Sun, 13 Oct 2013

Chicago Marathon 2013

A gorgeous day in Chicago for the 37th annual Chicago Marathon. Today was the seventh time I ran this race. I had sat out last fall, and ran a smaller local race (well enough for a BQ). But the last time I ran Chicago I mused that maybe next time I'd train more. I tried, but it didn't quite work with a minor injury dragging on a little. Just like in 2010.

And so it continues: it is my home course, and the course I have run the most and know the best. Yet it is the one where I have the greatest difficulty coming in with a time that is good enough for Boston. I knew that today wasn't going to be that day, so I aimed lower to just run even splits (ie running about equal halfs). But even that failed: After 1:44 for the first half I lost a good ten minutes to finish at 3:40:42. Oh well. There is always next year...

But it was a simply sunningly fabulous day, and the race was once again very, very well put together. We were worried about extra security: not a real issue. The streets were lined with people and even Lisa and Julia managed to cheer me on at mile 13 (still smiles), mile 19 (grimacing, about to fall apart) and 25 (hanging in). And Anna was working the mile 18 water stop. The worst where miles 20 to 22 when I walked a fair bit. The race results have details; maybe I'll update the chart I made in prior years.

One minor FAIL was a wait at the end for gear check. That was pathetic. I guess the folks manning the stand didn't keep bags sorted well enough so lines were long, and slow. Oh well -- the rest was fine, and it remains one of the nicest marathon races.

Oh, and the other FAIL was that my Nexus 4 phone couldn't hold a charge til I was done. What's up with that? The running tracker traced me til around mile 20, and then the phone shut down for lack of juice. Disappointing too. But hey, it spares you, dear reader, the look of some bad post-race selfies...

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Mon, 31 Dec 2012

Ragnar Relay Chicago 2012

One things I never quite got around to during 2012 was to blog about the awesome relay we ran in early June. This was the race formerly known as MC200 (for Madiston, WI, to Chicago, IL, by way of Milwaukee, WI, for about 200 miles) and is now part of the Ragnar Relay series: Ragnar Chicago.

We ran as a so-called ultra team of six runners, as opposed to a regular ream of twelve. The course is cut into 36 segments; on regular teams you get 3, we each had twice that. My first leg was a combined 17 miles in what turned out to be pretty blistering heat in mid-to-late afternoon. My fellow team members were awesome in getting me lots of water an ice, and I managed to hold onto a pace of just over 8 min/miles. One of the harder runs I've had. Next was a wonderful run pretty much exactly at midnight under starry skies---about seven or so miles followed by ten more miles the next morning.

We ended up coming third (yay!) beating the next time by about six or seven seconds (!!) over a total time of 25 or 26 hours.

It was hard. It was fun. It was exhilirating. It may also have broken me as I haven't really run much since. So good intentions for 2013: get back into the groove.

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Tue, 01 May 2012

Boston Marathon 2012

Two weeks ago I ran the 116th running of the Boston Marathon. Weather is often part of the story in Boston as e.g. my first one in 2007 happened after a storm-drenched and very wet weekend. This time, it was the opposite. Temperatures in the 60s in the morning before the start at 10:00am, which tempaeratures climbing well into the 80s for most of the race. The organizers had sent increasingly alarming email to us participants, warning about the weather conditions. And it was unpleasantly hot. Race support was great though: lots of locals had sprinklers pointed to the street; water stops were plenty and amply stocked and, being a nice summery day, lots of spectators made for lots of cheer.

But heat makes for dreadful running conditions. I was pretty well trained, but I ended up running 3:43:55, or a tad slower than in Chicago 2007 (also record heat, with the race stopped around the four-hour mark) and Chicago 2009 (hot, though not that hot---but I was somewhat undertrained). Which makes this a personal worst. Oh well, stuff happens. And it was a pretty rough day---reports claimed that 2100 runners, or about 10%, were seeking some form of medical attention during or after the race which is a much higher proportion than under normal conditions.

The chart below is an updated version of a chart which had appeared on my running page before. I regrouped my prior Bostons (2007, 2009 and 2010) on the left, and the Chicago runs 2007 and 2009 on the right---and each with the current Boston marathon.

(Boston 2012 marathon in comparison to other Boston and Chicago marathons)

So compared to the prior Boston races, I did indeed relatively poorly. Starting slower, and slowing down even more leading to about 1:45 for the first half and 1:58 for the second. Compared to the two poor Chicago races (put of the six times I have ran that race), things are not quite as bad as at least I didn't peak at over 10 min/mile. Weather will always remain a challenge. The previous marathon (which was last fall's Fox Valley 2011) was unseasonally cold and wet---making for a time fast enough to get me back to Boston. I am registered again for this one, so we will see what September brings this year.

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Sun, 18 Sep 2011

Fox Valley Marathon 2011

This morning, I was one of a mere 900 or so marathoners in the second (?) annual Fox Valley Marathon, along with a 20 mile training race (as Chicago's big marathon is coming up) and a half marathon. This all took place along the Fox river, which is about an hour west of Chicago.

The race went well enough. I had been racing twice a year at this distance, but took a break after running with some minor injury and generally not too well (see e.g. my writeup from last year's Boston and Chicago marathons). So I wasn't even sure I'd run one this year at all, but the bug got me again when two friends signed up for this, and off we went to train over the summer. So with a few more miles from training, I was pretty antsy and went out too fast as usual, and paid with an as-usual slower half and few short walking breaks past mile 20. But I beat the hope-for target time of 3:25 quite handily with a 3:19:03 -- or a 7:36 min/mile pace. Which (as I noted in a quick post to Google+ started right after the race, and since edited/expanded -- prods to Google+) should hopefully get me back to Boston next spring.

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Thu, 26 May 2011

JPM Chase Corporate Challenge 2011

As it is the Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend, it was time for the Chicago part of the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. In all the years that I've run this, conditions were never as bad as today. Windy, marginally wet and just plain cold with temperatures in the low 40s. But then again, it is just 3.5 miles and you do it with a bunch of collegues embedded in a crowd of thousands and you get a few cold ones afterwards. Who'd complain, really?

The race went ok -- I didn't go out too fast, maintained pace and was able to accelerate towards the end. My hand-stopped time was 22:58; for the first time we actually had chip timing in this race and my official time appears to be 23:00. Which is still 50+ seconds faster than last year, and a pace of around 6:34 and compares well to the other eight previous times I've run this.

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Sun, 03 Apr 2011

Race That's Good For Life 2011

Today was the 30th annual Race That's Good for Life 5k race in Oak Park. I had run this in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 but not afterwards as the spring marathons got in the way. As I am now on a more relaxed (and seemingly non-marathon ;-) schedule, I was able to participate again. Really nice to leave your house fifty minutes before race start and cycle over... And kudos to the Oak Park Runner's Club who once again put a nice race together.

Given the lack of (more intense) training, I am also a lot slower: 21:50.7 was the chip time, or a 7:02 pace. We will see if I ever get faster again. On race day I am usually motivated; it remains to be seen if I get over to the track in the early morning to push myself through some speedwork.

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Tue, 22 Mar 2011

2011 March Madness Half Marathon in Cary

On Sunday the annual March Madness Half Marathon in Cary took place, which (at least informally) opens the running season in greater Chicago. Following my participation in 2005. 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). and 2010, I kept that streak going.

Weather was pretty bad: A forecast of rain materialized with a shower at the start, another at about the halfway mark and a more solid downpour at the end, while temperature where in the lower 40s. And as I train less than I used to, I was also few just a few second slower than last year at 1:39:55 (hand-stopped) but managed to sneak in just under 100 minutes (and having taken six seconds to the starting lime, the official non-chip time has me just over that mark). All-in-all another nice half-marathon and I was appropriately sore yesterday.

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Mon, 11 Oct 2010

Chicago Marathon 2010

It's the Monday of the Columbus Day weekend here, so I must have been running a Chicago Marathon yesterday. Indeed -- the 34th annual Chicago Marathon took place yesterday but everything was about its 10/10/10 date. The symmetric set of numbers was in all advertisements, posters, street signs, on our bibs, the medals, the (nice, for once) race shirt. Everywhere, and yes, I will admit that it was also part of the reason I finally registered earlier in the year shortly before the race sold out.

This was the sixth time I ran this race (and my 14th marathon overall). And I still can't run this course all that well: never got a Boston qualification here. As I had mentioned when I blogged about my third Boston Marathon earlier in the year and the recent Chicago Half-Marathon, I have had some recurrent issue with a sore achilles which limited my running throughout the year. It had gotten better but a quick summary of the miles in my running log showed that I had been running only about 80% of the training miles I had in prior years. And not a single 20-miler. I knew I'd have to pay for that.

Plus, as so often, the weather. Not quite as hot as the record-heat of 2007. But close enough: high 60s at the start and high 70s or even low 80s towards the end. But I have to compliment to the race organisers. The race was very well organised (following the experience of 2007) with extra water stops, extra sponges handed out at several spots (!!) and very good communication when during the race the alert level was raised to yellow given the heat and humidity. The searchable results now show a fair number of non-finishers, but at least nobody seems to have died. But it looked ugly on the course. I think I ran by three or four sets of paramedics assisting runners who were 'down and out'..

So how did I do? Fair, I suppose -- I ran pretty well for sixteen miles, then needed a first short walking break and continued to run well towards and past the 18 mile waterstop where a bunch of friends and fellow Oak Park runners were helping. But not long after that, I crumbled and needed to alternate walking and running for most of the remainder. With that I came in at 3:41:41, or a 8:28 min/mile pace. And which is by two seconds slower than the previous 'worst' from 2007. But heck, at least it's still more than three minutes faster than Dubya in Houston in 1993 ... I also got beat by a few local running friends as well as by Chicago's own marathon juggler. So there. Maybe I'll train a bit more next time.

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Sun, 12 Sep 2010

Chicago Half Marathon 2010

Second Sunday in September -- time for the annual Chicago Half Marathon now in its fourteenth edition (and I have been running it in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 making this and the JPM Chase Corporate Challenge the races I've run most often). And the course was altered this year, alongside with an earlier start as the Bears have their season home opener today. So we started north towards 57th, then running down to 67th, turning east towards the lake at around three miles --- and having the remaining ten miles along the lakefront running up to 31st (the usual turn) and back down to 63rd. I like this course better; let's hope it sticks.

Race conditions were fantastic. We had a rainy and gray day yesterday but today is pure bliss. Temperatures around 60 degrees at the 7:00am start, no wind, sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.

The race itself went well. I had a pretty brutal running year suffering most of the time from some archilles tendon inflammation. It has gotten better in the last few weeks possibly thanks to some heel cups I now put in the shoes. But I had exactly one run longer than ten miles since the Boston Marathon. So I lost a lot of speed, as well as endurance and was a little nervous as to how I'd do. And considering all this, it went pretty well. I fininished in 1;41:50 or a 7:47 pace. While is easily the slowest half in a number of years, at least I got to run it evenly, pain free and with a negative split (== faster second half) and some gas left for a fast last half mile or so. So maybe I don't have to retire from running just yet. We'll see if I get some speed back in 2011.

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Mon, 31 May 2010

JPM Chase Corporate Challenge 2010

It's Memorial Day weekend so it was time for the Chicago's JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge on Thursday. The weather was glorious, the usual 20-some thousand runners participated and a good time was had. Work had arranged for a nice tent, food, music --- and a bunch of people showed up and enjoyed it. Nice one.

This time we all got chip-timing via a small (rfid ?) strip tagged to back of the bib number. Which is handy as I managed to not stop my time by hand correctly. Given that I am still nursing a sore Achilles tendon and don't train well or much, the time of 23:51 (or 6:48 min/mile) was ok compared to the other seven previous times I have run this.

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Wed, 21 Apr 2010

Boston Marathon 2010

This Monday saw the 114th running of the Boston Marathon. Under near-ideal conditions with some sunny skies, some clouds and moderate temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s, a course record as well as US Mens record were set. Having run this race in 2007 and in 2009 (with 2008 in London), I knew the difficult course and was aiming to run it more evenly. So no breakdown on those famous hills! But without too much fire in my belly over the winter, training was somewhat minimal: one 20 miler, two 18 milers. Friends and co-runners were joking that I had turned my trusted 'run less, run faster' program by the FIRST lab into my own 'run less, run lesser' program. And then were a nagging achilles tendon and a little strain from the underwhelming recent half-marathon so that I was really trying to hold back and not go out too fast on the initial portion which is mostly downhill.

Which seems to have worked. My pace was more even, and I conserved some energy and made it past the last of the hills around mile 21 without walking a single step while staying a few second under a 8 min/mile average pace. But then around mile 23 and 24 I had two sharp short cramps which forced me to walk. Interestingly enough, Bob Richards writes about cramps as a main theme for many runners in this year's race. Maybe the wind and temperature combined with the hills to get us after all! Anyway, I ended up with 3:29:14 which, at a 7:59 pace, is right between the 2007 and 2009 results and quite decent given the circumstances.

And of course the weekend as whole was again a hoot even if I had only a short stay of around 30 hours in Boston given our R/Finance conference on Friday and Saturday. We'll see if I will manage to qualify once more for next year.

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Sun, 21 Mar 2010

2010 March Madness Half Marathon in Cary

The annual March Madness Half Marathon in Cary took place this morning. This is both one of Chicagoland's 'early races' to start the season as well as the classic Boston preparation due to the hilly course. I have now run this consecutively for six years (see 2005. 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009).

As for the race conditions, we had fantastic weather all week with temperatures up to the sixties and then all of a sudden a forecast of rain, snow and even sleet for the weekend. Luckily, and while yesterday was sucky, today was allright or better. A little chilly and damp, but neither rain nor snow --- or even wind. So the conditions were good, with the course challenging as usual.

The race itself went fine. I ran more or less steadily, never had to stop but was not particularly fast at 1:39:38 or a pace of 7:36.3. I had aimed for beating 1:40, had missed that target by miles 4 to 6 and was about 10 or 15 seconds behind but managed to get a negative split on the second half of the course to reach that goal. Which is nice, but the time is still the slowest I've ever run that race, and my slowest half-marathon since 2004.

Training had been sluggish all winter. Oddly enough, already in last year's post I stated pretty much the same and feared that Boston may become tough --- which it did. But this year may well be a lot worse as I had no spring in my step all winter long. No fire in the belly for training will make for a long race. We'll see how it goes. Four weeks to go.

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Mon, 12 Oct 2009

Zut alors!

Christian: of course you will be running the Chicago 2010 marathon as your next fall marathon. Not only are Paris and Chicago jumelée (i.e. sister cities), but the Dollar is so conveniently falling vis-à-vis the Euro that you'd get all this done for about a Euro and a half by the time the race happens. Moreover, 2010 is going to be Debian's US year anyway. I crammed my two European races into two four day trips which I won't exactly recommend, but you do not need ten days either. Lastly, I cannot promise you many interesting cheeses but there are at least a few pretty tasty beers to sample. À bientôt à Chicago!

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Sun, 11 Oct 2009

Chicago Marathon 2009

Earlier today the 33rd Chicago Marathon was held. I will organise my comments by pointing out three epic fails.

First, of course, was the Chicago weather. After two successive marathon in excessive heat --- the 2007 race I completed, poorly, with its thousands of runners forced to abandon when the race was cancelled due to excessive heat, and the 2008 version which I skipped as I ran Berlin that year just weeks before Chicago, this year had forecasts of temperatures in the thirties and possibly snow the night before. Well, the weather cleared up -- but with those clear skies we still got a severe weather alert for the area due to frost! So at the (now earlier by 30 minutes) race start, it was very nippy and in the higher 30s, improving steadily under sunny skies. Overall, a little chilly and hence not exactly ideal, but not too bad in the grand scheme of things. A little windy coming up Michigan Avenue. But hey, Wanjiru still finished with a course record though still well off the world record. So maybe not a fail after all.

The second fail, though, was my GPS which I had just blogged about yesterday (albeit indirectly). I had had my issues with the previous (much simpler and older) Forerunner 205 which lost satellite tracking when running downtown amidst the skyscrapers. I had high hopes that this newer model would do better. But no, not only did it loose track within the first few miles, it even managed to outdo the older model by turning its GPS tracking off in the later stages. Now that's a fail!

The third and final fail, unfortunately, concerns my run. Training had gone well enough to let me hope for another decent race. However, a latent cold during the last two weeks had left me somewhat afraid I might not do well. Things felt better yesterday, and I ended up running a decent first eighteen miles to the waterstop the rest of my household was working. And thereafter: well let's just say that the wheels came off. I ended up with a 3:25:40 (or around 7:51 min/mile and 4:53 min/km) which is not terrible but also not one of my better races.

I updated the two race data geekery charts shown here before to illustrate the fail. As I am running out of shades of blue for Chicago, I show the 2009 race in purple. A decent, flat chat indicating a reasonably steady pace throughout most of the race ... followed by one of the very worst finished. And as discussed above, I cannot really blame the weather either.

(updated marathon pace comparison chart)

I also updated my 'performance by race type through time' chart which suggests that I may be getting slower for marathons (if we allow for a non-linear effect). Eek.

(pace by date given group lattice chart)

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Sun, 13 Sep 2009

Chicago Half Marathon 2009

Today it was once again time for the Chicago Half Marathon (which I have now been running in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008). Conditions were much much better than last year's very heavy rainfall---we were once again treated to a sunny and clear Chicago sky. It was however a little on the humid side and got somewhat warm; a few friends I talked to suffered on the second half of the race and I also slowed down.

As for the race itself, I didn't run it quite as evenly as I had hoped, faded a little around mile ten and eleven and came in at 1:34:54, or just under 7:15 min/mile. Not a bad time---I have done better (e.g. last year) but also worse. All in all still one my very favourite races, and this year with a once-again improved course that featured even more running along the lake. I will probably be back next year.

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Sat, 30 May 2009

JPM Chase Corporate Challenge 2009

The 28th annual JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge race took place a couple of days ago May 21. Participation was down from the record of 23,000 runners set last year at around 17,125. With splendid weather, it is always a nice way to start the Memorial day weekend.

We fielded a small but spirited team of nine runners. I finished with a decent (hand-stopped) time of 22 minutes and 27.93 seconds for the 3.5 miles -- or a 6:25 min/mile pace. That is among the fasters times but not quite the fastest compared to the other six times I have run this.

Most importantly, everybody seems to have had a blast. And we did set a record for longer post-race party which sets a nice precedent for 2010.

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Thu, 23 Apr 2009

Real nice Boston Marathon writeup

This article from the Boston Globe gives an excellent description of what running Boston last Monday was like, and why we keep coming back, almost regardless. The writer, for whom it was the fifth Boston and ninth total, expresses the range of emotions, expectations, frustrations, excitements, ups, downs, ... all of which form the challenge of racing a marathon in general, and on this course on a windy day in particular. And just like she concludes that the finish of one marathon leads to planning the next, I registered last night for the Chicago Marathon on October 11, apparently around twelve hours before it sold out.

And so it is with regrets that I have to decline Christian's invitation to run Cologne with him on October 4. Another time, hopefully.

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Wed, 22 Apr 2009

Boston Marathon 2009

Monday was the 113th Boston Marathon. Just like in 2007 (and having skipped last year as I ran London the week before), I went as part of a group of local running friends. We once again had a blast---Boston on Marathon weekend is a real spectacle. Lots of people, lots of excitement, and this time even great weather.

The race itself was challenging. Having done it once before, and having come off a really decent last marathon, I may have underestimated the impact of the famous hills. This really is a wonderful but challenging course. Combined with the poor training conditions during this last Chicago winter which forced us indoors for quite a few long runs, as well as a somewhat upset stomach which forced a two-minute break, I came up short and posted an underwhelming second half. The head wind was also a factor that was mentioned in a few reports on the comparatively slow times of the elite runners. So when all was said and done, I ended up with a time of 3:30:13 and 8:01 min/miles which is a little slower than last time.

All in all a really great marathon weekend. As my time from Berlin qualifies me for Boston 2010, I may well be back next year.

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Sun, 15 Mar 2009

2009 March Madness Half Marathon in Cary

This morning it was once more time for the annual March Madness Half Marathon in Cary. This race is basically the start of the running season in Chicagoland. And we could not have asked for better weather. After a really cold and long winter, and a short snapback to really cold temperatures this week, it started to warm up a little yesterday with expectations of more of the same today. So while it was still cold at the start at around 37 degrees, most runners opted for shorts and by the finish temperatures were in the high 40s. Coupled with clear blue skies and no wind, it was a really nice morning for a run.

So how did it go? Well, I had pretty low expectations. Training has been difficult with too much snow, rain and plain cold weather. So like most of my running friends, motivation ran pretty low of late. I was really only trying to set a modest pace, and to hope to hang on to it and run steadily. That worked: I didn't walk a single water stop, and while my legs were getting really tired and sore I carried through to the end. Final time was 1:36:08.57 per my stop watch. That's a tad faster than last year, a lot slower than 2007, just a tad slower than 2006, and quite a bit faster than 2005.

Next stop: my second Boston Marathon in five weeks and given the underwhelming training this winter, it will be a challenge.

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Wed, 24 Dec 2008

Very flattering

Good friend and fellow Oak Park / River Forest runner Paul Oppenheim used his column in the local weekly for some very flattering words about the marathon runners in our informal running group and even highlighting my personal World Marathon Majors adventure. I may just have to keep a copy for my epitaph.

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Thu, 09 Oct 2008

More running data visualization

A few years into this running hobby, I realized that my times were getting better. But I had no feel for by how much, or whether that was a constant rate of improvement etc pp. Long story short, I started to plot some of the data. What seemed natural was to record the date, the distance in miles as well as in a qualitative variable, and finally the average pace. Additionally, I played with groupings into just three categories 'short', 'mid' and 'long'.

This leads to a natural 'one-factor' model of pace as a function of race date grouped by race distance. And given how easy it is to do conditional plots in R, I quickly arrived at something that already resembled the following chart:

(pace by date given group lattice chart)

At first, some of the groups had too few data points to actually reliably construct regression lines, let alone non-parametric smoothers. But over time more and more data points were added as I kept running races. Including for example the somewhat disappointing result from last year's Chicago marathon in record heat that resulted in the outlier in the last panel. It actually made the smooth fit turn upwards! Luckily, the subsequent times in New York last fall, London in April, and of course in Berlin last month helped to dampen the effect of the one outlier, resulting in a more normal straight line for marathon performance that is comparable to the other four race lengths.

All in all I am now quite happy with the chart. The combination of the non-parametric loess smoother and the robust linear regression (using lrm from the MASS package for R) shows that most groups exhibit very little non-linearity as both regression curves are very close to each other. The curvature in the '10m' group is probably mostly a small-sample effect. And I am obviously happy with the fact that three of the five panels show their respective last race as a PR :)

The R script containing the data and code is available here but requires some familiarity with the lattice package for R (as the lattice book would provide).

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Sun, 05 Oct 2008

World Marathon Majors

Last Sunday's Berlin Marathon was my fifth and final piece in completing the World Marathon Majors during 2007/2008: after running Boston, Chicago and New York in 2007, and then London and now Berlin in 2008, the set is complete.

The idea was born after having run Chicago a few times, qualifying for Boston and winning a New York lottery entry. With friends to visit in New York, London and Berlin, it became feasible.

It's been a great experience to run these famous courses in front of large crowds. Conditions ranged from cold, windy and rainy in Boston to way too hot in Chicago, had mixed conditions including a solid rain shower in London and were just perfect in both New York and Berlin. The crowds were awesome in all five places. All in all, these races were a blast -- if you're into long-distance running, give each or all of them a shot.

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Wed, 01 Oct 2008

Berlin Marathon 2008

Last Sunday was the 35th Berlin Marathon. I had flown over to Berlin on Thursday after work, and had Friday and Saturday to 'chill'. The weather was already pretty nice before the race, and truly gorgeous on Sunday: sunny yet not too warm, blue skies, no wind. As has been widely reported, Haile Gebrselassie set a new world record breaking his own mark set the year before and becoming the first man to finish under two hours and four minutes. Truly impressive.

My race was pretty good too. I shaved over four and a half minutes off my own personal record (which was set in early 2006 at Sunburst) and finished in 3:13:09. That's a pace of 7:22 min/mile (or 4:35 min/km) which I am rather happy with. I held a fairly steady pace of under 7:30 almost all the way but but had to fight off the onset of cramps with some short walks about less than two miles to go.

Coming back in Berlin after all those years is always a charm. The city has obviously changed a lot in some very visible areas. Yet it still recalls the Berlin of those years. The course was really nice, covering numerous neighbourhoods and starting and ending in Tiergarten.

Lastly, it was also good to see old friends who have now been there since the mid- to late 1980s. And I managed to pack a quick visit to my parents in as they are just a good 80 minute ICE train ride away. All in all a very nice trip even though the travel from Chicago (without a direct flight!) is a bit of a hike.

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Sun, 14 Sep 2008

Chicago Half Marathon 2008

Interesting conditions today for the 2008 edition of the Chicago Half Marathon, a race I have now done in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 which is a personal record in itself.

While the weather story of the weekend is obviously the aftermath of hurricane Ike in Texas and neighbouring states were millions of people are still without power, we were also hit in a surprisingly hard way here in northwestern Illinois. According to the Tribune all of Chicago had a rain record day and the Chicago River crested causing evacuations. Not pretty.

The new race organisers (who had acquired the race since the 2007 event) were standing steadfast and guaranteeing the race 'come rain or shine'. Participation looked decent -- word was of a record turnout of sixteen thousand runners though I am sure some stayed home given yesterday's rain and the forecast for today. Given all that, it turned out to be not that bad. While we had steady rain the whole, it rarely rained that hard. Shoes and socks did get wet towards the end, but it was tolerable overall. I had been worried about the gross humidity we had yesterday --- but today was much better with temperatures in the sixties and little wind.

As for the race, I went out somewhat fast but managed to hang on. The Garmin had every mile split below 7:00 min/mile, and I came in at a new personal record of 1:30:51.52. My GPS, an old Garmin 201, also showed the course long at 13.4 miles; a few other runners I talked to had it as correct or long by a lesser amount. The leaves the pace at 6:56 min/mile (or, for Christian, at 4:19 min/km :-) if the half marathon course length was in fact correct, and at 6:47 min/mile (4:13 min/km) if my Garmin had it right.

And from now on it's all tapering for the the next big one in two weeks!

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Thu, 22 May 2008

JPM Chase Corporate Challenge 2008

Just got back a little earlier from running the 2008 edition of the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. And again a record crowd of now just over 23000 in Chicago -- announced to be bigger than those at the JP Morgan Chase races in Boston, San Francisco or New York! This year the weather wasn't quite as stunning as it has often been in the past. But at least, temparatures in the high 40s and an overcast sky make for good running conditions.

This time, two colleagues and I tried to make it close enough to the starting line to not waste too much time 'surfing' around slower runners who for whatever reason think they have to be up at the front. And that seems to have worked: despite a still crowded start, I ran even, steady and fast enough to beat the PR from 2005 by a decent margin with a (hand-stopped) time of 20 minutes and 46.65 seconds. That yields 5:5619 min/mile (or for Christian, 3:4132 min/km) which seems too fast given the splits I saw at miles two and three. Oh well -- same cours as as the other five times that I've run this, so I trust the course is USATF certified.

And as always, good to hang with folks from work for a cold one or two afterwards. Given the temperatures, I didn't last very long though.

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Sat, 10 May 2008

Quarryman Challenge 2008

This morning was the 2008 edition of Quarryman Challenge, a 5km and 10mile race in Lemont, which is southwest of Chicago along the Illinois-Michigan Canal.

Three of us ran the 10 mile race, which was nicely organised. But is it ever friggin' hilly there: the race course takes three turns from the lower levels near the canal up towards those hills. As the elevation chart (that I cut out of this pdf file with the course map) shows, it is not so much the total elevation but rather how steep the incline is.

Quarryman Challenge elevation profile

That said, I did okay: even though the legs were really tired throughout from those inclines, I finished in 1:12:08 for a pace of 7:13. And given the reasonably small field, that yielded 34th place overall and third in my age group.

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Thu, 17 Apr 2008

Updated marathon pace geekery

A few months ago, I had shown a chart with per-5k-segment paces of my prior marathons runs (or at least those for which organisers had 5k splits). Since then, I ran two more: New York in November and London last Sunday. I have updated the charts to show both of these:
(updated pace comparison chart)
A few things stand out:
  • New York (in orange with small squares) clearly was my steadiest run, with very little variation and that nice burst at the end where the pace dropped below 7min/mile for the finish;
  • London (in yellow with open circles) was allright, but with a noticeable drop around kilometers 30, 35 and 40 -- but then the second-best finish.
  • I really cannot pace myself at the start: The two most recent races had the fastest start, including the hot and humid Chicago 2007 marathon (in light blue with circles)

In case anybody is interested (C'est bien toi, Christian, non?), the R script is available and I will be taking questions by email as R may not be obvious at first if you haven't used it.

/sports/running | permanent link

Tue, 15 Apr 2008

London Marathon 2008

Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the modern marathon: It was during the London 2008 Olympics that the marathon was run for the first time for the 26 miles 385 yard, or 42.185 km, distance. And it so happens that I was there to run the 2008 edition of the London Marathon.

Pretty nice weather at the start and finish: sunny, not too hot, occassional clouds. But being London, we still managed to get drenched for about 30 minutes. Overall, the conditions were good -- or else Martin Lel would have had a hard time for a new course record.

The course is pretty nice, right from the start in Greenwhich all the way to the spectacular finish in Westminster. Crowd support was good too, if only a little uneven. But the second half of the race, and particularly the last miles in the back from Canary Whard through the City to Westminster past Parliament and Buckingham Palace were awesome. Lots of people, lots of noise.

Oh, and I even saw the leaders in a group of five, including Lel and Hall as the course had parallel 'out' and 'back' tracks around miles 13 for me and 22 for them.

I had planned to take it easy and not try to run too hard, and aimed for a time of around 3:25 and then finished at 3:24:41. A little less 'even' than I had hoped, but still a very satisfying result. And for once the legs aren't all that shot afterwards :)

And the whole weekend was nice as I got to stay with friends in the southwest of London. Staying up late on both ends of the trip suppressed the jet lag fairly well. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

/sports/running | permanent link

Mon, 17 Mar 2008

2008 March Madness Half Marathon in Cary

Yesterday was the annual March Madness Half Marathon in Cary, IL -- and this year marked the 30th anniversary of the race. The race is getting more and more popular as the start to the running season, and an early race for those in Spring marathon training. This year, and it had sold out in a matter of days.

As for the race, I wasn't running it all that well. My legs already felt heavy when I was doing a casual four-miler the day before with our local running group. Similarly, I didn't feel all that loose yesterday. By mile four or five I was getting into a decent rhythm, and I was then running fairly steady 7:15s until about mile 11 when I ran out of gas and had to slow down. Final time was 1:36:38.15 -- not only several minutes slower than last year's but also slower than two years ago.

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Tue, 06 Nov 2007

New York Marathon 2007

I was in New York last weekend to run the 37th New York Marathon which reportedly currently stands as the largest marathon ever run in terms of starters and finishers. And it couldn't have happened on a nicer day: sunny at the start with temperatures in the 50s, no wind, and some clouds in the second half prevented it from getting too hot.

Large crowds at most parts of the course, a decent number of bands, and a generally very excited atmosphere. And of course a nice course across the five buroughs finishing in Central Park.

For once, I managed to run the race steadily and yet fairly fast, ending up with a time of 3:18:47 (and thus a 7:35 pace). This is about a minute slower than my PR from Sunburst 2006, and just two seconds faster than my best Chicago Marathon result from 2006, yet much better than this year's times from Boston 2007 where it was too cold, and Chicago 2007 where it was way too hot. Given that the NY course is somewhat hillier, and that was definitely busier and more crowded than the other races, I'm quite happy with the time, and the way I ran, getting through without any walking breaks. Not quite negative splits at around 1:38 and 1:40 for the two halfes. With enough energy left at the end, I finished the remaining 2+ km after the 40 km with a sub-7:00 min/mile pace which felt great. And it is a nice feeling to have completed the Boston, Chicago and now New York marathons in the same year.

Last but not least, the weekend was a general blast as I was staying with a friend I hadn't seen in a decade which made for lots of stories, and even more beers...

/sports/running | permanent link

Sun, 21 Oct 2007

Frank Lloyd Wright Race 2007

Today was the 31th annual Frank Lloyd Wright Race in Oak Park, next door to where I live. This is a really nice small race I've run in 2006, 2004 and 2003.

Conditions today were almost ideal -- we're having unseasonally warm weather, and it was sunny and in the high 60s without any noticeable winds around the start time making it feel like a nice late summer morning, rather than the middle of fall. I wasn't aiming for something really fast as I am still in training for a longer race and had done some reasonably fast one-mile laps yesterday morning leaving me not exactly well rested. But for once, I actually managed to run a steady pace, and then ended up within seconds of last year's PR for the distance at 41:15 for a pace of around 6:39, so I'm quite pleased.

/sports/running | permanent link

Mon, 15 Oct 2007

Some marathon data analysis

A few days after the Chicago Marathon in record-heat, I was wondering just how much more I had been slowing down, and exactly when during the course of the race this occurred.

Bigger races like Chicago provide the so-called 'splits' for every five kilometer segment. Helpfully, they also keep these with the archived results which are all accessible via the web. So it was easy enough to collect a sequence of time such as '0:22:34', '0:45:30', ... and so on. And thanks to R, my data slicing and dicing and visualizing tool of choice, it was just a handful of lines to produce the chart below.

The chart covers my four Chicago marathons (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007) as well as Boston (2007) --- the infamous '27.2 mile marathon' seems to have dropped off the net, and the smaller Sunburst does not have 5k split times.

(pace comparison chart)
The chart shows a few things quite nicely:
  • The first marathon (dark blue squares) shows a marked slowdown after km 25.
  • The following year (medium blue circles) a similar yet more moderate slowdown appeared 5 km later.
  • The next year (blue triangles) the pace was remarkably stable without noticeable slowdowsn -- yielding the 'BQ' time.
  • The Boston race (smaller green circles) was more prudent due to weather conditions, and a lingering cold, and I managed to finish much stronger than I ran the middle part.
  • Chicago this year (orange circles) was a different story: too fast at the beginning, a cautious middle similar to the Boston race but two fairly significant slowdowns after 25 and 35 km, followed by some acceleration right before the finish.

While it was a tough race, I clearly ran a lot slower than previously, in particular between 25 km and 40 km. So there.

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Sat, 13 Oct 2007

Makin' Tracks 2007

This morning was the annual Makin' Tracks 5k. As this starts three blocks from my house, supports the track at Concordia, a small college up the street from me, and runs right through my immediate neighbourhood, it's hard not to participate. This year was of course not even a week after the somewhat eventful Chicago Marathon in record-heat so I wasn't sure how well I'd do. Once again, I started way too fast and ran two miles at a 6:00 min/mile pace that I couldn't sustain just a week after a (arguably slow but still full distance) marathon, so I slowed down and finished at 19:41.7 or so for a pace of 6:23, or about eight seconds slower than my best time from last year (when we ran before the marathon). Onto the Frank Lloyd Wright 5k/10k next week, then!

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Tue, 09 Oct 2007

Chicago Marathon 2007

Last Sunday, the 30th Chicago Marathon took place. This was meant to be the year to make this marathon even bigger: the field had increased substantially to 45,000 registrations yet it still sold out way earlier than in previous years.

As it turns out, the weather did have its own surprises in store. Earlier in the preceding week, the forecast changed from overcast and rainy to sunny. And sunny it was. While we had a bit of cloud cover at the start at 8:00am, temperatures were already in the 70s and keep increasing. This year's marathon is now on the books as the hottest ever: the clouds dissipated and it was a scorcher.

Needless to say, it was a rather challenging race. I finished in 3:41:39, which is my slowest time by some margin for the by now seven marathons I've ran. It was not the day for running fast. Of course, I didn't quite grok that at the start and ran ten miles reasonably hard in a quick pace, but then paid for it, and then paid some more. That said, apparently around 10,000 registered entrants didn't even start, and another 10,000 did not make it to the finish. With the heat, several hundred were treated by the medical teams. Worse still, one 35-year old runner from Michigan died (though the autopsy claims he had a heart condition; other reports say that alone cannot have been lethal). The race itself was aborted, and those who had not reached the half-way point by 12:00am were diverted to the finish and urged to walk rather than run.

According to the (by now fairly extensive) news coverage, this whole experience left quite a few people mad and bewildered. As of today, a good 48 hours after the race, the City seems to be in some sort of crisis management mode to prevent damage for the oh-so-important bid for the 2016 Olympics.

For some flavour of the news coverage, see an early report, some stunning pictures and some suggestions to prevent another one like this, all from the Chicagoist blog.

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Sun, 09 Sep 2007

Chicago Half Marathon 2007

This morning was this year's Chicago Half Marathon, the race I often refer to as 'my favourite' after having participated in 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003. But this year I somehow managed to convince myself I had already registered, when I had not. Doh. But due to a friend's unlucky injury, I could re-use his registration and still race. Weather was once again gorgeous, but maybe a little on the hot side. I tried not to push myself too hard given the two big races coming up in the next seven weeks and ran a decent 7:12 min/mile pace for a chip time of 1:34:20.

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Thu, 14 Jun 2007

New York bound

On the second try I got lucky with the lottery for the New York Marathon on November 4 this year. So that may make it Boston, Chicago (on October 7) and now New York for 2007.

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Tue, 29 May 2007

JPM Chase Corporate Challenge 2007

Last Thursday was the 2007 edition of the JP Morgan Chase Corp. Challenge. Record crowd of almost 23000 in Chicago's Grant Park. Just like last year, I didn't try hard enough to be closer to the starting line. Which means that one ends up running more or less zig-zag for some time. Oh well, my hand-stopped 22:17 is still pretty close to the PR from two years ago. Overall once again a really nice event, and we managed to have more folks from work show up, both to run, and to have a cold one or two afterwards.

/sports/running | permanent link

Fri, 20 Apr 2007

Boston Marathon 2007

So this Monday was the 111th running, as they call it, of the venerable Boston Marathon, and my first time there. After the fairly serious storm warnings -- and the corresponding health warnings, delivered through two emails from the race organizers and a handout at registration, we got very, very lucky as the rain more or less stopped shortly after the start. And there was relatively little wind, and mostly laterally, rather than the 'in your face' gusts at the projected 30 to 50 mph.

There were actually six of us running from our little informal group in River Forest / Oak Park, and fellow rookie Russ and I decided to 'take it easy' and just 'go for a long run'. I ended up with a fairly even pace between 7:45 and 8:10, averaging 7:57 for a total of 3:28:24, or a few seconds faster than my very first marathon in Chicago. Which is quite pleasant, given the conditions, and the hillier course. The race went pretty well for all six us, which is nice too. Given how we trained together, it is neat how we all ended up within seven minutes of each other.

The race itself is quite stunning. With the required qualifying time comes a 'seeding' system for the start, so one tends to run most of the course with runners of fairly similar speed. That made for nice cameraderie on the course -- and for beautiful sights of nothing but runners rolling through the hills of Massachusetts. I think I'll be back next year.

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Sun, 18 Mar 2007

2007 March Madness Half Marathon in Cary

Ran the annual March Madness Half Marathon in Cary, IL, today. Really nice morning with temperatures just above freezing, but gloriously sunny and no winds which made for excellent running conditions.

As I somehow managed to leave my Garmin GPS at home, I had to run with little information about pacing and relative speed -- all I got were times announced at about two thirds of the mile markers. So I ended going out somewhat fast, and then working hard not to completely crumble. The end result was rather nice: 1:31:30.4 -- or a pace of 6:59.11 per mile -- and over a minute faster than my previous PR at this distance from last summer, and over four minutes faster than last year's March Madness. Needless to say, I am tired now :)

But I guess it shows that the ongoing training for Boston in four weeks is doing some good. Kudos to Greg for a nice training schedule.

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Mon, 01 Jan 2007

And another New Year's Day 5k run in Lincoln Park

For the fifth time in a row, I started yet another year with 5k race by participating in the 22th New Year's Day 5k at the lakefront.

The race had decent conditions. Chicago is currently having unusually mild weather, which is an extra bonus. It was well over 50 degrees yesterday, but a little cooler around fourty this morning, and unfortunately overcast. And luckily fairly little wind as it can be unplesant at the lake. Following some mild training runs both Saturday and Sunday, I took it relatively easy and finished around 20:15 or 20:20 -- I forgot to stop the Garmin at the finish, and the official results are not yet published. Not a bad time given that I haven't really trained since the last marathon.

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Sun, 05 Nov 2006

Golden Apple 2006

Ran the Golden Apple 5k this morning in neighbouring Forest Park. Local race, a few hundred runners, glorious weather -- what more can you ask for?

I didn't feel too pumped and meant to take it easy, but still managed to beat 20 minutes at 19:44 minutes for a 6:22 min/mile pace.

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Wed, 25 Oct 2006

Boston bound

This just in this morning:
111th Boston MarathonDear Dirk Eddelbuettel,

This is to notify you that your entry into the 111th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2007 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.

[...]

Yay! This was using the time from Sunburst in June but given Sunday's time I even get to run in 2008 too.

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Sun, 22 Oct 2006

Chicago Marathon 2006

Today was the 29th Chicago Marathon in what the papers describe as challenging conditions: mist, some winds, and generally colder than usual. While that didn't seem to affect the elite runners and the winner (2:07:35, but a fall at the end), a lot of folks in my running group reported results that were only `fine', or worse. I run fairly steady for 20 miles, then slowed a bit but did fine with a course PR of 3:18:49. That is around 7:36 min/mile and about a minute slower than the earlier Sunburst Marathon, but faster than last year or the previous year.

Oh, and this also marks the end of four consecutive weeks with races.

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Sat, 14 Oct 2006

Makin' Tracks 2006

Ran the annual Makin' Tracks 5k this morning in support of the athletic tracks at Concordia, a collegue two blocks up from my house. As I actually train there once a week, and as the race goes straight through my neihbourhood, it's a really nice one to do.

Somehow it had gotten cold the last few days, and this morning at 8:00am it was only a few degrees above freezing--yet sunny and pleasant. Pretty decent conditions after all. I managed to run pretty fast for a new PR of around 19:2159 handstopped, or just under a 6:15 min/mile pace.

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Sun, 08 Oct 2006

Frank Lloyd Wright Race 2006

The 30th annual Frank Lloyd Wright Race was today in neighbouring Oak Park. Really nice weather, once more. The race went quite well: I finished with a hand-stopped time of 41:02 (or a 6:37 min/mile pace) which is quite a bit faster than my times here in 2004 and 2003.

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Sun, 01 Oct 2006

Chicago Half Marathon 2006

Ran what may be my favourite race this morning: the Chicago Half Marathon in its tenth anniversary (having run the three previous ones too).

Once again gorgeous weather, sunny, no wind, low 50s at the start. The race itself went rather well. I wasn't sure how I had weathered a bout of the flu with some light fever last weekend, but resting most of this week seems to have helped as I was able to push my PR by about 1 min 45 secs to 92:33, or a 7:039 min/mile pace.

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Sun, 13 Aug 2006

Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon 2006

This morning, under what can only be described as unwordly gorgeous conditions, was the this year's edition of the Chicago Distance Classic. I had done this before in 2003 and 2004 but skipped it last year.

In its thirtiest edition, the race has moved under the umbrella of the LaSalle Bank organisation that also produces the Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon. In fact, it is now part of a `challenge' series of three teams runs. Not sure yet how we did as a team.

I was running with a friend who needed to finish in 1:35 to get a competitive start for the Marathon. And we did it -- very steady 7:15 min/mile paces made for a pretty well run race. We ran together for 4 miles, then he pulled ahead. I caught him once more, only to loose him again, but overtook him around mile 12. My chip time was 94:18 for a 7:12 pace; he came in a few seconds later. I was quite pleased how steady I ran the race; I didn't even walk a single water stop. I just checked, and this is in fact a PR for the distance. Nice.

On the unpleasant side, I have the meanest blister I ever had. I had ordered new shoes from this place only to learn two weeks later that my order was lost but that I was free to issue a new order at their (higher-priced) mothership store Road Runner Sports (you know, the guys with the unstoppable supply of mail-order catalogues...). Thanks, but I didn't feel like falling for that. New order from Running Warehouse should arrive tomorrow. But I guess I need a few days to let the darn blister heal.

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Sat, 22 Jul 2006

Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10m

Ran in the third annual Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10mile race this morning. Beautiful scenery in the forest preserve around the Argonne labs southwest of Chicago, and gorgeous weather now that the heat wave has broken. This race starts and ends in cross-country fashion on an open field and begins with a wide 'parallel' start -- something I'd never done but quite enjoyed. The course is fairly hilly by Illinois standards and thus a bit of challenge. As with some other race, started too fast and faded somewhat. The final time of 71:54.5 is still fine with a 7:11 pace/mile and minimally faster than the previous personal best from two years ago on a flat course. I think I'll be back for the race next year.

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Sun, 04 Jun 2006

Sunburst Races Marathon 2006

Went to South Bend, Indiana, on Friday for the 2006 Sunburst Marathon yesterday morning. This is a smallish marathon with 600 runners, embedded in a half-marathon, 10k and 5k all of which start at the College Football Hall of Fame and end in the Notre Dame football stadium. Early 6:00am start, made worse by the fact that it is one time zone earlier too so I got up at 3:30am 'my time. Ouch.

The race almost didn't start as a hazardous materials spill was announced right at start time. Luckily, that got taken care of and we were off and running at 6:15am. The first ten to twelve miles went pretty well and fast, and I slowed down a little afterwards. I started to pay for the fast first half with some oncoming cramps starting around mile 18. Somehow I managed to suppress the cramps with a combination of walking water stops, gatorade, gu (handed out by the race organisers a four or five water stops -- nice!) and sheer stubbornness and some more walking when needed. I had aimed to beat my Boston qualifying time of 3:20 -- and I did with a chip time of 3:17:48, which is also another PR and a nice improvement over the previous three marathons.

So on to Boston for the one hundred eleventh Boston Marathon next April!

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Fri, 26 May 2006

JPM Chase Corporate Challenge 2006

Yesterday was the 2006 edition of the JP Morgan Chase Corp. Challenge -- in its 30th year overall, and for the 25th time in Chicago. 19000 runners, and I didn't pay attention to securing a good starting spot, so I spend one mile running around slower runners and walkers. Hand-stopped finishing time of 23:09 (about 6:37 min/mile), a minute slower than last year's rather decent time, but still better than 2004, 2003, and 2002.

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Sun, 09 Apr 2006

Race That' Good For Life 2006

Participated in the 25th annual Race That's Good for Life 5k race in Oak Park this morning, just as I had in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Near ideal conditions: sunny, no wind, temperatures in the 40s. I was afraid my legs were a little too tired: I had some rest after the Shamrock Shuffle last weekend but did a 12 miler after work on Thursday and 9 miles with two Boston-bound friends at Waterfall Glen -- 'hilly' territory for around here in Chicagoland -- yesterday morning.

So while I didn't feel all that fresh, I also managed to run a pretty silly race of a way-too-fast first mile at 5:50 followed by 6:44 and 6:40 to average a pace of 6:19 minutes/mile with which I broke 20 minutes for the first time ever: 19:36. That's 50 seconds faster than last year, which was already a PR. Now I'm ready for a nap ;-)

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Sun, 02 Apr 2006

Shamrock Shuffle 2006

Today was the Shamrock Shuffle, reportedly the world's largest eight kilometer, or (approximately) five mile, race with an estimated field of 25,000 runners. Having skipped it last years due to some traveling, my (reported chip) time of 33:24 (6:40 min/mile pace) is a nice improvement over the previous 37:06 from two years ago.

Our little informal 'Owies' running group fielded a group of ten runners that were registered for the 'Chicago Challenge'. This a new competition where aggregated team results from today, the Distance Classic Half Marathon in August and the full Chicago Marathon in October count. Results are in (pdf), and we did well with a sixth place -- so let's see where can take it from here.

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Sun, 19 Mar 2006

Another March Madness Half Marathon in Cary

As spring is near, it was time today for the season's first race -- the March Madness Half Marathon in Cary, some 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Beautiful, sunny, no wind -- pretty good conditions. Shooting for a 7:30 pace, I went out fairly fast for the first few miles and tried not to crumble coming in a pretty decent 1:35:51 -- almost three minutes faster than last year.

/sports/running | permanent link

Sun, 01 Jan 2006

Another New Year's Day 5k run in Lincoln Park

For the fourth time in a row now, and thanks for some friendly prodding by a local runner and friend via a 8:30am phone call, I started the new year with a race at the New Year's Day 5k in Lincoln Park. Nice conditions, temperature in 30s and little wind. Just like last year, I went out rather fast and was not maintaining the initial pace. However, the final time of 20:3968 is quite allright and almost a minute faster than last year.

/sports/running | permanent link

Sun, 09 Oct 2005

Chicago Marathon 2005

Ran the Chicago Marathon earlier today. Near ideal conditions: temperatures on the cooler side (around 50F) at the start, overcast for maybe half the race and then nice sunshine and temperatures near 60F for the rest. For about 18 miles, I managed to hang with a pretty decent 7:30 min/mile pace before I slowed down somewhat. I ended with a pretty nice time of 3:21:36 (i.e. a 7:41 pace) -- or about 7.5 minutes faster than last year and around 7 minutes faster than the 26.2 time of that odd 27.2 mile Lakeshore marathon. Nice day, and a pretty good race with fantastic crowds and peerlessly efficient race organisation. Don't ask how I'll walk for the next day or two though...

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Sun, 25 Sep 2005

Chicago Half Marathon 2005

Today was the annual Chicago Half Marathon. Weather wasn't unfortunately as gorgeous as during the two previous ones I had done: cloudy, somewhat muggy, and it even started pouring. Not that it was that much of a deterrent.

Notwithstanding my worries about the aforementioned injury, I ended up running well, finishing with a new PR of 1:34:47 which corresponds to a 7:15 min/mile pace, or an improvement of about 5 secs/miles. Now with some rest and tapering everything should fall into place for the big one in two weeks.

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Fri, 16 Sep 2005

RunHitWonder 10k

Did the RunHitWonder 10k race on Tuesday. This is a Nike event that takes in LA, Portland, NY and here in Chicago -- a bunch of 'one hit wonder' live bands along the race course, and lots of runners doing a 5k or 10k. And for kicks, everybody is wearing the same kind of Nike running shirt, which, Nike being the organiser, are all printed with individual race-entry bib numbers.

It was kinda neat to see an estimated 15,000 people on a warm summer night, and everybody is wearing canary yellow :) Also neat how the BSBC building has its facade lit up displaying the 'Run Loud' slogan of the race. Nice touch.

My run was sub-par. Being in training for the half and full marathons in one and three weeks, respectively, I somehow don't manage to let a slight muscle strain heal, and it really did get worse trying to run that 10k somewhat fast. Ended up with steadily increasing splits, and a total of 45:28.

Oh, and for the record, I really do feel old as I didn't really know any of the bands. Last year's race, which I missed, had Devo ...

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Sat, 04 Jun 2005

Media coverage of the 27.2 miles marathon

As mentioned here on Monday, I took part in the 'extra mile marathon' on the Lakeshore. At the time of my fairly immediate post-race blog entry, I was speculating if and how the organisers would respond to the fact that most of us with GPS devices found the distance to be wrong: we ran 27.2 instead of 26.2 miles.

By Monday afternoon when the chip time results were first posted, it was indirectly acknowledged: the average pace for the total time had been calculated with the augemented distance of 27.2. But nothing else yet...

By Thursday we received the usual email telling us about the availability of results as well as this brief admission: There were however some operational mistakes and shortcomings that tarnished the experience for many. In that regard, additional feedback and a post event survey will be forthcoming.

Well, it got more interesting yesterday. The Chicago Tribune had both a cover page story, and an entry by blogger/journalist Eric Zorn, with quotes and links. Apparently, national print and TV media had short coverage too as Google News shows. The race founder and organiser made symbolic amends by resigning as race director. He may have to relinquish more -- we'll see. Those who ran trying to qualify for Boston are probably the maddest.

I'm still more bemused than outraged about the whole thing. I ran my 'just under' 8 min/mile pace for 26.2, then slowed a little and ran the final 1/2 mile with my older daughter. Courtesy of the professional photographers, we even have some nice pictures of us crossing the finishing line after 27.2 and 0.5 miles, respectively:

a b c d e f g

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Mon, 30 May 2005

Now I can use the plural marathons...

Ran my second marathon today at the 2005 Lakeshore Marathon. In fact, I probably ended up running more than a marathon as there was consensus among GPS-sporting runners that the course was a full mile long at 27.2 miles. We'll see how that unfolds, and what, if anything, the organizers have to say.

Personal time was fine: I had aimed for a pace similar to my previous marathon -- i.e. 3:29 -- and I managed to beat that time by around 41 seconds (according to the GPS). Hand-stopped at the finish was 3:36:32, we'll see what the official chip time will be.

Overall, the race was fine. Today is a gorgeous day here in Chicagoland: sunny, no wind, no clouds. If anything, it got too warm. Beats the forecast of early morning showers by a wide margin. The race itself was on the Lakeshore walk / cycle / roller blade path, and after about 8:00am that turned into a bit of a nuisance will all the cyclists. Most were well-behaved, but some should really get ticketed for whisking through runners and pedestrians at 20+ mph... In sum, not too sure if I'll run this particular race again. The end-of-May date is nice, though.

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Thu, 26 May 2005

JP Chase Corporate Challenge 2005

Did this year's JP Morgan Chase Corp. Challenge 3.5 mile race in Grant Park earlier this evening. Now it's been moved from August via June to May. Nice night, and its always neat to hang out at the work-sponsored tent for a cold one afterwards.

The race itself was good too. I've started this 3 1/2 mile race with 25:53 minutes in 2002, improved to 24:24 in 2003, then to 23:24 in 2004 and now an even nicer 22:11 (i.e. a 6:19/mile pace) in 2005. I just hope I won't have to pay for that time at the upcoming much longer race on Monday.

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