Sunday, December 14, 2014

Race recap: Underground Polar Express

Last year, my friend Karen organized a race in her hometown to support a cause near and dear to her heart, suicide prevention. And thus, the Underground Polar Express was born.

The race, a 5k, was an untimed fun run. She raised money for her charity. This year, she decided to do it again. The response was remarkable. She told me that race entries tripled this year. For an untimed fun run? What does that tell you about Karen and her community of friends and family?

I decided to support her and run it. After I registered, I started having some pains in my right butt aka high hamstring. And those damn shin splints. When Becky told me I needed to take a break, we played Let's Make a Deal. I begged to be able to run this thing. I told her I'd run it slow. I told her I was committed and had to run. So she agreed. But only if I'd take time off before and after.


Then came the bad news that my medical assistant turned in her resignation. Remember that post I wrote about fairness and participation trophies? Well, apparently, that conversation from her supervisor about me praising her and upsetting the other CMAs really got to her. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Isn't it amazing how much damage one person's words can do? Devastated after Zuly told me she was leaving, I drove home from work that night in tears.

Meanwhile, my friends Penny, Michelle, Sara, and Karen were all texting about the race. Sara wasn't going to be there due to family obligations. Penny and Mish had big plans to dress up. Me, I had completely lost my desire to participate. I was lower than low. Injured and sad. But their texts lifted me up enough that on the way home from work the next day, I stopped at Target to check out the possibility of a Christmas themed outfit. I found a sparkly skirt in the girls' department in size XL and tried it on. I'd never worn a tutu or anything like it, but I thought I could pull this off.  Combined with the Christmas sweater-like running top (it had thumb holes!) I found at Marshalls and the striped socks I found at Joann's, I had an outfit.

I made the ride to Batavia, which is about 50 minutes from my home. As soon as I got there, a woman came up to me. "Are you Wendy?" she asked. I told her yes, and she introduced herself as Cindy. "I follow your blog and I recognized you!". Put a HUGE smile on my face. Ok, so far so good!

I got in line to sign in. I saw Carrie, Karen's friend and co-organizer, who recognized me too, from Zooma. She gave me a big hug. I also saw Michelle from Movin' it with Michelle, who I had never met. I was surprised at how petite she was! We talked like we were old friends! Lots of hugs! And more smiles!


I felt like a giant next to her!


Then Penny and Michelle arrived. After they signed in, we met up at the trail where the race was to take place. The Fox Valley Trail is a gem. I ran a half there last year, and I recognized the path. We all took off together. This was an untimed race, and because I was injured, Penny, Michelle, and I agreed to run it slow. We wanted to be able to talk. 

We moved along the path and did quite a bit of weaving. Guess we weren't running too slow...We talked about 2015 and our race plans. We laughed about the lady we passed, who had what looked like sheer running pants on (yes, we could see her buns!). Some of the costumes were epic. A guy dressed as Santa. A little girl dressed as a Christmas tree! Another little girl dressed as a reindeer. As we crossed the Fox River and headed back towards the restaurant where we started, I started feeling pretty warm. I commented that I didn't think we were exactly running slow, but I felt great! No shin splints, no pain in that right hamstring. 

We got to the finish and saw Karen. She was personally greeting all the runners, but I made her take a picture with us.

Karen, me, Penny, and Michelle

After the race we went inside the host restaurant, Pal Joey's. We were handed a raffle ticket and a drink ticket. When we went to the bar, we were told we could get a mimosa or a Miller light/Bud light. I can't drink that beer because it gives me a headache, so I ordered a Blue Moon and gave my drink ticket to Michelle. Penny and Michelle had mimosas. We headed to the dining room, where there was a raffle table. I bought a few more raffle tickets. Then we went and had pizza, which was delish. I talked with some of the other participants, and had an interesting conversation with a guy about football. Later we saw him walking around wearing leather chaps. With pants underneath, thankfully.

The raffle prizes were good, and Michelle and I each won a prize basket! Mine included a gift card to a local French bistro, 2 bottles of wine, and some other assorted gifts. There was also a best costume contest, which was won by a woman dressed as Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Hilarious!

This was an absolute blast and yes, Karen, if you organize it again, I will be there! I loved the idea of a fun run, untimed. The price ($14) was right. The race was run for a meaningful cause. I've never dressed in costume before, but I had a good time with this one. And I got to see my friends, old and new, who helped me chase away those winter blahs. We all hugged goodbye and hopefully will see each other soon. Leather chaps left when we did, riding off on his motorcycle. Karen just shrugged her shoulders.

Me, Penny, Michelle, and  Michelle
This race was the perfect prescription for this sad runner! Oh and that hamstring? No pain during the run. No shin splints. Untimed race? Are you kidding me? Finish time: 28:35, 9:10min/mile. Just in case you needed to know. I did!

I'm linking up with Tara at Readingn'Running, be sure to check out her blog!

24 comments :

  1. AWHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH this morning did my heart wonders. I'd lost all desire to run, and felt the lack of mileage as I battled 3.1 miles. BUT...seeing you made my day, and I felt the true #solesister bond. Thank you for the fun, and I am so sorry I missed you afterwards. xoxoxo

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    1. I just love that we finally got to meet! Sole sisters, indeed!

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  2. Yey! Looks like a great time, some of my favorite people!!

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  3. This looks like so much fun! You whipped up a very festive outfit in a hurry! So sorry about Zuly. :(

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    1. I truly think these smaller races are where you have the best time!

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  4. What a great cause. I love these untimed small runs to raise awareness and just enjoy each other.

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    1. I agree! It was a great ending to a wonderful year of running for me.

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  5. Awesome run :) Glad you had fun.. now rest and get completely well. But SOOOOOO happy that the hammy is playing nice after the run.

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  6. Nice! No pain is the biggest victory of all, of course! And love your running get up for this one--perfect holiday look! Congrats.

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  7. What a great time for an untimed race. Glad you didn't have any pain. Nice to always meet up w other bloggers/runners. What a great cause. -L

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  8. This news about Zuly really sucks; ugh. I'm so glad that you had your amazing running friends to help you have a good weekend; your outfit is precious! All of you look so cute! I can't believe you found those socks at Joann's - ha! Classic! I would never have thought to look there. I'm sure this week at work will be difficult and I'll be thinking about you. SOOOO happy that your hamstring is cooperating and improving; keep it easy and take care of you!

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    1. I saw some other cute socks at Party City today...

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    1. It was my first time "dressing up" for a race, and yes, it was a blast!

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  10. OMG, thank you so much for posting your time! LOL! I like the *idea* of running without timing, but I don't think it's ever going to happen in real life.

    Your outfit is so freaking adorable!! And I'm really glad this run helped with your blahs. Now go back to resting your butt!

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    1. Funny thing, I started my Garmin but I couldn't get a signal. Thankfully one of my friends timed us! LOL!

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  11. Ok. I feel like I have so many things to say about this post. First, I'm glad you got out of your funk and had fun with your friends. Sounds like it's just what the doctor ordered. And second, can we talk about the outfit. I love it. And I absolutely love that your top is a legit runner's shirt looking like a sweater with thumbholes. Not until I saw it did I realize that was my dream shirt! And at Marshall's? I wish it wasn't 9:30pm right now or I would be heading to the store!

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    1. Your comment just made my morning! I couldn't believe that I stumbled upon that shirt either! I hope you find it! The brand is Climawear. And the price was a steal...

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  12. I love all your outfits! Very festive :) Sounds like a great event! You ran, felt good and had a great result. Hopefully you can find a good asst. soon. It stinks you lost one you liked.

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    1. It was so much fun and really helped me feel less like Scrooge!

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