Distance: Sprint: 400 yard Swim, 11 mile Bike, 3.1 mile Run
Results: 1:05:03 – 23rd overall, 2nd place M55-59
I thoroughly enjoyed this race when I did it for the first time last year, so there was no hesitation about signing up again this year. Kari joined me for the race this year again too, doing the duathlon. We got up around 5am and headed to the race.
As soon as we walked our bikes into transition I was met by a lady who recognized me and said she had read my blog from a previous race. She follows the same local running group that I do, but I was surprised that she had read it. I only share it on my page, so I’m guessing someone else must have shared it. Anyway, I kind of felt like a celebrity after that!
We ran into many familiar faces and we shared race day strategies and advised each other on who to look out for! Seems like a very close knit group. Even my wife remembered some of the duathlon competitors.
SWIM:400 Yards, 9:31, 3rd in A/G, 68th Overall
The swim temp was 77 degrees, barely wetsuit legal, but I only saw one guy wearing one. I opted to not even bring it from the car. I had a really good swim. Last year I was a touch faster, but I remember laboring more too. This swim had zero contact and was issue free. Some commented post-race that they thought the course was longer than 400 yards. My watch showed 511 yards, but I forgot to hit my lap button as I exited the water and headed into transition. Official T1 time was 1:14, which isn’t too bad.
BIKE: 11 Miles, 30:53, Average speed 21.4 mph, 3rd in A/G, 25th Overall
Like last year, I opted for the full aero disc on my bike and went all out from the start. I was pushing hard through the whole 11 mile ride. I didn’t get passed by anyone this year, and I was blowing by lots of other riders. The wind was much lighter this year and it was also from the west, so it only affected a mile or two of the ride. Moved up several spots after the bike. Official T2 time was 1:27, slower than T1 because I sat down to put on socks.
RUN:3.1 miles, 21:56, 7:04 per mile pace ave., 2nd in A/G, 20th Overall
I had not trained for triathlon much this spring in summer. This time last year I was already 10 or 11 weeks into Ironman Louisville training. When I got off the bike and started the run, my legs were rubber. Very apparent to me that brick workouts make a world of difference, and I hadn’t done hardly any this year. But all things considered, I settled into a comfortable pace and just started catching the next runner ahead of me. I must have passed a lot of duathletes, because I only moved up 5 spots from the bike. I started pushing a little harder at the 2 mile mark and just kept up the effort until I finished. I was greeted by a guy named Mike, who I beat last year and he asked what had taken me so long. Oh well, try to get him next year.
Kari and I both got 2nd in our age groups. Kari’s group seemed to be having more fun.
Overall, a little slower than last year, but I was not as prepared this year as last. Very fun day.
RESULTS: 1:38:53 – 53rd OVERALL, 7th in Age Group M 50-54
I signed up for this race last week in hopes of improving my corral seeding at the 2018 Chicago Marathon (CM) this coming fall. Otherwise, I avoid summer half marathons like the plague! Too hot, muggy and miserable! But I was on a mission.
Although I have legacy status for the CM which guarantees my entry, I ended up getting into the race based on a qualifying time from the 2016 CM race. At the CM, they seed you into corrals, which are now separated into three waves. Being in the first wave is pretty awesome, as you are with the faster runners who finish under 3 hours and 45 minutes, and generally with those that will be running the same pace as you. In 2016 I was seeded in the B corral, which was like being an elite for me. When the word got out that we had been assigned corrals for this years race, I found that I had been moved to the E corral. Talk about a blow to my ego! Still in the first wave though, which is really the goal. Being in the first wave is preferred because there will be less people, less congestion, and no fear of the supplies of water, or Gatorade, or gels, or whatever running out. But even so, my qualifying time of 3:25:08 should have put me in the D corral to begin with by their own time standards.
I sent an email requesting to be moved to the D corral, and it was approved. But I thought I would give it a shot at trying to get into the C corral, which would require me to run either a <3:20:01 marathon, or a <1:35:01 half marathon. Since there’s no way I’m attempting to run a marathon in July, I found this local half marathon race in relatively nearby Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
Amita Health/Fit America Half Marathon Race Recap
Of course it was raining. Since running the in pouring rain at the Boston Marathon in April, it seems like every race I sign up for is going to have rain. I even skipped a triathlon in June because of the storms that morning. But today it wasn’t too bad, just misty, and that only lasted for about 30 minutes.
I took my spot in the start corral area and found my pacer. This guy and everyone around him all looked young, tall and thin and more than capable of being sub 1:35. I tapped his shoulder and asked him what the 6.55 mile (halfway) split would be, just to see if he did his homework. He did the math right there and I was satisfied. He also had a pace chart on his wrist. He did ask me if that was what I was intending to run, with sort of doubt in his expression, which always makes me chuckle when people doubt me. I may look old, fat and slow, but there is nothing more pleasing than surprising them with my effort. I said I was shooting for the stars today, hoping I would be able to hang until at least halfway.
Someone with a mic started a countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3… and on 3 the guy with the airhorn started blaring the thing. We all laughed and off we went.
(Note: I’m a newer user of Strava and I find the data and info from it interesting. I added screenshots of each mile split for reference and to help me recall things that happened during the race.)
MILE 1 – (7:13 Split) – I was afraid that 7:15 per mile was going to feel like 5K race pace to me, because I don’t normally train at that pace (usually I’m running 8:40 or so in training!), but our pack settled in behind our pacer. I actually felt pretty good.
MILE 2 – (7:12 Split) –By this mile my heart rate was in Z4 and I started to feel the intensity of the pace. But still I felt good, hanging with the group and feeling and looking like I belonged.
MILE 3 – (7:09 Split) – This split time is a little surprising, because Mr. Pacer was pretty spot on with his pace. There was only a handful of times when the group slowed going uphill, but we all picked it back up to 7:15 pretty easily. There were warnings of puddles to avoid, and I mentioned to the girl running next to me that Boston was all puddles, and she said she had run it too! Conversations were happening in the group and I sensed the group was feeling good.
MILE 4 – (7:16 Split) – This is where it all fell apart for me. I hit a wall and I hit it hard! Who hits the proverbial wall 4 miles into a half marathon?! Me, that’s who. I think the problem was I grabbed an energy gel at 30 minutes and started ingesting it. Between that and a water stop, my heart rate soared and I could feel myself starting to struggle. We were also starting to hit more of the hillier sections of the first half, and that was adding to my issue. The group wasn’t too far ahead, but I didn’t think I could keep pace any longer. I figured that the halfway point might be where I would falter. I was a little surprised that it was hitting me now.
MILE 5 – (7:22 Split) – Okay, a little relief from the energy gel. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes to get absorbed and it was starting to give me a boost. I worked on trying to pull myself back up to the group. We hit a turn around at this point and Mr. Pacer offered a thumbs up. But the hills were starting to take their toll on me.
MILE 6 – (7:33 Split) – Running alone again. Every race, every time. This middle mile of the race is like all middle miles of most any race. It’s the point where I find myself running alone. Although it was becoming splintered a little, the 7:15 pace group was a good football field or two ahead of me now, and there was no sign of anyone behind me. This happens all the time to me. The official timer had a split mat at 10K and I hit it at 45:51, which was still looking pretty good for me, but I had another half of the race to go.
MILE 7 – (7:44 Split) – I don’t remember much about this mile other than it was the straightest of the miles. Just doing the work at my new, more comfortable pace.
MILE 8 – (7:47 Split) – This is the mile I had originally planned to start a finishing push. You can see by the slower split time that it didn’t happen. Interesting mile though. I started eating my last energy gel, just kind of taking a small amount each time. I wanted to make sure it lasted a little longer.
MILE 9 – (7:37 Split) – I was starting to feel energized again. A young college kid passed me wearing a UW Stevens Point shirt and he had the look of a classic cross country runner. Tall, thin and running easily. I figured he must be just pacing through a training day and not racing at all, because there was no way I should have been leading that kid through 8 miles. But I was wrong. I saw him and his mother at the finish and I asked him if he was just taking it easy, and he claimed it was his first half marathon and he didn’t run at UWSP. Shame. He definitely looked like he should have been in the top 10 today. Looks can be deceiving.
MILE 10 – (7:59 Split) – As I passed the 9 mile mark I noticed the ball of my foot was getting sore, and I guessed that I was starting to get a blister. That was a little surprising, because I had lubed up my feet pretty good with Body Glide. My feet were soaked however. This was my slowest split and I’m not sure why. There was a turn around, but I didn’t mess around there. With only 5K to go at the 10 mile mark, I started to push again. I was slowly starting to catch people. I think I overtook 3 other runners in this mile.
MILE 11 – (7:43 Split) – I wanted to keep pushing but the path started getting hilly and curvy again. Hoping to push a little more but save enough for a strong last mile kick. Definitely could feel that blister forming on my right foot.
MILE 12 – (7:41 Split) – Just after passing the 11 mile marker you come to a turn where there is a water station, but I almost made a wrong turn there. That’s the fear for me when I get stuck in no-man’s land. Fortunately I chose correctly, grabbed some water and kept going.
MILE 13 and End – (7:29 Split) – I finally got out of the forest preserve and back on the road heading back to the finish. I had been looking over my shoulder and could see a guy in a blue singlet pulling me in. I’m pretty sure he was in the early 7:15 pace group with me. He caught me with a little less than a half mile to go. I latched on and we paced together until we were handed American flags about 200 meters from the finish. I was with him at that point and encouraged him to push. He did and was able to beat me to the line. I crossed the line waving that flag, relieved to be under 1:40 and to be done. He congratulated me on a good finish, and I him.
Overall I was pretty happy with my sub 1:40 time of 1:38:53. I was hoping for that sub 1:35, and I was optimistic about it for the most part, but I really would have needed a perfect day and course to get that. Corral D, here I come!
The course was more challenging than I expected. It had about 650 feet of elevation gain which is notable. Rolling hills, but nothing too terrible. The course is all paved, some on road but most on bike trail. There were five switchbacks and a lot of turns. I would rate it challenging, but still capable of producing a good finish time. The race organization was outstanding. The volunteers were plentiful and were awesome. The medal seemed a little cheaper than other races I have been at that this race organization hosts, but I still liked it. I signed up late and paid about $70. I highly recommend this race and most races hosted by All Community Events.
Yesterday I was on an after dinner walk with my wife Kari, and daughters Ashley and Rebecca. As we wound our way back through the neighborhood, I headed toward the park to deposit some of the trash I had picked up on the walk in the trash bin adjacent to the playground. I saw the swings and couldn’t resist. I hopped on one and began swinging. The girls soon joined in, with Rebecca also swinging, Ashley opting to walk on the balance beam and with Kari heading for the main play set. I followed Kari on the bouncy bridge, across the pedestal bridge, and back on to the wobbly bridge that lead to the corkscrew pole, in which, of course, I had to spin down.
The memories of taking the kids to this park when they were young came flooding back. Having to hold hands as they made it across the wobbly bridge; lifting Ben up to the monkey bars to help him get around; giving ‘underdogs’ to all three of them on the swings; to even our dog Lucky, teaching him how to climb the steps to take a trip down the slide. We maybe spent five minutes playing around before heading home.
Today I started my noontime run, which takes me past that very same park, and I was shocked to discover it was gone. All of the equipment removed.
It was surreal to me. The park was now surrounded by some plastic caution tape, acting as a barrier to keep others away. But it was almost like crime scene tape to me – someone had stolen the park that had generated all those memories that we had just recalled. For the next 7 miles, I thought only about that park and the times I spent there with the kids.
I’m sure the park district has plans to replace the park with newer equipment, equipment that will be just as much fun to the kids of today as the old stuff was to my kids. But the memories of playing at our park, will now just be what we have stored in our minds, with no physical equipment to hop on to rekindle those memories.
I am glad I made that stop at the park last night. It was like being drawn there to say goodbye to an old friend, without even knowing they were leaving. I wish I had more pictures to remember it by.
I was listening to Classic Vinyl on SiriusXM radio in the car the other day when they played the original studio version of Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s Turn the Page, and it didn’t seem right. It sounded different in my ear, as I was used to the live version of the song. That got me thinking about live versions of rock songs that are much better than the original studio version. Songs that if the radio DJ was going to play that one specific song, he or she would grab the live version over the studio version every time.
Not sure what propelled the popularity of live albums during the 1970’s. You don’t see them being as popular in later decades. Live music and concerts were growing to huge proportions in the 70’s. It may have been a money grab from the record label, but I’m just guessing.
So here are a few of the songs I could easily think of that the live version outshone the studio version, maybe not on the charts, but definitely were played more on the radio.
BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND – Turn The Page: Live Bullet (1976) – I’ll start with this song as it was what made me ponder this in the first place. Apparently the song was never released as a single, but it got lots of airplay on FM radio in the 1970’s. The original song was recorded in 1972. Not only did Turn The Page live fare better than the studio version, the songs Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser, and Katmandu also are songs that you only heard the live versions on the radio, not the studio versions.
KISS – Rock and Roll All Nite: Alive! (1975) – Originally appeared in studio form on 1975’s Dressed to Kill album, but the KISS ALIVE! album version is what was played on the radio. Gene Simmons sang the song, but I think it’s Paul Stanley shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” “C’MON” and “WHAT?!” which are classic and intergral parts of the song. 12 year old me wore this album out. The live version made it to #12 on the Billboard charts in 1976.
Paul McCartney & Wings – Maybe I’m Amazed: Wings Over America (1976) – Paul McCartney wrote this song in 1970 and dedicated it to his wife Linda, in an effort to heal after the Beatles break up. After forming the band Wings, they released a triple live album, and it reached number 10 on the singles charts. The drumming on this live version really stands out. Can you ever recall hearing the studio version?
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird: One More From The Road (1976) – Another live album from 1976, and this won’t be the last on this list. This one is a little bit of a cheat, as the original studio version did just fine on it’s own. Matter of fact, the studio version hit number 19 on the charts in 1974, with the live version making it to number 38. But in all actuality, “What song is it you wanna hear?” The live version answers that question. “FREE BIRD!!!”
Jackson Browne – Running On Empty: Running On Empty (1978) – I had this album on cassette and it popped into my mind for this post, but I was very surprised to learn that it was never released as a studio version. They recorded this one live and released it as a single, which reached #11 on the charts. The Load Out was also was released as a single and hit #20. But radio generally plays the two songs The Load Out/Stay together. So I guess the live version can easily be better than the studio version if the studio version never existed. Honorable mention to this one.
Cheap Trick – I Want You to Want Me: Cheap Trick at Budokon (1978) – Two songs stand out on this album, I Want You to Want Me, and Surrender. I Want You to Want Me was originally released in 1977, it didn’t even chart. Was Cheap Trick even known until at Budokon came out? I certainly had never heard of them. The song went to #1 in Japan, no surprise there. But it also hit #7 in the USA. Surrender did well on it’s own, as the studio version hit #62, and was not released as a live single from what I can tell. The studio version of Surrender stands on it’s own and didn’t need the live version to bolster it. What is interesting about I Want You to Want Me is how Robin Zander introduces it, in a very clear spoken English so that the Japanese audience could understand. I crack up every time I hear it.
Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way: Frampton Comes Alive! (1976) – Easily the greatest live album ever released. It was the best selling album of 1976. And it held the top spot on the album charts for 10 weeks. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, I never owned this album. But you couldn’t escape it anyway. The song was one of three singles released from the live album, joining Baby, I Love Your Way, and Do You Feel Like We Do. Show Me The Way hit #6 on the charts, and did slightly better than the other two. I’ve seen Peter two times now, both in good old New Lenox, Illinois, where I grew up. Incredible guitarist. I don’t believe I have ever heard the studio version of any of Frampton’s songs.
REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ The Storm Out: You Get What You Play For (1977) – Ridin’ The Storm Out hit #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The original version appears on their third album, also called Ridin’ The Storm Out, but here’s the odd part – Kevin Cronin doesn’t sing the original version, a guy named Mike Murphy does. Cronin left the band due to “creative differences.” But he does in fact rejoin the band to lead them to greatness, and still is leading them today. Kevin introduces the song by yelling “LAST SONG PEOPLE!” And on that note, I will make this the last song on this list.