Another Q&A; post! Meet one of my newest runner friends, Nicole, a local runner who races a lot, and often wins her (our) age group. Even though part of me secretly hopes she’s not at the races I’m doing, she’s very sweet and good motivation! Best of luck for a great 2012, Nicole!

How many races have you done?
In 2011 alone, I ran 66 races, ranging in distance from 5k to the marathon. This year, I plan to cut back, and run about 50 races. In all of my racing career, I have run approximately 200 races!

I love collecting race medals!! Here are all of my 2011 awards

When did you start running?
I started running back in 6th grade. We had to do the mile run test in gym class and that’s when I learned that I had a little bit of natural talent. I started running on the junior high track team in the 800 meters and 1600 meters. In high school, I ran track and cross country. I did not run in college, but continued to run recreationally.

What’s your favorite distance to race?
Oh, I simply cannot choose just one. I love them all, but probably 5k’s and half marathons the most. 5k’s are great because of how quick they are, and its fun to run fast sometimes! Half marathons are great because the distance is far enough to be challenging, yet short enough to do them frequently.

Why do you race as often as you do?
I just love it so much!! It’s what I do for FUN!! In the past couple years of racing, I have made so many new friends, a big reason I race so much is to see all my running friends! 🙂 All week long, I look forward to starting my weekend mornings with a race!

What is the most races you’ve done in one weekend?
On May 16, 2010, I ran a half marathon at 7am in Chicago and then drove to Crowne Point Indiana, where I ran a 5K at 2pm that same day!! I’ve also done back to back (two days in a row) half marathon’s a couple times.

How do you pick your races?
I like to run races that I know friends will be at. If a friend tells me that they will be at a race, I immediately look at my calendar to see if I can join them. Also, this year, I am trying to pick new races – ones that I have never done before. Of course there are plenty of races that I will repeat this year, but I’m hoping for about 20 new ones.

Friends!! @ the Chicago Half Marathon on 9-11-11.

Do you budget for your races? Do you ever get free or discounted entries?
No! I really don’t, but I should!! I have never not registered for a race because I couldn’t afford it. I find a way to make it work.

I did win $50 at a race in Joliet once!

Which races do you look forward to doing every year?
Oh, there are tons! But, to name a few: the Frosty 5 miler in Channahon, Tiger 5k at Chicagoland Speedway and the Chicago Marathon!!

Left to right: 2009, 2010 and 2011 5K at the Chicagoland Speedway

What was your best race experience?
I had an absolute blast at Hot Chocolate 15k and the Chicago’s Perfect 10 miler at Navy Pier. I felt like I was flying at both races. I PR’ed at both of them by about 3-4 minutes, which is so so fun!

With friends after earning my new PR (1:14:58) at Chicago’s Perfect 10 miler!!

What was your worst race experience?
Chicago Marathon 2011. The heat got to me… I was hurting. At mile 21, I wasn’t sure how I was going to complete 5 more miles. I was so thirsty and sick to my stomach – it was miserable!!

BEFORE the 2011 Chicago Marathon with my cousin

Do you have a race routine? What is it?
I drink a can of regular coca cola before every race!! I just started doing this before the Terrapin 5k in August of 2011. I hadn’t eaten much that day and knew I would need some fast sugar… and then I had a great race so I still do it! I only “warm up” with a mile run in the cold winter months.

I always have a coke in my hand in pre race pics!

How do you prevent injuries? Deal with recovery?
Knock on wood, I’ve never been truly injured! I get sore and tired, but nothing that keeps me from running. Recovery? I just listen to my body. I don’t follow a specific training schedule – I just run what and when I feel like.

Do you have goals for every race? Or just “do my best”?
Sure I have goals, but they are very different goals for each race. I’ve learned not to make goals related to my finishing times. I have never PR’ed on days that I try to. I always run fastest when I least expect to.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to race a lot?
Have fun!!! And keep a fun running scrapbook like I do 🙂 It’s where I store my race bibs, pictures, race stats and a small story about the event. Otherwise, all of the races start to jumble together.

Nicole is running the Chicago Marathon for Team CureSearch. You can support her!