{Big Ten Network Big 10k}

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With so many races ran in a month it is hard to keep up with the recaps. Runner problems! 🙂 Two Saturday’s ago the husband and I ran the Big Ten Network Big 10k in Chicago. If you read along with my blog then you know we are both big Wisconsin sports fans (and no, not everyone in Wisconsin is.) This race was all about supporting your Big Ten school and FUN! I loved so much about this race, the swag, and the sights.




We headed to Chicago the day before, picked up our packets, and did some sightseeing. Having been to Chicago several times before I know my way around for the most part, yet I don’t get sick of the windy city.


In packets each runner received a BTN Big 10k technical t-shirt that resembled a football jersey specific to the Big Ten school they declared their team at registration. Each runner’s shirt came in their school’s colors and had their school’s name on the front and back. I loved how they were specific to each runner’s favorite team and different rather than everyone getting the same shirt. This also made picking the race outfit super simple as I had looked at past year’s race photos and noticed that most people wore their shirts to the race.

The race began at 7:00 a.m. which was perfect because it was 70 degrees and quite humid. After the HOT races I’ve run lately though, this was nothing. We Hotwired our room per the usual which means we had a general idea of the area when we registered and knew the star rating of our hotel, but wouldn’t find out the exact location until after our purchase of the room. I reserved the room before the race course map came out, so we ended up being about three miles from the race start. Driving and parking in Chicago is disastrous and super pricey so we knew we were either taking a taxi or public transportation to and from the race start.

While exploring the night before we saw Divvy bikes all over the city. After reading the details and looking up a map of the locations (there is an app for that), we decided this would be a fun, active and quick way to get to the race and back. No hailing a taxi or switching buses.

Just a few Divvy locations in Chicago!  (Photo from divvybikes.com

Just a few Divvy locations in Chicago! (Photo from divvybikes.com

The next morning we paid for our Divvy bikes ($7 per bike for unlimited use during the next 24 hours as long as each ride is less than 30 minutes. If a ride is longer than 30 minutes you are charged an extra $2 for the next hour, and so on.) and headed to the Field Museum where we would drop off our Divvy bikes and walk the couple of blocks to the start next to Soldier Field.


One wrong turn later and we were on our way. We started getting a bit nervous when we didn’t see the Divvy bike stop near the Field Museum, but breathed easy after going around the entire museum and spotting it on the last side we rode by.



After dropping off our gear we lined up in our race corral. Corrals went from A-M, and we were in E based on our 10k time we entered at registration. I am always honest about my times and never enter a time I hope to run unless my training has told me I can run that time. Big Ten fans were everywhere and school songs echoed off the speakers. After the elites took off the corrals got going and we began our 6.2 mile journey on the course below (image from btnbig10k website).

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The course was nice and the atmosphere fun. During the first mile we went through this long underpass part and there was lots of school trash talking echoing off the walls which added to the fun and excitement. The bad part was it was congested. I feared not as most races thin out after the first mile or two.

This is the part where I’m torn about what I think. I loved getting to run along the lakeshore on the paved bike path for half the race, BUT having 9,000 runners narrow onto a paved bike path when the larger road was congested was really frustrating. The husband and I were passing people the ENTIRE race. I swear we must have passed our entire corral before the race was over. Either people lied about their 10k times or I hit a wrong button because we were definitely not running with the people in our corral. Aside from this it was pretty along the lake although difficult to enjoy.

The husband and I were both feeling great as we ran, but the mental work of continually passing people and never settling into a groove were a challenge. As we neared mile four I absolutely could not believe how freakin’ fast this race was going. I guess I’ve got big time marathon race length distortion going on. I think that is a technical term! 🙂 I could definitely tell the hot weather marathons were extremely helpful in making me feel comfortable during this race.

We cranked it as much as we could the last mile with people to swerve around and jams playing on speakers. We both said we could not have run this race any faster than we did because of the congestion. I did not bring my Garmin so we didn’t know our time until later.


Upon crossing the finish line you can pick up water, Gatorade and bananas. You get your medal (very cool!) and then head to the after race tailgate party. This part was so fun it kind of made you forget about the race congestion. We headed to gear check to pick up our bags and there was absolutely no line for corral E. Corrals A, B, and C had lines going a block. We watched around as we enjoyed the tailgate party seeing very few bibs with an E before their numbers. I later looked up our registration email and I did not mis-enter our time, nor did we run any faster than I entered. We were in fact 45 seconds slower than my typical 10k time.

Here is my soapbox runners: be honest about your times. Don’t enter a time you hope to run unless your training has shown you are capable of running that time. I respect all runners no matter their pace. Own your pace and be proud, but stay out of corrals you don’t belong-it makes a better race for everyone! End rant.



Back to the tailgate party. This was great. The husband exchanged his too small race shirt for a larger size, we enjoyed the Wisconsin tent where we picked up a trucker hat specific to our school (all runners got one) and took pictures with the border battle ax, and then hit the food and beer area.





After enjoying some delicious chicken sausages (so yummy), we hit up the bean bags. All different types of tailgate games were going on and samples of stuff were being given out. We did have a wedding to get to so we couldn’t stick around too long. We headed back to the Field Museum, got a new code for our Divvy bikes and biked back to the hotel.


Overall this race was a blast. The atmosphere and swag were fantastic. The course pretty and well-marked. My only complaint was the congestion. If we do this race again I will consider this when entering my 10k time and be prepared to be packed in. Getting a photo with Bucky and free Wisco swag makes it all worth it!  Bring on football season!

This race also reminded me how awesome shorter distances can be. I’ve never raced a 10k meaning I’ve never trained for the distance or done speed work or entered a 10k when I’ve been in great shape. Currently my endurance is definitely up having ran two marathons and a 50k in 36 days, but my speed is for sure lacking. The previous 10k’s I’ve run have always been near the 4th of July when I have not been running anything other than maintenance miles, and all four have had finish times within a minute and a half of each other. Last fall when I ran my PR half marathon I ran a five mile Turkey Trot without a watch in 39:15. I’m positive I could have beat my 10k time by minutes had there been one to run. I’m curious what I could run a 10k in if I trained and raced? Hmmmm….a new goal perhaps. I’m not committing yet, but perhaps.


Big Ten Network Big 10k
Time: 52:57
Pace: 8:32
Overall: 1926/8996
Gender: 504/4916
Age Group: 91/819

Ran: 6.2 miles
Biked: 7 miles

{State #14-Kansas} Pilgrim Pacer Marathon

IMG_4496Saturday was the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon in Shawnee, Kansas. This race report starts very similar to others. We arrived later than expected Friday night due to road construction and a later than planned departure after work. I got to bed at 2:00 a.m., but did get to sleep a fair amount en route to Kansas thanks to my amazing support network aka the husband.
Upon arriving I was pleasently surprised by our hotel room. We always get rooms from Hotwire when staying out of town-ALWAYS. I usually love our rooms, and I love Hotwire for their great rates, reliable star ratings, and excellent customer service. Of the 26 hotels rooms, 5 car rentals, and 2 flights I’ve booked through the company I’ve only had one issue with a hotel room. They immediately refunded my purchase and helped find a new room. If there star ratings change after you’ve booked a room, then they offer you two choices- #1) Keep the room and get $25 towards a future room reservation through Hotwire or #2) Cancel your reservation with no consequences and rebook a room you want. This has only happened twice to me in the past few years.
This weekend was no exception except we got a lot more space than I’d anticipated for $125 total (both nights).

Trying to show the arm warmers.

Trying to show the arm warmers.

After five hours of sleep, I was up and getting ready. I was hungry so I ate a granola bar I’d never eaten before (Broken Running Rule #1-Don’t eat new foods on race day). I got dressed for the warmer weather (highs in the 60’s) I was looking forward to. Because of the cool initial temps I wore Asics Arm Warmers I got for Christmas last year, but had never gotten to wear yet (Broken Running Rule #2-Don’t wear new race gear on race day). They turned out to be perfect for the change in temperatures during the race. Then I grabbed breakfast at our hotel (a bagel) and headed to the race without my water…oops (Broken Running Rule #3-Drink water/start hydrating before a race.)

When I got to the race everything was smooth sailing. Within 15 minutes I had picked up my packet, used the bathroom, and taken my extra gear back to the car. While in line I met someone originally from Wisconsin and chatted with runners about the challenging course. Soon it was time to take off.

Times 2!  Out-back-out-back.

Times 2! Out-back-out-back.

My goal for the race was to run near 9:00 minute miles and run under four hours. The first half of the race was good. I noticed in the first miles that this course was going to be much hillier than I’d anticipated. I knew I was in for it on the last miles.

mile 1-8:49

mile 2-8:44

mile 3-8:44

We then passed Shawnee Lake and continued on the trails. The entire race was ran on paved trails that connected Shawnee to Olathe, Kansas. The race was an out and back half marathon and an out and back x 2 marathon. I’d never ran a marathon route like this before, so I wasn’t sure what I’d think about it. I didn’t feel like water so I skipped a few water stations (Broken Running Rule #4-Drink before you feel thirsty.)

mile 4-8:56

mile 5-8:56

mile 6-8:44
The colors were in full blaze and the temperature was warming up. I was feeling really good at this point in the race. I reached the first turn around and had a mix of feelings-the exciting, it’s the turn around and the dreadful-I have to run back to this spot again.

mile 7-9:04

mile 8-8:31

mile 9-8:46
It was at this point in the race that I realized just how tired my legs felt from running a PR in a half marathon six days earlier (Broken Running Rule #5-Don’t race a PR before running another much longer race days later.) My legs hadn’t been sore or tired on my mid-week runs, but I hadn’t ran far either.

mile 10-8:44

mile 11-9:02

mile 12-9:17
The hills we ran down in the beginning were rough on the way back. I just couldn’t believe that I wasn’t done at the half marathon. I had to repeat this whole distance again! I really wanted to be done at the half marathon and actually let my mind go to that place of maybe I should short change myself and finish after 13.1 miles. Then I slapped myself mentally! You don’t drive to Kansas to quit. I must have been delirious or just a damn dummy. Ryan’s grandma, Evelyn, used to affectionately use this phrase often. You damn dummy!

mile 13-9:12

mile 14-8:32

mile 15-8:47
Miles 13-15 offered a shift in mentality. This race was full of highs and lows. These miles were highs as fans cheered really hard for marathoners since there were not a ton of us mixed in with half marathoners. Even fewer than marathoners, I learned, were female marathoners. The encouragement of fans saying “go marathoner”, “way to go lady”, “go #236”, “your the fifth female”, and just the extra excitement they gave to marathoners helped me push passed my mental struggles. On the second out and back so many half marathoners cheered for me that I couldn’t help but smile. I really needed it at that point, too. I saw the guy I met at the bathrooms who recognized me and began yelling, “go Wisconsin”. The running community is so supportive and kind!

mile 16-9:46

mile 17-9:07

mile 18-9:29

At this point in the race I was basically running alone. My mental state began to swing low again. I was also thirsty. I passed a water stop and only had one drink. Bad idea. (Broken Running Rule #Whocankeepcount) Then my mental state went waaaaayyyyy low. I had used my mental toughness up earlier this week PR’ing at the Rails to Trails Half Marathon. Yes, I believe it is hard to run challenging races back to back. The mental energy it takes to stay focused and on pace should never be underestimated. It can be freakin’ exhausting at times. I really struggled with this as evidenced by the rest of my mile splits. I just couldn’t get my mind to go to that mental place where I push through.

mile 19-10:19

mile 20-11:15

mile 21-9:13
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At the second turn around of the full marathon I had three drinks. One gatorade, one water, and one ginger ale. I had never had ginger ale in my life (Broken Running Rule #7-Do not try new food or drinks on long runs/races), but learned I really like this stuff. I knew I was dehydrated at mile 18. I was starting to get dizzy and feel disorientated. All I could think about was being done running and guzzling a gallon of anything. It was warmer than I’d anticipated and I have only myself to blame. I did not drink enough fluids the day before or the day of. Going out Thursday night and having adult beverages until too late in the morning was not good pre-race preparation either. (Broken Running Rule #8, 9, and 10-Get a good nights sleep two nights before a race, drink extra fluids the days before, and avoid things that dehydrate you i.e. alcohol.)

mile 22-9:45

mile 23-10:15

mile 24-9:54

I knew I had to drink more fluids so at all the remaining water stops I had both a gatorade and a water. It helped and by mile 23 or 24 I started to at least think clearly again.

mile 25-10:35

mile 26-10:24

The last two miles were uphill. I hated them. I didn’t like running them one bit. I would not run them again with a fox (no matter what it says.) I would not run them in a box. I would not run them again for free socks. You get the point. This was a rough race for me and I have only myself to blame.
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Considering I broke at least ten common sense running rules prior to and during this race it is a bit of a miracle that I finished. I didn’t reach my goal, but was content with my time considering it was way hillier than I thought it would be and that my last run over 13.something miles was the Big Cottonwood Marathon in September in Utah (and we all know how in shape I wasn’t for that race.) There were also only 34 female runners who ran the marathon compared to 90 guys.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

Nevertheless, I think the last paragraph sounds like a whole lot of excuses. It was a weird feeling at the finish line; I actually felt kind of stupid. Who did I think I was? What was I thinking breaking so many “running rules” and expecting to run decent on a challenging course. These were new and unexpected finish line emotions for me. In all honesty, I needed a challenging race like this. I needed a race like this to humble me and remind me of the beast the marathon is. You cannot outsmart the distance. I needed a little kick back to reality to remind me that you have to train, prepare, and get your body ready. No matter how many races you run, you are not too good for simple running common sense. I let myself get cocky and overly confident.

Consider myself humbled. I’ve learned my lesson until the next time. I look forward to my winter recovery and base milage building that will help me start spring training with a strong base. I look forward to actually training for a marathon again, instead of running them underprepared. Running the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon was the perfect wake up call I needed.

The actual race was well organized, beautiful, and challenging (which they said many places on their website). The medals were huge (size of a cd) and the shirts were super cool; a big part of why I picked this as my Kansas.
I also chose this race as my Kansas because it was close as possible to home and the time of the year worked well for my schedule. I was bummed to not get pumpkin pie or a mug like the website said, but in all honesty I didn’t really deserve those things after the performance I gave.
Enough of my self-pity. Humbled. Lesson learned. We all need races like this every now and then. It doesn’t mean we’ve failed; we just get to come back smarter, stronger, and better ready to face future challenges.
Pilgrim Pacer Marathon
Time: 4:06:38
Pace: 9:25
Overall: 32/120
Gender: 6/34
Age Group: 3/5