Getting to Relive the Glory Days

Rarely do you ever get the opportunity to relive the past.  But this coming weekend my husband gets the chance to do just that.  Twenty years ago Rock was part of a state championship winning hockey team.  The Loyola Gold varsity team beat neighboring rival school New Trier Green to take the state title.  It was a huge game that will forever be a part of his high school’s history.

Loyola2

Loyola5

To mark the anniversary some of his teammates thought it might be fun to relive that big day and have the same teams play each other again.  With a little work they were able to find everyone and set a date.  Even better they were able to secure the same venue where they played that momentous game, the United Center!

Several years ago one of their teammates from this championship squad passed away in a tragic accident.  This game will be played as a fundraiser to create a scholarship in his name.  The goal is to raise $25,000 for the Kyle Shellberg Scholarship Fund.  Members of both teams have come together and worked incredibly hard to get this fund up and running and it means a lot to all of them that they meet their goal

One of the greatest things about athletics is the great amount of camaraderie and sportsmanship that comes along with the actual sport itself.  While there has been an everlasting rivalry between these two teams for over twenty years, there is also a genuine respect  among each other.  Together these two teams are meeting to honor a fallen teammate by doing the thing they love and know best, play the game of hockey.

Loyola3

Loyola4

These guys aren’t slacking either.  They have been meeting for weekly training sessions late into the evenings when ice is available and their jobs and parenting allow.  Rival players have been sweating it out on the same ice and several players are flying in from out of town to reunite.

The event is open to the public and the puck drops at 11:30am on Sunday March 29th at the United Center.  Parking is available and concessions will be open so local Chicago runners can go do the Shamrock Shuffle and then swing by to cheer on some old, sweaty, hockey players.

You can find out more information about this free event at this link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/loyola-gold-vs-new-trier-green-20-year-anniversary-rematch-reunion-tickets-15692629076

And you can make a donation to the Kyle Shellberg Scholarship Fund at this link:

:https://www.goramblers.org/donatenow/kyleshellbergscholarship

I would love to see you there.  And if you can make it, do me a favor and wear some maroon and gold and cheer for #4!  Tickets are free to the public and donations will be graciously accepted for the scholarship fund.

loyola1

Picking The Right Race

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the best race and there are definitely a lot of races to choose from.  Once upon a time my husband and I spent a spring going to a different race each weekend all over the East Coast.  It was so much fun sitting around doing research every week and looking for spots in upstate New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.  Along the way we found some really great races that we swore we would do again and a lot of duds that went straight to the never again list.

Among the main factors you need to consider are your race goals, budget, and mood.

Budget:  Some races can be pretty pricey.  But the cost of a race goes way beyond just the entry fees.  While some marathons come with a huge sticker price others are located in remote areas and that can drive the price of hotel rooms sky high.  For example, Rock registered for Grandma’s Marathon this summer.  The race itself is rather inexpensive for a full marathon but Duluth Minnesota doesn’t have a ton of hotels in the area.  Imagine our shock this winter when we were trying to find a room and the average cost per night was nearly $300 with a two night stay required.

So if you are on a tight budget you might want to consider a closer race that charges a higher fee but is easier to find a place to stay.  We also found out that a local college offers dorm rooms for the marathon at a much cheaper price.  So make sure you do your research.  Sometimes a more costly race that doesn’t require a flight or long car ride can also save you money in the long run.

Your Race Goals:  This is a big one and requires that you do some research in advance.  If you are looking to set a new PR or qualify for Boston you might want to consider opting out of one of the major marathons.  Chicago is known for its flat and fast course.  However, there are over 45,000 participants and the time it might take you to get out of your corral and through a crowd might cost you minutes you might not have to spare.

On the other hand, the marathon I used to qualify for Boston was a rather lonely one.  I had a blast but it was an out and back on a rail trail which didn’t allow for much crowd support.  This race was also held in a small town in Northern Michigan, once again not helping with the crowd factor.  By the last six miles I was alone on the road and didn’t see many people along the path cheering, not the best mood or morale booster.

MRD_2538

This is a time when a medium sized race in a smaller city might just be perfect.  Places like Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Phoenix and the New Jersey Marathon are known for being great medium sized races for meeting your goals.  When I look for a new race I often go to www.runningintheusa.com and search by states that are in my area or where I will be.  I then narrow it down by month and distance to find a perfect fit for me.  Then I Google the races I find most interesting to read some reviews and get a better idea of what to expect on the course.  Both good and bad reviews help to eliminate races that have factors I might find annoying.

Mood:  Are you looking for a super fun race or something serious?  Sometimes a themed race can be appealing if you are looking for a little excitement or motivation on the course.  Races known for having bands playing throughout can make the miles fly by.  And sometimes knowing there is a free beer and a medal at the end can help push you through.

Batman6

Do you need a big crowd to help cheer you on?  Or perhaps you like the road to yourself.

I personally love small town races.  I love finding small towns that I have never visited and joining their local event.  The general vibe is so fun and everyone is there to have a good time.  We once finished a local 10k that ended with a raffle drawing in a backyard.  The race also finished at their local rummage sale.  We grabbed a drink and wandered the sales.  I even won my age group and received a hand carved wooden foot on a leather string.  Pretty cool!

But if you are someone who needs other runners to motivate you and push you this wouldn’t be the event for you.  And sometimes it is nice to mix it up.  Trail runs can make the miles fly by and other times they can be incredibly aggravating (aka the time we ran a race up a mountain).

IMG_5353

Do your research:  Get online and do some searches.  You will be amazed at all of the fun races that are out there just waiting for you to sign up.  Ask around or read reviews so that you know what to expect ahead of time.  If you know a race is great but lacks fuel on the course, you can be prepared instead of infuriated.  Hopefully you will find some of those little known gems I have come across over the years!

What is your favorite race?  Have a special unknown one you think other runners might love?

Race Etiquette

Yesterday on Boston Marathon’s Facebook page there was a discussion about race etiquette.  I of course clicked over to the page to see what the Boston Marathon had to offer.  Instead it was a discussion from hundreds of runners that turned from race etiquette to more of a racing pet peeves chat.  Either way I was intrigued and spent quite awhile scrolling through stories.  I couldn’t believe some of the things I read about.  Being trampled over by weaving runners?  Peed on by people relieving themselves in the start corrals?  Yikes!

After years of running and participating in various races I have seen the good, the bad, and some pretty ugly behavior that goes on at these events.  There is of course the general race etiquette that everyone should follow (aka basic manners) but after reading through the comments I realized that these days basic manners tend to get thrown out the door.

Below are a few of my biggest race pet peeves that also fall under basic etiquette guidelines.  Please feel free to add yours in the comments as I would love to hear your stories and gripes!

Pick your true corral:  A couple of summers ago I ran a local 15k with my husband and as we lined up in our corral I saw a high school friend line up in a much faster corral than us.  I had heard that he started running in the last year and I remarked to my husband that I was really impressed.  Good for him!  And then the gun went off and within the first mile we both flew by that friend.  It wasn’t a huge race so there wasn’t any worry of trying to get around a ton of people at the start.

Then we ran the Hot Chocolate this past fall.  Racers submit their projected finish times and are given a corral.  When the gun went off I was shocked to find myself behind a ton of walkers.  I had to do a lot of weaving and had I been worried about my finish time I would have been one pissed off runner.  The amount of weaving I did in the first mile and a half actually added on several tenths of a mile to my final distance.

Moral of the story:  Be honest with yourself.  Go in the corral that suits your pace and be fair to the rest of the runners.  Starting out near the front if you plan to walk can cause some serious congestion and might even end in injury for someone.

Look before you hack:  Runners are gross.  I am a runner and therefore I am gross.  My nose runs, I sweat a lot, and I have choked on more bugs than I would like to think about.  I recognize my grossness and try my best to keep it to myself.  Snot rockets and loogies happen.  But seriously people, look before you let one fly.

At another 15k I really, really wanted to pass a gentleman but he did this constant 30 second spit to his left side and we were on a narrow path.  I really didn’t want to get nailed by him but I also really wanted to pass.  It was disgusting.  It might have been a brilliant race tactic on his part now that I think about it.  And nothing is more gross than running with a group and having that person in front of you who just spits as they feel.  No one wants to get hit by that.  And goodness gracious be aware of wind when you spit!

Be courteous:  Running and races can’t happen without the hard work and generous kindness of many volunteers.  They keep us safe and keep the race flowing.  They hand you water and fuel and make sure you cross the finish line safely and with medal and beer in hand.  It’s a thankless job (see runners are gross).

So when you grab a cup of water try to at least aim for a garbage can or the side of the road.  You don’t have to stop running to hit he garbage but at least make an effort to get it near the trash or the side of the road.  It can be pretty rude when other runners dump their cups right on the path for the rest of us to trample over.

Etiquette2

Don’t forget those volunteers.  If I am not exhausted I try to make an effort to give a thank you as I pass by.  At my recent 10k I was in the top 5 runners and came to an intersection where a cop was directing traffic.  As I approached he was letting cars go through and I started to get irate.  How dare he make me stop when I was doing so well!  But as I got closer he promptly stopped traffic to let me through.  I made sure to shout a big thank you to him as I passed by.

Of course you don’t have to make conversation with every volunteer.   A smile can be worth a thousand words.  As you pass someone give them a nod or a smile.  It will show them that you recognize and appreciate their hard work.  Someone in the discussion mentioned volunteering at a race where a guy had premade thank you cards that he ran with.  He handed them out as he hit water stations.  That guy seriously rocks!

Ok let’s hear it.  What are your biggest etiquette do’s/don’ts or gripes?  I’d love to hear your race stories both good and bad.

Change Your Point Of View

I have lost count of the number of times I have met a person and they have said to me, “I would love to be a runner but I get so bored that I can’t keep going.”  I have literally heard this countless times.  I often smile and shrug it off.  But this past Sunday I was on a gorgeous eight mile run and the weather was perfect.  Somewhere along the trail I looked at my GPS and realized I had completely lost track of my mileage.  The reason why was because I tend to get lost in my thoughts on runs.

This brought me back to the many times I have heard about how boring running is and it seriously got me thinking.  To be quite honest, and I think many other runners would agree, I find so many things about running to be so far from dull.
Don’t get me wrong.  There was a time when running was incredibly difficult and it took everything in me to focus on getting through three miles.  I would count those miles down, even to the tenth of a mile.  But as running became more natural and I found my comfort zone, everything changed.  Okay there are still those runs that end with me counting the tenths of miles down, but they don’t happen nearly as often as they used to.
I spent my workout on Sunday thinking about this excuse, “Running is boring.”  The fact is, a lot of things we do in our life are pretty dull.  My commute to work is not very fun.  Work itself at times can be rather lifeless.  I once had a weekend job working at a hospital and sometimes during the summer a full 8 hour shift would go by without a single person coming in.  As an administrator that meant absolutely no paper work, and pretty much nothing to do.
See how fun running can be?!

See how fun running can be?!

I would be willing to bet that most people would consider their jobs to be rather tame, if not “boring.”  I rarely hear from someone who tells me how about how wildly in love they are with their jobs.  Usually people tell me about how much extra time they have to kill at work.  And yet, most of us continue to work a minimum of eight hours a day, every day and manage to not poke our eyes out.
We don’t quit our jobs.  I don’t skip driving to work.  Instead we find ways to make our days at work go by faster.  We listen to music on the way or catch up on the news on NPR as we drive.  We scroll through social media on our computers or play games.  I got so good at Mine Sweeper (boy am I aging myself here) when I worked at the hospital.
Running, isn’t that much different from a lot of other things we do on a daily basis.  It isn’t always easy, and at times it isn’t thrilling either.  But when we alter our mindset or focus on something different for awhile, everything changes.
At first I used music as my main distraction.  But nowadays I also do things like create and repeat grocery lists (I need milk, strawberries and pears.  Milk, strawberries, and pears).  I also think of to do lists or things I need to take care of when I get home.  I solve so many problems or things that are rattling around in my brain when I am alone on the trail.
So how do you get past that boring mental hurdle?  First of all, remember that everyone has this roadblock at some point.  Running is physically as well as mentally challenging.  It is easy to psyche yourself out, or into thinking you are spent.
Break your run into pieces.  Tell yourself you are going to go a half a mile and then reassess.  Odds are once you get that far, you will be game to go for another half mile and so on until you meet your goal.
Distract yourself.  Music is a great way to change your focus.  Pick songs that get you going or have a great beat to move to.  Download some fun podcasts or even a book.  If you are pressed for time but love to read, this is a great time to get a workout in and catch up on your “reading.”  If all else fails build your grocery list and keep building it and repeating it as you run!
Play some games.  You know I love fartleks just about as much as I like to say fartlek.  These are fun speed play games where you set the rules.  Run for awhile and then slow the pace down to recover.  Pick an amount of time to run and then give yourself a break or use a destination as a spot to run to.
Most of all, remember that running gets easier just as anything else does when you give it time.  Be patient with yourself.  Remember all of the exciting things running can offer as you continue.  There are so many fun places you can jog to or wonderful sights to see.  And seriously, it can’t be any less exciting than sitting on the stationary bike, or swishing back and forth on the elliptical at the gym!

Amazing Weather For Some Runs And Shamrocks

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and amazing weather like we did.  Chicago hit the jackpot this past week when it came to weather and temperatures.  Between Friday and even today we have stayed in the 50’s to 70’s.  I don’t know about you but this weather makes me happy and throws a revived bounce into my steps.

Saturday morning we enjoyed a group run that called for capris and long sleeve shirts.  I think this was just what our running team needed to get a bit more into the half marathon mood.  Everyone did a great job and those that didn’t take off to hit the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade joined my husband and I at a local Irish pub for an early brunch and a few drinks (sparkling water for me please!).

St.PatricksDay2

We had a great time and while we were there we noticed that the place sold MDA Shamrocks.  This was perfect because we are MDA Team Momentum, the official charity for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  So we of course had to buy a few shamrocks.  Don’t forget to buy one if you get the chance!

St.PatricksDay1

The rest of my Saturday involved my favorite thing to do after coaching an early morning long run, napping.  I did it like a champ and was out hard for a bit.  But after that we took the dog out and strolled the neighborhood for a nice long walk.  We seriously couldn’t get enough of the weather.  Whenever spring finally hits I always feel like I could walk for hours.  It just feels so great to be back out in the mild fresh air.

Sunday was a repeat, if not even better version of the days before.  We took a few more walks and then Rock rode his bike alongside me so that I could get in an amazing eight mile run.  It felt absolutely great and if the wind hadn’t been a howling I felt like I could have gone forever.  I think every runner loves when a run goes like that.

We ended the evening with family for a St. Patrick’s Day buffet dinner.  If there is one thing a post long run hungry pregnant runner loves most it is a buffet!  It was delicious and wonderful to be with the family.  We even got to enjoy some live entertainment; bag pipers and Irish step dancers.  The perfect end to a perfect weekend.

How was your weekend?  Wonderful weather where you were?

Don’t forget to buy your MDA Shamrocks!

A big congrats to Zach for running his third half marathon this weekend.  He set a new PR at the NYC Half Marathon.  Way to go!

St.PatricksDay3

Totally Rad Nachos

Got your attention?  Well they are kind of rad, mostly because they are full of radishes!

Nachos3

On Sunday we arrived back to a much warmer version of Chicago than what we left it in.  What a relief.  This was also great because the colder temps had kept me indoors a lot.  I was doing my workouts and running indoors at the gym and I was missing my daily walks (and I think Louie the dog was missing these a lot too).  It was perfect timing because despite the fact that I ran nearly 50 miles during my week in Florida, my diet was less than stellar.

I don’t know about you but whenever I get back from a trip or vacation I always feel like I need a detox, regardless of how I ate or how much exercise I did while I was away.  Anytime I am outside of my normal routine I feel out of whack.  And there was a lot of not so great choices that I opted for when we were out for dinner.  I also am the first to admit that I tend to over eat, especially when I run a lot.

One of my favorite things to snack on is nachos.  When I am in marathon training I love to go out for a burger and nachos.  It is my favorite pre-long run meal.  Again, not stellar but it works and I always say to stick with what works.  The problem is that when I have tortilla chips in the house I tend to loose all self control.  You should see the damage I can do when I sit down at a Mexican restaurant.  I wanted to give into this craving (hello, I’m pregnant and a girl has gotta live!).  But I didn’t want to continue feeling like a complete slug with my eating.  So I decided to revamp the nachos and make something that took care of my craving but also made me feel good.

Side note: at the grocery store when we were checking out, Rock saw that we had all of the ingredients for nachos and quickly pointed out that I forgot the chips.  I picked up the radishes and cucumbers and said I was making them with those instead.  Boy was he disappointed!

These are not going to completely satisfy that need for greasy, oozy nachos.  But they have the crunch and essential ingredients to keep you from feeling like you are missing out.  By the way, we skipped the cucumbers because they weren’t Rock’s fave but he admitted afterwards that these were much better than he expected.  Plus these are super easy to make and also require no baking!

Ingredients:

Radishes (and or cucumbers)

Guacamole or a smashed avocado

Plain Greek yogurt

Salsa or pico de gallo

Cheese (I recommend queso fresco or cotija but I just used 1/4 cup of shredded cheese because pregnancy is a major bummer on cheese options)

Directions:

Thinly slice your radishes or cucumbers to a chip like thickness and spread around a plate or platter.  Place small dollops of guacamole, salsa, and yogurt on top of veggies.  Sprinkle lightly with cheese and serve.  Go ahead and get creative with your toppings!

Nachos1

Nachos2

How do you like your nachos?

Some Sun, Fun, And Lots Of Runs

Happy Monday. Its back to reality here in Chicago after a week and a half in mostly sunny Florida.  On the bright side we arrived back to 40 degree temps which is much better than the single and negative digits we left with over a week ago.

Florida was pretty good to us and we even had some 80 degree days. Most importantly we were able to run in shorts and I was able to get in 7-8 miles each day, including some beach runs.

Apparently the weather likes to play jokes at the end of the week and we had a repeat of what we dealt with while at Disney. Friday was cold and rainy. But when life hands you rain in Florida you hit the outlets. Twist my arm!

In typical running  dork fashion I was playing around on the computer earlier in the week and ended up on runningintheusa.com. I mentioned to Rock that there was a Chasing Leprechaun 10K later that weekend about 20 miles away and he was of course game.

So Saturday we got up bright and early and drove over to the World Golf Village where the race was being held.

The weather was perfect for a race with temps in the low 50’s and partly sunny skies. The race wove around the property of the resort, which was beautiful. And yes there was a leprechaun.

This wasn’t a huge race and it set off at the same time as the 5K (sort of annoying) but about a half a mile in everything spread out nicely and I got into my running groove.

At just one day shy of being 15 weeks pregnant I wasn’t “racing.”  I have been given the go ahead for the time being to run as usual, just at a pace that does not over exert my body.  Most days I run about a minute per mile slower than normal.   Of course the race got me excited and I did run a tad faster but I did a great job of keeping a nice and easy pace for me.

As the race went on we hit some pretty strong wind and the field slowed down.   These are the conditions, along with hills, where I tend to excel during races and just focus on my running. I slowly started to move forward in the pack and at the turn around realized I was in 4th place.

My placement wasn’t at all my focus but I was happy to be running a strong race and to see where I was.  I kept reminding myself that I was there for fun and baby Dudek was the priority. I even talked to myself a tad during the race because it is a great way to measure your exertion. If you can comfortably chat while running you are holding an easy to moderate pace.

I won’t lie though. I was holding out hope for an age group placement once I knew where I was. But in the last half mile I inched up on the girl in third place and with a quarter of a mile left I ended up passing her to finish in third.

It was a pretty nice feeling to know that I could still run. Sometimes I wonder if over the course of my pregnancy and all of these slower months, if I will lose my pace. I know it is silly but this was a great reminder, even if I wasn’t running at my pre-pregnancy pace.  And the baby and I had a successful first race together.

On top of that Rock had a stellar race and ended up first in his age group!  It was a successful run for all. Did I mention he ran five miles before the race because he is back in marathon training?!  What a rockstar!

The only snafu of the day was that shirts ran out almost immediately and we didn’t get one despite preregistering. Also some people who signed up for the 10K switched to the 5K during the race but the computers couldn’t tell the difference. At the end they had the first three women coming in with paces faster than all of the 10k men and the real first three women in 4-6th places. Had someone not pointed it out the directors never would have noticed.  In fact the head woman’s initial response was, “Well if that is the case hopefully those top three people will be honest.” The men’s race had the same issue. Everyone was a good sport about it but as one guy pointed out, if you pay for a chip timed race it is nice to think they time it correctly and accurately. Fortunately they rectified the situation and were nice about it in the end.

So with medals in hand and some prizes too we wrapped up a great vacation and here we are back again in Chicago.   Although we did manage a celebratory lunch at Chik-Fil-A first. Rock had never been so we had to go. It feels great to be home now and in temps that are bearable to run outside with again!

How was your weekend?  Any races?