How did 2011 go by so fast? One minute we’re ringing in the unofficial start to the running season with the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and then we’re battening down the hatches to prepare for winter training and opening holiday gifts for the next running season. And more importantly, perhaps, we’re busy planning those races for 2012 and setting goals. Here’s one to put on the calendar for 2012—and do it sooner rather than later if you’re the planner or penny-pincher type: the Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile race.
This race has become a favorite among Chicagoans. It typically welcomes the summer running season (and warm weather) with its Memorial Weekend kick-off on Saturday, May 26. It offers the unique opportunity to run through Soldier Field—and finish on the 50-yard line of its hallowed grass. If you’re a newer runner, the 10-mile distance is perfect to train for without moving into half marathon and marathon territory (but also works as a good jumping-off point to prep you for those longer distances). If you’re a seasoned distance runner, the distance is one you can likely cover without too much thought or anxiety (and wouldn’t we all like that every once in a while when it come to racing?).
But here’s the best part, at least for my budget-saving brain: The Soldier Field 10 offers attractive pre-season pricing that’s good until the end of the year. Uh, make that 24 hours (I wasn’t lying when I thought the year flew by). From now until the clock strikes midnight to welcome in 2012, you can register for the SF10 for $65. After the new year, the price goes up to its regular season pricing--$80. It’s an offer that’s hard to refuse, especially if your running race calendar is looking to be a full one.
For more details about the 2012 Soldier Field 10 or to register, check out soldierfield10.com.
Last night’s snowfall has you choosing the gym over the trail, even if you despise the dreadmill. You’ve had enough of the holiday hoopla, the kind that involves late-night dinners and parties—it’s cramping your running style—and it’s not even December 10, and you know there’s more to come. You know you’ve indulged on one too many Christmas cookies, candy canes, cups of eggnog and trips to the brat stand at the Christkindlmarket, and you’re not making up for it with a workout (again it’s those holiday events getting in the way).
Whatever your excuse is for not running during the week, or last weekend when it rained, or any other justification you can concoct for why your sneakers are starting to gather dust in your closet, you can put a stop to it this weekend. It’s easy to get your run on Saturday and Sunday, especially if you need an event to get you out the door (I know I do this time of year, when I’m perfectly content burrowing under the covers and hitting snooze multiple times). Here are five ways to get started.
Red Bull Trail Daze. You’ll have to hustle to Universal Sole in Lakeview before they close tonight to register for this Saturday morning race, but you won’t regret it when you take to the forest preserve trails at Palos. The 500-person event lets you choose the trail you want to conquer, easy, medium and hard. Will it be short yet punishing, easy yet high on mileage, or somewhere in between?
Update: If you wanted to run, you’ll have to wait until next year as the race sold out Friday afternoon. But don’t let it stop you from a trail run at Palos—you can always spy on the participants and plot your course for next time.
Element Multisport/Newton Pancake Fun Run. If you want to stay local Saturday morning, not spend any money and not have your mileage set in stone (though the organizers do say it's three miles no drop) for you, join this run departing from Element at 9 am. If a run isn’t enough to get you out the door, there will be pancakes when you return to the store. Consider it refueling before you fight the masses at Costco.
Rudolph Ramble. Not to knock the other runs this weekend, but I’d opt for this Sunday special merely because the weather promises to be warmer. Me, sub-freezing temperatures, black ice potential and missing cold-weather gloves do not make a good combo. But running an 8K through Lincoln Park at 9 am, and getting a holiday-themed tech tee and wearable antlers, sounds doable if we see warm-ish, relatively speaking, temps. And at least I still have until tomorrow to head to Fleet Feet to sign up.
Ironman World Championship viewing. If you really don’t want to run and nothing will convince you otherwise—not me, your significant other, or any amount of begging and pleading—you won’t need the compression gear, running shoes or technical materials for this event. They’re all optional at Lincoln Hall from 3-5 pm on Saturday, where triathletes, endurance junkies and pretty much anyone else who’s intrigued by Ironman will be watching the NBC airing of the Ironman World Championship, which happened in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 8. Sure, you can watch it from your couch, but if you RSVP and attend this event, you could win some gear during the commercial breaks. Pretty good deal—a $5 donation to the Challenged Athletes Foundation is requested at the door—if you score a raffle prize and still needed to check off that gift for the athlete on your list.
Not a fan of running in cold weather? Last week’s Turkey Trot was cool enough for me. But the promise of slightly warmer weather during today’s weekend weather forecast—at least I swear I saw claims in my half-awake stupor—and an event that sounds too spirited to skip might just get me up and running Saturday morning.
Wouldn’t you be curious about a 5K called the Santa Hustle? I sure am especially since I’ve dragged myself out of a warm bed to shuffle across the ice for the Rudolph Ramble and sprint through River North and Fulton Market for the Jingle Bell Run. Besides, this Hustle has one of the most unique goodie bags ever with its Santa hat, white beard, and technical T-shirt that doubles as a red Claus coat. Even if you do have to wear it for the race, and potentially look pretty darn silly, it’s nice to know that everyone else is doing it too. And they’re getting up early to get their Ho, Ho, Ho on—the race starts at 9 am but you know as well as I do that a race at Montrose requires early arrival or you’ll be searching forever for a parking spot.
If you know right now that you’re in for running this race, hustle over the Universal Sole to register (or register online beforehand) and pick up your packet because there is no day-of option. If you’re still on the fence, maybe because you’re doubting that the weather gods will behave and provide good running conditions, just plan to watch the Santas depart from Montrose. You can always run sans costume on your own time, and maybe take some pictures that aren’t bouncy from running with a camera. Just a thought. Or get motivated watching these Santas and then make your way to Indianapolis to run that Santa Hustle on December 17.
But, to the weather gods, please oh please, don’t rain or be too windy along the Lakefront. If that happens, I really will go into hibernation with no chance of running until we see signs of spring. And forget spectating simply to ease my curiosity on this march of the Santas—a warm bed is too inviting when it's cold, windy and wet.
Eat all day Thursday. Shop all day Friday. Shop again at the second Small Business Saturday. Isn’t that how all Thanksgivings are supposed to be scheduled? Feasting followed by retail therapy? If it means replacing the running shoes I burned out at yesterday’s Turkey Trot or saving on gifts for the other runners in my life, I’ll take it. Even if that does mean venturing out to the stores on this Black Friday, a day that might be better spent running (they are calling for a high of 60 after all) than waiting in line.
But I’m not suggesting pushing through the crowds at Water Tower Place, the State Street shops or the suburban malls. Nor am I urging a fight over the price-is-right sports gear at Old Navy, where the entire store is seemingly on sale at its Gooblepalooza, or the electronics sales at Best Buy.
Nope, running is on the brain when it comes to these Black Friday steals. Here are a few to check out, some of which continue through the weekend (even better!).
The Leftovers Sale. We have food leftovers in the fridge and Fleet Feet has a season’s worth of “leftover” gear in their stores at Piper’s Alley and Lincoln Square. The retailer’s Leftovers sale went into play when the doors opened this morning at 10 am and runs until Monday. Shop early because it’s only while supplies last in terms of scoring the best gear. But chances are it’ll be tough to go home empty handed considering apparel, shoes, sports bras and more are on sale.
Winter Gear Sale. Universal Sole’s flagship location is serving as the packet pick-up spot for Saturday’s Grant Park Turkey Trot, but it’s also serving up some deals on winter gear until Sunday. Not only is winter apparel discounted, but so are sale items (more than their sale price).
Online sales. Yes, we have to wait a few days for Cyber Monday, but apparently it’s not stopping online retailers from offering up the bargains. Under Armour, Skirt Sports, Adidas, Nike, to name a few—there’s something to be saved. It might not be a tamer crowd at the running stores, but it’ll be a familiar one. And who couldn’t use a closet restocking, especially adding winter gear, or a running shoe refresher? Not me.
Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie. It’s a meal fit for a king, or a queen, and it’s hitting our tables (or the restaurant menus) in a few short days. But before that Thanksgiving meal does its traditional damage, derailing those diets and hitting off the perennial holiday weight gain, we can at least try to give ourselves an extra burn in the calorie bank. Thanksgiving might be known as a food-consumption marathon, but who said running—and no, not 26.2 miles as a foot race marathon would dictate—a turkey trot can’t be part of the tradition, too?
If you’re thinking you need a reason to lace up your running shoes come Thursday (or an excuse to arrive at Grandma’s a little later than planned), here are a few options for where you can go hob nob gobble at races in and around the city.
Turkey Trot Chicago. Celebrating 34 years of running, the same number as the Chicago Marathon, this 8K is practically a Chicago Thanksgiving tradition based on years alone. Gather in Lincoln Park with the runners and non-runners (hey, there’s a walk, too) of your family and hit the path with roughly 5,000 other participants.
North Shore Turkey Trot. Missed out on a wind jacket at this year’s Hot Chocolate race earlier in the month? RAM Racing can top it with a fleece jacket if you’re willing to trek it up to Highland Park for this 5K.
Edison Park Turkey Trot. Whether you want to stay put on the northwest side or explore a different part of town, you can at this neighborhood 5K. And even if you decide at the last minute that you want to run, you won’t have to fret about expensive race-day registration costs that often turn off runners (or this runner). At $25, you’ve practically entered a time machine that dropped you off circa 2005.
Old St. Pat’s Turkey Trot. To participate in this trot, all you have to do is bring yourself to Old St. Pat’s Church at Adams and DesPlaines to check-in at 7:30 am. What it lacks in race fee, timing and a set distance it makes up for in social gathering and fun.
Turkey Trot 5K at Grant Park. Can’t run on Thursday because you’ll be out of town? Save your running legs for Saturday, November 26, when this new 5K hits Grant Park. You may have over indulged on Thanksgiving but no one said you couldn’t try to remedy the situation after the fact.
Donning your Halloween costume is starting to feel about routine as putting on a school uniform, dressing in your work attire, or wearing your favorite race day outfit. Right? With the costume-clad holiday falling on a Monday, chances are you were busy reveling, or running, in your best dress-up idea Friday, Saturday or Sunday. It could have been a costume party, it could have been a pub crawl, or it could have been a race like The Monster Dash, the Halloween Hustle, or the Trick or Treat Trot. But All Hallow’s Eve is today, and you could say that those other costumed events were only the precursors to the big shebang, a chance to work out the wardrobe malfunctions if you will.
So if you’re ready to wear your costume one final time before returning it to the shop, placing it in a box until 2012, or tossing it in the trash, here’s where you can wear it tonight, provided you’re not taking the kiddos trick or treating.
Fleet Feet’s Halloween Fun Run. You can always run with a group from Fleet Feet’s Piper’s Alley store on Monday nights, but only the calendar dictates a Halloween-themed three to six miles. Meet at the store, 1620 N. Wells, in your costume for a run that departs at 6:30pm. You’ll travel through Lincoln Park and regroup back at the store for drinks, tricks and treats. It’s even more encouraging to wear a costume in this non-competitive environment because unlike in a race, if your costume starts to hurt your performance, you won’t have to see it in the race results.
Universal Sole’s Monday Night Run. It might not be labeled as a Halloween run, but Universal Sole isn’t canceling its traditional Monday night jaunt through Lakeview because of trick or treating. Wear your costume or leave it at home, your choice, but know that you’re in for a treat when you meet at the store, 3059 N. Lincoln, at 6:15pm.
Flywheel Sports’ Halloween Rides. Who said you absolutely had to run tonight? You could trade your running shoes for cycling ones and hop aboard a bike at one of the two Halloween indoor cycling rides at Flywheel tonight. Plan on getting sweaty while busting your leg and arm muscles for a 45-minute cardio burst that starts at 5:30pm or 6:30pm, depending on your availability and what classes still have open bikes. Costumes are encouraged, but as I learned from personal experience, a grass skirted hula dancer is not a good one for indoor cycling. Hmm, but Richard Simmons? It’s almost too easy to wear a red tank and shorts for this sweat session.
The fall chill is in the air, the leaves are falling off the trees, the days are shorter and shorter. The marathon, Chicago that is, is over. Unless you’re heading out of town for a 26.2-miler, you won’t have to tackle the distance until spring (and even that’s a stretch since you’d be driving to Champaign or Kenosha to do it) or next fall when Chicago rolls around again—or better yet, the next time you get the urge to run a marathon, if ever. But while you don’t have to think about how you’re going to trudge through 26.2 miles—and all the long training runs that go with it—every other race just got a lot shorter. Or they feel like they did.
Some might argue that they also get more fun. Why? For the simple facts that you don’t have to stress about how to fuel on the course (at least to the degree that you do in a marathon), ward off blisters when your socks fail 15 miles in, and rely on your training runs (or lack of if you questioned why you toed the line in the first place). Now that you don’t have to run a marathon, check out these races that can keep your feet busy this weekend:
Zooma Great Lakes Half Marathon, Oct. 22. Ladies, here’s your chance for a girls getaway that automatically includes the workout—my favorite kind of weekend. You won’t have to travel too far for this 13.1 (or 5K if you want shorter) even though Lake Geneva and The Abbey Resort can feel like they’re a world away. Hang time with the girls, a finisher’s necklace, and an expo and party where you can shop ‘til you drop, sip wine and get pampered? It doesn’t get much better.
Wisconsin Dells Marathon and Half Marathon, Oct. 23. Had a bad day in Chicago two weeks ago? The temperatures are cooler, you’ve had an extra two weeks to train (or recover), and you need a run that’s not constantly interrupted by a wind-ravaged path (hopefully you stayed inside today). Here’s a race that’s not as flat as Chicago but offers up more fun since you can play at the waterparks after you’ve crossed the finish line—or before if you want to count it as a pre-race ice bath.
Frank Lloyd Wright Races, Oct. 23. Sure, this involves trekking it out to Oak Park on the green line, but trust me, it’s worth the train fare. This neighborhood race takes you past some of the famed architect’s local masterpieces, serves up a pancake breakfast afterward that’s indoors, and is celebrating 35 years in the running. But more importantly you can run a 5K, a 10K, or finish the 5K in under 45 minutes and you can run both (yes, people have done it).
The 5K Foot Chase, Oct. 23. The International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference starts on Saturday, which sparked the Chicago Police Department and Motorola to organize a run/walk to kick off events for the week. You won’t be chased by police officers as run near the Gold Star Families Memorial, but proceeds from the race will benefit the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. Think of it a little like the fall version of the Run to Remember.
Where are you running this weekend?
You came. You sweated. You finished. You rock!
Kudos, runners! This past (gorgeous, warm) Sunday—aka Marathon Day—we had photographers stationed all over the course snapping pics of runners and their cheering fans. We have eleven galleries chock-full of marathon memories for your viewing pleasure. Click through our slideshows to see if our camera-men and -women caught you during your 26.2 miles of awesome-ness.
With the Chicago Marathon just hours away from starting—we’re at less than 24 hours with some speedsters already being finished with their 2011 race—it’s easy to say that the world revolves around McCormick Place, site of the expo and packet pick-up, and Grant Park, where the race will start and finish on October 9. But if you’re not running the marathon or you’re an endurance sports nut but want to steer clear of McCormick Place, or you need an excuse beyond groceries to go to Whole Foods, you might want to attend a lecture by endurance athlete Brendan Brazier who’s in town this weekend. And who knows? If you are running tomorrow’s race, you may pick up a few tips from this professional Ironman triathlete to help you in your race—or the next one.
In addition to his success in triathlon, Brazier is a best-selling author on performance nutrition and creator of a whole food nutrition product line called VEGA. And he’s vegan, proving that you don’t have to eat meat to be a successful athlete. He’s not the lone vegan or food-restricted athlete out there, but what makes Brazier’s situation unique is that he’s created prescriptions that the rest of us can apply to our daily intakes. As for what that entails, you can learn more at Whole Foods.
Saturday, October 8. From 3-5pm, catch Brazier at Whole Foods Market Lincoln Park, 1550 N. Kingsbury. A lecture will be followed by demos and book signing for “The Plant Based Diet.” To RSVP, contact 312-587-0648 or email@example.com.
Sunday, October 9. From 4-6pm, Brazier will be at Whole Foods Market South Loop, 1101 S. Canal. A lecture will be followed by demos and book signing for “Stress and Nutrition.” To RSVP, select the event at Vega Community.
Monday, October 10. From 6-8pm, find Brazier at Whole Foods Market Sauganash, 6020 N. Cicero. A lecture at the Polish Alliance will be followed by demos and a book signing for “Stress and Nutrition” at the store. To RSVP, contact 773-205-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the best non-wheeled racers are hoping to finish the marathon in two hours and change, the elite wheelchair racers will be out ahead of them, pulling down times well under two hours. Below are bios of some of the best racers on wheels—spectators, watch for these competitors to be the very first faces you see blur by you this weekend.
Kurt Fearnley (Australia)
Career highlights Chicago Marathon wins in 2007, 2008 and 2009; nine medals in the Paralympics. Additional marathon wins in New York City, London, Seoul, Paris and Sydney.
Insider info A truly influential wheelchair racer, Fearnley has his own website—where’s he’s posted a gnarly crash video.
Heinz Frei (Switzerland)
Career highlights 14 gold medals at the summer and winter Paralympics Games (he competes at both road-racing and sit-skiing). Frei has competed in every Summer Paralympics from 1984 to 2008.
Insider info Last year, at age 52, Frei competed in the Chicago Marathon for the first time—and won. In doing so, he set a new course record time, 1:26:56, beating the record set by Kurt Fearnley three years earlier.
Adam Bleakney (United States)
Career highlights Won the 2002 Chicago Marathon, earned a silver medal in the 800m at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.
Insider info Bleakney is the head track coach at University of Illinois’ prestigious wheelchair athletics program.
Joshua George (United States)
Career highlights Three Chicago Marathon wins (2003, 2004, 2006); gold medal in the 100m at the Paralympic games in Beijing. He was also part of the gold medal–winning wheelchair basketball team at the 2008 Parapan Games in Brazil.
Insider info Adam Bleakney was George’s coach and training partner at U of I. The two will go head-to-head at this year’s race.
Aaron Pike (United States)
Career highlights The recent U of I grad took sixth place in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last year, and won the Bolder Boulder 10k in May. He just qualified for his first national team, at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand.
Insider info Pike spent his high school years in Germany, living with his family on a military base there. When he’s not racing, Pike is an avid camper and fisherman.
Christie Dawes (Australia)
Career highlights Dawes has represented Australia three times in the Paralympic Games (1996, 2000, 2004). In 2009, she took fifth at the Chciago Marathon, three seconds behind winner Tatyana McFadden.
Insider info Dawes is coached by her husband, Andrew—who also coached fellow Aussie Kurt Fearnley.
Tatyana McFadden (United States)
Career highlights McFadden has six Paralympic medals and won the Chicago Marathon in 2009. She’s currently a student at the U of I—where she’s coached by Adam Bleakney.
Insider info McFadden was born in Russia and, because of her spina bifida, was sent to an orphanage. She spent her first six years there, walking on her hands for lack of a wheelchair. In 1994, McFadden was adopted by Debbie McFadden, then a commissioner for disabilities at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Amanda McGrory (United States)
Career highlights This year’s defending champion, McGrory has also won the London, Paris and New York City marathons and earned four medals at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing. If she wins this year, it will be her fourth Chicago victory in five years.
Insider info As a U of I graduate, McGrory is another one of Adam Bleakney’s mentees. Her website links to her sassy Twitter feed.
Diane Roy (Canada)
Career highlights This two-time Paralympian has won three Paralympic medals for Canada. In the 2009 Chicago Marathon, she finished second to Tatyana McFadden by two seconds.
Insider info In the 2008 Paralympic games, Roy won the gold medal for the 5000m race. However, after the medals were awarded, several countries appealed because of a mid-race collision involving several other competitors. The original race’s results were invalidated; the race was re-run, Roy came in second place—and she was forced to exchange her gold medal for a silver.