Hot Chocolate 15k Race Report

Shame on me for not getting this out earlier, but here are some quick thoughts from the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k race from back in November.

My goal going into the race was to definitely run sub 7’s, and stretch to try and go 6:50 miles throughout.

I had two good 5ks and a solid 10k in the months prior to the race, and my training had been going quite well. I was averaging about 35 miles a week in October and had switched my training around to incorporate a good mix of long intervals (1000s to mile repeats) and speed work usually doing 200s and 400s.

Race morning dawned clear and cold. Temps in the 40s. Perfect racing weather. This race has gotten quite big, but RAM wised up this year and changed the route downtown to all city streets. No more lakefront path cluster like in 2010. The start and finish in Grant Park now match what they do with the marathon and shamrock shuffle 8k.

Race time rolls around. I hooked up with Noxons and the Morgans in the start corral about 20 yards from the line.


The gun goes off and things open up real quick. The biggest issue with running downtown is that the Garmin can’t handle the tall buildings, so there are long stretches where it’s not accurately showing me my pace. In addition, the first mile starts with the lower wacker tunnel, so I have no idea how I’m doing. I’m holding back, trying to not go out too fast, and it turns out I overdid it as I go thru the first mile marker at 7:10 or so. Oops. Too slow. I picked up the pace to hit mile 2 at 6:41. From there I calmed down and knocked out 6:55 or so for the next 6 miles. I felt pretty good. I was working hard but not losing it.


At mile 8 I kicked it in gear and finished up fast averaging 6:44 or so until the finish. Total time: 1:04:15 for a 6:53 avg pace. Considering my time in 2010 was 1:08:40 I was pleased with the improvement. I was also pleased with the negative split, even though I may could have emptied the tank a little earlier and not gone out so slow.

Afterwards it was chocolate time with the girls!



RAM racing recently got ripped for putting on a crap version of this race in Washington DC. You can read one race report from DCRainmaker here. I was not surprised. I’ve always thought RAM falters when it comes to logistics and course management. They love fancy schwag, and they love cramming tons of people onto their courses (south shore triathlon=unsafe) and constantly spout off like they are the be all end all when it comes to race management. The Chicago course this year was much improved, but they have no idea how to do start corrals properly, insist on a narrow start lane funnel, and the whole day before packet pickup? Huge pain in the ass. Nothing worse than spending 2 hours hoofing it downtown from the suburbs so I can blow 20 bucks on parking just so I can spend 10 seconds grabbing my bib. I’d gladly pay 10 extra bucks to have it mailed and happily pick up my goodie bag day of race.

Back to the race I do have one final tip. If you are wearing a gps watch in a race downtown, turn off the autolap. If the signal is going in and out and you try to autolap at 1 mile intervals you are not going to get an accurate read on your pace. You just have to look for the mile markers on the course and trust they have them measured properly and manually capture your lap times. You can see my garmin file here.

Thanks for reading!


Holiday Wait!

Tis the season for holiday wait, I mean weight!  Actually the wait may help your weight.  Confused?  Think of how long you spend waiting in lines, waiting on the phone, waiting in traffic, etc…Take advantage of this time to help with your weight.  Here are some examples:

1) Instead of circling the parking lots waiting for the best spot, drive directly to the back of the lot and walk!  It’ll reduce your wait time, yet add a little exercise to your day.

2) Rather than waiting for the elevator, take the stairs.

3) While waiting in traffic, do derriere clenches.  Yes, I said it.

4) Pull your belly-button in as far as you can and hold 10-20 seconds.  This one can be done waiting anywhere!

5) Bored waiting for that commercial to be over?  There are so many things you can do; push-ups, ab exercises, squats, lunges, wall sits, jumping jacks, triceps extensions, bicep curls, etc.  Heck, why just do all this stuff during commercials, do them during the show!

Get the gist?  We all have a little time to help with our weight while we wait!  😉


This is the time of year when many athletes are taking a break in training, which is all good.  Some people never stop and a few have races coming up soon.  Regardless of where you are in your season, it’s a good time to really think about what inspires you to train or workout.  What and/or who is it that truly inspires/motivates you???

For me, well, I’ve had a few months off due to a back injury.  So I am rearing to go and pretty much EVERYTHING has been inspiring me.  TV is rarely on my agenda, but I watched The Biggest Loser tonight and was completely impressed and inspired as the contestants ran a freakin’ marathon!!! Now I’ve been fortunate to accomplish many things in my life, but a marathon is not one of them.  (Honestly, I’ve had no desire).   Regardless,  this feat was truly amazing to watch!

Now, if you’re more of a couch potato and think you can’t even do a 5k, well you are sadly mistaken (with very few exceptions). I’m not necessarily encouraging you to do one, but I would love for you to find some activity which excites you enough to get off the couch and get your heart pumping for a little while.  Grab a family member, friend, or colleague, and do something.  Go for a walk, take a hike, walk up some stairs or parking ramps, try cross-country skiing,  jump rope with your kids, try yoga…you get the gist.  There really is no excuse.  If your health is important to you, you will find a way.  Just seek that inspiration and get out there!

Now, get to your keyboard and leave a comment as to what inspires you.  Your comment may very well inspire another reader!  😉

This and that

My mom just had her annual blood test and she remains cancer free!  Yes!!!

Courtney informed me that she’d like to get married in a Spiderman wedding dress.

Sarah left a long message for my parents on their answering machine, yes, an answering machine, by ending with, ‘please press 1 to end this call or press 2 for more options!’  Hilarious!

The Bradbury clan has never shown nor mentioned anything about Transformers, yet Sarah and Courtney are obsessed with them.  Thanks Luke and Alex.  😉

I LOVE Siri!  (If you don’t know what this is, Google it.  It’s an awesome iPhone feature).

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’m going through somewhat of a mid-life crisis as I am just over a month away from a BIG birthday. With that, I’ll be celebrating in various ways for about a month!

Oh, the girls have requested 3 brothers!  Um, not!!!  I would love to have 1-2 though…more dogs!  😉

In the 2.5 weeks since my cortisone shot, my back is much better! Yay!  Hopefully I can cease training as a couch potato soon!

If anyone needs to hire an incredible announcer, contact Scott. He truly does have a gift for it!

I hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving!

The Cleanse

I endured and it wasn’t so bad, not nearly as difficult as I’d anticipated.  I was quite apprehensive with the thought of no caffeine, no dairy, no beef, no gluten, no chocolate (gasp)!, no vino, and only 1 meal of solid foods per day…for 21 days!

Week one was a breeze as I was excited to execute this ‘goal.’  9 pounds were shed and my typical bloating was gone within the first 5 days too!  Week 2, well that was a bit of a downer.  Although I felt energetic and über healthy, I missed having solid meals.  Plus the few times I tried to work out, I had absolutely no energy, my legs felt empty. And, I only jogged for 20 minutes each time. But note, although the book encourages working out in order to aid in the detox process, it says not to do so intensely.  I totally agree!  So if you’re an athlete, only consider doing this in your time off or in your off-season.

By week three, I could see the light so it was easier to stick with it. One word really summed up this last week though, fear.  Fear that when I completed this I’d either gorge or I’d be afraid to eat anything.  What do you think I did???

My main reason for doing this was to eliminate most foods which typically cause GI issues, which I’ve struggled with for years.  (For those of you who don’t know: last year I was diagnosed with ischemic colitis, but as of a couple months ago, it was deemed gone.  Yet I still had issues, so it must be food).  I slowly added gluten back first and felt just fine.  Unfortunately,  due to back issues, I was not allowed to workout so I really have no idea if running will continue to be a problem.  That being said, I really need to do this cleanse again after I have clearance to resume training.  Regardless, this was certainly not a waste!  My mind and body really do feel different, I’m not certain how to explain it though, but it’s all good!

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve been off and I still feel this difference although my body is ‘polluted’ once again.  I’ve been eating gluten, consuming caffeine, eating some chocolate, but dairy, that’s what I’ve had the least of.  Prior to the cleanse, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk were a large part of my diet.  In the aftermath, I’ve been using  primarily almond milk in my cereal and have only had a little cheese .  Weird considering I used to crave and eat it all so much.  My weight has only increased by 4 pounds, but I expected that, you have to…unless you stay on the cleanse your entire life.  And the purpose of this for me wasn’t weight loss as it’s not a diet.  It’s a detox.  Note however, they do recommend a way in which to eat for a lifetime by cutting out certain foods.  Again, not for weight loss, but to deter diseases, allergies, cancer, and a plethora of other ailments.

To be clear, I didn’t follow it a 100% either as I didn’t take any supplements, nor did I partake in, shall I say, waste management.   I could have done it, I simply chose not to. The key to all this is to be VERY organized!  There are a ton of fresh ingredients you need to prepare all the smoothies for b-fast and dinner, let alone all the solid meals for lunch.  I swear I was at the grocery store every other day for the first 10 days as things were either difficult to find or they went bad within a couple of days. That was the hardest part!

So, do I recommend reading Clean and doing the cleanse?  Heck yeah!  And this is coming from someone who has always been incredibly skeptical of ALL cleanses!  You can bet your bottom dollar I will be doing this at least once a year now and maybe even one day weekly!!!

The Big News!!!

It’s official, our new baby has arrived!:

In a nutshell, there are oodles of changes going on around here!  Our current website, MaryBradbury. com, will become obsolete shortly (not of our choosing) so we will need to build a new one.  In the meantime, know that our coaching business is officially off the ground and is taking on new clients.  For those of you who don’t know Scott and me, we are far from newbies to all this.  We’ve been athletes and coaches for many years.  The bulk of our clients in years past have been triathletes, but many were runners and swimmers too.  We’ve trained people of all backgrounds and experience levels, from those brand new to the sports arena to those who have qualified for the ITU World Championships.  And you know what?  We wouldn’t have it any other way as they all inspire us every day.  So, if you want to get off the couch for the first time and/or see how much you can accomplish, let us do all the thinking and planning.  Just contact me at or Scott at and we’ll get you all set up!

Happy training!

Mary & Scott Bradbury

Co-owners of Bradbury Fitness LLC


It’s fall and I feel like I’ve been fallllling, or rather failing, for a while now. My back was not feeling better so I took a one week+ hiatus from all activities including my chiro and pt care. That was about the worst week ever!!! Sometimes I couldn’t sleep as my back was throbbing with pain. It just hurt all the time. Go figure as it didn’t hurt nearly as much all summer while training. So I figured what the heck, I’ll try to jog for a few minutes. Well, I made it 20 minutes pain free and opted to stop anyway as I didn’t want to push my luck. Wa-la! It hasn’t hurt since! Now that’s magic! Swimming though is what usually aggravated it more than anything so I haven’t been in the pool in a couple months. Well, I eased into the pool this morning for a 20 minute flip-turn free very very very easy swim. Ah, like a pig in mud I was! I could not have been happier and my back was fine. I SO wanted to keep going, but knew better. Again, I didn’t want to push my luck. So here I am 8 hours later wondering about my future. My back doesn’t hurt, but it feels a little sore or something. It’ll be at least a couple more days before I try to swim again, but I may try to jog tomorrow. I HATE this lack of activity! Usually when someone gets injured there is some sort of activity they can do. Unfortunately, I am not in that boat. This thing keeps trying to beat me down, but I keep rising, I won’t let it win. I know I have to be careful with everything, not just athletics, but playing with our angels, not making sudden movements, etc. And it can be really hard to remember that when all is feeling good. Slow and steady will win this race!

CleanSo now that I can’t have an athletic goal at this time, I’ve chosen to focus on something else, something where I need some improvement, something that could very well improve my athletic performances. That thing, my readers, is nutrition. Now I’ve never had a big weight issue, thanks to my love of working out, but I gain lbs quickly as soon as I stop. My last race was at the end of August and by Oct 1st, I’d gained 9 pounds. Yes, I think it’s absolutely fine to treat yourself after a long season, but an additional 9 pounds isn’t exactly healthy for me, 3-5 would be more acceptable. This happens to me (I do it to myself) every year and I usually don’t shed it until July or August. I’ve never dieted though, I just do my workouts and in time it comes off. This year, now, I’m making a change. Clean is the name of the book I’ve been following to do a 21 day cleanse. Yes, me, the one who has been incredibly skeptical of any diet, fast, or cleanse. Diets are temporary, so those are out for me. Fasting? Well, I’ll only do those for colonoscopies. A cleanse though, I have found many reasons to do one. Losing weight is just icing on the cake. As most of you know, I’ve struggled with GI issues for some years now and it became much more pronounced last year. I was diagnosed with ischemic colitis. Fortunately, that has completely cleared up, but the GI issues remain. So this cleanse will be great way to possibly determine what foods are triggering these issues. Gluten is the obvious enemy of choice, but we’ll see when I’m done…in 13 days. I’ll slowly reintroduce it and see what happens. In the meantime, oddly, I’ve lost all 9 pounds. I suspect much of it is water weight, although I’ve been staying hydrated. I must say, the first 4 days I had a raging headache. Of course that’s to be expected when one consumes oodles of Diet Coke 4-5/times per week. I knew I was addicted to it and I knew that I couldn’t just cut down. I had to go cold turkey. I’ve only craved it a few times, but those few cravings have been really strong. I don’t care for coffee so DC is my caffeinated beverage of choice…with a sporadic Chai Tea Latte. Hmmm, what else? I hadn’t noticed, but Scott said I’ve had an abundance of energy lately. My skin looks and feels better too. Amazing what healthier eating can do! Ok, so to be nice, please don’t bring me any food, ask me to b-fast (my fav) or dinner within these next two weeks. 😉 I’ll report more later…no off to work on our big reveal. 😉

Pity party


I’ve been having my own little pity party lately as my back hasn’t allowed me to do the things I love, namely, being active. I know I am fortunate to have and enjoy many other things in my life, however that doesn’t take the sting away. I’ve been an athlete my entire life so when you take that away, I feel totally stripped of my inner core. The bad news is that it’s been ongoing since late spring. The good news is that it didn’t affect my training much. Oddly, it hurts more now that I’m not doing anything. Maybe the endorphins took over while training, who knows. All I know is now is that I’m 100% focused on not just alleviating the pain, but finding a means to fixing the issue. (It started as a back spasm, then 3 bulging discs appeared, but now they are gone. So, back to the beginning…). I’m in cahoots with a an orthopod, a chiro, PT, and a running coach to address the issues so cross your fingers for a quick resolution. But really, what’s making matters far worse is that I’ve had good friends diagnosed with some pretty heavy stuff this year, from MS to cancer, and everything in between. I don’t know how people get through this stuff! My thoughts, prayers, and hugs to them and their families! To wrap things up, you are NOT allowed to join my party. It’s only for me and my A list guests below. Besides, it’ll be over soon…and, things could be a lot worse. And therefore maybe I’ll try this: PS A huge congrats to Bruce Noxon for an awesome race today! He placed 7th with a 4:39 at the Halfmax National Championships and grabbed himself a spot to the World Championships!!! So proud of you Dr. Noxon!!! Tom Chisholm too!


A huge shout out to Scott who killed his best 10k time yesterday! Also, big shout outs to Stephen Ban, Bruce & Betsy Noxon, Kim & Mark Morgan, the Boush family, the Dublin crew, and Ashrof & son on many PR’s and podiums! What a day!!!

Just a peek…

…into my off-season: It all started with these:








which I always have after my last race of the season.

Then my lovely (mean) husband bought TWO bags of these:






which somehow vanished within a few days.

Good for the heart right?







A girl just trying to get her calcium intake, everyday…





About how much chocolate I’ve consumed lately:






In 2.5 quick weeks, this is what has become of me:






all of which equal this:






Not that I should be surprised…but wow, those pounds come on quickly!

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