Saturday, August 23, 2008

A-Maze-ing Race, I Wish (Updated)

Photo: CARA Hall of Famer Dick Lamermeyer hits the finish mat in DeKalb.
I drove west into the heavy fog of DeKalb this morning and ran the Corn Fest 10K. While my race didn't go quite as well as planned in the 95 percent humidity, I have to accept that others in my age group dealt with it a little better than I did. I clocked 43:35, which doesn't exactly bring home the hardware. I'm licking my wounds from a sixth-place finish, which was five seconds away from a third-place finish. Four of us 55-59ers hog the results from 67th-70th places. Oh, for a little more gas and a better kick! Enough about me. Fellow Elmhurst Running Clubber Charlie Kern, 39, of Elmhurst, who coaches us on Tuesday nights, grabbed the overall win in 32:44. Yeah, Charlie! Way to go. Chad Ware, 22, of Deerfield (DeKalb? in the results), was second in 32:53, and Chris Setzler, 35, of Wonder Lake, took "bronze" in 33:42. Charlie told me he moved into first in the last half-mile. He was quite elated. Well-known Tera Moody, 27, a St. Charles native living in Boulder, Colo., won the women's race in 35:22. Amanda Domich, 23, of Algonquin, placed second in 37:46, and Pam Blair, 27 of Chicago, took third in 38:52. I want to thank all of the people who cheered me on this morning. The race organizers also did a great job. I always love this race because it's a confluence of talent from Chicago, Rockford and other points north and south. Here's to everyone who raced today, including those who went to Sullivan's tap for a couple of brews after the event's conclusion!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Baton Passing 101

I don't know about you, but as much as I try not to go nationalistic and rah-rah, sis-boom-bah for the USA, I can't help rooting for our athletes when they are up against strong opposition, put in tough circumstances and and forced to do their best when the odds are tough. Running a preliminary heat in an event in which you should get silver and maybe gold does not warrant a lot of cheerleading. What rooting I do also gives me the right to boo and be critical. The dropped batons by the U.S. men's and women's 4X100 relays were a disgrace and a perfect metaphor for what's going on in American track and field. We have a bunch of individuals who are pretty good, but not as good as they think they are. They also think they are too good to practice, practice, practice with relay teammates to get it right on the practice track so they'll get it right in front of millions of people. When is the last time we didn't have a baton exchange distaster in the Olympics? It's ridiculous, and it reflects on the team leadership as well as the athletes. When I was a freshman in high school, our relays made better passes than the U.S. Olympians. Oh well. Let's hope we get something great from one of the Americans in the men's marathon. But I'll be rooting for everyone, starting with Kenya's Martin Lel. Chapter 2: The Jamaicans and Brits do the same baton drop in the final. What's going on?!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Outtakes: Accenture Chicago Triathlon

Updated a bit from Thursday
Australian Greg Bennett, the defending champ, Andy Potts, the tough-luck American who just missed making the Olympic team, Matt Reed (maybe . . . he competed on Tuesday in Beijing), Aussie Craig Alexander, a two-time Chicago winner, American David Thompson, and other top-shelf talent highlight a strong men's field in Sunday's Accenture Chicago Triathlon. The women's field stars Liz Blatchford and Julie Dibens of Great Britain, U.S. Olympic alternate Becky Lavelle, American Sam McGlone and two-time winner Joanna Zieger, a sentimental favorite from her days as a Chicago resident.
Here is a story I wrote in this morning's Sun-Times:,CST-SPT-tri22.article
This Andy Potts quote about not watching the Olympic tri was edited out for space:
“I saw a bit of it, but it was pretty hard for me to watch it,” Potts said. “I ended up actually bailing out after a while and went out and rode my bike.”
Here are a few Chicago 2016 quotes I couldn't get in:
Potts -- "I would love to see Chicago get the Olympics. With it being on Lake Michigan and with a great infrastructure in place to get the people to and from . . . there are so many positives about Chicago as a cultural city and what it can offer the world. I would love the city to get the Olympics. I would be 40 then, but I'd give it a try (making the team)!"
Race founder Jan Caille -- "The Accenture Chicago Triathlon, the world's largest triathlon, has hosted many Olympic triathletes. We are known as a great competition and THE place to be if you are a top triathlete racing the international distance.
"Chicago is one of of triathlon's greatest stages, and with the Windy City vying as a finalist to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, our world-class event is definitely the one to watch!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Constantina Running Chicago?

From what information I've gleaned since Constantina Tomescu-Dita won the Olympic women's marathon, an effort will be made to have her in the starting field for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. If anyone can pull off the quick turnaround of World Marathon Majors events, Constantina certainly can. She is known for brutal race schedules, including one year when she ran Chicago one week after winning the World IAAF Half-Marathon title. Plus, she's a fan favorite here and at the Steamboat Classic in Peoria. Stay tuned. Remember the men's marathon at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Chicago time. Robert K. Cheruiyot's withdrawal from the race adds some intrigue for Chicago on the men's side as well. He has been replaced in Beijing by Luke Kibet.

Stanford Study Proves Running Works!

A 21-year study conducted at the Stanford University Department of Medicine confirms what most of us older runners have smugly known all along. Running is helping us remain healthier and live longer. "This study demonstrates that participation in long-term running and other vigorous exercise among older adults is associated with less disability and lower mortality over two decades of follow-up," was a comment made by those who did the study, Eliza F. Chakravarty, MD, MS; Helen B. Hubert, PhD; Vijaya B. Lingala, PhD and James F. Fried, MD. A group of runners age 50 and older was compared to a control group throughout the study. For those of us who just happen to be runners, and older runners in particular, this is good news.
Nothing is simple. This is a very detailed study. Here is a link to a boiled-down summary:
Thanks to fellow Fossils Chris Nemeth and Keith Holzmueller for pointing this my way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tomescu-Dita, Flat-out Fast

That women's Olympic Marathon sure had a Chicago flavor. In addition to Beijing champ Constantina Toemscu-Dita of Romania and runner-up Catherine "The Great" Ndereba of Kenya, both past winners at the LaSalle Bank (now Bank of America) Chicago Marathon, Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe, running with a whole lot of pain, and American Deena Kastor, an early casualty to a foot injury, also claim Chicago titles on their resumes. Radcliffe, in particular, got a lot of TV time as she struggled to stay in the race. In fact, Ndereba and Radcliffe both set world records in Chicago, although neither stands today. Radcliffe holds the standard at 2:15:25, set in London in 2003. There's one more Chicago tie. Beijing's Olympic course was flat as a pancake. While the U.S. women qualified on a somewhat level course in Boston, what the heck was USATF doing having the men's trials on that ridiculously hilly layout in New York? I'd take flat-course specialist Khalid Khannouchi (4th in the hilly trials) in a heartbeat for this course. We'll find out how the men do next week. I think we can forget how our women did.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hello, NBC! Flanagan third in 10,000

Although the late-night coverage was close to pathetic, Shalane Flanagan of the USA brought home the bronze last night in the Olympic women's 10,000. Let's all hope there are replays or enhanced looks at this race inbetween the gymnastics soap opera and Michael Phelps' swim exploits.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Women Await Beijing 26.2-Step

As I write, it's about 28-29 hours until the women begin their Olympic Marathon in Beijing. It's anybody's guess who will win, but if there's one thing I've learned over the year, there's always a surprise or two (Deena Kastor getting bronze in 2004) when these races are run. NBC (Channel 5) supposedly will carry it live at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night. I'm betting they don't show it all, but I guess we have wait and see. My pick? This a tough one. Will Kenyan Catherine Ndereba's experience prove to be decisve? Will Zhou Chunxiu of China have the home-course advantage? You never count out Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain or Gete Wami of Ethiopia. Reiko Tosa is Japan's last real hope. Deena Kastor? You know she'll try for something special. Hope for clean air and cool temps. OK . . . . I'll take Chunxiu.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Race Judicata, Drama Outside the Courtroom

The 15th annual Race Judicata - Sprint for Justice, will go off tonight from Lower Hutchinson Field at 6:30 in nearly perfect conditions. A field made up of mostly (but not entirely) of attorneys and others in the legal profession, will run to benefit Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. UPDATED Aug. 15: The results please (2,676 finishers):
MEN: 1. Dave Strubbe, 16:00; Michael Dreznez, 16:07; Jeff Thomas, 16:07.
WOMEN: 1. Christina Overbeck, 17:59; 2. Bridget Montgomery, 18:47; 3. Kim Hemstreet, 19:54.
How was it?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tracking Our Local Elites

I finally caught up with CDC overall winner Greg Costello via e-mail. Here's his take on Sunday. One interesting fact that slipped through me until right now is that Costello won last year in 1:09:54 and won this year on a long course in the same time, 1:09:54. That means he's in pretty good shape! Here are his comments:
"I actually got a few emails mentioning that I wasn’t in the results at all after the race on Sunday (he eventually was). I am not sure what happened, but there were actually a few mistakes. First of all, they announced that I was the runner-up from last year (he won) while I was on the home stretch, and they said the wrong name as I finished, and a few of the reports online had Jose (Munoz) as the winner. Also, I do think the course was a little long (written before the CDC explantion). I know of 4 guys that ran with Garmins and they all had between 13.3 and 13.4, and there were definitely a few long miles, and I don’t remember any short ones.
"I ended up leaving the chase pack at about the 3-mile mark, and worked my way up solo and didn’t catch Jose until after the 11-mile marker. At the turnaround, it seemed as though he was almost a minute ahead of me, but I guess the quick early pace and heavy head wind got to him. Once I caught him, I went right past him and put about 20 seconds on him before the last half-mile."

Costello, 27, of Chicago, also said he probably will run the Chicago Half-Marathon in September. He heads to Oregon for the Hood to Coast relay next week. His ultimate goal is the New York City Marathon. He is coached by Chris Wehrman.

CDC Course Length: The Explanation

The course certifier for the Chicago Distance Classic explains what happened on an update to the race site. He says the turnaround point was "extended" .1668 miles, and says the race was lengthened by that much distance. To me, if the turnaround was extended .1668, the added distance should be twice that -- .3336. However, race director Beth Salinger assures me the explanation was just poorly written, and the total addition to the course was .1668. Therefore, we ran 13.2762 miles.Check out:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chicago Distance Classic ' 08 -- It's A Classic

To me, it was like being part of a movable feast of spectacular scenery along the lakeshore. We really ran as if we were part of a Chicago post card on Sunday at the 32nd annual Chicago Distance Classic (seventh as a half-marathon . . . remember those years when it was a 20K?). While the wind on the second half of the course was tough at times, the beauty of the large waves breaking on our shores and the Chicago skyline, sparkling in sunny,70-degree conditions, more than made up for any discomfort in my book. I think there might have been a long mile or two, based on my splits and those of others. GPS reports also indicate we may have run 13.45 to 13.5 miles. Mile 7 in particular, the one with the turnaround, sandy "boardwalk," twists and turns near souuth shore, was exceptionally long. But on a day like this, it provided us with a minute or two of bonus running time to enjoy the scenery! I'll update this once there are some official results. I clocked in at 1:37:51. That was right where I wanted to be with Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon training and CARA Circuit running constantly intersecting in my life as a running bum. I appear to have come out of it with 13.?? quality miles and no damage.

As for the real race, far ahead of me, Greg Costell0, 27, of Chicago (left in top photo), appeared to be in control as he was chased by Mike Farrell in this photo provided by Run Midwest editor Brenda Barrera. Costello was the overall winner in 1:09:54. Farrell, 35, of Marshall Ill., finished 12th.
Men's results go like this (4,055 total finishers):
1. Greg Costello, 27, Chicago, 1:09:54
2. Jose Munoz, 23, San Antonio, Texas, 1:10:11
3. David Williams, 36, Milwaukee, 1:10:18
4. Jim Akita, 28, Elmhurst, 1:10:37
5. Emisael Favela, 31, Cicero, 1:11:22
6. Chad Ware, 23, Deerfield, 1:11:43
On the female side (4,698 total finishers), it was:
1. Erin Moffett, 26, Chicago, 1:23:02
2. Amanda Domich, 23, Algonquin, 1:23:06
3. Alona Banai, 24, Oak Park, 1:23:21
4. Connie Abbott, 22, Kansas City, Kan., 1:24:39
5. Jill Czarnik, 20, Orland Park, 1:26:00
6. Kristie Hawkins, 27, Chicago, 1:27:04
The second photo is Bob Jones (right) cruising near the Balbo statue.
Again, hats off to John (the Penguin) Bingham for making this event as good as it is.
NOTE: The results changed quite a bit between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday and were tweeked again slightly on Monday. Look again, and you'll see accurate times and places.
For results, go to:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

32nd Distance Classic Sunday

With Olympic fanfares already blaring from our TVs, what better time to salute the man who should get most of the credit for Running Boom 1, Mr. Frank Shorter. We all know he won Olympic gold in 1972 at the Munich Games, but you may not know he was the first winner of the Chicago Distance Classic on a hot day in 1977. Since then, the race has transformed from a 20K into a half-marathon, and has had other stellar winners, including Brian Sell, who is running in this year's Olympic Marathon in Beijing. CDC, the oldest road race in the city, goes off for the 32nd time on Sunday. Race time in Grant Park is 6:30 a.m., but the field will be spread into a four-wave starting format as the runners traverse a generally southerly out-and-back 13.1-miler with some tight bike-path sections likely. Look for a gathering of around 10,000 with more females than males competing. Things certainly have changed since the '70s when the guys ruled the roads. Hats off to John (the Penguin) Bingham for buying this race a few years back, getting it back on its feet and then growing it into what it is today.

I got down to the expo (photos . . . yep, that's a Saturn) early Saturday. There was some excitement floating around the Chicago Hilton & Towers. This race should be fun. It always is. Check out

Monday, August 4, 2008

Under the Radar: Foot Mechanics Half Madness

13.1-milers come in many shapes and sizes in the Chicago-area marketplace. The one upcoming half-marathon I hear the least about is the one I would do in a heartbeat if I were going to be in town this Labor Day Weekend. It's on Sunday, Aug. 31, and it's called the Foot Mechanics Half Madness 13.1 Half Marathon. It will be contested on a rolling course, starting and finishing in historic downtown Batavia along the Fox River. The first-year event is part of the city's 175th anniversary celebration. Much of the course will go along the river, giving runners plenty of scenic views. I can tell you that much thought and planning has gone into this event, and from I have been told, I have a feeling the field will be about a thousand runners, give or take. If you're like a lot of the runners to whom I have mentioned this race, you really didn't know about it until now, right? It's not too late to get signed up. Check out

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Definitely Getting Some Good Mileage

I took a slow recovery run on the Prairie Path today and saw tons of people training for their fall marathons. I'm sure it was the same all over Chicagoland. These pictures depict what is was like in the Villa Park-Lombard sections. That's where I ran into (top photo) Eileen (fourth overall in a triathlon the day before), Dennis (has signed up for four half-marathons) and Ron (I just run . . . signed up for Oak Brook HM). Christine (she's always fast!) joined us for the fountain shot.

Other unidentified runners make their way past the clock in Villa park, heading east toward Elmhurst.

There were a lot of people running 12-20 miles. It was a good day to do it. I continue to be amazed by what happens every year at this time. Here's to Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Deena Kastor, Meb K., Khalid Khannouchi and everyone else who has inspired us all.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Marathon Training, A Big Deal (For Me)

Well, today I ran 15 miles as part of the buildup for Milwaukee on Oct. 5. I had plenty of company with my Elmhurst Running Club compatriots and had a pleasant experience that was enhanced by the cool temps and slightly lower humidity. This kind of distance is not my comfort zone and requires caution. It was my longest run since 2004 when I last ran a marathon (Boston in the 86-degree heat). I started very slowly (10:12 first mile) and worked my way up to the 8-8:30 training pace window. That gave me a 2:08:42, about an 8:32 pace, which works out to about 3:43 pace for 26.2 miles. Even with a fade, I think I have a shot at my new old-man qualifying time of 4 hours (60-64) at Boston. One thing I've learned though. Never, ever, count your chickens.. . Good luck to everyone else training and competing this weekend.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Mid-Week Wrap-Up

The Viking Sunset 5K on Wednesday, July 30, in Geneva, and the Run for Gus 5K on Thursday, July 31, in Chicago broke up what would have been a dog-days week for Chicago area running. Both events are well-organized and well-attended. On a slightly modified (construction) course at Geneva, Matt Field, 23, of Wheaton, won a close race from Brian Lesiewicz, 22, of Schaumburg, 15:35.60 to 15:39.50. Bryan Barber, 19, of South Elgin, was third in 15:48.84. On the women's side, Elisia Meyle, 15, of North Aurora, won it in 18:52.62. Michelle Plummer, 31, of Gilberts, was next in 19:12.34, followed by Julie Wankowski, 38, of Glen Ellyn, in 19:25.52. There were 551 finishers. For results, go to:
In Chicago, Brent Alexander, 27, of Wilmette, was first at the Run for Gus, in a swift 15:27. He easily topped Robert Duneea, 25, of Plainfield (16:35) and Rob Chenoweth, 39, of Chicago (16:37). The ladies were led by Katie Hauser, 26, of Ingleside, who ran a very strong 17:38. Catherine Duncan, 22, of Chicago was second in 17:54, and Christina Overbeck, 22, of Chicago, was third in 18:19. There were 530 finishers. For results, go to: