Milwaukee Country Sole Half-Marathon

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Fuzzy finishing the Milwaukee Country Soul Half

An odd thing is that in all the time I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve been to Milwaukee about three times. It always seems like it’s a million miles away, but it’s really only an hour and a half drive. So when I was trying to find a June Half for this ridiculous project and had to expand beyond the Chicagoland area, I was at first glance dismissive of the Milwaukee Country Sole Half-Marathon, but then realized that it was a lot closer than some of the downstate races I had found.

Also, it was a chance to earn a belt buckle. Except, I know enough about belt buckles in running that I’m never going to wear it out (I did to work today, but just to show it off to someone as “the belt buckle I’m never going to wear again”).

You see, in running belt buckles are associated with ultra-marathons[1]—one of the first ultras was actually a horse race that people started running on foot because… well, because people. In any case, the finishers medal for the horse race was a belt buckle and so that became the award for the foot race it turned into and then as other ultras were organized they started awarding belt buckles. So earning a belt buckle shows that you’re pretty hardcore.

Except that in recent years the explosion of running events has led to an arms race of clever medal designs and so I suppose that it was only inevitable that someone would do a “cowboy” themed race and have a belt buckle as the medal. I know the Austin, TX Half-Marathon did just that last year. And All Community Events has done the “Country Sole Half-Marathon” and I did it and got my belt buckle.

Fuzzy's belt buckle

The race itself, I should mention, was delightful. It was in a County Park in Milwaukee that followed the course of a river and then when we ran out of park the course was along a rails-to-trails trail, so while we were in the city, there were only a few road crossings and it was, you know, pretty.

The after-party had something unique I hadn’t seen before—the park itself had a Biergarten with actual Brauhaus München beers on tap and the post-race beer was good for one of those. There were also german-style full liter glasses of beer available for purchase. I wish I hadn’t had a 90 minute drive waiting for me to get home or I would have really enjoyed sipping one of those and wandering around the park.

[1] Basically, anything over 26.2 miles.

Time: 2:30:20.4
Pace: 11:28 min/m
Place: 196 / 229
Place in Gender: 104 / 112
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 17 / 17

Run for the Zoo 2018

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Fuzzy and Erica at the Run for the Zoo

The gimmick of the Run for the Zoo is that you get to run through the Lincoln Park Zoo as part of the course. Now, the Lincoln Park Zoo is free, and right near the lake shore path, so you could kinda go do that whenever you wanted. But, you know, you get a shirt and a popsicle afterwards! Look, zebras!

Time: 49:01
Pace: 15:47
Place: 2144 / 2753
Place in Gender: 828 / 1002
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 60 / 71

Chicago Spring Half Marathon

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Fuzzy running the Chicago Spring Half Marathon

I was prepared for 48°F on Sunday morning, but I was not prepared for just how overcast and windy it was going to be. But I did it, and knocked out the two-halves-in-a-month I needed to do to make the runner’s dozen work. Now I just have three halves left, plus the September one that I signed up for for no good reason.

Time: 2:35:59
Pace: 11:55
Place: 4038 / 4900
Place in Gender: 1840/ 2058
Place in Male Masters: 611 / 737 Place in Age Group (M45-49): 194 / 222

Great Western Half-Marathon

Great Western Half Marathon

The Great Western Half-Marathon is the “Great Western” because it’s on a trail that was converted from the old Chicago Great Western Railway. It was also a point-to-point race, with shuttle buses taking us from parking at the St. Charles North High School to the start of the race at the Sycamore Speedway. It was flat and straight and the weather was gorgeous and if I hadn’t not-trained since my last half I might have even knocked a real nice time. As it was, I lost the 2:30 pace group at a port-a-potty around mile 4 and just had to run my own race.

The trail ran through some beautiful Illinois country side—I’m pretty sure I saw some beaver dams!

This marks nine of thirteen “Runner’s Dozen” halves done and I’m going to be making May my double-up month, so I’ll be back out for another half in a few weeks. Let’s see if I can keep some running going between now and then.

Time: 2:34:42
Pace: 11:48/mile
Place: 517 / 608
Place in Gender: 271 / 295
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 48 / 50

Great Western Half Marathon

Great Western Half Marathon

Ravenswood Run 5K 2018

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Fuzzy Shaun and Stella finishing the Ravenswood Run

Now that the Edgewater 5K exists, I guess I really do have a neighborhood run of my own, but for years the Ravenswood Run has fulfilled that spot in my race calendar.

Time: 29:09
Pace: 9:23
Place: 919 / 2307
Place in Gender: 614 / 1144
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 84 / 155

Sly Fox Half Marathon

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Why does April still have to be so cold?

Time: 2:24:10
Pace: 11:00 mins/mile
Place: 344 / 407
Place in Gender: 206 / 235
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 38 / 41

Shamrock Shuffle 8K 2018

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On St. Patrick’s Day last week there was a last minute sale on registration for the Shamrock Shuffle. I’m a sucker for a sale (I may just be a sucker) so I signed up.

I think all these half-marathons have broken me for “short” distances like an 8K. It’s fun to run around downtown on blocked-off streets, but the whole race felt like it was over very quickly. (I mean, I know the point of a race is to finish it quickly…)

Time: 51:48
Pace: 10:26 min/mile
Place: 11139 / 20901
Place in Gender: 6352 / 9249
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 568 / 898

Bolingbrook St. Paddy's Half Marathon

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Fuzzy running the Bolingbrook Half

OK, since this was 7 of 13 of my Runner’s Dozen, I can now officially say I’m half-way through. I’ll still have to run two in one month coming up, but only five months and six races to go.

Time: 2:38:49.1
Pace: 12:07 min/m
Place: 470 / 528
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 41 / 41
Place in Gender: 257 / 267

Winter Trail Frosty Half-Marathon

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Fuzzy finishing the Winter Trail Frosty
/Who’s that muddy guy about to finish a half-marathon? It me!/

I’ve done a lot of do-a-certain-thing-over-and-over self-challenges that I’ve documented here on this blog—part of the point of that sort of thing seems to be the public accountability you get by broadcasting that you’re doing it. I’m half-way through a challenge right now that, for whatever reason, I didn’t really want to talk about. I don’t know if it’s because I thought there was a reasonable chance I might flake out on it, or what, but it’s the case.

My friend Antonio first introduced me to the idea of a Runner’s Dozen—a self-challenge where you run a half-marathon a month for a year, and throw an extra one in there somewhere for a total of 13. It all has a nice numerical symmetry, what with 12 months in the year and 13 miles in a half-marathon and so on. I had the concept filed away in the back of my head and then last fall I realized that I had 3 half-marathons planned in 2 months. I flaked on one of them, but it still meant I was heading into November with 2 months of a Runner’s Dozen already completed. So why not just keep it rolling?

Winter, it’s turned out, is light on half-marathons, so I’ve been traveling a bit farther to do the races than I’d normally do. (There’s no rules to the Runner’s Dozen, since it’s a self-challenge, but my own personal guideline is that if at all possible I want to go do an organized race and not just run 13.1 sometime during the month.) In February, the closest half to Chicago was down in Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. So yesterday I drove three hours down to Indiana to run 13.1 on a reasonably challenging trail course in a torrential downpour. It’s the Winter Trail Frosty. Get it? Get it?

On the plus side, I planned pretty well on clothing and so I was drenched from the start, but never really uncomfortable. On the minus side, man what a slog all the mud was.

Time: 2:57:05.31 Lap 1 Time: 1:24:33.03
Lap 2 Time: 1:32:32.27
Pace: 13:31 min/mile
Place: 130 / 165
Place in Age Group (M40-49): 26 / 29
Place in Gender: 78 / 89

Polar Dash Half-Marathon 2018

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Fuzzy near the end of the Polar Dash Half-Marathon

The Polar Dash Half-Marathon was a little chilly this morning. 2° F, to be exact. It could have been worse—there was only a light breeze as we headed back north. If it had been really windy, as it often is by the lake, it would have been quite a different story.

As it was, the lakefront under snow was quiet and peaceful and beautiful. If my phone battery wasn’t so terrible right now (and if it wasn’t quite so cold) I would have paused and taken a few photos of the dramatic ice on the rocks or the sheets of ice in the harbors or… seems like there was a lot ice.

Time: 2:29:27
Place: 217 / 273
Place in Gender: 124 / 143
Place in Division (M4049): 34 / 37