Chocolate milk never tasted as good as it did after Sunday’s XSport Fitness Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon. I was hungry. I was thirsty—and not for another water cup or Gatorade chug. And I was hurting—my muscles started screaming at me before I hit the halfway mark, likely a result of the loops I did between home and McCormick Place on Friday to visit the expo (not once, but twice) and the four-hour bike ride I finished Saturday afternoon. How’s this for an endorsement: I forgot about all of those—and my horribly slow time—after one sip of chocolate milk.
If you’re reaching for a beer immediately after you cross the finish line at your 'A' race or upon your return home from a training run, you might want to swap that brown ale for a little brown dairy instead. Research shows that drinking lowfat chocolate milk helps athletes with a performance edge, and if you drink it after a strenuous workout, you could be boosting your power and training times during your next workout. We all want to get faster and set PRs, right? And here’s one mix of carbs and protein that does it. I’d also like to think that it can help ward off some injuries, especially those related to all the pavement pounding we put our legs through, because the calcium and vitamin D help with bone health.
But while you might have the refrigerator stocked at home, you know you’re not about to watch some of that inventory spoil from sitting in your checked bag all day. The good news is that Team Refuel and Got Chocolate Milk are helping to bring chocolate milk to race finish lines around the country this year by teaming up with local dairies to provide fresh and local product. They were at Sunday’s half marathon—not only handing out milk cartons at the finish line but some Team Refuel ambassadors, including Dr. Andy Baldwin of The Bachelor fame, were running the race—and expect to see them at the Life Time Chicago Triathlon, Ironman Wisconsin and other Rock 'n' Roll races around the country.
Here’s one of Dr. Andy’s secrets: He drinks chocolate milk before a race, too. Maybe that’s why he was so tough to keep up with. I ran with him for two miles (thanks Team Refuel), but I never would have made it to the finish line had I stayed at his pace. Hmm, maybe that means I should have had more chocolate milk before I rushed out the door Sunday morning.
One night, two running races. They both pay homage to France: one celebrates the storming of the Bastille and French independence while the other serves up oodles of French fries. They’re both in president-named parks: Lincoln Park for one and Grant Park for the other. And they both boast pretty awesome post-race parties; one has been known to go strong hours after crossing the 5K finish line, while the other dumps runners into the festivities that are the Taste of Chicago.
On Thursday, July 12, you have your choice of running not one but two Chicago mainstays. And actually, judging from their start times—and if you skip the post-race party or cruise through it quickly—you could run both. It might involve cycling between locations, but it’s doable.
The Humana Race to Taste starts at Queen’s Landing in Grant Park (head to Buckingham Fountain and you’ll find it) at 6:15pm. Usually held on a weekend morning, the race date changed just like the dates of the Taste, but its perks remained just as enticing. Runners can sample healthy options served up at the Taste of Chicago at the 5K’s post-party, but they get a strip of tickets to use at the Taste. Perhaps for a slice of deep dish?
The Bastille Day 5K & 8K starts outside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park. The 8K kicks off first at 7:15pm, followed by the 5K at 7:30pm. And if you didn’t have fun while running, you know you’ll find it at the block party that goes strong until 10pm (maybe even later).
Where are you running—and racing—Thursday night?
Shea McClellin, the Boise State defensive end who was selected as the Chicago Bears’ 2012 first-round draft pick, will be the first person to tell you he’s not a runner. If it’s longer than 110 yards—and even that’s a stretch—he shudders. But that’s not going to keep him from supporting the Chicago running scene, namely this Saturday’s Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Marathon and its accompanying Karhu 5K.
McClellin has teamed up with Allstate to help the insurance company collect moderately used athletic shoes to donate to charity after the June 9 race. It makes sense considering McClellin played through several pairs of cleats during his career at Boise State and donated the not-completely-trashed ones to his high school team. Allstate and the non-profit organization Give Your Sole have partnered to create a national shoe donation program that benefits homeless shelters and mission in race markets. The Chicago race kicks off this program with shoes being distributed locally to Breakthrough, an organization that provides shelter, meals and other services to homeless men, women and children around the city.
Runners, spectators and anyone with shoes to spare who can head down to the South Shore Cultural Center (or stop by Fleet Feet Sports in Old Town or Lincoln Square during packet pick-up hours) can hand over their shoes to support the cause. And if you wait until the finish line festival, you’re sure to spot McClellin and maybe even hand off your shoes to him while receiving a pair of flip-flops in exchange. Not a bad way to part with your current pair of race-day sneakers—or whatever’s sitting in your closet collecting dust—especially if the weather forecast holds true and you’re head-to-toe sweaty and wet. Besides, it’s a good reason to splurge on new shoes.
Unless it’s because you crossed the finish line first or won your age group, it’s unlikely that you’d receive an award for running (correct me if I’m wrong). And when you do receive race-day honors, chances are that you’re still wearing your sweaty shorts and singlet, your hair is tousled from your speedy efforts, and your Sunday’s best attire is at home, hanging in your closet.
But when you’re named the recipient of the Mayor Richard M. Daley and Maggie Daley Award, all of these perceptions go out the window. Just ask Dr. José Oberholzer, the charismatic director of the Chicago Diabetes Project, who was honored with the second annual award Tuesday night. The race he ran to receive this honor, the 34th Bank of America Chicago Marathon, was more than seven months ago—and now runners are lacing up their shoes to begin training for the 35th edition. He didn’t finish first in terms of the clock—though he’s no slouch on the run and has some sub-three-hour marathons to his name. And the charity reception in the tent outside Park Grill, where the award was presented, wasn’t exactly a come-in-your-shorts-and-sneakers affair.
Oberholzer was honored for raising more than $125,000 with his team, Cellmates on the Run, for the Chicago Diabetes Project, which is a collaboration of scientists, researchers, physicians and surgeons dedicated to curing diabetes. Global in scope, Oberholzer has brought this motley crew together with some of the funds he and the team have raised running the marathon. Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley joined race director Carey Pinkowski and Bank of America Illinois President Tim Maloney in presenting the award, which was established in 2010 to honor the Bank of America Chicago Marathon participant who raised the most funds for charity.
“Dr. José Oberholzer and the Chicago Diabetes Project embody the charitable spirit and community focus of the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and Bank of America Chicago Marathon,” said Maloney. “It’s an honor to present this award to José, as he oversees a project in Chicago that is committed to advancing diabetes research, and to ultimately finding a cure for a disease that more than 1.3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with each year.”
What’s equally as impressive is two-fold. Cellmates on the Run has only been an official marathon charity since 2009, raising roughly $300,000 through three years of marathon fundraising efforts. And Dr. Oberholzer is not only the director of the Chicago Diabetes Project, but he also holds a number of titles at the University of Illinois at Chicago: director of the Islet and Pancreas Transplant Program, chief of its Division of Transplantation, and associate professor of surgery, endocrinology and diabetes, and bioengineering. Um, one question, Dr. Oberholzer: How do you find time to run?
Tequila, margaritas, churros, chips and salsa. Sounds like the food and drink spread at one of the weekend’s Cinco de Mayo parties, doesn't it? Except this fiesta, minus the tequila and margaritas, is happening on Sunday morning. At Montrose. With breakfast burritos. With cerveza, the first beer courtesy of the race. With the band El Guapo. After you run 5 miles and get a calorie burn in the bank. It’s the Cinco de Miler race, dubbed Chicago’s only five miler (the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle is an 8K, just under the 5-mile mark).
Consider this RAM Racing event your excuse to continue whatever partying you’ll be doing for Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day. It’s early enough, 9:30 am, to condone an all-nighter—you can always crash after and sleep until Monday morning. It’s short enough to not be too painful even if you’re feeling wrecked. It’s long enough to count as a good workout, and one where you’ll burn enough calories to eat that finish line churro. It has piñatas to crack where proceeds from the $2 for 30 seconds of piñata bashing benefits Chicago Run. It has seeded corrals to control the traffic flow on the Lakefront Path. And per other RAM races, like the summer’s Terrapin 5K or the fall’s Bucktown 5K, it promises another cool wearable to add to the collection. If you’re a runner, it’s an ideal Cinco de Mayo celebration.
We all know it’s running season in Chicago even if the weather bounces between cool spring and warm summer. If you’re still looking for a race to run this weekend, you’re in luck because you can still register for the Cinco de Miler. It’s $50 well spent on a run, a beer, a band, a burrito and more. But beware: race registration is expected to close sometime this week. Until then, you can sign up here.
The temperatures might be constantly fluctuating, but those running races you signed up for back when training felt like it wouldn’t be a big deal (you know, weeks ago) are steady on the calendar. And they’re not going anywhere whether you opt out of a run because it’s too cold or you ran too much because you saw signs of spring.
Take the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, the 8K that takes over the downtown streets and unofficially ushers in our running season: It’s 20 days away on Sunday, March 25. Perfect if you’ve been running on your own in our milder-than-normal winter. Not perfect, not even by a long shot, if your shoes have been sitting in your closet since before the winter solstice started. Also not perfect, if you hate trying to run on your own in conditions that aren’t your favorite—you know, the colder, winder, less sunny kind.
But who said you had to train on your own? Everyone knows it’s easier and usually far more fun to run with a group, me included even though it doesn’t happen often enough. You don’t have to worry about tracking down a training group, as long as you can run on Mondays. Just show up at Fleet Feet’s Old Town location by 6:30 pm ready to run and you’re set on training for the next three weeks. In conjunction with Nike, complimentary Shamrock Shuffle-specific training started out of the store last week. Training runs through March 19, features familiar faces as your pacers and offers post-run refreshments. Register at ownchi.com to add a social component, Run Loud, to your running—messages, photos, race day updates.
And if Mondays don’t work, Running Away Multisport has a 5-mile training program kicking off on Wednesday. It’s a beginners program aimed to train newbie runners in nine weeks for RAM Racing’s Cinco de Miler.
Speaking of races, it's not too late to sign up for either. Shamrock can be the kick-off and then see if you can run the slightly longer Cinco de Miler (it's roughly a 0.03-mile difference) faster. Maybe some personal bests are in your future this season with some training runs under your belt? As long as the weather doesn’t turn foul is how I roll.
Running in shorts and a T-shirt without freezing? Running without having to heed snow, sleet, rain, ice and cold wind gusts? Running a race before the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle ushers in the official race season? Count me in. And that’s exactly what I did when I heard about the Warm Your Heart 5K (OK, you caught me, the end-of-2011 registration deal also helped).
Thinking about how cold it can be in February—and how little I usually run when my choices are narrowed to choosing a treadmill—it made sense. Held Sunday, Feb 26, this 5K would run through climate-controlled McCormick Place. How? One can only guess at a course that could cover 3.1 miles indoors at the convention center, but curiosity might be reason alone to check it out. How else would you learn how to snake a course through an indoor venue for 2,500 runners of mixed speeds and abilities?
But being curious about the course isn’t the only reason to run. What about having an inaugural event on the calendar when others in the city are climbing stairs at the Hustle Up the Hancock? Or not having to wake up crazy early—the race starts at 9 a.m. Or getting the blood pumping during Heart Health Month—the race benefits Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.
Want to learn more? Read all about it at warmyourheart5k.com.
Thought about running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 7? Debated between this 26.2 miler and another one—say Twin Cities, Detroit or putting it all on the line by entering the ING NYC Marathon lottery? If you haven’t pulled the trigger, as some have called it, yet, you’re going to have to hurry up and decide. And even then, you might be too late.
The 35th annual Chicago Marathon opened its registration at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1. Before the day was out, the race announced it had surpassed its first-day registration total from 2011—when the race filled its 45,000-runner field in 31 days. The next morning, rumors started circulating that the race would sell out soon and warned to register soon. Fast forward to this morning and what do I find in my inbox? An email from the marathon announcing that more than 30,000 runners had already handed over $150 ($175 for international runners) to solidify their general entry, also known as the buy-now-drop-out-later option, into the October 7 race. If that’s not enough to convince you to register sooner rather than later, then maybe 2012 isn’t your year to run Chicago or maybe it’s your year to run with a charity team, which tend to have entries remaining after registration closes.
And while you’re at it, you may as well add the Shamrock Shuffle to your list. It’s a good season opener—even though it’s crowded as all get-out—but you do get a rare sampling of the marathon course (the start and finish are the same as are some of the city streets you’ll travel), a Nike Dri-Fit tee, and only five miles of pain as opposed to 26.2. It’ll be a race to see which one closes first—and when. Where would you put your money?
Running Saturday’s F^3 Lake Half Marathon seemed like a good idea months ago. Back when you spent hours of your summer running along the Lakefront. Back when you had the miles of the Chicago Half Marathon or the Bank of America Chicago Marathon under your belt. Back when you couldn’t resist paying less than $45 for a half marathon in the Windy City.
But then the busy holiday season hit and your running shoes took a backseat to your party ones. But then the weather turned cold—and sometimes icy and snowy—and hibernating under a blanket sounded better than running outside. But then snow entered the forecast for the morning of the race and you really started wondering how you’d survive 13.1 miles in far-from-ideal conditions. Sure, you have to expect that when you sign up for a race that’s labeled the F^ing Freezing Frozen, held in January in one of the colder parts of the country when the wind blows. But you always hoped that race day would warrant one of those surprise spring-like days we saw around Christmas or earlier in the month…or today.
Since that’s not the case, at least if you’ve been monitoring weather.com, here are some survival suggestions for tomorrow’s half marathon. After all, you want to earn that medal that doubles as a bottle opener.
Dress in layers. When it’s hot, the choice is simple: wear as few clothes as possible to stay cool. When it’s cold, you want to wear more layers to stay warm at the start, but you have to account for your body’s rising temperature as you start moving and avoid overheating. And around these parts, a layer to protect against the wind is always key.
Bring a garbage bag. This sounds crazy, but when there’s a chance of inclement weather—snow or rain or that funky mixture that likes to fall when it’s not quite freezing—a bag poked with arm holes and a head hole is your best weapon against the elements. You can always yank it off and toss it aside when you don’t want it anymore.
Wear an older pair of shoes. You know how you’ve been advised to rotate your running shoes so you don’t have one high-mileage pair and that’s it? Consider wearing one of the pairs that are on their way out of the rotation, or are more worn-in to weather the elements, than that favorite newbie pair.
Hydrate and fuel. Cold air has a drying effect that can make you even more dehydrated during a race. Plus you’re still sweating and losing fluids. Remember this Runner’s World advisory: You want to eat or drink carb-rich items on runs that are longer than 75 minutes.
Have fun. It’s a race so you’ll want to have your game face on, but don’t forget that it’s only January, and you don’t necessarily have to PR this early in the year. Besides, wouldn’t you rather cross the finish line with a smiling or a sighing in relief than a wincing in pain? Speaking of which, you could always downgrade to the 5K option.
Sometimes you just need a nudge to go outside and run. Especially when it gets dark before you leave the office. Especially when it’s winter—even if there’s fluke weather outside that’s making it feel more like March or April. Especially when it doesn’t involve a race that cost you some serious dough. But dangle another carrot—or two—like that which promises food and beer, and that run sounds a little more appealing. Doesn’t it?
If your mouth is starting to water at the prospects, there’s an answer to your prayers. Or 12 answers--one Monday per month. It’s the Burgers and Beer Fun Run Series, which kicks of its 2012 season tonight, January 9, at Universal Sole’s Lakeview location.
Show up in your running gear at 6:30pm ready to run, walk or shuffle your way through a 5K or 5 miles. The sweet, er savory, reward? A post-run gathering at Fizz Bar to nosh on burgers, available at a special price, and imbibe Goose Island 312 beer, where the first round is on the house. It doesn’t get much better than a happy hour where the workout is already done, at least for this runner.
Ah but wait. Universal Sole knows how to sweeten the pot. The store is partnering with Saucony for some additional Burgers and Beer night deals. The store will offer some discounts on Saucony shoes and gear during these runs. Participate in six runs, take home a Burgers & Beer pint glass. Come to eight runs, score a special wicking shirt and other swag. Run all 12, be rewarded with an embroidered Burgers & Beer Saucony gift.
Can’t make it tonight? Check out Universal Sole’s Burgers and Beer schedule for the rest of the year.