Tuesday, September 30, 2008

All Tied With Nowhere to Hide!

As I count down to what I hope will be a Boston qualifer this Sunday at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, I look at the CARA M55-59 point standings and see three of us tied at 128 points behind one-of-a-generation Sam Cortes. Eric Burgess, Fritz Gareis and I are dead even for now, but Eric will soon be at least 14 points ahead of us because he is one under the minimum for races that are scored (you get 15 for first, 14 for second etc. in each race). Fritz is looking great and whipped me at the Makin' Tracks 5K on Saturday. I wasn't even in his area code. The Circuit sure beats you up, but I confess to loving the challenge. I've been in this situation several times before and ended up 3rd a couple of times and 4th or 5th a lot of other times. I know one thing. I'll give it my best shot.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gebrselassie Runs 2:03:59!

By now, if you're a geek, you know this. I am quite astounded, frankly. I wasn't sure a 36-year-old could do this, but unless I'm seeing things on the Web as I sit here at in the middle of the night, Haile Gebrselassie, the 36-year-old Ethiopian superstar, ran 2:03:59 today at Berlin, smashing his previous world record of 2:04:26, set last year in the same event. This one will stand quite a while, I have a feeling. Of course, Chicago is in two weeks! Irina Mikitenko went sub-2:20 to win the women's race. For a wrap-up, go to http://www.sportinglife.com/others/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=others/08/09/28/ATHLETICS_Berlin.html

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quad Cities Marathon Set for Sunday

I've never run this one, but I hear it's good. The Sept. 28 race, which starts and finishes in Moline, IL, goes through four cities in two states (Illinois and Iowa). Quite a few African and eastern European runners should work to produce a men's winning time around 2:15 and a women's time in the 2:30s. If you run it, post a comment. Here's the Web site:

Not Much Lacks at Makin' Tracks

Serving as a fill-in race on the highly charged CARA Circuit, the Makin' Tracks 5K did a good job of providing CARA quality on short notice on Saturday. Having changed from 10-year age groups to five-year and re-ordering all the awards were just a couple of things the race had to do once it was designated as a Circuit race to replace the Park Ridge Charity Classic 5K, which was cancelled for this year only because of construction. I was as stale as they come and felt myself breathing hard while running a mighty pedestrian pace. I lumbered in at 21:04, slow for me and not good in my quest to finish in the top three in my age group. I was sixth in a throwaway race for me on the Circuit. Others fared much better, including men's winner Timothy Henry , 24, of Wheaton (15:49.4) and Colleen Newhart, 24, of Oak Park (17:50.2). Second-place finishers were Dave Wilson, 39, of Brookfield (15:57.9) and Sanya Syrstad, 43, of Warrenville (18:11.8) and third-place overall went to Nathan Kennedy, 22, of Bolingbrook (16:05.3) and Pam Blair, 27, of Chicago (18:23.7). The venue, based at the Concordia College stadium in the leafy west suburb, was excellent. Hats off to my Elmhurst Running Club mates, most of whom had terrific performances again this week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

'Geb' Goes for 'Welt' Record at Berlin

Can you say Haile Gebrselassie? Can you spell it? I've always had trouble with the latter. Sunday (Sept. 28) is Haile's highly anticipated return to the Real Berlin Marathon, where he set the current world record of 2:04:26 a year ago. Gebrselassie says he has trained well and is up to the worldly task. He'll have pacers capable of going 30K (out of 42,195) at or near the torrid pace that only the Ethiopian great can run. He also ran a 2:04:53 in Dubai, so he's no fluke. Saying he was worried about Beijing's pollution, he skipped the Olympic marathon and should be ready to go. It's been said by some Berliners that Berlin's course is faster than Chicago's. Things get cooking around 1:30 a.m. Chicago time for you die-hards. On the women's side, watch Askale Tafa of Ethiopia and German favorite Irina Mikitenko. OK, here I go out on the limb. I'll take "Geb" in 2:04:45 (sorry, no record) and Tafa in 2:22:15. Next up after Berlin on the World Marathon Majors schedule is our own Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. If anything big happens in the German capital, you know Chicago executive race director Carey Pinkowski will find an answer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joanie: Still Tough As Nails

So you're savoring your recent 5K time? Check this out if you haven't already seen it. Joan Benoit Samuelson ran a 17:24.3 on Sunday (Sept. 21) in Providence, R.I. Joanie is 51 (not 52 as listed in the results)! If you click below, you'll also see Illinois natives Paul Jellema (winner of 2008 Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th) and Tera Moody (winner of many local races and fifth at U.S. Olympic Trials in April) in the results of this power-packed race. Here you go. This isn't your every-day 5K:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Verzbicas: Stranger No More

Lukas Verzbicas, the runner I didn't know, causing me to call him the runner "in the yellow singlet and green shorts" as I did the play-by-play from the lead car at the 4 on the 4th race, is tearing up the local prep cross-country scene. The Lincoln-Way Central sensation has won three straight invitationals, including the Argo Invite on Saturday, Sept. 20. Verzbicas, a 15-year-old freshman of Lithuanian extraction, showed he is destined for greatness, smashing the Argo meet's 22-year-old record of 15:00 by almost 21 seconds with a 14:39.3. It had been held by former Niles Notre Dame great Len Sitko. Verzbicas, who finished a very strong fourth on July 4 at the 4 on the 4th, won the Argo meet by 59 seconds over Martin Grady of Fenwick, which has a very powerful team this year. He is a resident of New Lenox.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fox Cities 2008

With temps in the 50s when the race began, runners in the Fox Cities Marathon in and around Appleton, Wis., had a good day to run on Sunday (Sept. 21). First, the winning times weren't too bad. James Levash, 26, of Brillion, Wis. was overall winner in a finishing field of 1,026 with a 2:33:25. Sue Pierson, 44, of Neenah, Wis., won the women's race in 2:56:33. Now the special kudos: Bill Sanders, our marathon trainer in the Elmhurst Running Club, set a PR by 10 minutes, breaking three hours for the first time as he ran 2:56:25, good for fourth place in the M35-39 category. And way to go Paul Oostenbrug! The 58-year-old from Chicago, one of my friendly rivals over the years, won M55-59 in a very strong 3:29:09. Illinois was well-represented up in Cheese-and-Paper territory. Nice job!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Fall Fest 5K Hills Seek Us Out

The somewhat hilly 5K course for the Fall Fest 5K CARA Circuit Race really wasn't so bad on Saturday. I had previewed it on the bike on Thursday and was worried about the steep climb before Mile 2. I slowed to a snail's pace near the "summit," but most people around me did, too. The "up" side of courses like this are the downhills that follow the climbs. They were sweet. The race was well-organized, the course well-marked and the turnout light (325 finishers). Weather wasn't a factor. It was close to perfect, although the humidity was a wee bit high. CARA overall men's leader Dave Wilson, 39, of Brookfield, won it in 16:09.91, seemingly going just fast enough to beat runner-up Daniel Scheffler, 42, of Oswego, who ran 16:18:31. Masters star Mike Egle, 46, of Glenview, was nursing a calf injury, but still ran 16:50.33 for third. Reggie Jonaitis, 27, of Naperville, grabbed fourth in 16:51.98. On the women's side, Alona
, 24, of Oak Park, who entered the race fourth in the CARA overall women's standings, won in 18:15.63. She held off always tough Sanya Syrstad, 43, of Warrenville, who ran 18:19.59. CARA leader Pam Blair, 27, of Chicago was third in 18:21.40, while Michelle Plummer, 31, of Gilberts, placed a distant fourth in 19:23:03. Hats off to my fellow Elmhurst Running Club teammates who placed first in the team competition. My 20:51 didn't make ERC's top five, but I was happy with it, all things considered. It was good to see so many friends from the other clubs, the Fossils (the best over-50 relay team anywhere!) and even the awakening XC ski community. Speaking of that, I went roller-skiing after the race. That was a wake-up call!
Photos of Dave Wilson and Alona Banai from the Run-Times photo archives!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ready for Ready to Run?

CARA's Nike Ready to Run 20-mile training run is set to go this Sunday. Registration is closed, so if you're not running, I would steer clear of the lakefront path. It will be crowded big-time. This event has caught on as the perfect way to get that last long one in before the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. I'm "running" Milwaukee on Oct. 5 if my body lets me. This training business doesn't get any easier as you grow older (da aches and pains). Also, CARA needs a few more volunteers to make sure things run smoothly on Sunday. Go to its site at www.cararuns.org for information.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chicago Tri Seeks Title Sponsor

The Chicago Triathlon, the largest in the world, is looking for a new title sponsor.
After fulfilling a six-year commitment, Accenture, which has been the title sponsor for the past six years, is not renewing for 2009. Race founder Jan Caille has done well over the years in obtaining title sponsorship, including past relationships with the Chicago Sun-Times and Mrs. T's pierogies to name a couple. In the current economic climate, Caille has his work cut out. Cost of title sponsorship, reliable sources say, is "low to mid six-figures."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Costello, Domich Win Banco Popular Chicago Half

On a wet and ugly Sunday morning, Greg Costello and Amanda Domich bested strong fields to win the men's and women's titles at the Banco Popular Chicago Half-Marathon. As of 10:15 p.m. Sunday, well after Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter for the Cubs, the official results showed 10,853 finishers (6,497 women and 4,356 men). That might include the 5K, but I'm not sure. In the main event, Costello, 27, of Chicago, won in 1:07:59, gapping runner-up Adrian Rodriguez, 20, of Puerto Rico, to win handily. Rodriguez was timed in 1:08:12, while third-place finisher Matt Flaherty, 23, of Bloomington, Ind., ran a 1:08:56. Domich, 23, of Algonquin, won handily on the women's side with a 1:20:58. Alona Banai, 24, of Oak Park, was next in 1:22:01, followed by Christina Overbeck, 22, of Chicago, who was clocked in 1:23:04. Looking back over the past few weeks, it's been quite a half-marathon season in the Chicago
area. Thanks to Brenda Barrera, editor of RunMidwest magazine for these great photos.
Photo 1: Greg Costello (left) trails Adrian Rodriguez midway through the race. They eventually switched positions. Photo 2: The mid-pack runners take over Lakeshore Drive.
NOTE: For more excellent coverage and photos, see Brenda Barrera's site at:

Chicago Half -- Uhh, Something Ain't Right

I know flooding probably was an issue, but not having been there, all I can say is the preliminary results at www.chicagoaa.com from the Banco Popular Chicago Half Marathon make it seem as if it were about 11 miles, not 13.1 If you were there, give me a comment. What happened out there during the great rain of 2008?

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Official: Makin' Tracks 5K on Circuit

Makin' Tracks 5K in River Forest replaces the cancelled Park Ridge Charity Classic 5K on the CARA Circuit on Saturday, Sept. 27. Here is the text from the CARA Web site:
The CARA Board of Directors met on 9/11 and following the recommendation of the Racing Committee, voted to substitute Makin’ Tracks 5K in River Forest the makeup race for the cancelled Park Ridge Charity Classic. The race will be held at Concordia University, 7400 Augusta, RiverForest and will begin at 8:00 AM. Information and online registration are available at www.rfparks.com or www.signmeup.com/61511.
Race day registration will also be available from 6:30 to 7:45 AM. Previously a CARA Registered Race, Makin’ Tracks has changed their award distribution from 10 year to five year age groups.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Take Care of Your Heart -- It's Important

In the aftermath of another tragic death in a running event (Sunday at the Alpine Half-Marathon in Lake Zurich), running coach and Boston Marathon veteran Mark Buciak, who still runs competitively after having open-heart surgery, offers this:

Coach Mark Buciak’s Top 10 Tips For A Healthy Heart
For most runners there are NO direct warning signs of heart disease. I ran 10 miles at an 8-minute pace the day before my open-heart surgery. Below are some guidelines to help decrease your chances of heart disease which I have learned through my experience as a heart patient. These are only suggestions, and for actual advice, please consult your doctor as in tip # 3.
-1- Know your family health history.
-2- Wear a heart monitor.
-3- Have an annual physical exam which includes complete blood workout and an EKG.
-4- Inform your doctor that you are a serious runner, running XX miles per week and racing X marathons per year. Ask him or her if there are any reasons why you should not continue your running at your current level.
-5- If you are over 35 years old, have a stress echo test for basic line purposes.
-6- If your doctor does not approve the above test, find a doctor that will.
-7- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
-8- Develop an excellent relationship with your doctor. Be honest and open with him or her.
-9- Listen to your heart especially at the quietest times of the day, i.e. before you go to bed, in the middle of the night and when you wake up in the morning.
-10- Beware of constant tiredness and fatigue
Coach Mark Buciak
THE ROAD TO BOSTON Training Program
FALL FITNESS RETREAT: November 14-16, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tragedy Strikes at Lake Zurich

A running tragedy occurred on Sunday at the Alpine Races Half-Marathon in Lake Zurich. I knew there was an incident going on, but didn't want to post anything until it was in the public domain. My sincere condolences go out to the family of Jeffrey Randall, 44, who collapsed near the 12-mile mark and was pronounced dead at 10:35 a.m. The Lake County coroner said Randall had undiagnosed heart disease and high blood pressure. According to newspaper accounts, he was a passionate runner. Here is a story that appeared in the Daily Herald:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Olympic Champion Tomescu-Dita to Run Chicago!

Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania, the breakway winner of the Olympic women's marathon in Beijing, is running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. The announcement came today in a press release that highlighted the men's and women's elite fields as of today (Sept. 9). Leading man for now is Kenyan William Kipsang, who won the Rotterdam Marathon in April in a spiffy 2:05:49. Despite a tough economy and a new boss, executive race director Carey Pinkowski has delivered again.
The press release follows:
2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Announces Elite Field
2008 Olympic Women's Marathon Gold Medalist Constantina Tomescu-Dita Tops List

CHICAGO (September 9, 2008) - Bank of America today announced the elite field of male and female athletes scheduled to compete for the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon® championship titles on Sunday, Oct. 12. Topping the list is newly crowned Olympic women's marathon gold medalist Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania and up-and-comer William Kipsang of Kenya who currently holds the 11th all-time fastest marathon finish time, fifth-fastest this year (2:05:49).
At age 38, Tomescu-Dita became the oldest woman to ever win the gold medal in the 26.2-mile Olympic contest. Familiar to Chicagoans, Tomescu-Dita won the 2004 ChicagoMarathon and her 2008 appearance will mark her fifth on the notoriously fast and flat course. In her last two Chicago appearances, Tomescu-Dita finished second to American Deena Kastor (2005) and led the 2006 women's field at course record pace (sub-2:17) through mile 16 before being surpassed by eventual champion Berhane Adere (ETH) in the 22nd mile.
"I am delighted to be returning to Chicago. I have always felt great running there and have been fortunate to have some of the best races of my life there," said Tomescu-Dita from Romania shortly following her Olympic victory in Beijing. "It will also be nice to return because I understand Chicago is bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games and I think it would be a wonderful place to have them."
Tomescu-Dita will be challenged by 2007 Chicago Marathon runner-up and fellow Romanian Adriana Pirtea, 28, and up-and-comer Bezunesh Bekele, 25, of Ethiopia. Chicago fans will recognize Pirtea who came into the final stretch last year with a sizeable lead. As she pumped her arm in victory a few hundred meters from the finish, returning 2006 Chicago champ Adere streaked up behind her unnoticed until she was uncatchable in the final strides to repeat her championship finish. Bekele will follow-up her impressive debut at the Dubai Marathon entering the Chicago race with a 2:23:09 personal record, second in the field only to Tomescu-Dita.
On the men's side, William Kipsang, 31, is the man to beat arriving off a 2:05:49 first-place finish at the Rotterdam Marathon in April. Kenya's Emmanuel Mutai, 30, will put some pressure on Kipsang considering his fourth-place finish at the Flora London Marathon in April where he set a personal record (2:06:15). Also expected to be in the mix is fellow countryman Richard Limo who finished second to Mutai at last year's Amsterdam Marathon, crossing the line only 16 seconds behind the champion.
"The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a reputation for producing historic efforts and breathtaking finishes and the quality of this year's elite field is an extension of that tradition," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski of Chicago Event Management, now in his 19th year overseeing the event. "This year's men's field features four men who have run under 2:07:00, one who has run under 2:06:00 and champions from some of the great marathons of the world which should produce another great day of marathon running on Oct. 12."
Representing the United States in Chicago are Kate O'Neill and Colleen De Reuck. O'Neill, 28, will return to the site of her 2007 debut at the marathon distance, looking to best her time of 2:36:15 on the Chicago course. Masters runner Colleen De Reuck, 44, will return for her sixth Chicago Marathon.
The elite racers will start the 26.2-mile Bank of AmericaChicagoMarathon course at 7:55 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12, five minutes in advance of the massive field of 45,000 registered runners. Following is the current list of elite athletes who will compete for the $125,000 first-place prize distributed to the top male and female overall winners.

2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Elite Field
Name Citizenship Personal Record

Bezunesh Bekele ETH 2:23:09
Alevtina Biktimirova RUS 2:25:12
Colleen De Reuck USA 2:26:35
Zoila Gomez USA 2:33:53
Lidiya Grigoryeva RUS 2:25:10
Kate O'Neill USA 2:36:15
Adriana Pirtea ROU 2:28:52
Kiyoko Shimahara JPN 2:26:14
Worknesh Tola ETH 2:25:37
Constantina Tomescu-Dita ROU 2:21:30

Moses Arusei KEN 2:06:50
Christopher Cheboiboch KEN 2:08:17
Timothy Cherigat KEN 2:09:34
James Getanda KEN 2:11:50
Salim Kipsang KEN 2:07:29
William Kipsang KEN 2:05:49
Richard Limo KEN 2:06:45
Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:06:15

Monday, September 8, 2008

All's Fine at Alpine

If you haven't run the Alpine Races Half-Marathon in Lake Zurich, it's your loss. Yesterday's perfect running weather was augmented by the race's great course, organization and competition. I wasn't sure how my body would react after vacationing six time zones away, but things were just fine. I'll take 1:34:22 any time. There were fewer than 300 finishers in this race. Go figure. The small field makes it nice for those of us who are there, but a lot of people who weren't there would have loved it. Up front, Chris Setzler, 35, of Wonder Lake, broke away early, running solo almost the entire route. Setzler, who coaches cross-country at Johnsburg High School, won it in 1:13:52.81. The real battle was for second, with masters master Mike Egle, 46, of Glenview, running 1:17:44.49 to edge Hunter Brock, 30, of Glen Ellyn, who clocked 1:17:44.93. Jacqui Aubert, 32, of Crystal lake, avoiding her hometown half-marathon run simultaneously, won the women's race in 1:31:10.46. She was followed by Pam Blair, 27, of Chicago, who ran 1:32:30.49 as a training run for the Chicago Marathon. Kristy Howland, 45, of Elmhurst, took third in 1:32:46.80. I was running near national-class Nancy Rollins, 61, of Evanston, as she posted another sensational race. Her time was 1:34:43. Hats off to Pat and Beth Onines and the rest of the Alpine Runners crew for an outstanding CARA Circuit race.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let's See, Where Was I?

Scotland, to be exact. We did a Rick Steves tour. It was the best. That's me on the right at the start of a marathon training run on the Scottish west coast. Suffice it to say the run was spectacular with sea views, ships, castles, traffic going the "other" way etc. etc.
I see that plenty of quality running and racing took place while I was gone. The inaugural Oak Brook and Half-Madness half-marathons appear to have gone smoothly, and the Bud James-led Park Forest Scenic 5-miler also went off OK with a much smaller group than the heydays of the "Scenic 10". Looks like Buffalo Grove also had another good field as did several other races. I also saw that the Park Ridge Charity Classic on Sept. 27 has been cancelled because of construction. I wonder what CARA will do regarding the Circuit.Park Ridge is where many a runner has set a 5K PR.
Well, it's up and at them tomorrow at Lake Zurich for the Alpine Races Half-Marathon. I'm a "wee" bit jet-lagged, but I'm looking forward to a race that isn't over in 20-plus minutes.