Monday, November 4, 2013

Race plans for 2014

It is only early November, but I've already started some major scheming on the races I want to do in 2014. Here is what I've got on the list.

Must Do's

I've said many times that animal shelters are a cause that is very, very special to me. The PAWS Run for Their Lives 8K and the Petco 5K9 are huge favorites of mine for this reason. I am pretty much just waiting for the race organizers to announce the dates for 2014 so I can mark them in my calendar.

In addition to both of these races, I have also heard that the Anti-Cruelty Society hosts a 5K race called Bark in the Park where the proceeds go towards their cause. It sounds like it is a similar format to both the PAWS and Petco races whereby runners are allowed to participate both with and without their pets.

Unfortunately when I heard about Bark in the Park for 2013, I wasn't able to participate since it conflicted with the Wisconsin Half Marathon. I'll be keeping an eye on this race's date for 2014 in hopes of attending.

Blackhawks Fandom
Yours truly, the rabid Blackhawks fan, would never want to miss the Blackhawks Mad Dash to Madison 5K. It is hosted every year in conjunction with their annual Training Camp Festival.

I love this event! It one of the most fan-friendly events that the Blackhawks organize. A Blackhawks-themed tech shirt, a player bobblehead, thousands of other rabid Hawks fans eager for hockey season to start, and admission into the United Center to watch a player scrimmage? When can I sign up!?!

Esprit de She
I am excited to be a race ambassador for Esprit de She for the second consecutive year!

Last year was their inaugural event in Chicago and I had a BLAST. It was like a night out on the town with almost a thousand of my closest running friends. Love, love, loved it.

I am also waiting for the organizers to announce the date for the Chicago event in 2014 so I can mark my calendar. I'll be checking out their offerings in other cities, too, in hopes that something might coincide with any travels.

Local Half Marathons
I am looking at both Illinois and Wisconsin. Both races offer both a full marathon and a half marathon option, but I would be opting for the half marathon at either/both.

Unfortunately, these two races take place on consecutive weekends. With the travel involved I don't think I can do both of them. Therefore, I will probably have to pick one or the other.

This is tough because I had a total blast at the Wisconsin Half Marathon this past year. It's got a gorgeous course, is super affordable, and is very laid-back. Plus, who doesn't love their cheese theme?

But, I am a proud alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and I would really enjoy the opportunity to do a race on my old stomping grounds. At this very moment, Illinois has the edge because I've never run it before. Not to mention that I really enjoy adding to my medal collection - and Illinois has an I-Challenge where you earn three medals for doing two races that weekend. Very cool. 

This is going to be a tough decision.

Rock N Roll Half Marathons
I am about 80% sure that I will be taking the plunge on purchasing the Rock N Roll Tour Pass 3-Pack next year. I am pretty much just waiting for the organizers to announce the date of the 2014 Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon to make sure it is doable for me.

Assuming I go for it, Rock N Roll Chicago and Rock N Roll Las Vegas are gimmees. However, I am still evaluating what the third race might be. At face value, Rock N Roll San Diego is currently my top choice, but Rock N Roll Montreal is a very, very close second.

Disney Races
I want to earn my Disney Coast to Coast medal! I've seen the medals from previous years and I am dying to add one to my collection. This challenge is accomplished by running a half marathon both in Orlando and in Anaheim during the same calendar year. 

If I were to go for this challenge, these would be my picks:

The biggest issue is that Disney races are mucho expensivo. You also have to consider that they require fairly significant travel costs, and ideally would also involve taking at least a little bit of time off of work. I mean, who wants to go to Disney just for the weekend, right?

To add to the complexity, some of the Disney races have started to sell out very quickly, too (I heard the Disneyland Half sold out in about 2 days this year). I wonder at what point the Disney races are going to have to go to a lottery registration system just like some of the World Marathon Majors?!?!? 

At the end of the day, it's probably going to be a stretch for me to earn a Coast to Coast medal in 2014. But a dream is a wish your (runner's) heart makes...

Pittsburgh Visitation
Since I visit Adam's side of the family in Pittsburgh three or four times per year, I have many great opportunities to run races out there.

The PNC YMCA Turkey Trot is quickly becoming an annual tradition, so this is pretty much a done deal for 2014.

Then, I hope to do either or both the Steelers 5K and the Penguins 6.6K next year.

If I had to pick between the two, the Penguins 6.6K probably gets stronger consideration because of its unique race distance and its timing (a little bit later in the year). However, I certainly wouldn't go wrong between either race. Again, waiting for the dates to be announced for both events in 2014.

The various other "very likelies" (in order of race date):
Also under consideration (in order of race date):
  • Race to Wrigley 5K - I'd like to be able to run races at all of the major sports fields in Chicago. I've already crossed the United Center and US Cellular Field off the list, but have not run at Wrigley. However, this race, while seeming fun, does not actually allow runners on the playing field. That is a disappointment.
  • Soldier Field 10 - Similar to Wrigley, I have never run a race at Soldier Field (although, I have been on the field a few times, most recently with Xaarlin at a Nike event.) This race also draws consistently rave reviews. However, my concern is it always takes place over Memorial Day Weekend, when I tend to want to go out of town for the long weekend.
  • BTN Big 10K - I like the 10K distance and it would be fun to represent my alma mater amongst all of the other Big Ten school alums in the area.
  • Chicago's Perfect 10 - I am a big fan of the 10-mile race distance and this race offers a sweet medal!

I have been going back and forth and back and forth on whether or not I might be motivated enough to train for another marathon in 2014. I like the idea of running another marathon and I really, really want to improve upon my one and only marathon performance from 2012. However, admittedly I still don't really like the idea of putting forth all the difficult training time and effort.

At this exact moment, I am probably not up for the challenge. I have had enough trouble getting myself motivated to do my 10- or 11-mile training runs just to prepare for half marathons. But after I have some time over the winter to operate with reduced training intensity, maybe this will change?

In the event that I do decide to go for it, the Chicago Marathon will ALWAYS be a strong consideration. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience when I ran it. I also learned while running it that knowing the course/city and having everything take place in your own backyard is an ENORMOUS boost. So I definitely want to run Chicago again some day. It's just a question of when (assuming of course that registration doesn't become uber-competitive in the future, of which all trends indicate that it will).

Another race that I think about with stars in my eyes is the Honolulu Marathon. Aloha!!!

Besides the obvious draw of being in Hawaii, I love that there is no cap on registration and there is also no course time limit. Gotta love the island way of life! Unfortunately the travel costs and vacation time would be an enormous consideration for Honolulu as they can both get pretty prohibitive pretty fast.

Finally, it seems like New York is almost unquestionably the favorite marathon of anyone who has ever run it. I have to admit that I am considering entering the New York Marathon registration lottery for next year. I mean, who am I kidding - the odds of me getting into New York are probably close to zero. But we can certainly still let fate decide. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, right?

How about all of you? What races do you have on the brain for 2014 and/or have already signed up to do? 


  1. I will go back and read the rest of your post but first I'm going to say ILL-INI! You need to do Illinois!!

    1. ILL-INI, indeed! It's a tossup between Illinois and Wisconsin but right now Illinois does have the edge. Are you in for it next year?!?!? I would love if Illinois was the target race for a spring CRB getaway weekend!!!

    2. I'm definitely in and am going to try and make it a CRB getaway weekend!

    3. I just saw your post on Facebook about getting the weekend planned. Yee-haw!!!

  2. I was just reading my recap of my spectating the Shamrock Shuffle 2013 and thought about how much I really want to do the 2014 edition. I've only run it once, but it was a blast. I want to gun for an 8k PR which might magically put me in the top 5 of my AG and then I would get some kind of engraved award! It's a longshot, but I can dream, can't I? :)

    1. Pete, when did you run Shamrock? I've never even spectated Shamrock but based on the pictures you took from your spectator experience, it does look like a blast for all! And you've been knocking down those amazing race times like it's a walk in the park. Your odds of placing in your AG are excellent! GO FOR IT!!!

    2. I ran it in 2011. It was super fun. Okay, now that you said that, I am going to go for it! :)

    3. Yay! I am about 99% sure I am going to go for it, too. WRCE does Shamrock, woo hoo!!!

  3. How have you not done the Shuffle yet??? Last year was my first year running it, but I've spectated several years as Bob's run it. It was so much fun! And I mean, I ran this race with food poisoning, afraid that I may puke at every turn (TMI? Sorry), and I'd still call it one of my favorite races :)

    I'm torn between Illinois and Wisconsin too. Doing the relay at IL was so much fun last year, but if it's the same weekend as my neighborhood 5k (the Ravenswood Run, which I'll tell you to do below) again this year, I'll probably go with Wisconsin. Illinois was so well-run, and even a non-alum like me had a blast running through campus, so I'd recommend that one pretty highly :)

    I'll be doing SF10 to celebrate my birthday again next year, so you should do that one :) And I hope the MI Wine Trail half works out as a CRB destination race! And last, I will plug the Ravenswood Run 5k. If it doesn't conflict with any other races/training (they haven't announced a date yet), you have to add that one to your list. It's a Fleet Feet race that goes through the best neighborhood in the city (I'm biased, but Pete and Maggie will agree with me), benefits the neighborhood food pantry, has all kinds of great finish line treats and the shirts are pretty sweet.

    1. Oh, and Hawaii is so not in the budget next year, but we're going to do another big trip in 2015 so if we do end up going back to Hawaii, I'd absolutely run a race there :)

    2. Thanks for your thoughts, Anne! It's great to hear that you enjoyed Illinois so much despite not being an alum. And I think you would really, really love Wisconsin! I am looking forward to hearing how your race plans shape up between the two - it sounds like you can't go wrong with picking either or both.

      I consistently hear really amazing things about SF10! It's just hard to plan on having to be in Chicago that weekend because I usually get the spring travel bug big time for Memorial Day Weekend. I really hope the MI Wine Trail works out for a blogger getaway, too! (Although, I am intimidated by what I hear are some brutal hills on that course... yikes!)

      I thought I might get a recommendation from you on the Ravenswood 5K. =) Food pantries are a fantastic cause and I am learning how much I love neighborhood races! Assuming the date works out, I would be very interested, especially given your high recommendations. =)

      Hawaiian races, sigh! I'm going to Maui from December 15 - 22 and unfortunately still can't find any races on that island during that timeframe. Huge bummer!

  4. Wow lots of fun ideas going on here! I will miss WI this year because Flying Pig is the same weekend. I've also re-upped my Espirit de She Ambassadorship. You NEED to come do Soldier Field. I ran it this year for the second time and it was awesome. My big race is NYCM.

    1. The last weekend in April and the first few weekends in May seem like SUPER popular race weekends. There are so many choices! Bummer that you won't be able to do Wisconsin again this year, but yay for Flying Pig and their Skyline Chili challenge! I have heard so many great things about Flying Pig (except the hills) so I am excited for you to attend! Thanks for yet another rec on Soldier Field, too - it really does sound like a race that is a favorite of seemingly everyone!

      Yay also for Esprit de She ambassadors! I am excited for what they have planned for this year.

      Woo hoo on NYCM next year! You must be especially pumped after all the coverage from yesterday. =)

  5. Never too early to plan.... I'm already registered for Polar Dash, Good Life 5K, Soldier Field, North Country, Wine Trail half, and Chicago Half. So many good and fun races out there but I'm trying to show some constraint after doing 25 races this year. I think I'm going to focus more on a fall marathon before transitioning to preparing for Disney Marathon weekend in Jan 2015. Hopefully I can get back into Chicago, but Grand Rapids may be the back up plan.

    1. 25 races this year! My goodness! You must be pretty raced out by this point. I've only got 16 races this year, with two more still to go, and I am already looking forward to finishing them off. I definitely want to show some constraint for next year, too, since there are SO MANY to pick from. No need to do any race that you're not excited about, right?

      I've been tempted to sign up for Polar Dash but I do enjoy having the break from racing over the winter. I've never heard of Good Life 5K, what is that? Yay for North Country and Wine Trail, as well as Grand Rapids! I've heard great things about all three - you gotta love Michigan races!

    2. Good Life 5K was previously the Race That's Good For Life out in Oak Park. The Oak Park Running Club puts it on. I definitely over did the racing this year. I'm feeling the burn out a bit. I definitely underperformed at the Chicago Marathon. I was hesitant to do Polar Dash for the same reason, but got talked into it. Its actually on my birthday - so winter race and my b-day, double whammy.

    3. Ah yes! I've heard a lot about the Race That's Good For Life. Erin's a member of the OPRC and I know she runs/volunteers for it every year - it sounds like a great race! I know there were issues with it conflicting with Shamrock in the past, though, so hopefully it won't be an issue this year.

      Ooooh, Polar Dash would be such a fun way to celebrate your birthday with several hundred or thousand of your closest running friends. Nothing like getting a medal on your bday, too! Love it!!!

    4. Nope, no conflicts with Shamrock this year! Shamrock is the week before :-)

    5. Excellente!!! I bet the OPRC was very relieved to hear that there was no conflict this year, whew!!!

  6. So early! Ok not really. Hehe I've been thinking the same thing lately.

    You should do the shamrock shuffle.

    I like the dog races too. I'm a sucker for the homeless animals- I hope to do one next year with CB.

    RnR Montreal would be amazing!

    I'm strongly considering the Wisconsin marathon.

    You have so many great races listed!!!

    1. Xaar! I've been thinking about you, we still need to find a time to brunch soon, especially before things get too crazy with the holiday season! Are you free either the weekend of the 16th or the 23rd to catch up?

      Shamrock Shuffle is pretty much a done deal at this point. =) I think you and CB would LOVE the dog races! I was also talking to Anne about it because I think she would enjoy bringing Jude and Meko to those, as well. How fun would that be?

      I am very excited at the potential prospect of RnR Montreal! The only thing I wish about RnR Montreal is that it takes place during hockey season so Adam and I could see a game up there, LOL.

      I think you would really, really enjoy Wisconsin!!! You can't beat having Kim's discount code on it, either. =) You are thinking about the Wisconsin Marathon full as opposed to the half, yes?

  7. You have a lot of great ideas for next yearSF10 i s a great one (as the others have mentioned). I also REALLY want to get the Coast to Coast medal but don't know if it will work next year for me..Plus I've never been to California so I NEED to go and a race is perfect excuse :)

    I've been thinking about my plans as well, but of course I only have 2 races set in stone. Disney Princess and Grandma's. I've been thinking of coming to Chicago for the RnR half but its always so blasted hot. I'm also looking at a sprint triathlon or two but am torn on whether or not I should go for it. I miss all the great races and options of racing in Chicago. It takes a lot more planning (and driving) out here for the longer distances. With the exception of a few races in the area I have to drive at least 40 minutes for even 5ks. Plus working every other weekend puts a damper on things. :(

    1. There is no better way to travel and to see a town/get to know its locals than by running a race! I strongly believe that and I am going to look for more reasons/excuses to take runcations in the future. Let me know if you might be up for the Disneyland Half next year - how fun would that be to meet up there!?!?!?

      Yeah, RnR Chicago is a tough time of the year. I am amazed that they don't have more heat-related issues than they do. But maybe Shamrock would be a good consideration, if your schedule permits? Thanks for the reminder also of how lucky we are here to have so many race options - I tend to take it for granted so much!!! And I hope your work schedule slows down soon. You need a vacation! And a runcation!!! =)

  8. whew! I need a recovery stretch from seeing this schedule.

    I have nothing planned for 2014! We'll see what life has in store for me! YOLO?

    1. LOL, fortunately there's a big difference between the races that I am considering versus the ones that I actually end up clicking the "Register" button on. =D But I am definitely guilty of signing up for too many races in advance, then regretting it later. It would be nice to be able to run a lot of races on a whim! YOLO indeed!

  9. Great list of races! You've never ran the Shamrock Shuffle?!?!? Wow! I love that race.

    Next year I will try to do more races in Chicago. I will not go crazy like this year and be out of town for so many weekends. It looks like I am set to be done with my 50 states goal by 2015. So hopefully Alaska in 2014 and Hawaii in 2015.

    The RnR San Diego race is cool. You'll like that one. No more RnR races for me. Las Vegas is my last one this year.

    Looking forward to running with you!

    1. Are you planning on running Shamrock next year? I am curious to see what the hype is about it and what makes it so cool! So I am about 99% sure I'll finally run in next year, too.

      Oh my goodness, your race travel schedule has been crazy! I do enjoy traveling, but I am more of a homebody so I start to get homesick if I'm on the road too much or too often. That is so cool that you're on target to have your 50 states goal done by 2015!!! Once you do, that will be reason for HUGE celebration. (I am still trying just to VISIT all 50 states, let alone run any kind of race in all 50. =) )

      I am excited about the prospects of RnR San Diego! It is my favorite city in California and I have visions of just going to the beach and lying in the sand after the race. =)

      Yay for RnR Las Vegas! I am looking forward to hearing about your experience there!!! And I am looking forward to running with you, too!!!

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