Friday, September 11, 2015

JPMorgan Corporate Challenge: Race No. 12

I’ve heard a lot about this race from friends and family. They told me about the food, the drinking, all the fun they’ve had. So this year I recruited some coworkers to form a team. But here’s the deal (which I didn’t realize until after signing us all up): It’s only fun if your company has tons of cash to splurge on a tent, catering and kegs. My employer at the time was not that type of company, and so, the race was simply a group of 20-30-somethings getting together to run around the streets of Chicago.

Overall, the race wasn’t well organized. It took us nearly an hour to get to the start line because they weren’t prepared for the crowds.

Way, way over there is the start line. But we were stuck in a line literally nearly a mile long to get there.

The race was packed from beginning to end, which made running a decent pace difficult. And by the time we got to the first water station, it was out of water.

Still, we had fun on our own, got our free t-shirts and finish-line banana. So there’s that.

"Action" shot

Race Summary

Race name: JPMorgan Corporate Challenge
2015 Challenge Race No.: 12
Location: Grant Park, Chicago, IL
Organizers/Sponsor: JPMorgan Chase
Beneficiary: Get In Chicago
Cost: $47
Distance: 3.5 miles

Best parts of the race:
- My coworkers

Worst part:
- Lack of organization.

Following events:

Soldier Field 10 Mile, May 23 @ Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
North Shore Classic Half Marathon & 5K, May 31, Highland Park, IL

Run For the Zoo 10K, June 7 @ Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL
The Original 5K, June 11 @ Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL
Susan G. Koman 5K, June 13, Downtown St. Louis, MO
Tiki Run 10K, June 20 @ Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL
Chardonnay 5K, June 27 @ Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tough Mudder: Race No. 11

Of all the races I’ve done in 2015, this is the only one I fully, hard core, trained for. And for good reason: Tough Mudder is a 10-mile mud and obstacle course run. Most of the obstacles require some serious upper body and core strength, which I seriously lack.

My training began in March when I joined a local Cross Fit gym to prepare. In addition, I started eating paleo almost exclusively, and Chris and I both gave up drinking about 6 weeks before the race.

At the height of my training, I was sometimes working out twice a day, and I definitely started to notice a difference in my overall fitness and endurance. I have no doubt this is why I ran my fastest 5K a few weeks before Mudder. That said, for all the work I was putting in and all the food I wasn’t, I didn’t lose much weight. My already fairly toned shoulders gone even more toned, but my jiggly middle didn’t change at all, which was really discouraging. But that’s another post for another day.

As for the race itself, all that prep definitely helped, but a lot of Mudder is mental. Sliding into a bath of ice water doesn't require upper body strength. But that obstacle (Arctic Enema) was the one I feared the most, and it was one of the "toughest" for me. Going under, your lungs contract from the shocking cold, and you have no air. It's terrifying, I'm not gonna lie.

I'd go through each obstacle one-by-one, but that would be pretty boring. A lot of the race this year was in a river, so what I remember most about the race was wading through waist-deep water for miles. There were a a few I couldn't complete, but those were the ones most other people couldn't do either (Balls Out, Funky Monkey). But I did conquer Everest, which still amazes me.

Shawshanked was another one that was pretty tough and I'm amazed I did it. You climb up a tunnel and drop out the end into water. It sounds easy, but the tunnel is slippery and already caked in mud from other people. There's a rope inside to help you, but that's also slippery and caked in mud. There was a minute inside I didn't think I could make it, but someone else was already behind me so I had to keep pushing forward.

Overall, the best part of Tough Mudder was doing with it Chris. It was just the two of us, and although the race requires teamwork, strategy and support, we never argued or got upset. Considering we've been together for 13 years and we still argue about whether or not he's driving erratically (he always is), it's amazing we got through it drama-free.



Race Summary

Race name: Tough Mudder
2015 Challenge Race No.: 11
Location: Richmond Hunting Club, Richmond, IL
Organizers/Sponsor: Tough Mudder
Beneficiary: Wounded Warrior Project
Cost: $170
Distance: 10 miles
Best parts of the race:
- Physical demand
- Camaraderie
- Organization

Worst part:
- Location. The site itself is perfect for this race, but it's a two-hour drive from Chicago. In fact, the parking lot for this event is technically in Wisconsin. 

Following events:

JPMorgan Corporate Challenge, May 21 @ Grant Park, Chicago, IL
Soldier Field 10 Mile, May 23 @ Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
North Shore Classic Half Marathon & 5K, May 31, Highland Park, IL

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

MMM - December 2014

Like some many grand plans I have, and then never follow through on, I was soooo going to blog about my monthly Maya mix CDs. And now it’s September and I’m planning Maya’s 6th birthday CD, and I’ve written how many posts? One.

M'kay, well, let’s make this two.

The good news is, I did manage to make a new 10-song CD for the girls every month since November (save for the month of June, when Maya spent most of the month at her grandparents). And slowly, I’ve converted her into a fan of some non-Disney-related songs.

Here’s the December 2014 mix:

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Maya had previously shown some interest in this song after watching Mom and Dad's full Wayne’s World reenactment. And despite the nearly 6-minute length, this song continued to hold her attention after multiple listens. Her favorite line? “So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?” Parents of the year, over here.

Happy (from Despicable Me 2) – Pharrell Williams
She already loved this song before I put it on the CD, so that was an easy win. Plus, I must admit I love it, too. So catchy!

Blackbird – The Beatles
My continual attempts to get the kiddos to like The Beatles. Once again, not all that interested. Maya mentioned that her teachers play this song during naptime at school, so I’m probably not winning any brownie points with any song associated with sleep.

Twelve Days of Christmas – John Denver & The Muppets
I immediately regretted putting this song on this CD. It got annoying and repetitive after about two plays. Fortunately, Maya agreed and didn’t really want to listen to this one much.

New – Paul McCartney
As previously mentioned, I have Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 to thank for the girls interest in this song. Whatever it takes.

(I’m Your) Hoochie Coohie Man – Muddy Waters
For my two little born-and-bred Chicagoans, I thought it was only appropriate to begin indoctrinating them into the blues culture. Maya, bless her, pretended to like this to humor Chris and me, but I know she’s not really a fan. But I hold out hope she’ll come around someday.

Daughter – Louden Wainwright III
Children under the age of, say 30, are in full ego, center-of-the-universe mode. It's not their fault; that's just part of growing up. And I'm not above using that to my advantage to get my kids to like different kinds of music. So this song was a hit simply because Maya feels like it's about her.

When I See An Elephant Fly - Jim Carmichael, Cliff Edwards & Hall Johnson Choir (Dumbo soundtrack)
Disney movie. Easy win. I like this song because of the grammatical puns in it ("I've heard a diamond ring, I've seen a front porch swing"). I think it's long overdue for a modern, and perhaps less offensive, makeover, don't you? I could totally see Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros covering this, right?! Or Billy Corgan.

Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
This is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Hearing it immediately makes me think of watching snow fall on a quiet, dark night, sitting at my parent's fireplace. All of which is a very strange thing to think about when it's 90 degrees out in early September. but back in December, it made sense of course. Maya liked it, although she really hasn't seen much Charlie Brown. We'll have to fix that this year.