Friday, May 31, 2013

Commuting

So this is a bitchy post about how much commuting sucks sometimes. I'm whining and I know it - which probably doesn't make it better, it just makes it more pathetic that I'm going to continue to do it anyway.

Today there was a fire on the Blue line. Normally this wouldn't be an issue for me as I usually take the Metra downtown. But today I decided to ride with my husband who works, for the time being, in Wicker Park and then take the Blue line to my office. The nice thing about this is (a) the walk is shorter from the train to my office and (b) I can go to the good Starbucks and not the annoying Starbucks. But just as we were getting to Mr. H's office the radio tells us about said fire and no trains are moving. Great. So now I and every other person along Milwaukee Ave. are stuck trying to (a) get into a cab or (b) get on a bus. Both of which are hopelessly hopeless. Eventually I lost all patience and decided to drive the rest of the way. It probably didn't get me to work any quicker, but at least I was in control.

While I was cursing my decision to not take the Metra downtown I'm watching all the cyclists and walkers (who I am assuming had given up on a boardable bus coming anytime soon), thinking - yep, I should just ride my bike to work. Of course, the minute I do that, I'll get a flat tire or something. See, I'm just in a negative mood.

I do want to start riding my bike to work, but I also want to stay safe. I know first hand two people who have had pretty bad accidents involving cars, one of whom I work with who lives a few blocks from me so took the same route I would be taking. Other than riding slow and being hyper aware, I don't know how to minimize my risk. And cars aren't the only obstacles on the road. The roads themselves can be an issue, though the entire route I would take is marked bike lanes or shared lanes. However, because of this, especially closer to downtown, there are a lot of other cyclists, many of whom don't follow the rules of the road. In some way, you're safer in numbers. In other ways you're not.

Most days, regardless of what way I decide to take to work - and I do realize how lucky I am that I have multiple ways to get to work - it's easy and hassle free. But biking to work does have the element of control that I like coupled with being free/exercise/good for the environment. Really it's a win-win - that is if I can stay safe.

Do you ride to work? What are your tactics for staying safe? If you don't ride to work, how to you stay zen when the train/bus/traffic just isn't going your way?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bike the Drive

Having just purchased a shiny new bike for mother's day, and at the urging of my sister who had signed up for Bike the Drive, I decided that a wonderful family event would be to get out of bed, plop ourselves on our bikes after stuffing Baby H. in the bike trailer and then head on down to Lake Shore Drive and pretend how great it would be to commute to work on a bike if there were no cars on the road.

Well, Baby H. didn't want to go at first, it wasn't as warm as a Memorial Day should be and my sister partied just a little too hard the previous night. Also, as I was the one pulling Baby H. in the trailer and I knew I wouldn't be going that fast anyway, I used the old bike instead of the new one. But, even with all that, it really was a great ride.

We got on going south at Montrose and headed down to  Madison. At that point we traded text's with some friends who had already ridden south to southern most point of the ride, the Museum of Science and Industry. They were heading back our way and since they were a bit speedier than us, I knew they'd catch up with us. 

So we moved the trailer to Mr. H's bike so he could see what it was like to lug around an extra 50 pounds and headed back north. Our friends caught up to us around Montrose. We headed up to the turn around at Bryn Mawr and then we rode back to Montrose. In all it was a great drive. The forecast rain stayed away and it was actually sunny. Baby H. loved the trailer and we all loved the image of nothing but bikes on Lake Shore Drive.

Friday, May 24, 2013

JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge

Before I even started this race, I told myself this was the last time I was going to run it. This year was the fourth time I've participated in this race, three times with my current company and once with my previous company. And the years I haven't run I've been on the planning committee and attended the race with the exception of the year my son was born who's birthday, happens to be today. With more than 25,000 people participating, it's a crowded field. But in the years since I started running this, they've made a lot of improvements.

The first year I ran I think you self reported your time and it was supposed to be based off of the official clock. Then they started actually chipping the run. The last couple of years they have started the run in waves, which makes sense with this many people. But this year there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for what wave you were placed in. When you register they ask for your projected finishing time. I put a solid 10 min pace, so 35 minutes - for some reason this isn't a 5k, it's a five and half mile run. I know I can run faster than that, but figured I'd give myself a little leeway. I finished in 35:55, and I would have easily finished under 35 minutes had I not spent the first two miles running around all the walkers. 

I know it's hard to make people line up to where they are seeded. But I also passed many people who were walking that started in the waves before me. And with that many people, it's just too hard to actually race when you're weaving around people for the entire race.

My mood also wasn't helped by the weather - cold and windy. A change in the course route this year had us under lower Columbus and Wacker for a good portion of the run, so that was actually pretty nice. However, had it been warm, might have made it hotter.

In the end, it was just another weekday run. The t-shirts this year were technical shirts, so I actually took one. It's always amazing how many Corporate Challenge shirts from previous years you can find at a Salvation Army at any given time. 

In other news, as I mentioned, it is Baby H's third birthday today. I can't believe it has been three years already. It seems like yesterday that he was just tiny. Actually, it doesn't. It has been an amazing and wonderful three years, and I am looking forward to more and more wonderful days ahead.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K

Yesterday Mr. H. and I competed in the Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10k - he did the half and I ran the 10k.

It was a nice day for a run, sunny and not too hot with a bit of a breeze off of the lake. True to form, I wasn't as prepared for this race as I wanted to be. But I have started running a couple of mornings a week with a friend, so I am hoping that this will keep me more motivated to run more often and more regularly.

Kinda like  the C4, all I wanted to do was to go out and run and have a good time. And that's what I did. It's been since marathon training that I've been this far South on the lake path and it was a nice change of scenery. It was pretty easy for me to get into a groove and I was keeping my pace around 9:40 min miles. Because of this, I did actually manage to best my 10K record by about four minutes, so that was good too.

Because the course was an in and out and because the half marathon left about half an hour before the 10k, I knew I'd have some half marathoners passing me before the end. I fully expected Mr. H. to be one of those. But I had the great pleasure of beating him to the finish line by about four minutes, even if he ran more than twice my distance.

But the greatest part of the day was watching my son run the 50 yard dash with his Nana. That's him running rogue in the stripped shirt (I tried everything I could to enter him properly but couldn't find anyone who would take my money.).

This weekend seemed a blur because after the run we went and picked up my wonderful mother's day present from the bike store. And then after a nap that didn't really happen,we hung out in the back yard with friends and finally attached the bike trailer to my other bike and baby H. and I did a few laps around the block in preparation for Bike the Drive next weekend. Couple that with my brother's college graduation the day before (whoo hoo), and a lot of rocket knitting, it was a busy weekend.

Sometimes I long for the summer lazy days where we have nothing to do. But now that Baby H. isn't so much a baby anymore, it seems there's a never ending stream of stuff that we need to get out and do. I'm just glad that running and biking are included in the "stuff we need to do this weekend."

Note: I'm going to have to get better updating my blog, at least after races, because I've been added to the list of Chicago Running Bloggers! You can go there to check out all the other great Chicago bloggers who write about the myriad of races we have in our great city.


Friday, May 17, 2013

What Running Means to Me

The Run for Boston 5k blog has recently been running a series of "What Running Means to Me" guest posts. It's a great way to learn about all the other runners out there and why they run. They graciously ran my post today. Click here to check it out: http://runforboston5k.com/what-running-means-to-me-melanie-for-mellys-musings/.

While you're there, you can sign up for the Run for Boston 5K on June 15 or you can sign up to run it virtually. They're also looking for volunteers. All proceeds from the run will benefit the Who Says I Can’t Foundation and directly to support the rehabilitation of those who lost limbs as a result of the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

C4 Miles

Having done zero runs since Sunday, run a race the previous weekend and only just signed up for this race the day before, I wasn't out to accomplish anything by running the C4 Miles other than support my knitting friend Amy and her organization.

Mr. H. and I had to coordinate him running an 11-miles and then meeting at the race site so he could watch Baby H. and my niece while my sister and I ran the race. It worked out perfectly and the slightly sunny, not too warm 10 a.m. start meant we didn't have to get out of bed too early and the weather was perfect. I went into this race with the mind set of just going for a nice four-mile jog. And that's exactly what I did. I ran with another knitter friend, Liz, and we chatted along the path about running, the book we're reading for book club and how good the food at the cafe smelled.

Unfortunately the food smells distracted Liz and she got tripped up, hitting the deck. The good news is, she aimed for the grass and only suffered a couple of minor scrapes and we were able to get back up and running again pretty quickly. The nice thing about this run is that it's such a small run; there were only 111 runners and some walkers completing a two mile out and back loop. Because of this, you're able to get into a nice pace easily without having to contend with a bunch of other people. The not nice thing about this run is that the four miles is on the same out and back loop as the walkers (just longer obviously , so you're pretty much dodging walkers along the last mile and. The other issue is that it starts on the path at Cannon and Fullerton, but then veers off the path and onto sidewalk around the Waveland Park softball fields. The side walks anywhere in this city can be treacherous  and this was no exception. I suspect uneven paving, not actually the yummy smells of food, is what tripped Liz up. But like I said, she wasn't badly hurt so we walked for a few seconds and then were back to running.

Amazingly, even with this slight bump in my pace, I managed to finish 2nd in my age group. It helped that there were only four women in my age group running. And had our slight slow down not happened, I may have actually won my age group. But at the end of the day, that wasn't what I went out to do this run for. I went to have a good time, hang out with some friends and family (sister placed 1st in her age group - again!) and support a great organization. And that's what I did.

Stats:
Distance: 4 miles; Time: 39:27; Pace: 9:42; L1-9:21; L2-9:58; L3-10:24; L4-9:15
Finished 55/111; 2/4 in age group

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ravenswood Run

I did the Ravenswood 5k again this year. I finished in 28:32 (that's 11 seconds faster than last year and now my 5k PR). So fast in fact that I must have given the photographer the slip because I didn't appear in any of the pictures from the race. Normally I at least get the behind a guy with a mustache picture as I did in the Turkey Trot. But no. This time I got nothing.

Maybe it's because, other than the marathon, I have never once ordered pictures from a race. I look at them. I make fun of them because I usually look like I'm walking, or I am partially obscured by a mustachioed guy in front of me, but I never actually order prints. The photographer can sense this so doesn't waste his time. Of course, Mr. H. gets a great photo. He looks like he should be on the cover of Runner's World. He never orders pictures either. But clearly the photographers feel like his running is poetry in motion and they are compelled to capture it on film.

I, on the other hand, when I do manage to show up in race photos, look like the chick making a face wearing a weird hat and a huge race shirt that covers her shorts.

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