Episode 199 – The Chicago 2011 Race Round-up

The RunRunLive Podcast Episode 199 – The Chicago 2011 Race Round-up

[audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/epi199.mp3|titles=Epi199 – The 2011 Chicago Marathon]


Show intro by:

Ed Hidden

RunRunLive – Podcast Intro



Hello and welcome to the RunRunLive Podcast, this is Chris your host.  This is episode 199. This week we have a special episode for you.  Instead of an interview I’m going to give you my multi-media wrap up story of this year’s Chicago marathon.

For you new listeners, and I think there are a few because I’ve been doing some network building over the last couple weeks, especially in Twitter. I’m up to 8,000 followers on Twitter and more importantly I really enjoy the people I’m meeting.

It seems that endurance athletes like to connect and there are tons of blogs out there from focused, passionate individuals just like us.

So for you guys, welcome, I always tell people they have to listen to 3 episodes of any podcast before making a call on whether it’s right for them.  That’s what I do. Allow me a moment to bring you up to speed on the RunRunLive empire…

In this podcast my charter is to entertain, inform and inspire and that mix changes depending on what I’m focused on.  I produce it for myself and what I find interesting, or funny or what has led to my own personal growth over the years.

Content-wise I typically have a couple tips, I talk a little about my stuff and I wrap it all around a 15-20 minute interview with someone interesting.  I try to keep it fast paced so you won’t get bored and I keep it as close to 45 minutes as I can.  That’s my format and it seems to work.  I push one out every Friday morning give or take a few hours.

Who am I? Well I’m a normal guy who works for a living in a job that requires a fair amount of travel and leadership.  I’m married with kids.  I’ve been running my whole life. I love it.  I’ve never been fast or won anything but I got back into it semi-seriously over the last couple decades and it has become a profound element of my life and lifestyle.

I like the marathon distance. I like running trails and places I’ve never been before.  I’ve run the ultra-distances.  I’ve dabbled in road biking and triathlons.  I really like endurance mountain biking.

If you were to listen through the last 198 episodes of this show you’ll join me and my border collie Buddy the Wonder Dog as we work through training and race cycle adventures in all these sports.

And that’s who we are.  It’s simple.  I don’t strive to be anything else. If I can help you lift the weight of life from the yoke of your shoulders once or twice then I have succeeded.

This week I’m still injured but I got some good pool workouts in especially because Jake gave me a couple pool interval workouts.  I’ve been doing the stationary bike and the total body workouts but I miss running.

I had some challenges getting into the pool over the weekend.  I like to work out at night and they close early on Friday through Sunday. The pool is just clogged with little kids in the afternoon.  I actually did the crack of dawn pool workout yesterday and it was rough.  But I will say that if you’re going to work out at the crack of dawn, doing laps in the pool is probably one of the better, more forgiving things you can do.

I volunteered at the New England Prep School Country Country Championships on Saturday and I got to work the chute.  In a high school level race the kids come through the shoot and it’s important to keep them in order.  The scoring is such that every one of the top 5 kids on a team scores.  That means that changes in order of the 50th kid could change what school wins.

I was the guy at the finish line calling the finish order and physically putting the kids in order.  It’s hard because some just stop while others keep running through the finish. And some of the kids are in pretty rough shape.  And they come across the line in big groups that you have to sort out.

It was great fun and, honestly if you haven’t volunteered for a race yet, go do it. You’ll help people, you’ll have fun and you’ll learn something whether it’s a school meet or your local 5k or marathon.

Going in to see doctor Hester next week. Hopfully I can start training again because we are getting perilously close to the fail-safe point for a good Boston Marathon campaign.

But, you can’t look too far ahead.  You have to take every day as it comes.  Celebrate today.

But this is not about me.  If we do it right, sometimes, it’s about us.  Today it’s about YOU!

On with the Show!


Audio clips in this episode:

Verdi’s Requiem from Jim Laskey

Audio clips from the race with Eddie Marathon and Adam the ZenRunner…

Skits, commercials and parodies in this episode:

Story time:

Equipment Check:

Featured Segment:

Chicago Marathon 2011 Race Report

On October 11th 2011, I participated in the Chicago marathon.  I ran for the Diabetes Action Team.  I collected over $1500 for the cause.  I was treated well by everyone involved and had fun.

I met up with and was the guest of Eddie Marathon.  We stayed at Eddie’s Dad’s house and had a great time paling around with Eddie, Adam, Eddie’s Dad, and Eddies extended family out in the suburbs of Chicago.  Eddie gave us a guided tour of his childhood haunts and was an awesome and gregarious host.  Eddie was always smiling.

This event was precipitate by the death of Eddie’s mom last year from Diabetes.  I listened to Eddie sharing this experience and talking about running Chicago for her and thought to myself, “Her is something simple I can do for someone and make a difference in their lives”.  I have this super-power of endurance running so I might as well use it for good instead of evil.

Hanging around with Eddie and Adam is a real treat.  You know these guys from clowning around on the various podcasts, but you have to understand that there is much more to them.  Both these guys are successful businessmen and leaders.  Both are smart as hell.  Both have lived lives full of great experience.  We are a good match.

I was injured for this race.  I had not run since the 5k portion of a triathlon on July 20th.  Apparently training for an ultra-marathon, triathlons and mountain bike ultras all at the same time in old shoes is a bad idea.  Who knew?  I thought I was indestructible.  I still do.  The doctor would not have given me clearance for this race so I didn’t bother to ask him for permission and I didn’t tell him afterwards!

I’m not badly injured.  I have an achy plantar fasciitis.  I can run on it but shouldn’t because it won’t heal if I use it.  I had registered for the race, made the commitment to the charity and to Eddie, and acquired plane tickets – so as the event neared I had a ‘what the hell’ moment and decided to go for it.

I figured these guys ran a marathon much slower than my normal pace and I could fake it for 26.2 miles.  I did end up setting a new marathon record of 6:46 that I hope I don’t beat any time soon!

We spent a good amount of time goofing around at the Expo on Saturday.  I bought a nice long-sleeve safety-orange tech shirt.  I tried to avoid picking up any trinkets.  I really have learned that just because it’s free doesn’t mean you want to carry home on a airplane!  Chicago has a big expo.

We accidently ran into Ray from the Geeks in running podcast and his wife…and his film crew.  That’s right he had a guy following him around with a camera.  Eddie and I had run with Ray at the MojoStloco.  It is so cool to meet old friends.  That’s what I really like about going to big races. You get to meet some great folks.

The Diabetes Action Team ladies were overwhelmed by us. More specifically by Eddie and Adam who swarmed into their booth and slathered them with so much love and affection that they are all part of the family now.  It was very cool how these ladies just fit into the scene.  It was like we had known them forever, like we grew up with them.  They gave us some great racing hats to wear.

We spent the night in the kitchen of Eddie’s Dad’s house writing on our Diabetes Action Team Race shirts with black sharpies.  Adam and Eddie wrote their names on the front, I prefer to remain anonymous!  I wrote two columns of names on the back of my shirt. I put a mile number next to each one.  With the hats and the yellow team shirts we looked the part.  We were a team of charity runners.


Race morning we got up early.  I triple taped my plantar with KT-Tape and hockey tape to immobilize it.  We rolled in Eddie’s car down to Chicago listening to tunes and singing in the car. It was still dark when we got there.  They had had to move the charity village due to mud in the park from too much rain.  We had to hike all the way down to the east end of the park to find the Diabetes Action Team Tent.  There were a whole bunch of people in the yellow team shirts all getting ready.


I was loose. There was zero stress for me here.  I had no time expectations and no responsibilities other than to hang out and have fun.  I did my best to pass out tips and wisdom to the first timers.  I helped at least three people  calm down and figure out how to put their D-chips on their shoes.  I held bags for people and laughed and made wise-ass comments.  Chicago has a lot of first-timers in it.  It’s a good race for first-timers, they get lots of company and support.


We were joined by Andy who is a member of The Slow-Runners- Club coaching program put on by Adam and Eddie.  We made our way down to the starting area in a leisurely manner, stopping to help people when we could, giving directions and watching the sun peek over the buildings to the west.


The weather was beautiful.  Sunny and 60’s at the start.  There was no need for gloves, trash bags or throw-away sweats.  Thousands of people were milling around in various states of mental and physical upheaval.  We walked to one of the way-back corrals, I think it was 14, and waited for the thing to start.


We had some excitement while we were standing in the corral.  They closed off the corral entrances and were funneling the towards the back of the park.  People freaked out and started trampling the corral fences like soccer hooligans.  Volunteers and burly Chicago police could not stop them.


I wore my slant-pack so I could carry some food and my hand-held recorder with me.  I had some gels, some Cliff bars and miscellaneous other stuff. I wasn’t racing and I can ‘live off the land’ during the race grabbing whatever is available.  I have a strong stomach.  I carried a bottle of ½ strength Gatorade as is my habit to refill as needed en route.


We were off and it felt great to be in a crowd of marathon runners running again.  We went too fast and Adam was constantly having to ‘call time out’ for walk breaks and reel us in.  The pack was very thick.  Thousands of runners of all shapes and sizes wall-to-wall in the Chicago City streets.  The crowd was lining both sides of the road and participating vigorously in the spectacle.


From the start I recorded a brief audio piece at each mile mark.  I couldn’t read the back of my own shirt so I’d run up to someone and ask them to read a number off the back of my shirt and then engage them in the audio.  It was a fun conceit.


I had one amusing incident where I got yelled at for stopping to walk in the early miles.  It was ironically one of those purple shirt Team in Training folks who was in a big hurry and trying to catch up with someone.  How many times have I had to navigate the purple rolling roadblock in a race?  Karma.


The spectators were great.  They were really into it.  They had signs and noisemakers and the energy level was huge!  Nice people.  Everyone was having a good time.


We were executing a run-walk pace that was a piece of cake for me.  I would call it more of a perambulation than a run.  It gave me a chance to look around, take in the sites, interact with people and move around the course without having to worry about getting burnt out.


Through the first half of the race we rolled pretty easily having a hoot.  I was taking pictures of all the good signs and interesting people.  I got some video too.  Since we were going at such a casual pace I carried my Blackberry with me clipped to my shorts – like I was going to work! I didn’t have to worry about killing it with sweat or having it bounce around.  I was a tourist.


Eddie’s family came out to meet us at various points on the course.  Each time we’d stop and they’d hug and we’d moon for the cameras.  The race is a loop so spectators can get to see contestants multiple times – especially the slower contestants!  This set up a unique déjà vu effect were you’d have the same person with the same sign and same foam finger cheering at you in more than one place.


Eddie and Adam and I were singing a lot.  We sang old Grateful Dead songs and Johnny Cash.  It seemed appropriate.  Eddie and I belted out a rousing rendition of Mannah Mannah at one point to the delight of no one in particular except ourselves.


We ran into the Diabetes Action Team ladies somewhere in the first half of the race on the outside of a sharp corner.  It was like a family reunion.  There were pictures and hugs and congrats all around.


Another interesting phenomenon was when I pulled over to take pictures of something. More than once a spectator would see the shirt and thank me.  No kidding.  I had one guy pull up his shirt and show me his insulin pump.  I was running all over the course taking pictures.  I wasn’t going to get lost and I could catch up.


Somewhere around the half-way point Eddie told me he was worried about Adam.  It was still fairly early in the race and Adam was starting to hurt.  I laughed it off and continued my flitting about, but our pace was slowing and we were walking a lot.


We were moving back in the pack.  Way back.  When we got to the water stops there were thousands and thousands of empty cups swept to the curb in large piles.  Berms of empty cups.  Since it was a hot day there were sponge stations. They had filled kiddie pools with sponges.  By the time we got to these there were thousands of sponges in the road like a wet moonwalk.


Some people were spraying the runners with garden hoses. Note to spectators: not everyone wants to get sprayed! I had my electronics with me and did not want them getting doused.


It was fun to see all the different neighborhoods.  They came out for the race and had themes.  There was way more participation by the neighborhoods than when I ran it in the late 90’s.


We hit the ½ mark in a time that I would normally run a marathon in.  After the ½ way mark we really slowed down.  Adam was having cramps so we walked.  I had nowhere else to be and I was going to stick with those guys no matter what.  I had no dog in this fight.


There were lots of charity runners out on the course with us.  I saw many charities I knew like Back on my Feet and Girls on the Run.


Somewhere around 16 miles Eddie’s family met us again.  We were really moving slowly now.  Eddie came over to me and said he needed to go ahead and spend some time thinking about his mom.  I stayed with Adam and we continued to fight the good fight.


We struggled to the 20 mile mark and Adam was running with handfuls of ice from the aid stations stuffed in his shorts for his thighs.  He was miserable.


By this time we had fallen back enough that they were breaking down the water stops and cleaning up as we went by.  Some of the later aid stations had food and I took some gels and banana chunks because I had eaten everything I brought with me.  The banana station was interesting.  By the time Adam and I came through 30,000 other runners had thrown banana peels on the ground and stepped on them. It was a carpet of brown gooeyness.


I was tired.  Not ‘running tired’ but ‘being out in the sun all day on the cement tired’.  My feet were hot and sore.  Surprisingly my Plantar felt ok.  I was ready to be done.  I Looked at my watch and said to Adam, “We’re still 5 miles away and we’re only going two miles an hour.”  He rallied. He started forcing himself to run to specific landmarks.  He dug deep.


I had never been this far back in the pack in a major marathon before.  The people were interesting.  There were people that a 6 hour marathon was their pace, their fitness level and they were grinding it out, God love ‘em.  There were unfit and obese people working hard to finish, God love them too.  There were people who obviously hoped to have a better day but something had gone horribly wrong and now they were back with us doing the death march.  There were injured people with knee braces and limps of all sorts.


The pack had thinned out  as we moved farther back  There weren’t as many people but I tried to talk to anyone I came in contact with.  There wasn’t as much churn and we were with the same groups of folks for a few miles towards the end.

Looking around it was like a zombie march for the most part.  People were struggling.  Walking and jogging they were just trying to get to the end.  It was a bit grim.  The latter parts of the course are a bit more industrial and it was a hot day.  There was no protection from the sun on the concrete.  We were all just hot and tired and ready to get home to the finish.


We saw and heard lots of ambulances during the last few miles.  I put some Grateful Dead from Pandora on my BlackBerry to see if I could get Adam to cheer up a bit.  He was a Grateful Dead groupie in a past life.

As we got close to the finish I went into my crazy coach routine, yelling at people to have ‘courage’ and dig deep and we were almost home and to have a strong heart and all that.


Eventually we rounded the corner into the park.  I ran the last stretch across the finish line.  I handed my phone to a course official, dropped and did 20 pushups, like I said I would.  There was no crowd to see them.  Of the 36000 or so participants that finished, we ended up finishing ahead of about 600.  We got our beers and our medals and went off to find Eddie at the charity tents.

My feet were swollen from so much time on the hot concrete.  I wasn’t particularly dehydrated or chaffed in any bad ways just tired.


The next day when we got up I was soooo sore.  I haven’t been that sore after a race in years.  My quads were screaming in pain.  I couldn’t walk down the stairs.  I think it was because I hadn’t run and hadn’t trained for the race, but also just the sheer number of steps I must have taken when flitting around the course.

That’s it.  That’s my Chicago 2011 Race report.  I had a blast hanging out with Eddie and Adam.  I managed to raise some money for Diabetes research.  It has to be noted that this is my first experience with fund-raising and charity running and I found it to be quite positive.  I do have mixed feelings about a 6:46 finish time but life is an adventure and you can’t say you appreciate everything without experiencing it firsthand!

Quick Tip:


That’s it you have run a marathon with me today in episode 199 of the RunRunLive Podcast and that is now in the can!

Next week we have our 200th episode and I got Ray Zahab to come back on for a chat.  Nothing special just another of our weekly celebrations of the endurance lifestyle.

I did finally corral Keira Henninger ultra-runner and race director of such famous or infamous gems as the Leona Divide.  I also got Author Jon Gordon to come back on to talk about his new book “the Seed” that is a parable about finding your purpose in life.

If you’ve been listening you know I’ve been eating a plant-based diet in an attempt to stabe off the weight gain that I get when I’m not running.  I was quite frustrated over the past few weeks to still be gaining 1-2 pounds a week even with my cross-training routine and the plant based diet.

In a fit of desperation I started tracking my calories this week and figured out that I was still sucking down well over 3,000 calories a day with nuts and other high-calorie plant-based foods.  I started measuring it and trying to stay under 2000 calories a day.  This was on Tuesday.  Today is Thursday.  Lo-and-behold I weighed in 7 pounds lighter at lunch today.  That was a bit of an ‘aha!’ moment for me as well as a bit of a ‘Duh!’

Such a simple thing to do and apparently I cracked the code.  I’m using a web-site called sparkpeople.  It is free but you have to immediately unsubscribe from the torrent of email they send you and turn off their meal plans which evidently were designed by the Dairy industry.  Once you get it set up with your favorite foods it’s easy.

I have signed up to run the short leg in the Mill Cities Relay on December 5th and frankly I’m ready to say screw the injury and run through it!  For the want of a plantar the horse was lost.

That clip I played earlier was a piece of Verdi’s Requiem and I think the RunRunLive Vice President of editing Jim Laskey was one of the performers, cool huh?


I read Jon Gordon’s book ‘the Seed’ this week and talked to John about it and it was quite interesting.  Jon’s books are not complex or difficult but they have thought provoking themes.

It’s not a deep book like Tolstoy’s ‘Resurrection’ or Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ but it does deal with that same universal question of “why am I here?”  and “What’s my Purpose?”

The theme of “the Seed” is about finding your purpose.  There are a few important take-aways.  First one is that finding your purpose is not something that happens overnight. It is a journey.

A seed has to be planted.  Meaning you have to start the journey.  You have to make a conscious decision to start your journey.  Then you once you have planted the seed you need to allow it to grow.  You can’t be in a rush.

The question then is “where do I plant my seed?” I see people making the mistake that they should do something that makes them happy in order to fulfill their purpose or idealizing some profession like being a florist or a writer.  Many times, like running for me, this isn’t really a purpose, at best it’s a vehicle, at worst it’s a hobby.

Don’t immediately assume that you should quit your job and open a shoe store.  A vocation is not a purpose and your purpose can be served in any vocation.

Another great point is that you shouldn’t expect it to be easy.  You should expect to succeed but you should understand that your road in life will be filled with tests and obstacles.  That’s life.  But, if you have a purpose you are passionate about you can happily get through the hard spots.

You don’t have to quit your job.  You can decide to grow right where you are by bringing a passion and a purpose to what you are doing right now.  When you do this. When you are that positive, hard-working, passionate individual opportunities will manifest no matter where you apply your purpose.

Live life like it matters and it makes life matter.  Think hard on that.

You can manifest your purpose anywhere, any time.

I was trying to think abot what my purpose is.  All I could come up with is that I bring order to chaos, and sometimes I bring chaos to order, and I lead people through both.

What’s your purpose?  What are you going to do to find it?  Where will you plant your seed?

As we’re looking I’ll see you out there.

You can find me looking for my purpose on Twitter, Facebook, DailyMile, YouTube – and Google as cyktrussell that’s Chris yellow king tom Russell with two esses and two ells.

Purposely call in a question or comment at – 206-339-7804.  Leave a message there it sends an audio file.

Bring your passion and purpose to us by reading the show intro. It is in the show notes and on the web site –- you will find all the other content on the website www.runrunlive.com

I’ll leave you contemplating that rather large ball of yarn with a song called -purpose_was_again by the  the_bloodsugars


From Podsafe:

All music used in the show is from the Podsafe music network found at Music Alley.  Please support the starving, socially minded artists sampled herein by purchasing some!


Verdi’s Requiem

Song 2-3

Outro music:


Outro Artists Bio:
The Bloodsugars are a four-piece band from New York City, composed of the keyboard, bass, drums, and guitar. Their sound is a amalgamation of indie rock and 80’s synth pop with excellent songwriting rooted in the classics of 60/70’s pop. Somewhere between The Clash, Of Montreal and Elvis Costello.Standard Links:







Cyktrussell At gmail and twitter and facebook and youtube

Chris’ book on Amazon – > http://www.amazon.com/Mid-Packers-Lament-collection-running-stories/dp/141961584X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228687012&sr=8-1

Mid-Packer’s Lament E-book

Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy E-Book

Dial in number for RunRunLive is – 206-339-7804

Chris Russelllives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com.  Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad.

Email me at cyktrussell at Gmail dot com

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