For last year’s Bixtivities, Maggie and I compiled a dual playlist of guilty pleasures, and it was seven miles of pure ear candy. How could we possibly top it this year? Well this year, my friends, we were inspired by Jock Jams.
I dusted off my trusty ol’ CD case, found these relics and toiled over which cheesy awesomeness would and wouldn’t make the cut. I can’t wait to run up Brady Street to “Llllllllet’s get ready to rummmblllllle!” blaring in my earbuds. My 15-year-old self is giddy with joy. — Aidz
Playlist stats: 20 songs, 1:08 total time
1. Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! — Michael Buffer
2. Get Ready 4 This — 2 Unlimited
3. Mo Money, Mo Problems — The Notorious B.I.G.
4. Strike It Up — Black Box
5. Jump Around — House of Pain
6. Come Baby Come — K7
7. Gridiron Groove — Unknown
8. Gonna Make You Sweat — C+C Music Factory
9. Hip Hop Hooray — Naughty By Nature
10. Pump Up The Jam — Technotronic
11. Unbelievable — EMF
12. Twilight Zone — 2 Unlimited
13. Rock And Roll Part 2 — Gary Glitter
14. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) — Backstreet Boys
15. Push It — Salt-N-Pepa
16. Ready to Go — Republica
17. No Diggity — Blackstreet
18. Robbi Rob’s Boriqua Anthem — C+C Music Factory
19. Cotton Eye Joe — Rednex
20. Mueve la Cadera — Reel 2 Real
From Tough Mudders to trail runs, and CrossFit Games to Urbanathalons, it seems like everyone these days is dialing up the adventure in their exercise. And I’m all for it. Obstacles and cross training ask your body to use new muscles and conquer different activities, which keeps the mind fresh and happy.
Plus, there’s something about dragging yourself through the mud and coming out alive on the other side that feels, well, badass. And who doesn’t like feeling a little badass every now and again?
Here’s where you come in!
We want to know who is the most badass Bad Angel. Show us your horns on an adventure (whether it’s a race or a trail or through mud or conquering a challenge or whatever you dream up), and we’ll award one lucky winner with a FREE RACE ENTRY to any upcoming Spartan Race this season.
Plus, here’s a promotional code for 10% off any Spartan race in the continental U.S.: SPARTANBLOGGER
There are Spartan races all over the country — including a new Ohio location (with sprint, super and beast distances) on Oct. 4.
We’ll announce our winner — and feature his or her Badass Bad Angel Horns — at the end of August. So get out there, find an adventure and embrace your inner badass. — Aidz
So here’s the thing:
Back in May, you may recall, I PR’ed at the Madison Half Marathon. I was super stoked about my 1:47 half, especially considering the considerable hills, and it was a good notch in my belt as I entered my Summer of Seriously Serious Training for the Chicago Marathon.
Then, a few weeks ago, the Chicago Marathon finally sent out info about start corrals, and much to my chagrin, they had lowered the qualifying standards by 5 minutes. Which meant that my 1:47 half marathon time was no longer good enough to get me into the C corral, which is where I need to be in order to run with the 3:35 pace team, which is the pace team I need to run with in order to qualify for Boston. SUCK.
I needed a sub-1:45 half marathon time ASAP. I looked at the race calendar. The Rock n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 20 appeared to be my only real option. I wasn’t thrilled about coughing up $127 for a half marathon, but it had to be done. I had to try.
I’ll spare you the suspense: I did it. I clocked a 1:44:14 half marathon time on a hot, humid, early July morning in the middle of marathon training. It hurt and it was hard and I am ecstatic about the way I raced. The next day, I emailed my results to the Chicago Marathon office to claim my spot in Corral C.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can dish about the race itself.
Yes, I realize I signed up a little last minute, but come on, $127 for a half marathon?!? I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t worth it. I mean, it WAS, because I hit my goal and such, but otherwise, no.
I loved the expo. The pre-race setup was great, with water and bananas and bagels available, and what appeared to be a well-organized and easily accessible gear check area. The charity village and post-race party were in close proximity to the start/finish, and everything seemed to flow well. The shirts are solid, and the race medals are cool.
RnR nailed the pre-race and post-race. The actual race? Not so much.
The approximately one billion corrals started on Columbus and snaked around Jackson in Grant Park. There was a wave start with 30 seconds between each corral, which helped ease some congestion. However, it appeared that people were kind of just starting wherever the heck they wanted to anyway, so there were still walkers near the 2-hour pace group. And that’s real annoying.
Plenty of water stops were spread throughout the course, which is absolutely crucial for a race in late July in Chicago. The aid stations were not clearly marked – they really could’ve used some of those giant flag thingers – and the majority of the stops did not have enough volunteers passing out water and Gatorade. Three times I grabbed my own cup of water off the table. A friend who finished in just over 2 hours said by the time he got to the aid station at mile 12, volunteers were furiously trying to fill cups from jugs of water and he nearly had to pour one for himself. So, if we front-and-middle-of-the-pack runners had issues at the aid stations, I can only imagine what it was like for the back-of-the-pack runners.
One of the things the RnR series boasts about is “bands at every mile” along the course. Well, that wasn’t EXACTLY true for Chicago. The first band didn’t appear until about mile 6.5, when we were leaving downtown. I wasn’t complaining because I totally understand that setting up a stage in the loop is probably not viable. And really, I think live bands on the course aren’t for the runners as much as for the spectators, anyway. When you’re running past the stage, you get to hear the band for, what, 30 seconds? A minute or two, tops? So the concept doesn’t really do much for me. Except for marching bands and drumlines. I can never get enough of those.
The course itself could use some improvement, too. The first 6 miles were all in the loop, with tons of turns that were reminiscent of the Chicago Marathon course. Good stuff. Then we headed south down Lakeshore Drive and eventually turned onto the Lakefront Trail. And a race with nearly 14,000 people, even when you’re spread out with a wave start, can get a little tight when you head onto the trail. Especially when other people (re: cyclists) are still trying to use the path.
Then we went into the bowels of McCormick Place, going from a cloudy, bright day into near darkness. On a downhill slope. On pavement riddled with filled-in potholes. NOT GOOD. Hey, at least concentrating on trying to adjust my eyes to see in the dark and trying not to bite it on the cement took my mind off of how much pain I was in from running at a fast clip for 10-plus miles.
At mile 12, we hit the biggest hill of the day, which was actually an on-ramp to Lakeshore Drive. After cursing our way to the top, we could see the finish line in the distance. Like, WAAAAAAAAY in the distance. Still almost a mile away. That, my friends, was torture. I tried not to look at it, but I couldn’t help it. It was like a mirage. And after a couple minutes, I was convinced I was never going to get there.
When I finally did, I was thrilled that I had reached my goal — and that I got to stop running. Slightly delirious and soaked in sweat, water and pee (yeah, I peed myself at the finish, do something!), I stumbled toward a volunteer to claim my race medal. She blankly stared at me.
“Race medal? Can I have one?” I pleaded.
She continued to stare at me, holding a medal in her hand. Then I realized she was not a volunteer. The volunteer passing out medals was standing just behind her. But it’s not completely my fault because the race shirts and the volunteer shirts were the exact same color. Dumb.
So yes, I have some gripes about this race, which, again, probably wouldn’t bother me quite so much if I hadn’t forked over all that dough. When it comes down to it, all the bells and whistles surrounding a race are nice, but if you can’t nail the basics of the actual race, bells and whistles don’t mean a whole helluva lot.
In the end, what really made this race great were the pacers from Chicago Endurance Sports – thank you again, 1:45 dude and chick! — and my awesome teammates and mentors from the American Cancer Society’s Team DetermiNation. Everyone was incredibly supportive, and it made me even more excited about working with them for the Chicago Marathon (BTW, you should totally donate to my team HERE.) Plus, ACS had ice baths, water, Gatorade, snacks and ICE CREAM SANDWICHES AND DRUMSTICKS at their tent after the race. Clearly, they know what’s up.
See ya in the C Corral on Oct. 12, Angels. — Mags
If you want to run faster, run faster.
It’s great advice (even if it sounds, well, DUH), but it can be hard to follow. Pushing yourself to get faster often takes more mental strength than physical strength. So that’s when you need to get by with a little help from your fast friends.
The key is finding someone who’s juuuuuust a bit faster to push the pace, and then aim for one shorter run a week together.
For example, if you’re a 10-minute miler, finding someone who’s in the 9-minute range is ideal. You can meet in the middle at 9:30s. You’ll get in a bit of speedwork, and they’ll get in their easier run. Win-win.
And since your friend is running easier, it’s on them to keep the conversation rolling as the miles and minutes tick by.
The great news is, you, too, can be the fast friend! It’s all about paying it forward, Angels. — Mags
“Stranger to My Happiness” by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
Sharon Jones is pretty amazing. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer, underwent treatment, and then boom, she released a new album this year. Oh, and the music happens to be goddamn delightful. That’s how you do it. — Mags
Wake Up with Compression.
As we’ve stated before, sleeping in compression tights/socks/sleeves after hard races is an excellent way to speed up recovery. But why not also try this after hard workouts during training?
Wednesday nights are my toughest night of the week, with speed workouts that leave me sore and achy the next day. Last Wednesday, I slept in my Nike OTC Compression Socks and woke up feeling a lot less meowy. I can’t believe it took me this long to try this. It’s a small step with big benefits! — Amie
Racing “For Fun” Still Calls for Serious Training.
During my long run this weekend, I was chatting with Coach Steph about the two half marathons I did earlier this year — and about how hard they were. I realized as I was talking that the reason they were so hard is because I did them for FUN. Huh.
I definitely had fun before the races, after the finish and a few times during, but the overall races were very difficult. Which is the opposite of fun, in my opinion. Isn’t it true that if you plan to run a race “for fun,” it also means that you approach training in the same way? I mean, how many long runs did I miss before those half marathons? Several. In my mind, it was no big deal because I wasn’t trying to break any records and it would be so FUN.
Do you know what’s really fun? Training well, eating well, resting well and racing well. If your race is also part of a girls’ weekend, then you’ll have an even better time! But I don’t recommend running races “for fun” unless they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- It’s a 10K or shorter
- You’ll be covered in colored corn starch by the end
- There’s beer at every mile
- You’re going to wear a costume
Respect your body and do the training required for your races. THEN, I promise, they’ll be a total blast. — Amie
Adopt a Pack Mentality.
When I first started running road races 15 years ago (!), I joined a training group and did my core workouts with them, on their schedule. This was how I completed my first 10K and half marathon. After that, I felt that I knew enough, or could at least find the right information needed to train on my own or with a friend. That worked well for 13 half marathons and eight full marathons, and countless other races. Then my friend Jen urged me to sign up for a training group with her.
Her rationale? “It’s so fun, you’ll meet new people, plus you’ll be able to use the experiences for your blog!” (I do need fodder; it’s hard to come up with new ideas, for real.)
And she was SO right.
There’s something special about running with a pack. When it’s hard, you can draw energy from one another. When it’s easy, you high-five. I’m served up a fresh training plan every week, and I don’t even have to think about it, I just have to get my easy runs in. After the group run, we do a core workout that rivals my arch nemesis, Body Pump. Plus there are injury prevention clinics (who couldn’t use a refresher?), happy hours and make-up runs if your schedule gets crazy. It’s probably the best idea she’s ever had.
We are ramping up for a fun summer, and I’m already making new friends, and hopefully I’ll find a running mate for my fall race (Jen is too fast, damnit). And I now urge YOU to go find a pack and run! — Amie
“Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates
Private eyes (one clap), they’re watching you (two claps). — Mags
For the past four years, I’ve been preparing myself for my daughter to suck at sports.
That sounds weird, but it’s true. I’m competitive by nature, and I grew up playing sports. Lots of them. They came naturally and easily to me, and I loved them. I still do. For me, sports, athleticism and competition are things that define me as a person.
So the minute I found out I was pregnant, I immediately began to wonder if my kid would take after me. Would she have the same competitive drive that I do? What if she didn’t? How would I handle it if my kid didn’t take an interest in my beloved sports? What if *gasp* she wasn’t any good at them?
As my daughter, Nora, has developed, it’s been so wonderful to watch her personality come to life. Sure, babies are great to ogle and photograph and snuggle, but when they become tiny humans with thoughts and opinions of their own, the fun can really begin. The older she gets, the more I see glimpses of what she might be like as an adult.
But is she good at sports? It’s so hard to tell. Children all develop differently, and just because one kid is walking or throwing balls or doing somersaults earlier than another kid doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is going to be more athletic.
But there is one thing I can say for sure about Nora. She is a champion about coming along to run with me. And she always has been. I’ve been pushing her in a jogging stroller pretty much since the day she was born, and she’s always been content to do so. Now that she’s almost 4, she still comes along for the ride — happily pointing out mile-markers on the trail, waving to fellow runners and cyclists, singing motivational music, whatever. It’s only recently that she started asking me about every 10 minutes if she can get out of the stroller and run with me.
“Mommy, can I come run with you now?”
“Is it time now?”
“How about now?”
These days, at the end of our runs, my husband pushes the stroller while Nora finishes on foot with me. We never go far or fast, but it’s the best way to cool down that I can imagine.
So we decided this year for the Hyde Park Blast, we’d let Nora run in the kid’s race. Why not? Worst case scenario: She has a meltdown and refuses to run. We’re out $10. No big deal.
Leading up to the race, Nora could hardly contain her excitement. She proudly proclaimed she was going to win and “practiced” running around the house, in the yard, and to and from the parking lot at school. I also should mention that she showed a similar enthusiasm for Santa, only to freak out when she actually came face-to-face with the big man. So you might say that I had my doubts about how this would play out on race day.
On race morning, we completed the adult portion of the race and wound our way to the kids’ festivities. We wormed our way to the starting line, where Nora’s age group was lining up for the big event. While we waited for the race to start, Nora bounced up and down, her eyes bright with excitement.
They explained the logistics of the run to us through a megaphone and shouted the magic words, “On your mark, get set, GO!” Nora grabbed my hand and darted out in front with the biggest smile on her face that I’ve ever seen.
As we headed up the street and rounded the corner, we were still at the front of the pack. A little kid was coming up behind us, but Nora surged ahead, still grinning from ear to ear.
“All the way to the finish, Nora!” I cheerfully coached. I felt a surge of adrenaline like I was the one competing in this race and another as we crossed the finish line in first place.
Immediately, emotions bubbled up in my throat. As I chided myself to GET IT TOGETHER — this is a silly kid’s race, for Pete’s sake! — I realized the joy I felt was not tied to Nora’s ability.
It did not matter to me how fast or good or talented she was. What mattered is that this made her so happy. And that made me so happy. So happy that I wanted to burst. Not only was she excited to do something she’s been watching her parents do for years, but she actually enjoyed doing it.
I feel like I finally got it. I finally understood why it is that my own parents loved to watch me play sports. They loved it because I loved it.
I can’t wait to watch Nora run more races, compete in sports — or whatever it is that brings her joy. And I can’t wait to watch her find her passion. Because, as a parent, there’s nothing better than that. — Aidz