The Round-Up

calNovember was, to say the least, a rather lively month here at Bonkless!

We ushered in the month with the Presidential election, and I had the most heart-warming conversation with a little old lady at my gym that served as a beautiful reminder that it’s never to late to try something new. A bonkfighter we know had a little mid-race water-stop mishap and prompted me to examine water stop etiquette. I think most of us were still processing the Chicago Expo Recap megapost and all of its treasures when the Airport Gyms post was honored with a mention in a Wall Street Journal blog, Middle Seat Terminal. We met and chated with Jeff Clark, the marathoning truck driver, who is taking the health of the North American trucking industry very personally. We then took a trip to Pittsburgh, and though it wasn’t an ideal trip for me personally, as I left more than a little banged up and had to leave behind a very wrecked car (not my fault). But, the fact remains that it’s a lovely place to visit, and I imagine it’s an excellent place to do some hill work (Just watch out for something popularly known to the locals as “The Pittsburgh Left”.. bonk!). Finally, we finished out the month with Thanksgiving and the general feeling that people came out in record numbers for Turkey Trots across the country. And we like that!

The Rehab Diaries: Ouch

car-crashWhile in Pittsburgh, I got into a car crash. Luckily it wasn’t my doing, and the other driver was insured and apologetic. But, the fact remains that something is wrong with my neck, ny hip, the right side of my torso and lower back. Granted, it could have been far worse– far worse, as I did make my way home to Chicago the following day solo via rental car–but I did get a bit banged up.

I’ll spare you the specifics, but after a visit with trusted Dr. V & The Wellness Crew and some x-rays, I’ve bought myself a one-way ticket to quite a bit of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Quite a bit. Holy cow. It’s a lot, but I need it and I know it.

I’m disappointed; a few days before the accident I ran the strongest and fastest miles of my entire life. But, I’m going to make the best of it, come back stronger and better and just as active and healthy as ever. But, it might suck in the interim. I’ll keep you posted.

On The Road: A (Track and) Field Guide To Pittsburgh

pittsI’m in Pittsburgh to speak/read and since I’m in (as per usual) in full training mode for the St. Jude’s race in Memphis in a few weeks, I scouted out some running options. Luckily, a back-issue (May) of Runner’s World hooked me up.

Pittsburgh Routes:

3.75 mile run: Start at 11th and Smallman Streets and head east on Smallman. Make a right on 21st Street. Turn left on Penn Ave and continue to the fork at 34th street. Turn around and return to the start. You’ll see a statue of a WWI soldier near the turnaround.

4.7 mile run: Head east on the path north of the Allegheny River and east of the 6th Street bridge. Turn right on the footbridge ramp. Follow the trail around the island. Make left turns after the railroad bridge, after the parking lot, and at Waterfront Circle. Turn right to pick up the trail and return to the start.

5.5 mile run: Start at the northeast corner of Carson and Smithfield Streets. Make right turns on the Smithfield St. Bridge, Fort Pitt Blvd., and the Eliza Furnace Trail (the “Jail Trail”). Turn right on the Hot Metal Bridge. Make right turns on Water Street and the dirt path. Make left turns on the South Side Trail and 4th Street Turn right on McKean Street and turn left on 1st St. Take a right on Carson and return to the start.

Local Bonkfighters: People Who Run Pittsburgh

Shops:

TriZilla, 15 Freeport Rd; Fleet Feet Sports, 1751 N. Highland Road

Elite Runners and Walkers, 5992 Steubenville Pike

Fight The Bonk: Airport Gyms

ohare-airportIt was one of those “Of course that has to exist!” sort of moments when I heard about AirportGyms. The site’s selection of US and Canadian gyms to help fight the bonk during a layover is pretty in-depth with a gym in or near just about every airport I checked.  But, I wasn’t satisfied with just a website, so I checked out the gym associated with Chicago O’Hare Airport since I’m, you know, right here.  At $11 for a day pass, it’s not quite a bargain by gym standards, but consider that it’s attached to the airport’s Hilton Hotel and is a pretty nice gym. Then, consider that a soggy airport sandwich is about that much and suddenly it seems like an excellent deal. Ish.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Expo Recap

bofalogoOne of the larger expos I’ve attended, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Expo was, in short, a whopper. Such a whopper, in fact, that it’s taken me a long while to get all the info processed and sorted. but for you, readers dear, twas a worthwhile endeavor. The usual shoe and apparel companies were on hand, certainly, but there were plenty more we don’t see as often I wanted to cover. Check out some of the folks I met while there:

  • Fargo Marathon: “How Far Will You Go?” is their slogan, and I have to tell you, they were super nice people. I have a goal to run a marathon in all fifty states, and North Dakota might be sooner rather than later on that checklist. Marathon, Half-Marathon, 2- and 4-person Marathon Relay, 5k and 1 mile races all available. Rumor has it, the course is one of the most encouraging, as I hear the entire course becomes lined with cheering crowds.
  • Sport Hooks by HeavyMedalz: These folks have a great solution to what on earth to do with these medals we collect. Plus, they offer the cool Run The US Map and pins to make off all the races you’ve run.
  • Lifespeed Sports race medal display stands: Filed under “why didn’t I think of that?” these custom-made wooden planks can be wither free-standing or wall-mounted and display race medals in an uncluttered, organized manner. And I’m all about organized and uncluttered.
  • Go St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend: April 18th & 19th, 2009. Through the course of the weekend, St. Louis hosts a 5k run/walk, a children’s fun run, the Mature Mile Walk, Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Relay. All races benefit Backstoppers, an organization providing financial support to spouses and children of police officers, firefighters, EMTs and volunteer responders who have died in the line of duty. And, I do believe the registration fee is reduced if you register before December 31st.
  • Salute: I chatted with these folks for a while (and later won an iPod Shuffle from their raffle! Thanks, guys!) and learned all about their mission. Salute started in 2003 to help raise awareness and support of issue facing active military personnel, veterans and their families and to provide financial support as needed. I have to admit; I’d not previously considered the financial hardship military families might face. Good organization, nice people. Maybe a good team if you’re considering one of the military marathons, just a thought.
  • US Air Force Marathon: September 19th, 2009 in Dayton, Ohio. I’ll admit it. I’ve always thought the badass-itude that would come along with running the series of military marathons would kind of rule. After chatting with the fine people from the USAF Marathon, I’m even more convinced. Cheering crowds are completely encouraging by most all accounts, but an aircraft flyover? Hello. That’s kind of awesome.
  • Run To Remember: Race to benefit the National Hospice Foundation. Register for their running team for free and start fundraising. Helping this excellent organization is that easy.
  • Maratona di Roma: Mach 22nd, 2009. People, if anyone wants to get a little travel team together, I’m your gal. Imagine! Running around Rome and how cool that would be. Registration is almost half off before November 20th. Marathon Tours has packages that take care of just about everything including entry paperwork, hotel, pre-race dinner, and even waived entry fees if certain conditions are met.
  • BioFreeze: Freeze therapy for topical pain relief. I’ll give it a whirl and report back. Anyone every tried?
  • Team Asha: I’d not heard of this group before, but can appreciate the work they are doing. Team Asha runner raise awareness and funds to help educate underprivileged children throughout India with grassroots education projects. Similar in structure to Team In Training, Team Asha participants received the benefit of group training support throughout the Chicagoland area.
  • Recharge: So this is like most sports drinks, only with no added sugar, no artificial colors, no preservatives, 50% juice and essential electrolytes. I tried the orange flavor and liked the lack of a sugarey aftertaste, and that it’s made by Knudsen’s, whom I like.
  • Little Rock Marathon: March 15th, 2009. Clearly having a very fun time at the expo, the ladies representing the Little Rock Marathon were decked out in circle attire, one with in a red jacket with tails and carrying a whip, another covered in “Kiss Me I’m A Runner” temp tattoos. Their medal is pretty serious, too.
  • Dublin Marathon: October 26th, 2009. My friend Couch Pat (not a typo; I really call him Couch) ran this race and said it was fantastic. Even without his trusted testimonial, I think it’s a great race, if for no other reason than the sheer level of enthusiasm from the folks at the expo.
  • Marathon Hamburg: April 26th, 2009. Again, I’m all about the travel, so I wouldn’t be opposed to making a little travel team for this one. Most of the hills are out of the way early, and I have to admit it would be cool to run in a city founded in 832 of the common era, no?
  • Dallas White Rock Lake Marathon: December 14th, 2008. I’ve run around this lake and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The race benefits Scottish Rite Hospital For Children, which makes it even better.
  • OneAmerica Mini-500 Festival Marathon: Indianapolis promises a fairly flat course, but the real seller on this event is that opportunity to finish inside the Indy 500 Speedway. Which, I have to admit, would be pretty cool, plus the claim of having run the largest half-marathon in the country.
  • AIDS Marathon Training Program: Also similar to Team In Training in structure and training program with the added bonus of guaranteed entry into several awesome races including Amsterdam, Chicago and Honolulu.
  • Sport Beans: I haven’t tried them on a run yet, but I can attest to their hangover relief qualities. More soon after a road test.
  • Gas Cap: Genius! Has anyone used one? I’d love to hear from you, if so. I tried one out, and I feel confident the cap would carry gels without them flopping around. Great idea. I’m keen to get one and try it out.
  • Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathons: I’ve run with this race series before, and it’s pretty cool, I have to say. I learned at the expo that there are special medals for runners who do more than one of their events in a year. Really cool special medals, specifically. So, check out:
  • Marato Barcelona: March 1st, 2009. This would just kick ass all over the place. The course covers just about all the major sights to see in the city, so this seems like it would be a really great race.
  • PAWS Chicago: I had no idea they even offered a running team option for fundraising. I’m all over this, being the animal-lover that I am; PAWS is a great organization.
  • Chevron Houston Marathon: January 17th, 2010. 2009 is sold out already.  Ultimate Guide To Marathons called it the “fastest winter marathon”, “second fastest marathon overall” and the “fourth most crowd-supported marathon”. So, that probably explains why it’s already sold out for ’09.
  • Elations for joint health: A weird raisiny aftertaste, and I’m not wild about a product that requires an askterisk in the product name, but there it is. Wasn’t for me, but might be the Best Thing Ever for you, so I thought I’d give it a mention.
  • Cleveland Marathon: May 17th, 2009 and May 16th, 2010. They’re planning ahead nicely. Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10k, Corporate Team 10k, kids’ run and MetroHealth Wheelchair Challenge.
  • 26.2 With Donna: You’ve probably read Jeff Galloway make mention of this race. One hundred percent of money raised by the event goes to breast cancer research and care. That’s awesome!
  • American Cancer Society Charity Runner Program: Hey, if you’re going to run a particular race anyway, might as well run it for a good cause, right? Right. Hit the website to see if ACS is at an event on your radar, or contact them to see if you can do it anyway.
  • Polar: Dear Polar, make your very, very kick-ass watches useable for Mac users. PC users, go nuts.
  • Peak Performance: Multi-specialty approach to pain relief, corrective care and wellness care, and some of the nicest people around. The stride and gait analysis alone is worth a visit, if not the fun, upbeat atmosphere of the place.
  • Fred’s Team: a marathon program to benefit cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
  • AT Cure Tour: Do you know anything about ataxia-telangiectasia? I didn’t either, I’d never even heard of it, until I met a parent at the marathon expo who is so passionate about raising awareness about the cause. Read all about the very serious fatal genetic  disease which afflicts children, and learn how to incorporate the cause into your fitness fundraising, by hitting the website.
  • 13th Annual Chicago Half-Marathon & 5K: September 13th, 2009. Called one of the top ten half-marathons by Runner’s World, kickass finisher’s medal, great course, 9th largest half-marathon in the US… hello?
  • Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis: December 7th, 2008 in Chicago. So what it’ll be super cold? This race is a great course and it benefits one of the largest causes of disability in the US.
  • Nuun: Electrolyte replacement, sugar-free, and comes in a small tablet form that you simply drop into water. Hmm… eco-friendly and very delicious. I suggest the kona cola flavor.
  • Bermuda Triangle Challenge: January 16-18, 2009. Three races in three days– Invitational Mile on Friday, 10k Run/Walk on Saturday and Bermuda Marathon or Half-Marathon in Sunday. The “survivor” medal is super-cool, and the challenge is limited to 400 entrants. I’m keen to try, for sure. Plus, Bermuda in Janaury..? Um, yes. Marathon Tours takes care of just about everything. Check ’em out. There are other kick-ass races in their future, too.
  • Sistas Shirts: No website yet, but the shirts rule. Home of the “In my mind, I am a Kenyan” t-shirt. Watch for ’em.
  • Jack’s Fund: Both a small race in Chicagoland and a marathon team all over, this great organization rases money and awareness to benefit the Jack H. Marston II Melanoma Fund.
  • Marathon de Paris: April 5, 2009. See above, then add that this race starts on the Champs-Elysees.
  • Austin Marathon: February 15th, 2009. Ah, memories. If you’ve never been, check it out. Pretty, semi-hilly course, gorgeous, natural city that is live-music crazy.
  • Team World Vision: This is a great organization, truly. TWV raises funds for bicycles that provide access to health care, education and economic opportunities for children, adults and entire communities in Africa through partnership with World Bicycle Relief. Next event: Solvang Century and Half-Century, March 14th, 2009.
  • Reykjavik Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10K: August 22, 2009. So what if we can hardly pronounce the name of the city three times fast? How often do you get to say you ran a race in Iceland? That’s what I thought.
  • Imerman Angels/Imerman Active: Imerman Angels is an organization which connects a person undergoing cancer treatment with a person who has survived the same type of cancer, or past and present caregivers, for unique personal support that is always free. Imerman Active is an event team to raise funds for the organization.
  • Cabo Half-Marathon: January 25th, 2009 in Cabo San Lucas. I think the event name speaks for itself.
  • Team Care: Running team to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Association. Contact Kim Oakley for more info at kim (dot) oakley (at) alz (dot) org.
  • Sao Paulo International Half Marathon Corpore: April 5th, 2009. If you can’t make it to the Parisian Marathon in the same day, perhaps this one instead. The day prior, Sao Paulo hosts the major Latin American sports and running expo fair. So there’s that, too.
  • Larabar: Gluten-free, kosher vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, no added sugar, raw, non-GMO. People, this might be the bar to please just about everyone. Being the fan of all things spicy that I am, I’m partial to the Cocoa Mole, personally.
  • Livestrong/Lance Armstrong Foundation: We’ve all seen the little yellow bracelets. But have you read the manifesto?
  • Team In Training was at the expo, of course. I have nothing but love TnT and strongly encourage everyone to consider running, cycling or walking just one event for this organization. I went to my first informational meeting injured and out of practice and firmly believe I ran my first marathon, about five months later, due only to Team in Traning and willpower. (Ok, and maybe stubborness.)

Aaaand, there you have it. I hit the tables (not all by any means, but most) and chatted up vendors and jotted notes all afternoon, all so I could bring it here to you, readers dear. Got a race expo coming soon to your area? Drop me a note and we’ll talk about guest post expo coverage. Until then, fight the bonk, bonkfighters!

On The Road: The Running Hub of Santa Fe

Just today, as I was running along the edge of Lake Michigan, I was daydreaming about the Big Tesuque (“tuh-SOO-kay”) Trail Run in Santa Fe, which took place this morning, and remembered how beautiful it is to run trails in Northern New Mexico (I’ve lived all over the place). The run starts at the Aspen Vista overlook area (10,000 ft. altitude) and climbs six gorgeous miles to the top of Big Tesuque Peak (12,043 ft. altitude), then loops back to the starting point. Ah, New Mexico in the fall! The mountains, the aspens turning orange and yellow, the smell of pinon in the air, and one of my very favorite running shops, The Running Hub of Santa Fe, recipient of a Runner’s World Magazine’s Runner’s Choice Award.

For starters, the store has a ton of great products and is open every day, is staffed by experienced runners and coaches who know all there is to know about shoes, foot strike and stride, and they carry road and trail running shoes, as well as great tech apparel and gear for all kinds of weather (because you see a little of everything in that area). In the spring and summer, The Running Hub offers beginning and intermediate running classes designed to finish specific local running events in addition to individual training programs for all experience levels of runners and triathletes offered anytime.  Each Thursday throughout the year, the staff leads a community run at 6pm for anyone who wants to come along, too. And, if you head over to the staff page, you can read the bio of the very cool (and very badass) Coach Liz, the woman who taught me not only how to run but what it meant to be a runner after I came to her with half-baked habits that were all wrong and a knee injury and said, “Can I do this?”

So, if you find yourself in Santa Fe, go say hello at The Runing Hub. Folks from any Team In Training chapter especially make a point to say hello if in the area, as The Running Hub has nothin’ but love for TnTers.

On The Road: A (Track and) Field Guide to Omaha

The past weekend, I spoke and read at a literary festival in Omaha, and followed up with a day on a farm in east-central Nebraska. I like running in Omaha, as it is green, fairly hilly, boasts gorgeous architectural gems and has great public art in its series of parks (67-acre Memorial Park off Underwood is a good one not far from downtown and the Old Market District areas). And, the long open roads in rural areas of east-central Nebraska are an excellent place to log fast, steady mileage on foot or bike, as they’re quite flat and straight and not terribly busy.

Time permitting, start with a hello to the Omaha Running Club beforehand and check for opportunities to tag along on a scheduled group run or event. Also, check by Olympia Cycles, a cool little shop dedicated to community support and is into cyclists of all experience levels. If you find yourself in Nebraska in June, and feel gung-ho to cycle, there is a cycle-across-Nebraska event, too. The Omaha Marathon and Half-Marathon is in late September, and September in Omaha is gorgeous. The race is limited to 5,000 runners, so that means an uncrowded, cool-weather race, in my book.

But, for fitness anytime, there are some great running routes in Omaha, many with good hills, outside of the many parks, which are perfect for running, as well as good hiking trails nearby. Also, Activate Omaha is an excellent fitness site with a directory of local fitness resources and a calendar of events around town, many of which are free, such a drop-in yoga and group runs.

Lastly, I’m a big fan of supporting local, independent running shops, and Peak Performance is a great one, with two locations in Omaha.

What about you, readers dear? Do you know about a great fitness resource in Omaha or nearby I might have overlooked?