Monday, February 17, 2020

Polar Pug Half Marathon 2020 {race recap}

I ran my first trail half this past weekend!

Happy to finish, happy to run on trails! photo: Edge Athletic Lounge

A few weeks ago I knew I would have  the opportunity to run the inaugural Polar Pug race. So I immediately bought some trail shoes (Altra Superior), a hydration vest,  and some gaiters. I broke the trail shoes in on Friday before the race when I walked Ze to and from school. They had good traction on the snow. 

Race morning: team MRC carpooled down to Country Lane Woods and sat in the car for a while. It was cold- around 20. We picked up our bibs and then sat in the car until 5 min before the race start.

We didn’t really know what to expect as all of us are generally road runners. I pictured the trail to be muddy. (Why I have no idea- since it snowed Wednesday and was super cold Thursday/Friday) Not enough warmth to have the snow melt and refreeze. I also talked myself into believing there would be snow but not ice due to it not melting/refreezing. I had no idea it would be so deep.

Soon it was go time and I got a selfie with fellow MRC’er/ badass/future winner of the Polar Pug/all around great person, MH.

We took off and I felt like I was running through thick loose beach sand. It was cold but not terrible.

We completed the first out and back and whew, That was challenging. The hills + snow were a solid effort. I felt like I tweaked my ankle 1.5 miles in and was worried about the rest of the race. 
Photo from Edge athletic lounge. 

I was having a lot of fun.

Giving side fives to our club members was awesome on the out n back.

Then we continued on towards the loop which we would repeat 3x. More snow, more hills and gah it was just so peaceful.

All I could hear were the planes heading to midway and the wind in the trees. (And the water in my hydration pack sloshing around)

MH passed me on my second Loop lap - she was first woman and killing it!

Hearing birds chirping, the wind, the planes, and the crunch of the snow under my shoes was so relaxing.

It was tough to run through the snow- feet would slip a little and ankle would become very unstable. I kept worrying that I would hurt my right ankle after the initial tweak in the early part of the race.  

I would walk up the hills because I would get so out of breath trying to run up them.

Luckily my ankles were ok- but with about 5k to go I felt like I had huge blisters on my feet. This is what I get for never wearing these shoes before. But I powered through to the finish.

I was so happy to be done. I enjoyed running on the trails so much.

I was so happy I did this race. It was tough, relaxing, fun, everything.

We got super cute hats for participating. 

MH won first and her trophy was everything. So adorable!

We went to Open Outcry Brewing to celebrate our achievements. The beer was really good. But being able to celebrate with these fabulous people was great.

So many good beers.

A pizza with fries!!

Post run bath beer.

At the beginning of the year I had decided I wanted to run trails this year- I always have the desire to get off the lakefront, but hadn’t made it happen. After this race, I’ll definitely make time to head out of the city to enjoy nature more. Ze would totally enjoy trail running too. 

Thoughts and housekeeping:
  • The line to my hydration pack froze in the first 4-5 miles so it was essentially useless. 
  • Took a Maurten around mile 3.2
  • The gaiters definitely helped keep snow out of my shoes and kept my feet pretty dry
  • The blisters were probably from my feet sliding around due to the uneven footing. 

  • I wore capris + compression socks. Nike hyperwarm long sleeve, MRC Shirt, Nike Shield jacket. MRC buff + fleece buff, Manzella gloves, headband + shamrock hat. Overall I felt like I dressed appropriately. I did feel hot and wanted to take my jacket + gloves off but I didn’t. 
  • The Polar Pug, Tank
  • Trail running is so much fun and I can’t wait to discover more trails. This race was only about 20 miles outside of the city. 
  • My entry was comped and all opinions are my own. Many photos from Edge Athletic Lounge. 
  • The race was extremely well organized and volunteers were amazing. 
  • 100% would run another trail race. 
  • Currently looking at Canicross events so Ze can get involved. 
  • Trail running is so much more low key than road races. Everyone was so friendly- saying “good job” to each other or high fives. 
What’s next?
Hustle up the 875 {Hancock} stair climb
Take the bridge 
Atlanta 13.1
Shamrock Shuffle 

Yeah, things are busy on the “racing” front. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

January 2020

January 2020

I started out the month by taking the RRCA level one coaching class. I had always wanted to take the class so I was so happy when the opportunity came up. I passed the 100 question test a few weeks later and now am officially a running coach! I made an 8k training plan for our run club as practice.  I don’t have any plans to make a side hustle out of coaching, but I’m very happy to have the certification and knowledge. 

Our run club, Mikkeller Running club Chicago won chapter of the year out of all MRC. We celebrated with a special run.

We celebrated 9 years in Chicago. 

Fancy work dinner awards: My company has an awards banquet for the office staff each year. I received a special achievement award for going above and beyond with helping out my coworkers by writing fabulous useful reports in BI. I also won a gift card to Lettuce entertain you. #winning


Less mileage year over year, but more total volume. I’ve got no specific goals for 2020 running at this moment (other than keep running)  so I just try to maintain 5-6x a week running, sporadic speedwork, 2x cycling and some stair climbing.  It’s weird not having a “goal” race but I’m enjoying not doing long runs and heavy speedwork after averaging close to 80mpw during the summer. 

Ze and I ran 3 times for 16 miles in January. 

We were So proud of L for PRing at his recent half. 

The coaching side of me is very fulfilled witnessing L’s growth over the past year. PR city! In all reality, consistency pays off. He’s doing all the hard work. 

Looking forward to February 2020 (January was such a long year!)

  • Celebrating the 5th anniversary of our run club, MRC Chicago 

  • Running my first trail 13.1 
  • Completing my 3rd, Hustle up the 875 (Hancock)
  • Going to Atlanta with L, Kim and S,  to watch the fast ponies run the Olympic trials marathon
  • Running the Atlanta Publix 13.1 
  • Eating some Publix  subs 
  • Dinner at a new to us restaurant + returning to an old fav we haven’t been to in a while
  • Mom’s  popup at Marz, because it’s an awesome combo. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Seattle {2019}

After we lost CB, we decided to take a short trip somewhere. Initially I wanted to go somewhere during Thanksgiving weekend (4 days off!) but since travel during the holidays especially turkey day,  is a cluster we decided on the week prior and Seattle. I had never been to Seattle before and L had been there a few times but didn’t get to experience much due to work.

We got to ORD super early and boarded our plane and did what we love to do- take photos.

Shortly after takeoff, I looked out the window and saw a glory rainbow out of our window. I attributed it to CB whom we lost 2 months ago  (even though I know these are caused by basic science it was totally CB giving us this)

When we got closer to Seattle we saw mount Ranier out our window.

I love mountains!

Once we landed, I registered for Clear which took 5 min then we checked into the hotel and walked to the market.

I was starving by this point so we went to Piroshky Piroshky for a delicious Piroshky filled with cheese and potatoes.

This was the perfect snack while we walked around.

We saw a huge stuffed otter.

And then went to Ivar’s for some fish n chips.

The chowder was great! I had the white and L had the red. The fish was also good too. We ate inside the tent as it was just above freezing outside and there were huge seagulls who wanted our food.

We had the Cajun spice cod.

Huge ass gull who would have fought us for our food (and won).

We continued walking around and found a pet supply store. I ended up getting Ze a donut and some special homemade biscuits from Seattle. We spent 15 min talking to the store owner. He had 2 beautiful cats and a small dog in the store. He was so passionate about the items he stocked in the store.

We went to the hotel for a quick nap and then went to Holy Mountain brewery.

And met up with our friend John, from MRC Seattle. We had met him previously at the shamrock shuffle this year and were happy we could all meet up over great beers in Seattle. Reason 1,283,839 why Mikkeller running club is the best- friends all over the world who are more than happy to run or grab a pint with you.

For dinner we went to Mamnoon. It was so good. 

Muhammara- this walnut based spread was mind blowing delicious. I need to learn how to make it.

Brussels sprouts with pomegranate.

A delicious huge pita with turnip, spices.

Scallops. I’m still thinking about the sauce and the scallops.

Labneh cheesecake with cotton candy hair.

Saturday morning we ran to Fremont.

And saw the troll!

And then went to biscuit bitch where I had a biscuit with gravy, scrambled eggs, and grits. I also had a dirty pumpkin chai. We ate outside on the patio seating. It was around 40degrees. But was nice to be outside. (This is something that I found interesting- all the outdoor seating and people occupying the seats even though it was not more than 40 degrees)

For lunch we went to Taylor Shellfish Farms for oysters.

They were all so good!

We went to Unicorn bar for Jell-O shots and frou frou drinks.

I loved how this bar was decorated.

We went to Cloudburst Brewing to quench our thirst after walking a lot.

Sunset was gorgeous.

For dinner we went to Shiro’s Sushi. (As in Jiro dreams of sushi, brother)

I was so excited to eat some of the freshest sushi while in Seattle.


Cod Karaage. The outside was so crispy and the inside so delicate.

Tamago, Geoduck, and two types of tuna.

I was happy to try geoduck but it was not my favorite.

Post dinner we went to Rob Roy’s for drinks.

I got the house special, an old fashioned.

Sunday morning we made another friend.

We went to the market again and I got 3 small artesanal jams. While looking at the selection of jams the owner/maker offered us free samples which we politely declined multiple times- I was just going to buy them because I knew they’d be good. Once I asked about the golden raspberry habanero jam she just gave us samples of it- no way to say no (and the jam was predictably delicious). We joked that we must have been the first people to not go crazy for free samples.

We went to Fremont Brewing.

The space was nice and the beer was really good.

Post beer we went to The Masonry. They have an excellent selection of beer and food. 

Beets and burrata.

Clams in a curry sauce with focaccia.

Pizza with hot copa, grana, and hot peppers.

We had to stop back at Holy Mountain for one last beer before our trip was over.

Monday morning we woke up at 3am to get to our 6am flight.

There was an emotional support parrot seated in the row behind us. It behaved the entire flight.

It was a great quick trip. I’m so happy we got away for a few days to explore Seattle. 

Fun story from Saturday: 
When we went to Bartles drug store for water and postcards, the cashier asked us where we were from, and then said “you’re not thinking of moving here, are you?” Uh nope.  With the addition and growth of companies such as Expedia, google, and Amazon it’s driven the cost of living up quite high.

I’m currently inspired to make:
Steamed Clams