Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hills of Gloucester

This morning I ran the Gloucester Seacoast Seven. What originally caught my eye about the race was the prize money -- $500 for first and $100 for second. Previous years' results were not that fast, so I thought I'd have a chance at second place maybe. But then I learned that the race didn't offer prize money in previous years, so this year was sure to draw a crowd of fast, money-hungry runners. No worries, though, as I was still excited to drive (yes, drive!) to gorgeous Gloucester and run my penultimate race in Massachusetts.

All the women were checkin' each other out at the start, wondering how fast the race would go out and who'd be in the lead and who'd try to steal it from her. I hung out with Diona and Jess Blake at the start and we decided to just have fun with it.

Before the race, I asked some of the volunteers what the course was like. I figured it'd be hilly, because Gloucester is chock-full of hills. The volunteers laughed a bit and said, "Oh yeah, it's hilly. Uphill, there and back.

That description of the course was spot on. This was probably the hilliest race I've ever done. It seriously felt uphill just about the whole time! I treated the few downhills as a pseudo recovery and opportunity to increase my legspeed, but before I could take full advantage of the descent, we'd start climbing again. Adding to the difficulty of the race was the steady head wind or cross wind and constant turns along the windy Gloucester roads. The absolute worst was the last half mile -- we rounded the corner into a parking lot near the finish and had to somehow surge up a giant incline to get to the chute. It was hell. I was literally wheezing. Pretty embarrassing.

My time was awful, but I'm not going to pay much attention to it for now considering the difficulty of the course. Winds and hills are not my strong point, but it was excellent training nonetheless. And I guess I better get used to those hills if I want to keep racing in Berkeley and San Francisco!

Next race is the Newburyport 10 miler on July 31. Let's hope for better weather than last year. 90 degree heat and 86% humidity was brutal!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

LL Bean 10k

Hey guys! Thanks for the support!

I've run the LL Bean 10k for 9 years now, something I do every year with my dad (his 24th year) and sister. It's a fun race which usually brings out some notable names and LL Bean gives great prizes, like gift certificate for the top 3. I looked at past results to see where I could potentially place. The winner usually runs in the low 37's and second place isn't far behind, but third place varies from 37-something to 40. Gauging my current shape, I thought 3rd place was an attainable goal and, plus it'd be cool to win "prize money."

So, the race went off. The first mile is fast, downhill. The clock said 5:45. Yikes--fast! I chilled out for a mile and re-grouped. Mile 2 was about 12 min and I was feeling pretty strong, in about 8th place. I picked it up a little and started moving up. Right around mile 3, I saw a familiar figure with silver hair just ahead of me. With my focus on her back, I started working hard....I couldn't believe I was actually getting closer to Joan Benoit Sameulson--she's my idol! Right at the 4th mile, I passed Joan! My freaking idol! I was passing by freaking idol...I managed to calmly spurt out, "that's it Joan. " We were at the base of a huge hill, and I said to myself, you are going to look like a real jerk if Joanie passes you on this I kept moving. I was in 4th place at that point and at mile 5 I could see the 3rd place ponytail in the distance. I looked down at my watch, 30:24 (pr for 5 miles!). I decided I still wanted the money! I started passing a bunch of men. At some point, I was pretty sure I didnt want "the money" anymore and was just fine with 4th, but the other voice in my head screamed, "what the heck, you better get third..she's right in front of you!" At mile 6 mark one of the fans yelled "oh it's going to be a race for 3rd"...just as I was about to pass. All I could think was I hope she doesn't kick! I finished...4 seconds ahead, 3rd place! 37:25! Very psyched! Last year, I ran 44:01.

I jogged around and cheered for my dad to come in...finished in 1:00.36! Looking forward to my award, I waited in the sun with sister and stretched. They called the first placed woman, Emily Levan and announced she had broken the course record, so in addition to her 1st place prize of $100 to LL Bean, she was getting another $100. 2nd place was called and she was handed a envelope with a gift card as well. I was beaming, couldn't wait for my name to be called...3rd place...Gretchen Chick, congratulations. Yes!! I shook hands and then looked down at my award...a FLASHLIGHT...I got a freaking flashlight?! There must be some mistake! I've run this race for 9 years and the top 3 always get money! But no, not this year.

Well, I'm sure it'll come in handy one of these days. But it was a fun a race. Next Tuesday will be my one year anniversary with the club. I'm in great shape, and with all sincerity I wouldn't be without you guys! You all are motivating, inspring, and you make for a pretty awesome support group, too. Basically, you rock! I look forward to many more workouts and swweeeeeeet races (with better prizes)!


Minuteman Classic 5 miler

My parents were in town for 16 hours or so during the July 4th holiday. They flew in to New Jersey for a conference a few days early so decided to rent a car and come visit (and take a few suitcases full of my stuff back to Chicago to help me move). Anyway, since they had a car, I decided to take full advantage and make them drive me to a race.

We drove up to Concord, MA for the Minuteman Classic 5 Miler. The race was no where to be found on Cool Running's race calendar. Emily told me about it on Tuesday, so I used my best google searching skills to track it down.

We got a little lost getting there and arrived a bit late, so I didn't get to warm up much. I saw Katie Fobert at the start line -- which was great! Always nice to see a friendly face. The race started with the firing of a musket -- I guess it's tradition for this 4th of July race. And we were off. I went out at a steady pace and did not expect to be the lead woman --- but I was. There were tons of men ahead of me though. The first mile must have been short because my watch read 5:47 and I think we ran closer to 6:05 or 6:06. Anyway, I ran with a group of middle aged men and we kept trading spots and racing around the turns for a few miles. I passed a bunch of people who went out too hard and died half-way through. My three mile split was 18:14, so I felt good. The next two miles were tough -- at this point I was racing more or less by myself and there were some small rolling inclines and declines and I was getting tired and hot.

Rounding the last few turns toward the finish, I was struggling to maintain pace, much less surge and push hard to finish. I really have no kick! Anyway, I won the race and PRed for the distance but didn't run quite as well as I would have liked to. No worries. It was still a fun way to spend the morning of the 4th of July, and I was thrilled that my parents were around to drive me to and from the race. Katie Fobert also did well (but I don't know her place yet) and we cool down together through the gorgeous tree-lined roads of Concord.

When I got home, I checked my email and read about Gretchen's great 10K race and was floored! At that point I basically forgot that I had raced and was just so happy and excited for Gretchen. She is the star of the 4th of July!


Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Long time no post. Long time no see. As many of you know, my Dad was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma not too long ago. The past few weeks have been busy with appointments and procedures all leading to his major surgery in 2 weeks. Needless to say my schedule has been hectic and therefore making it to practice has been difficult. Well last night I was heading in to run and just my luck, traffic was awful. I should have known, but I was hoping it would be moving at least. No such luck. I ended up bailing and heading to Blue Hills to run as I knew I would never make it to South Boston in time. My run was ok, but I think I am going through workout withdrawal. I miss you all!! I miss the warmups full of chatter and the feeling of running fast with a pack. I miss the weekly updates of what is new in everyone's life. I even miss Tom's crazy workouts. Amazing how that happens. My running has been less of a priority the past month which is the right thing, but it is hard for me. Running has always been the constant in my life. It still is, but I am not able to put in as much time as I would like. I know that once my Dad gets through his surgeries that will change. So right now I will just be patient.
That being week I am determined to make it in to Southie even if I have to leave 2 hours early. Who knows what I can do for a workout, but seeing everyone will get me through whatever Tom thinks up.
Miss you all and see you soon.


Gretchen rocks my world!

I really wish I could have been in Maine to watch Miss Gretchen the Great run her amazing, inspiring 10K race. I haven't talked to Gretchen yet, so I haven't heard any race stories... but from her 3rd place finish in a time of 37:25 (6:02 pace), I'm guessing it was a fabulous fabulous race.

Awesome job, Gretchen! I am so psyched for you. Congrats!!! Celebrate!!!