It’s no secret that I like to combine mini-vacations with races. I got the idea to come to Chicago in the fall to visit my girlfriends and run the Fox Valley Half Marathon.
The race is a pricey one, I’m not gonna lie. But what a great weekend it was!
This race follows the Fox Valley River Trail, from St. Charles to Batavia and back. The area is just adorable and so much GREEN! It’s so great for this desert dweller to see. I used to live not too far away in Aurora/Oswego, so I kind of felt a bit at home doing this race.
On Saturday I headed out for packet pickup (and lunch with friends). The expo was tiny but it was easy to get in and out quickly. I studied the maps and made sure I knew how to get to the right parking areas in the morning, with all the road closures.
It was 52 degrees when I rolled up to the start area. A little chilly for me LOL. Conveniently located next to the start line (literally) was a coffee shop. Hot Coffee AND a real bathroom. Score!
In addition to the half marathon, there was also a 20 mile run (last big training race for those running the Chicago Marathon) as well as a full marathon. We all started at the same time with very short wave starts in between. The course was hillier than I anticipated. The first half of the race really didn’t follow along the river. I could see it through the trees from afar, but we were weaving in and out of city streets, coming down towards the river, then climbing back up. It was a beautiful morning, for sure.
There were pace groups, and it got pretty congested on the river trail at one point. I was torn between treating this race as a training run for the Tucson Marathon coming up in December, or trying to run “fast” and get a good finish time. I started out fast – like 8:20 pace for the first 3-4 miles. By the half way point my time was more like 8:40. I was trying to take in the scenery, but was starting to run out of gas a little bit.
I just did the best I could without stopping to walk. I ended up with 2:01:23. I would have preferred under 2 hrs, but it is what it is. I was in the top 1/5 of my age group. The medal was pretty cool with a fox on it. Great post-race food like macaroni & cheese!
I would totally recommend this race – and will most likely do it again! Fun to get to go out and celebrate with friends afterwards.
I’ve decided to take on a new challenge…trail running! You would think that this would be a no-brainer, since I live in the desert, but there are things about trail running that have been holding me back.
- Fear of getting lost
- Fear of hurting myself
- Fear of not knowing what the hell I’m doing
All the pictures that people post of their trail running look so cool! We have some great trails here – also some challenging ones! I’ve been a road runner for 17 years, and I’m not sure if switching gears will be an easy transition. Experienced trail runners make it look so easy, but the fact is, it’s not!
I have signed up for not one but 2 trail races in the near future – including a Ragnar Relay! So I’m starting to sprinkle in some trail runs here and there to tip my toe in the water.
I ran my first trail run two years ago in Cave Creek, AZ. It was a beautiful setting. It was fairly steep, very dusty, lots of tree roots to look out for, and I fell twice (once while trying to take a picture and run at the same time!).
Then I ran the Lost Dutchman 8k trail run in Apache Junction AZ in the Superstitions last February and somehow took 2nd in my age group out of like 50 people! That was pretty and a fast course, I had fun.
My next challenge is the AZ Trail Series XTERRA 20K at Estrella mountain on October 4. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what I have gotten myself into on this one, but I hope it’s at least great scenery! 12 miles? Yikes. There are some other people I know doing it, so I hope it will be FUN and not too painful!
The next challenge after that is the Ragnar McDowell Mountain relay on Nov 6-7. I am terrified of the nighttime segments, what if I run into critters on the trail, or cactus? Or trip and fall and bust my head open? Praying my leg will be at dusk or dawn so that I can have a little more visibility than a headlamp. I know 2 of the girls on my team, but again, not exactly sure what I’m getting myself into here. Sometimes I jump into things head first and worry about it later. Some of the best things in life happen that way :)
I started running with @ZucchiniRunner (Corrine) – she’s a trail running pro and she ran the Ragnar McDowell race last year. We went out to South Mountain for a 3.5 mile run and I’ve gotta say, I really felt it in my lower back. I didn’t mind the elevation changes, and the scenery was great – but you really do need to focus so much more on where your feet are being planted and what’s in front of you – I feel like I can zone out so much more during road running.
On my second outing, I was more aware of my posture and was trying to make sure I wouldn’t have back issues again. We were treated to a nice sunrise and the terrain was varied enough you don't get bored. All of this beauty is about 10 minutes from my house!
I’d greatly appreciate any advice you have for a trail running newbie!
If you happen to be running the @aztrailrace XTERRA race at Estrella Mountain next month, we’ll be having a #runeattweetaz meetup at the race, stay tuned for details!
Most people have definite opinions on running on treadmills. I think most people dread the tread.
Growing up, my dad had his own treadmill in the basement that he would walk on. It seemed like a great way to multitask and get some exercise in while watching TV. Once I became a runner, I definitely preferred the outside to the treadmill, but I realized that the TM is a great option whether it is to escape bad weather, staying at a hotel, or just to change things up.
I ended up inheriting my dad’s treadmill. Unfortunately it is so old now that it slips and I only feel safe using it for walking. However, this summer I have opted to go to the gym to run on the treadmill to avoid running in the heat. When I’m on I usually just play with my speed, slowly increasing it throughout, but always at a 0% incline.
Recently I got the chance to try something new on the treadmill. Julie Ann, a coach/personal trainer with portaPT offered me one of her workouts to try on the treadmill. I had heard good things, and was ready for something new.
I chose the “mish-mash intervals “ download, which is about 40 minutes. We started with a long warmup at 8% incline!!! That was a real awakening. Then it went into real hill work, then a ladder workout where you’re gradually adding speed – faster than I’ve ever ran before!! – then finishing off with sprints. It’s literally like having a personal trainer in your ear, guiding you along. She has the most positive, encouraging attitude
Trying out this new workout busted me out of my rut, and I felt stronger both physically and mentally afterwards. I am already looking forward to doing it again, as well as trying new ones from her website.
Save 25% on downloads at portaPT.com with RUNEATTWEET01!
Do you like to run on a treadmill?
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!