Monday, August 31, 2009

Flo Jo

With his stunning performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then his spectacular display at the World Championships in Berlin this summer, the world is in awe of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt.

Not to be forgotten is an equally amazing woman, that, when Usain was only two years-old, assaulted the world records at 100 and 200 meters by greater margins and with equal gusto to Usain. In the summer of 1988, Flo-Jo lowered the women’s 100m world record by a mind-blowing .27 seconds and the women’s 200m by .37 seconds. To put that in perspective, at the Beijing Olympics Usain Bolt lowered the 100m world record by .10 seconds and the 200m world record by .02 seconds.

Below is an excellent read from ESPN on this “Dream Chaser”, whose great feats and charisma have never been matched.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Race Report: Chicago City Chase 2009

[This post was authored by Melissa.]

Note: Until we're all able to make it out to paradise, we'll be posting periodic updates on events in Chicago.

While many in Chicago may moan about the lack of summer-like weather this year, Saturday's weather was perfect for the event that took place throughout the city. Approximately 1,500 people participated in the "world's largest urban adventure" - City Chase 2009. Similar to "The Amazing Race," City Chase had teams of two racing through the city on various missions, with the prize being a trip to Quebec City for the North American Championships and a chance for a trip to Salta, Argentina for the World Championships. But most people just participated for fun, the challenge and a chance to see how much they know about Chicago.

My co-worker Emily and I signed up and arrived at the Daley Center, without knowing much about what to expect. After various warm-up activities, including a "challenge" where a guy proposed to his girlfriend on stage (she said "yes"), we were given our first task. In order to get our clue sheet for the day, we had to track down 8 out of 10 items on a scavenger hunt list. The items ranged from the temperature in Salta, Argentina to a ticket stub to something expired.

After gathering our eight items, we received our clue sheet. The clue sheet contained approximately 25 clues to Chasepoints throughout the city. At each Chasepoint, we had to complete a challenge. We had to complete 10 challenges in order to complete the event. The Chasepoints were scattered throughout the city, and the only way to get to each Chasepoint was by foot or public transportation. In addition, we had to complete a Chasepoint in three out of four areas of the city: South Side, West Loop, Bucktown and Lincoln Park.

So we figured out a couple of clues and headed south to Chinatown. It seemed like everyone was heading to the main Chinatown event, so we headed to Ping Tom Park. At Ping Tom Park, we each had nine tries to land a fly fishing cast in one of three hula hoop targets. If we didn't make it in nine tries, we had to wrestle and kiss a pig. I'm happy to say that our fishing skills paid off and we didn't have to kiss any pigs!

From that event we headed to the south end of Grant Park, with the large walking sculpture, to learn a color guard routine. After several practices, we performed for the judge. Even though I tripped on my flag and I think Emily dropped hers, miraculously we passed! I think the judge was feeling generous.

The next challenge was in the Loop by the library, where we had to identify the neighborhoods of Chicago off of a map. After getting the easy ones (Lakeview, Lincoln Park, West Loop), we had to guess on quite a few (Gresham, Irving Park, Westlawn). But we passed and were off to the next site.

We hopped on a bus and headed west to Union Station. At the Union Station gym, we participated in a game of dodgeball, where each person had to hit score eight "hits" on the other team. We finished that challenge with only a couple of bruises from being hit.

The next place we were heading was Union Park in the West Loop, but after leaving Union Station, we overhead someone talking about the challenge at Old St. Pat's. Somehow Emily and I had missed that there was a Chasepoint at Old St. Pat's, but we checked our clue sheet and saw that there was a clue that referred to the world's largest block party, so we decided to stop there on our way to Union Park. It's a good thing we did because look at the challenge that awaited us:

Yes, I had to hold a snake and put it down Emily's shirt and she had to do the same to me! The snake was pretty calm and it went well (except for the snake almost trying to go down Emily's pants, too!). Afterwards, we got a picture with the snake.

From there we got back on track and tried heading to Union Park, however, we took another little detour to a Chasepoint at an art gallery that another team alerted us to. I'm not sure that was the best choice, since the challenge was for one person to strip down and the other person to sketch them. We finished that one in a hurry!

Just a short time later we arrived in Union Park for the most physically challenging event we participated in that day.

We each had to hurdle approximately fifteen hurdles, run to the finish line and head back, all within 2 minutes total. Oh, and you couldn't knock over more than 4 hurdles or you had to start over. As many people may know, I am not so coordinated, so completing this event was a challenge. We both ended up practically stopping and stepping over the hurdles. But we ended in approximately 1 minute and 45 seconds and no knocked-over hurdles!

We headed back into downtown to catch the El up to Lincoln Park for our next challenge. We got incredibly lucky all day long in timing the trains and buses. We hopped right on the Brown Line up to Armitage where we went to play Flippy Cup at Kincade's. The number of cups you were able to flip in 60 seconds determined what tasty treat your partner had to eat. If you flipped 0-3 cups, you had to eat fermented bean paste; 3-7 cups was processed fish eggs; and 8 and over was fish oil. We decided that the bean paste sounded the "best", so we flipped less than 3 cups each.

We both were able to choke the paste down, although it really tasted like putting a cup full of salt in your mouth. Luckily we had some gum to wash down the paste.

The next location for us was the Noble Horse Theater where the task was to saddle a horse, have each person take one lap around the arena on the horse and then unsaddle the horse. This was actually the first place where we encountered a line all day. We had to wait almost an hour to get our turn. That time wasn't helped by the fact that Southwest Airlines had representatives throughout the city giving teams passes to cut in lines. About 6 groups were able to cut in line while we were waiting. Luckily Emily has lots of experience with horses and was able to get us saddled up in no time. She was also a pro in trotting around the arena (when most other people and horses were strolling).

After the horse ride, we had to head back to Kincade's to retrieve Emily's camera. After getting that, we headed to the Blue Jeans Bar on Halsted for the final Chasepoint of the day. The task was to barter a sticker in exchange for a non-perishable food item. Of course we had to get a picture of the exchange taking place, so it was a good thing we went back for the camera! We were able to get a granola bar in exchange for our sticker and we were off to the finish.

We made it to the finish line (aka Joe's Bar) shortly after our last Chasepoint.

We crossed the line in 5 hours, 5 minutes and 15 seconds, placing us 77th overall (out of 360 finishers and approximately 300 groups that didn't finish). (The winners came in at 2 hours and 56 minutes.) After making it to the finish, we were able to celebrate with a well-deserved beer.

City Chase 2009 was a great way to spend a summer Saturday in the city. And we got to experience things in Chicago that we never would have otherwise. We definitely could have improved on our time, if we knew what to expect! We managed to plan our routes pretty well, but we still ended up covering about 6 miles throughout the day. But I think we did great for being first-timers!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Upcoming Event: 8/30/09 Keaukaha 5k Walk/Run for Health Awareness

Our friends in Hilo are putting on a 5k this coming Sunday, August 30. The goal of the event is to raise awareness in the community of healthy lifestyles.

The event will be held at the Kawananakoa Gym, which is located in Hilo at 156 Baker Avenue.

Registration is at 7:00 a.m., and the event begins at 7:30 a.m. There is no charge for this event. Donations will be accepted for Clayson Morante, age 10, who has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

For more information, contact Greg Lum Ho (808-987-5224) or Malcolm Makua (808-933-1321;

We hope to see you there.

Friday, August 21, 2009

World Championship Marathon – Sunday- History to be made?

[This post was authored by Erica.]

The last World Championships were held in Osaka, Japan, where Catherine Ndereba, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medalist, won the women’s marathon in 2:30:37, under warm and humid conditions. At the same championship, Kara Goucher earned a bronze medal in her first World Championship attempt at 10,000m. Fast forward two years and the championships are being held on a much flatter, faster course with more favorable temperatures. Ndereba will not be there to defend her crown, but in her absence, Kara will attempt to win the first World Championship Marathon title for an American. But she won’t be without potential challengers. The great wildcard in this race is Paula Radcliffe, the current world record holder in the women’s marathon, at 2:15:25, a full 10 minutes faster than Kara’s personal best of 2:25:53.

The last time we saw Kara race, she won the Rock N Roll Chicago half marathon, and by “won” I mean she won the race outright in 1:08:05, beating all male and female participants. Kara has had a great winter, spring and summer this year, showing unrivaled range in winning the Millrose Mile and finishing 3rd in the Boston marathon, an agonizing 9 seconds out of first. After that narrow defeat in Boston, Kara has said she is working on her ability to finish, which she displayed in the 5,000m at the US Championships, when she closed the last mile in a very quick 4:36.

Paula has raced much more sparingly this year. The last time Paula raced was last weekend in the NYC Half Marathon, where she won, uncontested, in 1:09:45. Both before and after the race Paula stated that the race was a time trial and fitness test to determine if she is ready for the marathon on Sunday. While she has traveled to Berlin, she has indicated that she will put off a decision until race time.

Kara has been very outspoken about the fact that she has chosen to put her life on hold and focus solely on the World Championship Marathon. Paula has been equally as open and honest about her recent injury cycle and her perceived lack of training. That said, Paula never lines up unless she’s ready to race but neither does Kara. Sunday should be a great race.

Universal Sports has a nice piece on Kara here.

Kara on her way to winning the Chicago Rock N Roll Half:

Postscript: The World Championship Women's Marathon was won by Xue Bai of China in 2:25:15. After being in contention early, Kara finished 10th in 2:27:48, citing stomach/hydration issues and resulting cramping. Paula Radcliffe did not start and is expected to race a fall marathon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chillaxin on the Big Island

Well, we were supposed to have closed on our deal to purchase the Big Island Running Company by now, but some unique complications are delaying things. In the meantime, I have been making the most of my unemployment.

I arrived on the Big Island on Friday, August 14 after a three-day road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. I spent my first five nights at the Kona Seaside Hotel. It's a nice enough place if you're looking for an affordable place to stay in the heart of Kona (which I was). Its two-star rating is probably about right.

On Wednesday, I was able to move into my new abode. I rented a two bedroom condo that's in the south end of Kailua-Kona at Keauhou. (Yes, I've got an extra room for guests, so start making your reservations now; of course that room is probably also going to be for extra stock from the store, so you can't be afraid to sleep in a room with a bunch of shoes.) It seems like it's going to be a good place. It's really quiet and scenic. My only complaint is that it is woefully under air conditioned, which I didn't notice until I had moved in, but that shouldn't be a problem for long.

Here's a view from the lanai:

And here is sunset from the lanai:

My new roommate:

I've been reasonably busy getting my new home set up and trying to do as much as I can to get the new business setup (vendor contacts, etc.), but I've also found plenty of time to relax and explore the Big Island. I spent one day pretty much driving the perimeter of the island, which was a great adventure but a lot of ground to cover in one day. I'll leave you for now with two pictures from my trip to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach: