going to sprint. I just kept on running.

9) The best finish line I have experienced yet: a photographer for post-race pictures, a medal immediately around my neck and lots of free food and drink. Despite the crowds, Jon (husband and runner support) quickly found me, a happy and satisfied me. Happy because this was a hugely entertaining race in a great town; satisfied because even though I didn't PR, I ran a great race my way.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Allison's Second Half-Marathon: YMCA of Southwest Illinois

Here are a few notes/observations/questions about today: my second half-marathon, May 21, 2011

1) Choosing your second half is as important as choosing your first. This new race, sponsored by the YMCA in Collinsville/Maryville Illinois, was perfect for me. Not much bigger than the races I run further south, and only 2 hours from home, an area of the state we're familiar with. Jon (husband and runner support) got us a room at the Doubletree and since he's a Hilton Honors member, they gave us late checkout. Very important, since it allowed me to nap and shower after the race.

2) The race was about 300 people, not bad for their first time, not bad at all. Lots of it took place on the MCT Trail (, which is beautiful this time of year--lush and green. I would urge anyone who runs, bikes or walks in the Collinsville/Maryville/Troy area to get familiar with the trail. Lovely, just lovely. And I would urge anyone living in this area to become part of the YMCA of Southwest Illinois. If I lived in this part of the state, I would totally take advantage of their half-marathon and marathon training. The volunteers were plentiful, enthusiastic and very helpful to me (see next note).

3) There were plenty of aid stations with volunteers offering water and gatorade. I am stubborn, and so I wouldn't stop running to properly drink the water or gatorade, so as a consequence I was probably dehydrated. I kept thinking," well, I didn't need water during my first half." But race comparisons are not always useful. My first half was in February in the cold; my second in May in the humidity and heat. I definitely needed more water. Since I was probably dehydrated, I bonked.

4) In runner's parlance, "bonking" means you run out of gas, you hit the wall, you reach your limit. This happened to me in mile 12. I was shaky during the latter part of 11, but during 12 shaky turned to full-on weaving, dizziness, and a case of the jelly legs. I was like a drunk driver up in this piece. Up until mid-11, I was doing pretty well. But 12 was the first time ever in a race that I've experienced the bonk. Fortunately, it must have been obvious, because a series of race volunteers helped me through that mile. I am stubborn, and I didn't want to walk, but walking was forced upon me by the bonk!

5) Could the bonk have been prevented? Yes, I believe it could have. I had gels (which are gooey packets of sugar that endurance athletes use so they can, well, endure), but I didn't use them during the race. The bonk forced me to use one AFTER the race. If I had used the gels, I would not have experienced the drop in blood sugar that accompanies the bonk. But again, I'm stubborn: I don't use gels on long practice runs, I thought, why I should I use them now? Well, I'm learning again that training and racing are two different things. I usually avoid sugar like the plague, but now I'm thinking it's infinitely useful on race day.

6) The course was basically flat except for a "hill," a pedestrian bridge we had to pass over twice. So cute--the race organizers had cheerleaders from Collinsville Middle School there to cheer for runners on the bridge. Passing over it twice was challenging!

7) I ended up with a PR (personal record) for this distance: 2 hours, 4 mins, 56 seconds. A full five minutes faster than my first half (2:09:58). I am proud of both times, but I've learned comparing them isn't all that useful. During my first half, I was dealing with ice, gravel, mud--winter. That really isn't the same as a race that is on a paved bike trail with just a few moments of running in a residential neighborhood.

8) Since I had that shaky mile 12, I let the EMTs file a report on me. I did not feel so bad that I needed to go to the hospital, but I let them check me out. I'm stubborn, but I'm not stupid. I checked out totally okay--130/60 BP. Both the EMTs staffing the race and the race volunteers were surprised to learn my age. I was not so out of it that I couldn't appreciate the compliment! Again, big ups to the YMCA of Southwest Illinois for their great handling of my situation.

9) Would I trade that new PR for no bonk? Hmm. Let me get back to you on that one. The bonk is something every runner needs to learn to deal with, whether you are doing 5Ks or marathons or ultras. Now that I've experienced it, I'll be better equipped to deal with it when I know it's happening.

10) I hope that the YMCA gets to do this race again next year--I know I'll want to participate. And I'm pretty certain that with another year of running under my belt, there will be no bonk.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Local Race Alert: For Kids Sake

For Kids' Sake is a Carbondale-based organization committed to helping the orphans of Bangladesh. They will sponsor a 5K/10K Run and Walk for this worthy cause on September 24, 2011.

Details here:

For Kids' Sake Run/Walk

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Article on Nutrition 5K

Thanks to the Southern Illinoisan for this article on this past Saturday's Nutrition 5K:


Regional Races: Worth the Trip from Southern Illinois

These races are a bit of a car ride from the Carbondale/Murphysboro/Marion area, but they are all for worthy causes!

AM Run (Adam Morgan Foundation, fundraiser for Autism Research), St. Peters, Missouri, April 30, 2011
AM Fun Run

Knights Easter Eggstraordinaire 5K, O'Fallon, Illinois (benefiting St. Clare School Athletics), April 23, 2011
St. Clare Run

5K Run/Walk sponsored by the Xplosion Softball 12U League, April 16th, 2011
Xplosion Run

5Mile Run/3K Walk Against Racism, the YWCA of Alton, Illinois, May 7, 2011
YWCA Run Against Racism

Second Annual Ella Prickett/St. Baldrick's Foundation 5K run
Run Against Childhood Cancers

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Local Race Alert: Integrated Health 10K/5K

Upcoming race in the southern Illinois town of Harrisburg!

Integrated Health Run

Local Race Report: Nutrition 5K, Carbondale, IL

The thunderstorms stopped, the band played and the runners and walkers took over Evergreen Park for the 13th annual Nutrition 5K Run/Walk and Kid K. This fun, family-focused event was sponsored by Carbondale's Neighborhood Co-Op Grocery. The weather was hot and hazy after a rash of early morning thunderstorms, but that did not deter the 107 runners and the 45 walkers from completing the fast, flat 5K course on the edge of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus. An added adorable feature of this race was a one kilometer race for little kids (the kids were accompanied by a tuba player!). A definite sense of whimsy to this race--instead of the usual t-shirt, pre-registered runners were given a beautiful ceramic soup bowl--and a race for a very good cause (Good Samaritan Food Pantry). Massage students from John A. Logan College provided post-race massages, students from the local ROTC chapter helped steer runners in the right direction and provided water at the aid station, and a local band provided pre- and post-race tunes. All in all, a fun afternoon in the park for a very good cause!

Race Results:
Overall Finish List
Age Group Results

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Local Race Alert: Kaskaskia College hosts 5K

A local community college, Kaskaskia College, is hosting a 5K Fun Run and Walk on April 16, 2011.

Details here:

Phi Theta Kappa Run

Kaskaskia College is located in Centralia, Illinois.

Local Race Alert: West Frankfort, IL 5K

St. John the Baptist Church & School in West Frankfort, IL will host a 5K Run and Walk on Saturday, May 28, 2011.

Details here:
St. John Reunion Run

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Local Race Report: Southern Illinois 10K

River to River Runners, a running club out of Herrin, IL, sponsors this annual 10K race in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, which is also the site of the club's annual "Fly With the Eagles" half-marathon. Course conditions were great this morning for the 10K race and the accompanying 5K walk--warm, with no sign of rain or humidity. The course itself had some significant elevation, especially the devilishly placed hill at mile marker 5! Fortunately, there was an aid station (one of two on the course) to help those who wanted water prior to tackling that hill!

One issue that some of the runners had was the course was slightly longer than 6.2 miles--several runners had between 6.35 and 6.4 on their GPS watches. Runners are sticklers for numbers!

Post race, 107 runners and 14 walkers were treated to light post-race snacks( bananas, boxes of raisins, energy bars, water and gatorade), as well as award ceremony.


Age Group Results
Overall finish list

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Local Race Alert: Sesser, IL Homecoming 5K

You have to love a race that begins and ends at a place called The Custard Stand. Race Date: June 18, 2011.

Sesser Homecoming

Regional Race Alerts: Collinsville, IL

The YMCA of Collinsville, IL is sponsoring several races of interest to southern and southwestern Illinois runners.
On May 22 they are hosting a half-marathon; on July 16th, they are hosting a 10K.


Collinsville 10K

Later in this year, Collinsville's annual Italian Fest hosts a 5K race on Saturday, September 18:
Italian Fest

Monday, March 28, 2011

Heart and Soul 5K run in Saint Louis, MO

Carbondale is a ways from Saint Louis (aka STL), but this 5K race targeted to African Americans would be worth the trip:

Heart and Soul Run
Race Registration

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Local Race Alert: KFVS-12 5K Run

KFVS-12 is the local CBS affiliate for southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri and western Kentucky. The station sponsors an annual 5K to encourage viewers to drop the remotes and join in the fun. Here's the entry blank for this year's upcoming race on May 14, 2011:

KFVS-12 Run

Local Race Report: SIU Run/Walk from the Law

This new race, sponsored by the SIU School of Law and run very well by law student volunteers and organizers, was a jaunt around the SIUC campus, starting and ending at the Law School Building. The day was blustery and a bit chilly (especially for the end of March in southern Illinois), but the 77 runners and 14 walkers had a great time on the clearly marked and flat course.

Pre-race, two huge speakers pumped pop tunes into the air, so you could warm up to the strains of Lady Gaga and Rhianna. After the race, bagels, cookies, bananas, energy bars, apples, water and gatorade were available to the runners and walkers. Law students were eligible post-race for special raffles for free Kaplan Bar Courses (huge values for those poor law students!) The race itself raised almost $2500 for Equality Works, a social justice legal organization that provides legal assistance to those who can't afford lawyers. Who says lawyers don't have heart(s)? The thoughtful organization of this race proves otherwise.


Overall Run Results
Age Group Run Results

Local Race Report: Undie 5K

Thanks to the Southern Illinoisan for a write-up on this local charity race. Very important cause!

undie 5K

Friday, March 18, 2011

Local Race Alert: the Grace Race 5K

Carbondale's Grace United Methodist Church sponsors this annual 5K race. Everything about this race is sweet, from the caring church volunteers to the delicious post-race cookies. Date this year is June 3.
Entry form:
Grace Race Carbondale

Herrin Races for Herrinfesta!

Every year, the small southern Illinois town of Herrin celebrates its Italian heritage with Herrinfesta! Part of the celebration is a series of races, both of the running and walking variety. There's a 10K, a 5K walk, a straight-away mile, and a Kids' run. Date: May 30, 2011.

Herrinfesta Races

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Local Race Alert: Inaugural 5K Walk/Run "Dawg Jog"

Here's a new 5K in Carbondale, sponsored by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and the local paper, the Southern Illinoisian:

Dawg Jog

Registration Now Open: City of Roses Half-Marathon

This regional half-marathon takes place in Cape Girardeau, MO, in easy proximity to southern Illinois:

City of Roses Hm

Monday, February 28, 2011

Upcoming 5K: Nutrition 5K, Carbondale

Carbondale's Neighborhood Co-op Grocery not only supplies southern Illinois with healthy and delicious food, it also sponsors a 5K race every spring!

For details, visit this link:
Neighborhood Co-op 5K

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Upcoming Local 5K Races: Carbondale/Murphysboro, IL

March 19, 2011:
St. Patrick's Day 5K: Murphysboro, IL
St. Patrick's Day 5K

Coach Kill Cancer Fund Run for the Fund @ Walker's Bluff Winery
Coach Kill Race

March 26, 2011
Undie 5K Walk & Run, Murphysboro, IL (fundraiser colorectal cancer)
Undie 5K

March 27, 2011
SIU Run from the Law, sponsored by the SIU Law School in Carbondale
SIU Run from the Law

Monday, February 14, 2011

Race Report: Fly With the Eagles Half-Marathon

Had a great time at this local race. A jaunt through the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. In February, the refuge is still waking up from winter, so the course had snow, ice, mud, slush, puddles, etc. It was warm though; the season's cold spell finally broken. The course had varied terrain: paved paths, gravel, and a muddy section right before the finish line. Volunteers had water and gatorade for participants during the race; race organizers had oranges, bananas, bagels and soup for participants afterwards. The same local running club, River to River Runners, holds a 10K in the refuge in April. I look forward to seeing the changes nature makes in a few weeks.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Southern IL 10K: Registration is now open

Registration is now open for the Southern Illinois 10K, another event sponsored by River to River Runners:

Southern IL 10K

Like the half-marathon, this race will also take place in the Crab Orchard Refuge. Unlike the half-marathon, it's only 6.2 miles :-)

Fly With the Eagles Half Marathon is February 12!

Allison Joseph, the founder of Carbondale Women Run, will run her first half-marathon on February 12! The Fly With the Eagles Half-Marathon is sponsored by the River to River Runners, a local southern Illinois running club.

For more information, check this link:
Fly With the Eagles!