Thursday Things

Pitchfork edition!

1. Because I’m insane ambitious, I went to Pitchfork Sunday afternoon. After finding out Nick from The Bachelorette was also attending Pitchfork on Sunday (as did Clint, apparently. If only my future husband, Jared from The Bachelorette, had been there, so I could introduce myself and let him know of my intentions to marry him :P [I’M KIDDING, I promise. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a celebrity crush in any capacity, and I’m milking this for all it’s worth]), my #1 goal became to stalk him, but my mission derailed literally less than two minutes after I got into the festival, when, while snapping a photo of the Missed Connections board (lulz), I heard someone say, “Bethany?!”

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It was one of my very best friends from MIDDLE SCHOOL (and high school). I could not believe it. We actually went to college together as well, but had different majors, different friend groups, and different interests, so we grew apart in those four years and rarely see each other anymore since our lives are in different places. My friend still lives in Michigan, so she was the last person I expected to see at Pitchfork, but it was SO exciting to run into her! I ended up hanging out with her and the friend she came with for an hour or so and went with them to see Courtney Barnett.

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I had planned to see Perfume Genius at that time, but Courtney Barnett was a fine substitute. Seeing her also made it fairly easy to get to Jamie xx’s set, which was right after hers on the Red Stage (Pitchfork has three stages: Red, Green, and Blue. Red and Green are more or less right next to each other, while Blue was off in a different corner of the park).

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2. I wasn’t as close to the front at Jamie xx as I had hoped to be, and the people around me weren’t all that into his set, which kind of (definitely) brought down the vibe for me. That was a bummer for sure. It was also pretty hot and sunny (though not as unbearable as it had been during the race), which I’m sure also impacted my mood. He did play my favorite song of his, Loud Places, to close his set though, which ended things on a good note for me.

<3 <3 <3

In addition to music, Pitchfork has a fairly extensive small business/nonprofit/art fair sort of thing, so after Jamie xx I got some food and browsed around the artsy area for a bit. I didn’t plan to buy anything until I stumbled upon Whole Foods’ booth, where not only did they have a bunch of “refreshing” products (hand sanitizer, dry shampoo, etc.) and free (!!) bananas, but they were also selling a bunch of fresh fruit for a DOLLAR. As in, an entire bag of cherries, an entire box of strawberries, etc. for ONE. DOLLAR. Never in my life have I associated Whole Foods with insane deals, but holy smokes! I’d expect to pay more like $4 or $5 for that same bag of cherries at an actual Whole Foods, so you better believe I bought a bag there, even though that meant carrying it around for the next three hours.

3. I ended up catching a bit of A.G. Cook’s set before Todd Terje & The Olsens. I had arrived early enough to A.G. Cook that I was able to get pretty close to the stage and ended up being second row for Todd Terje, which I think is the closest I’ve ever been at any show.

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I had gone to Pitchfork for Todd Terje, and being so close was a MUCH better experience than being far back for Jamie xx. People were stoked to be there, and it was a lot of fun. I also may or may not have made it onto the video screen at one point, soo… :D

4. Todd Terje finished after Chance the Rapper had began, and since Chance had tweeted that one of the themes for his set would be “Sunday,” I wanted to check it out just in case he played Sunday Candy, which I’m obsessed with. And he did…after bringing out Kirk Franklin. WHAT. Kirk Franklin’s a HUGE name in gospel music and, after my best friend from middle school, was probably the last person I expected to show up at Pitchfork.

Oh, if only you all could have seen me. I danced like I’ve never danced in my life. I scream-sang along with the hook every time. My face hurt from smiling so hard. It. Was. Amazing.

Anyway. Chance’s set was one of the highlights of the whole festival for me. I’ve never really gotten all that into Chance, mostly because I’ve never been able to get all that into rap, but MAN. That guy can put on a SHOW. His enthusiasm was contagious, and I don’t know if I have ever felt more Chicago than standing in Union Park, the Sears Tower lit up in the background, with one of Chicago’s own performing. I know I keep saying it, but these moments–these are the moments I moved to Chicago for. These moments are what I wanted out of my 20s. These moments make me feel so alive. And I love them.

Have you ever been to a music festival?

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Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

After the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K on Saturday, I posted a photo to my marathon training group’s Facebook page, letting everyone know how I had done and saying that my time goal for the half the following day was “just don’t die.” I am happy to report I met this goal :)

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When I woke up at 4:15 (*sobs*) Sunday morning, the Real Feel was already 80, so I knew I was in for a doozy of a race. I decided to throw caution to the wind and break the cardinal rule of running (nothing new on race day) in as many ways as possible, including:

– Wearing a shirt I had never worn before (kind of. I had worn the shirt twice: once at Spring Awakening and for the 5K the day before [don’t worry: Saturday was laundry day ;) ]. I had never worn the shirt for anything longer than 3.1 miles, though, and all sorts of new things can happen with 10 additional miles.).
– Taking new medicine the morning of the race (mostly. Mother Nature really had it in for me this weekend in both the weather and, ahem, biology department. I normally require a fairly steady ibuprofen regimen on my period to be able to function in any capacity, which means sometimes I take ibuprofen before running, because whoever said exercise eases cramps clearly did not have my lady parts. With a forecast as bad as Rock ‘n’ Roll’s, however, I was genuinely concerned about my kidneys and dehydration. I only took one ibuprofen [which still made me nervous] and one Tylenol in hopes that that would keep me from curling up in a ball of pain, cursing Eve, in the middle of State Street mid-race. You’re welcome for all that information you never wanted to know :P ).
– Wearing my FuelBelt with my new shirt for the first time ever (not knowing how the FuelBelt would sit/rub against the shirt. Spoiler: not as comfortably as I had hoped.)

I ended up getting to the race site way earlier than necessary, so I wandered around for awhile, sunscreened up, and tried to keep both my nerves (see: new things on race day) and sweating (see: Real Feel) under control. I was way back in no-man’s land (aka Corral 20 of 36), so I didn’t even cross the start line until almost 30 minutes after the race officially began.

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By the time I was half a mile into the race, two things were very apparent: that it would be a sweaty, sweaty mess, and that my watch would be more or less useless. While I do like my Polar M400, its ability to hang onto a GPS signal is dismal, and that was never clearer than during Rock ‘n’ Roll. I’m sure I didn’t run the tangents of the race perfectly, but according to my watch, I ran 13.8 miles. I’ve never, not even during the Chicago Marathon, run a race so poorly that I added an extra THREE QUARTERS OF A MILE (just about) to the race. It also said a ran a 9:03 third mile, which I can tell you beyond a SHADOW of a doubt is 100% false. I thought it would bother me that my watch kept beeping miles progressively earlier before each actual mile, but I learned to ignore it pretty quickly. Besides, I wanted to run this race entirely by feel, so knowing my watch had heat stroke kept me from obsessing over my time.

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YIKES. I don’t even want to think about what my watch is going to do during the marathon :/ Although I do find it odd that mile 12 seemed to match on my watch and the actual course map o.O

I actually felt pretty lousy for the first four miles of the race. My stomach was a bit out of sorts, and I was legitimately worried I’d throw up. Add to that the heat, humidity and sweat, and I was a hot (literally) mess. Around mile three, there were bags of ice on the side of the road, so I swung over and grabbed a handful, part of which I stuffed in my bra (I expected this to be far colder than it was. I actually barely noticed it.), and part of which I stuffed under my hat (which was GLORIOUS. I normally wear a visor when it’s beastly hot so my head isn’t fully covered, but holy smokes. Ice under my hat is my new go-to if I ever find myself in a situation like Sunday again.). The ice in my hat in particular helped me feel a bit better. I was taking water at every aid station and also sipping from my FuelBelt whenever I felt it was needed.

Speaking of aid stations. Oh boy. I don’t want to hate on the volunteers too much, because that’s just mean, but the aid stations were an absolute cluster (with the exception of the ones staffed by Kingdom Runners and Humana, which seemed to be the only groups that had their ish together). I know I was relatively far back in the race, but I was not at the very back by ANY means. Regardless, most of the aid stations had run out of filled cups of water by the time I arrived, meaning volunteers were scrambling to fill cups as runners came through, and it was just a disaster. Obviously the weather was really, really terrible, and I know finding volunteers can be tough, but it made the whole situation seem HORRIBLY disorganized and unprofessional, especially compared to other big races (i.e.: the Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon). There also didn’t seem to be much/any consistency as to which water stations offered Gatorade, which ones only offered water, and what cups you could find what liquid in. From top to bottom, the aid stations were a mess, and Sunday really was not a good day to have those things effed up.

After winding around downtown for six miles or so, we headed south on Michigan. To my surprise, I was actually feeling pretty good, all things considered. I had taken a couple of very brief walking breaks (one at an aid station because stopping was the only way I was going to get water there, since none was ready for me, and once at mile five when I fueled, though I didn’t really feel like I needed a break at that point, necessarily), but my energy–and, far more importantly, my attitude–was still pretty high. There was an AWESOME lady right before the Kingdom Runners aid station who was doing a killer job of cheering and motivating, and she brought a huge smile to my face.

I continued on down Michigan still taking my sweet time. None of my mile splits on my watch are accurate to the actual miles I was in, but according to my watch, in this stretch I was doing something like 11:30s. That’s way, way slower than I normally run, but my speed was so unimportant to me on Sunday that I didn’t care at all (or even notice, since I was ignoring my watch). We ran south on the part of Michigan where we run north during the very last miles of the Chicago Marathon, so I took in the scenery, since normally I pay no attention to that whatsoever, as I have eyes only for Roosevelt when running up Michigan during the marathon.

One of the things I did really enjoy about Rock ‘n’ Roll was that the course, though it followed some of the same streets as other races I’ve run in the city, took me around areas I’ve never run before, like Bronzeville around miles 8-10ish. I think some of that burnout I mentioned on Monday also has to do with the fact that, quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of the Lakefront Trail. I’ve run the same sections day after day after day for three years, and it’s just not exciting. Even the races I run, most of which also are on the Lakefront Trail, are the same thing, over and over and over again. Rock ‘n’ Roll, being new to me, offered new views and new neighborhoods, and I enjoyed that a lot.

After Bronzeville, we made a turn north on the road that runs parallel to the east of Lake Shore Drive right by McCormick Place. The on-course entertainment here was a DJ, and OH MAN was my EDM-loving heart pleased. Right as I turned onto that road, he dropped a dubstep remix of I Want it That Way: a remix I never knew I needed until that moment. Hahaha. IT WAS AWESOME. I was feeling super energized, super happy, and honestly was one of very few people on that part of the course at that point who seemed to not be hating life. I was feeling SO GOOD (also so hot), and I can’t even begin to tell you how pleased I am at that.

I would also like to request that all races that force me to run under McCormick Place light it up like a club and play EDM while I’m in there, please and thank you. Best moment of my running career. Is there an EDM half marathon I can run somewhere? I would be so down.

Anyway. The tunnel inside McCormick Place was like a furnace, but after we got out of it we had less than two miles to go. I was still feeling stellar through all of this. When I hit mile 12, I looked at my watch and thought I may be able to squeak by without personal worsting, so I cranked it up into high gear. Nearly everyone around me at this point was walking, especially as we ascended hills, but I kept plowing through (my watch said I ran my last full mile [by its inaccurate measurement] at a 10:07, compared to the 11:30s I had been doing). I saw Roosevelt and figured I was super close to the end, so I started to kick, but as it turns out the absolute worst thing about Rock ‘n’ Roll is not the disorganized aid stations, but the fact that the finish line, though on Columbus like it is for the Shuffle and marathon, is MUCH farther down Columbus than the marathon/Shuffle finish line. That was a lousy surprise :P

I finished in 2:25:48, which is a personal worst for me, but SO much better than I expected. I anticipated running 2:30 or slower, so I’m incredibly pleased with a 2:25:48. What I’m more pleased with, however, is how positive I remained throughout the entire run, and even more so how well I conserved my energy. This race was MUCH slower than both the Spring 13.1 and Soldier Field, but mentally and physically I felt WORLDS better than I felt at either one of those races. I never bonked like I did in both of those events. After the first four miles, I felt like I was in a really good head space, and, aside from that early nausea, it’s been a long time since I physically felt that fine during a long race. Though my time doesn’t *really* show it, I suppose, at least in comparison to the other times I’ve run, this race made me feel like the hard training I’ve done so far this marathon cycle in terms of strength training, HIIT work, and speed training has paid off in spades. I have another half in September and the marathon, of course, in October, and though there are no guarantees, theoretically the weather at that time of year should be more conducive to fast times for me. I hope that I can continue my dedication to hard training, and if I do, I’m excited to see what kind of results it will (hopefully) produce later this year.

rnrmedals

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Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5K Race Recap

A variety of circumstances have kept me from running Rock ‘n’ Roll in any capacity in the past, and I really didn’t expect to ever have the opportunity to run Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago (nor did I see myself heading elsewhere to run a Rock ‘n’ Roll race). Most of those circumstances, for a variety of reasons, became irrelevant this year, so when I found myself presented with the chance to run Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, I figured I may as well go all in and do the Remix Challenge, which, uh, challenges participants to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K on Saturday followed by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on Sunday.

I went to the expo on Friday with one of my coworkers who was also running the race (and offered to drive, thus saving me the headache of getting to McCormick Place via the CTA). Since I was there with my coworker, I didn’t have much opportunity to do my own wandering, but I have to say, I really liked Rock ‘n’ Roll’s expo! I’ve grown quite bored with the Shamrock Shuffle and Chicago Marathon expos, since I’ve been to…four each, I think?…and it is always the exact. same. thing. Rock ‘n’ Roll, on the other hand, has basically none of the same sponsors as Bank of America races, which meant new things to look at and try! PowerBar! Toyota! Brooks! (Oh, how I loved not seeing a Nike shrine at this expo). I actually wish I could have spent more time there!

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Though our participant bags actually had nothing in them, I left with an armful of things–two bibs, two shirts (I LOVE the 5K shirt. Love, love, love it), two pin packets, and a wristband–to accommodate for my insanity Remix Challenge participation.

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Fun fact: never once, in four years + one month of running, have I ever, in any capacity, exercised the day before a race. I’ve made questionable decisions (ahem, a late night a gala before the Chicago Spring 13.1), but none of them have involved exercise, and they have especially not involved hard exercise.

Saturday morning dawned hot and sticky. Friday had been hot and sticky as well, and while I suppose it cooled off marginally overnight (i.e.: it was no longer 93), it was still FAR toastier than I like it to be–well, far toastier than I like it to be ever, but particularly that early in the morning. The sun was out and blazin’, though, which meant we were going to do this thing.

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I was in corral three, though to that seemed to mean basically nothing. I’ve never seen more lax corral entrance enforcement in my life. To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure lined up in corral three. There were plenty of people around me with bibs in the 2000s, 4000s, and even 5000s (the first number in your bib number indicated your corral assignment). I worried that this would make the start of the race a nightmare, but things actually sorted themselves out within the first half mile or so, which was a nice surprise.

The race started on the Lakefront Trail between Randolph and Monroe and first took us south on the trail to the Museum Campus, where we ran under Lake Shore Drive and did a bit of a lap around Hutchinson Field (and I got giddy thinking about two weekends from that moment when I’d be in the same place for LOLLA!). I was counting this as my speed workout for the week, and I wanted to keep myself at a tempo-esque effort: comfortably hard, or maybe slightly-uncomfortably-hard, but not killing myself. I expected that kind of effort would yield times somewhere in the 9:00-9:30 range, so I was pleasantly surprised to hit the first mile in 8:23. It has been a LONG time since I ran a mile that fast! Because the weather was lousy, I definitely wanted to run by feel more than time and expected I’d slow dramatically in the second mile, but somehow ran an 8:39. The last mile was BRUTAL. I suppose the last mile of any 5K always feels brutal, but I’m struggling to remember another last mile of a 5K that was this all-around awful. For the return to the finish line (which was right next to the start line, but on the lower Lakefront Trail rather than the ~official~ Lakefront Trail), we ran directly along the lake. The first two miles had included plenty of shade to break up short sunny stretches, but there was not ANY shade to speak of in the third mile until probably about mile 2.9 or so: just early morning sun bouncing directly off Lake Michigan and onto our poor, overheated bodies. I was BURNING UP, but being able to see the finish line made the experience the teeniest tiniest bit manageable. And, despite feeling like my skin was melting, I somehow pulled out my fastest mile of the race with an 8:20. I finished in 26:29, both officially and by my watch (that never happens!). While that’s nowhere near my 5K PR, it is MUCH faster than I expected I’d be able to run, especially given all the extenuating circumstances (the weather, my ill-timed hormones, the fact that I was up for a solid 90 minutes the night before because my brain decided we were overdue for a panic attack). I was hoping for a 28:30ish, so to run a 26:29 was a fantastic surprise.

Meb Keflezighi was this year’s elite “headliner” at Rock ‘n’ Roll, and paced the 8:00 group for the 5K (if only this had been in November, when I definitely could’ve run an 8:00 pace!). Afterwards, he was available for photos and autographs (kind of – the cards were all pre-signed, but in comparing my card to others’, it looks like he actually did sign the cards), so naturally I continued to throw caution to the wind and opted to stand in the sun for an extra 30ish minutes so I could chill with Meb.

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!!!

And then I headed home to rest, recover, and gear up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, which you can read all about tomorrow! Hope you like race recaps… Haha.

rocknrollchicago5Kmedal2015

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