Monday, November 26, 2007

It's been a long time since I've had such a perfect holiday weekend. There have been countless wonderful "parts" of holidays but never a perfect 10. From start to finish it was a wonderful blend of family, friends, running and relaxation.

It started with running the Turkey Trot in Chicago, a tradition that goes way back in my running years. We met up with our good friends Shari, Tom and Jill and headed to the start line. It was the first REAL cold day in Chicago with snow and wind and I welcomed it because I knew for the first time this season I wouldn't be overdressed:) We hugged, took our places in line (we all run at various paces) and reminded each other of the true goal at the finish...get to Shari and Tom's to warm up, celebrate and enjoy lox and bagels.

I ended up having a great race and pushed harder than I thought I would. The first 1.5 miles is important to push because it is on a wide road which then narrows to a path that can only handle 3-4 people across. Once on the path you are pretty much stuck with what you have... So, I pushed hard, felt great and passed a number of people...except for the girl in the boxer shorts. She was with me the entire race. We were exchanging places back and forth, she would pass me and then I would pass her. So, I used the little wisdom I've developed in the 40 years on this planet and sat on her shoulder for a few minutes until the last half mile and then took off. Feeling over confident and proud of my tactics I launched my finish line push and then got "the Tap." Its been a very long time since I felt the tap and I must admit it was the perfect strategy. The Boxer short girl tapped my shoulder. I looked back and she went flying right through so quickly I had no idea she passed and beat me to the finish line until it was all over. Brilliant. My competitive spirit was even proud of her! It was a fun day of running and one that I will remember for ever. I was grateful for a strong race and to share the morning with my wonderful friends. Life is good.

My brother and I ran a great 16 miler Friday. It was a personal record for him and the longest he's ever run in the history of Scott Hadfield! We set out from the north end of the Chicago Lakefront Path and ran south 16 miles to the 63rd Street Beach House. My husband John (the Penguin) crewed for us along the way which made things easier. A perfect way to get a long run in and see the beautiful Chicago lakefront too. I am super proud of him and can't wait to run the Disney Marathon with him in January.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend.

Happy Trails,


Monday, November 19, 2007

Turkey Trotting And Other Seasonal Thoughts...

I am sure for many of you the start of the winter running season begins when it snows or in December at the Winter Solstice. That makes perfect sense. For me, Winter running always kicks off with racing the local Chicago Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.

It starts at 9am so there is plenty of time to sleep in and still get to the start. It is an 8K and plenty of miles (and Ks) to tackle before grazing those wonderful turkey day treats. But most of all, its a great way to socialize with the runners in the community and wish them a happy holiday. I consider the running community an extension of my family (the part that doesn't think I'm crazy for running!).

I look forward to this day almost as much as I look forward to the official start of the Spring running season (Shamrock Shuffle). On the surface, Winter running sounds just awful, but after a hot and humid Summer it sure is a treat to run in the cold temperatures. There is an honesty to running through Winter. The cold blustery days teach me exactly how strong or weak I am in my running phases and reminds me of the importance of mental strength.

There is also a solitude about running in the Winter. There are rarely other runners out there and in most cases its just me, the cool, crisp weather and the sound of my feet hitting the ground. It is a great way to defrag from the high intensity of the Summer season and run easy for a few months.

Like the change of seasons, our bodies need phases of training. It makes for an interesting and motivating year of running but it also allows our bodies to rest, train, perform at peak levels. So, as the leaves fall off the trees and I begin to set out my Winter apparel for the new season's workouts, I look forward to a fresh phase of running and one that will help me recover from the magnificent year I've had. Have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Happy Trails,


Monday, November 12, 2007

Creative Long Runs

I am getting up in miles for my long training runs in preparation for the Disney Marathon. Although I am running the race with my brother, he lives in St. Louis so we aren't able to train together. I had to run 15 miles Friday and I just couldn't motivate myself to run along the lakefront path in Chicago. It is a great place to train as it runs 18 miles along the beautiful lakefront, but it is where I coach year-round and I am just plain burnt out on the course.

So, when the motivation and scenery is lacking, I add an element of adventure to spice things up. I decided to run home from the north shore. I mapped it out on the USATF map routing website and calculated where 15 miles north of our home is. Then had my husband John drop me off and ran home! It is my favorite way to get in a long run because every step brings you closer to your goal (home) and it includes a few great hills which are lacking in the city.

As I ran my way south towards the city, I navigated to find side streets with less traffic and quiet streets. It was a beautiful fall day and there was a nice tail wind to push me forward. Mixing up your terrain is the easiest way to bring new energy and excitement to your runs. Especially when you are running long...

My next long run I hope to run with my brother Thanksgiving weekend. It will give us a chance to catch up and learn each other's pace. It will be a 16 miler, and another good opportunity to run point to point. But this time I may have John drop us off on the south end of the lakefront path and run 16 of the 18 miles north to show off our beautiful city.

Happy Trails,


Monday, November 05, 2007

Soapbox Blog

Excuse me while I get up on my soapbox...

Over the weekend a friend sent me this blog post on You can read it by clicking on blog post in the last sentence. But beware, feelings of anger and thoughts of throwing something across the room may happen. :)

The Cliff Notes version is he writes about how Oprah, the Penguin and all the slower runners have wrecked the competitive spirit. He writes:

"With all these runners, and all this technology, you'd think America would be turning out faster and faster marathoners. Instead, the opposite is happening. The more we run marathons, the slower we get -- an average of 45 minutes slower over the last 25 years. Ryan Hall is the swiftest American-born marathoner ever. His best race isn't in the top 250 of all time."

He must not have done his homework when he wrote this blog on Friday because Ryan Hall beat the Marathon Trials record from the early 80s with an outstanding 2:09:02 on a very challenging, hilly Central Park course. And it was only his third marathon ever. That, and the top three men (Dathan Ritzenhein and Brian Sell) a spot on the Olympic Marathon Team are training on "Teams"sponsored by Nike, Brooks/Saturn, and Asics. These companies are investing in developing elite US marathon runners BECAUSE of the masses. And it is working.

He also fails to mention Deana Kastor who broke the American Marathon record and won a bronze medal in Athens. Little does he know that the elite runners are getting stronger because of the masses of mortal runners toeing the line at marathons. The elite runners are also the first ones to encourage mortals to run. They are by no means negatively affected by the slower runners. The larger the race, the larger the prize purse and sponsorship. Runners fast and not-so-fast contribute to their winnings.

It also hit a cord with me because he blames Oprah and the Penguin, who just happens to be my loving husband. I don't know Oprah but I love who she is and what she's done. Her marathon was all about transformation in her own life. And she ran it in a very respectable time too. John has spent the better part of 12 years motivating inactive people to get active and discover the runner within. With obesity creeping up to being the most deadly disease in the nation, getting people active is a very good thing.

And yes, the average finish times are slower than they were 20 years ago, but there were a mere 1,000 or fewer runners in marathons then too. The times are slower because there are 30,000 runners not 1,000! It simple math. Not to mention, had the author tried to run a marathon 20 years ago, he would have been in the back of the pack. Which is the group he is blaming for the dumming down of the sport. Speed is relative. Anyone who doesn't win the race is slow in a race. We're all slow so how can a 3:45ish marathon runner call a 4:30 marathon runner slow????

Today's runners fast and slow are motivating tomorrow's champions. The sons, daughters and even grand kids are watching their parents finish the race and that not only motivates them to run it also gives them permission to try. Life is short. Get out there and run, cycle, and be fit. And never let anyone tell you that you can't. Because being a marathoner is not about how fast you get to the finish, it is about having the tenacity to train, prepare and gather up the courage to show up at the start line. If you happen to run a faster time that is a bonus.

Getting down off my soapbox and going for a slow run...