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go cubs go / race to wrigley 5k recap

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race to wrigley

It’s been quite awhile since I sat down to write a race recap! Last weekend I headed out to do the Race to Wrigley 5k, sponsored by the 2016 World Champion Cubs.

I didn’t go to packet pickup so I can’t speak to that experience, but my partner in crime seemed to be in and out very quickly.

Saturday morning we rolled out of bed at 6am and grabbed a coffee and a Lyft by 6:45. Next year I would leave a bit later – it was a little on the chilly side, but the Cubs team store and Sports World were both open for pre-race shopping. Getting there was very easy – they hadn’t shut the streets down yet so our Lyft dropped us off right at the start line, and everything was well-signed so it wasn’t hard to navigate. For the first time I thought I might have an issue with runner’s trots, but it ended up holding off (thank goodness.) Around 7:40 they started corralling everyone to the start line, and after a few stretches and the national anthem, we were off. Thank goodness the rain held off – I’m writing this in a thunderstorm and it would have been a cold (but fun) race through this weather.

I thought the course was great – flat, easy, and not too many turns. There was a ton of course support in the form of security and police officers, and it was one of the best and safest road races I’ve ever done. The two water stops on the course both seemed like they could have benefitted from a longer head start or more tables to line up cups on because when we went through, they were already getting backed up and running out, and we were toward the front of the pack.

When the course looped back around and we saw Harry Caray standing on the corner signaling our arrival back to the Field, it was such a relief, but also super exciting. Running through the concourse was fun, and a great way to finish the race. Hitting the mile 3 marker and with the finish line in sight, we both took off to cross the finish line… so we thought.

The finish line was the only part of the day I would have changed. Not too long after we took off at the mile marker, it started backing up terribly because the finisher chute was far too small to sustain the number of runners finishing. Add in the fact that many of the fun runners were finishing at the same time as us and there was really not enough room. From the time we stopped until we actually crossed the timing mat, it was almost six minutes. I’m still really proud of my time (especially for having not trained at all) and proud of Brendan for doing so well even when it got hard!

This race also helped me remember how much I love running. The camaraderie, the good ache after going hard, the joy of the finish line banana and happy volunteers giving out medals. Despite the finish line backup, it was a really great race, and I’m excited to Race to Wrigley again next year!

May 1, 2017

Hot Chocolate 5k Chicago

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hot chocolate 15k/5k review

After a long fitness hiatus during my adventures in Nashville, I’ve tried to get back into being more active in the last couple of months. Some of my friends had signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k in Chicago, so I used it as an excuse to get back to racing. I had forgotten how much I really enjoy it.

I headed to the expo on Friday to pick up packets for two of my friends and myself, and though I really think they could have found a more effective space to rent for the expo, it was really well organized. I didn’t have to jump between lines with different last name groupings – the same person ran all three of our IDs, and I took our bibs over to pick up our hoodies. The sizing of the hoodies is great, but the quality isn’t the best, and now I’m paranoid that it will shrink after the first wash and I’ll have wished for a size bigger, but you live and you learn. At the race itself, I noticed that a lot of the ones being worn around had stray or loose threads on them, so I don’t expect mine to last too long. The expo seemed mostly to have booths for other RAM Racing events, a pretty large Fleet Feet setup, and a few other small booths, but I was in and out pretty quickly without too much temptation.

On Saturday night, I set out all my gear to make sure I was ready to go, which ended up being a good call since that was when I discovered that I had not brought my shoes in the house. I stuck my bib to my Fitletics belt, charged up the bluetooth headphones, and made a plan to get to the race the next day.


Sunday morning came and I was kind of nervous because I haven’t been working out very much, and I haven’t raced since April 2014. I planned to pace my friend to a PR so I adopted a little fake confidence to believe I could even hit the pace I planned for us. I found the race setup to be a little confusing – none of the information in the packet or on the website said exactly where bag check was, so we had to walk what felt like forever to drop off our bags. We were in wave 2, and it seemed like the arrival time for that was much earlier than it should have been, but maybe it was my sleep-deprived brain being whiny. (My mat time was almost two hours after our corrals closed, though…)

The course itself was really nice – only two slight hills that I noticed, and even though I didn’t feel properly “trained,” I felt great during our walk/run splits and stayed right on the pace I had planned (who knew I could pace?) and the race went by really quickly. Every time we hit a mile marker, I found myself feeling surprised. The aid station had Nuun, water, and chocolate chips (which I really should have skipped, but I partook and spent the next half mile with a side stitch) and I finished in 44:27, which I felt like a really reasonable time!


We finished, made the long, long journey to the “finish line” party to get our finisher’s mugs and snacks, and headed to a much deserved brunch! I will probably do this race again next year, but will register pretty far in advance since $65 seemed pretty high for a 5k.

October 29, 2016

4 the Wounded 5k / #4TW5k Recap

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4 the Wounded 5k is a race in Charlottesville at UVA’s Research Park. In its fourth year, 100% of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project. On Saturday morning I laced up with my friend who asked if I’d do this with her for her birthday and obviously, I happily said yes.

Race entry was $32.80 which I thought was a great deal given that I signed up four days before the race. There was a cap of 1600 runners, and it was extremely close to the limit when we signed up (but it did look like there was still race day registration on Saturday.) They had two days of packet pickup, Thursday from 3-7 and Friday from 2-6, which I thought was great. I didn’t have to waste my lunch hour driving out to the middle of nowhere (seriously, the research park is almost 20 minutes out of town) and wouldn’t have to worry about lines on Saturday. I grabbed both of our packets around 6 on Thursday without any lines at all. Registration included a tech shirt (which was awesome since I never wear cotton shirts and have rarely gotten tech tee’s at 5ks), a cooling neck wrap, and promo coupons from sponsors.

6:30am Saturday rolled around and I got out of bed, had a banana and grabbed some water to head out to the research park. I’ve been having some extremely bad knee pain lately, so I was nervous about how I’d feel. My friend and I waited in the corral together about 1/3 back through the pack where I seeded myself (she was walking) and dropped back once the race started.

4 the wounded 5k

There I am with my bright yellow sunglasses!

As I began to run, I felt great. Minimal knee pain, no foot pain, and the first mile was almost all downhill. At this point my stomach started to do somersaults every time I picked up the pace. It was frustrating and I have got to figure out this stomach stuff. It was a little hilly, and in the second mile there was a trail course break off for trail runners which I thought was really cool. Throughout the whole race I felt pretty great and finished in 32:29 (a PR!).

4 the wounded 5k

I crossed through the chute, hit the port-a-potties (where my stomach was fine, of course,) went through the finisher’s spread (it was awesome – water, granola bars, banana, oranges, grapes, and yogurt) and then headed back up the course to finish with my friend. She finished around 1:01, and I picked up an extra mile or so.

Another thing I really liked about this race was that even though it was in the middle of nowhere, that meant that the campus was essentially on lockdown. They closed the two entrances to the area, I felt really safe (god bless closed courses,) and the certain panic attack I would normally feel when my friend chose to leave her car keys on top of her tire instead of putting them in her pocket was minimal. (This did also mean that we couldn’t leave the premises until 9:30, but that was fine.)

I thought this race was a great value and would absolutely run it again next year. I have no complaints about it at all – this says a lot, considering I have super high expectations of everything race-related and rarely enjoy small races 😉 and every time I do a local race, I’m reminded of how crazy fast the runners here are – the winners ran something like 17:40s. Insane.

Are you a fan of smaller, local races? Aside from your own time, what makes a race “good” for you?

June 9, 2014

Get Filthy Clean: 5k Foam Fest Recap

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5k foam fest recap

A few weeks ago, I drove over to Richmond to do the 5k Foam Fest! I registered pretty last minute since we were on call to work in case graduation got rained out, but the weekend was beautiful, so I took my chances and it paid off. The race was held in a state park and I should have expected to pay for parking, but that didn’t ease the sting of the $10 parking charge. One of my biggest pet peeves is paying for parking but I handed it over and wandered off. I was pretty lost as to where to go from the parking lot because it wasn’t signed very well, but following the herd served me well. Foam Fest and the park had set up hay ride wagons to drive people down to the start line which I thought was nice. It wasn’t all that far, but I knew at least getting on it that I wouldn’t get lost in the woods 🙂 Pickup was fast and easy. I didn’t bring anything in with me except my car key and driver’s license which were zipped safely in the pocket of my pants, but there was a gear check so if you’re going out to one later this summer, you don’t have to pack as light as I did. I didn’t even bring my phone in, so I unfortunately don’t have many pictures. I did some extremely brief research before the race trying to figure out exactly how dirty I would be and what I should keep in my car for post-race cleanup. This is what my trunk looked like:


One body towel, two hand towels, two Shower Pills, a packet of face wipes, and then sundry other things like sunscreen, flip flops, clean clothes and snacks. Evidence of GROSS overpacking, but I like to be prepared. I noticed that the people coming out of the race were nowhere nearly as dirty as I’d read online so I started to feel pretty confident about being able to get a few more errands done post-race.

I arrived an hour before my scheduled heat, and they said that you could go out earlier, so I chose to go at 12:20. (I really recommend going as early in the day as you can.) The wave only had 20-30 people and we ran through the falling foam and we were off!

I can’t remember every one of the obstacles, but the first one was a bounce-house kind of thing filled with foam. There was also a set of up-and-over walls, a cargo rope climb, the “lily pad,” the death drop slide, and many other foamy things. The only one I elected to walk past was the mud pit – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to get dirty (I LOVE getting muddy,) it was that I was there by myself, and I noticed a LOT of people struggling to be pulled out of the muck by their friends. I was also wearing the only pair of running shoes I currently have, so I didn’t want them to fall victim to the pit. It looked really fun and in retrospect I regret not doing it, but c’est la vie. All the signs had very funny sayings on them and it was a very low-pressure introduction to obstacle racing – at the start, there were signs that said if an obstacle was too scary, you could walk around it.

5k foam fest

Throughout the race I found myself just doing instead of overthinking things – I’m sure I questioned if I would make it over those first walls, but I just did it anyway. I was halfway up the Death Drop slide before I thought, oh crap, do I really want to do this? Once you’re up you don’t have a choice. Throughout this whole fitness journey, I’ve had a lot of moments like this: I don’t realize how scary something might be until it’s already done, or until I don’t have a choice to turn back. Running half-marathons isn’t overwhelming – you just do it. Climbing obstacles isn’t scary- you’re strong enough to do it. (What a metaphor for life.)

It was untimed, but I know I made pretty good time since I was back in my car by 1:30, even after spending time in finisher’s village slamming my Mike’s Hard Lemonade.


My bib number gave me feelings… #gleeproblems

Oh, and if you’re wondering – the Death Drop slide totally washes you clean, so even if you do get caked in mud throughout the course – you’re just wet at the end.

I definitely recommend this race – it’s a great intro to obstacle racing and race fee includes a (cotton) shirt, a Mike’s Hard at the end, free photos, and a medal. Totally worth it – if there’s one near you, sign up using my Foam Fanatics code and save $5 with FF2788.

Have you done any obstacle race fun runs? Any tips for runners preparing for them?

I was selected to participate in this program as a member of SweatPink. I received a free race entry for review, but all opinions are my own.
May 30, 2014

5k Foam Fest Discount Code!

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5k foam fest discount

I made a super last minute decision to do the 5k Foam Fest in Richmond tomorrow! It looks like it’s not going to rain, so I won’t have to work. I’m super excited because it will be my first obstacle race – any last minute advice or packing tips would be much appreciated!

Use my Foam Fanatics discount code to save $5 off registration in any city: FF2788.

Have you done Foam Fest before? Any obstacle race/mud run packing tips?

I was provided an entry to 5k Foam Fest through Sweat Pink. All opinions are my own!

May 16, 2014