This was my backup plan race. Remember, I was supposed to be in Florida this weekend, getting ready to run a half in Sarasota on Sunday. I spent most of January and part of February running on the treadmill in fleece clothing to try to simulate running in the heat. Becky did her part at CrossFit with weights and intervals. I did get to do my long runs outdoors. And then my son decided to turn our lives upside down. Once the dust settled, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to travel to Florida for that race, although we will be going later this month for a family vacation. Besides missing the race, I hated to throw all that training away, and I looked for a local race. I found the Get Lucky Chicago 21k scheduled for the same weekend, and without hesitation, signed up. I learned that my friends Sara and Karen were also planning on running it, and that made my decision all the less painful.
Meanwhile, because there was no point doing them, I stopped doing those heat runs on the treadmill and took it outside. Yes, it was cold, but those outdoor runs were therapeutic. They were also surprisingly fast. Maybe those heat runs did something for my endurance? I started to think that maybe I could PR this half. Who PRs at 52? I was quiet about my plans, because my original goal was a sub-2 half, and I didn't want to jinx myself. I'm a little quirky like that. I did tell Becky and she reassured me that a PR would be no problem for me.
Sara and I made plans to drive down together, and she purchased a parking pass to give us one less thing to worry about. After she did that, we heard rumors that the race director changed the location of the race to Soldier Field. There was no notification, and even the race's Facebook page did not give many details. Until 2 days before the race, we still had no idea about parking. Finally, they posted a link to prepay for a parking pass. But because of all this, I was really stressed about the details. The race was to be run on the lakefront path, which is a public path and shared by all. I was worried it would be crowded. That we'd be weaving around people. I kept thinking about what a disaster this race was going to be.
I slept really well the night before the race, which is pretty unusual for me. I took that as a good sign. Sara met me at my house and we headed into the city. Even though it was early, there was a good amount of traffic, and people were driving like maniacs. At one point, a jerk in a white SUV with 70.3 and 13.1 stickers on his car cut me off. I don't know how I didn't hit him or the semi next to me. Sara just about jumped out of her skin. That got my heart pumping! I laid on the horn for a good minute. There was a car next to me and that driver gave me the thumbs up. We were a little shaken after that experience, but the rest of our drive was uneventful, if not a little scary.
|Karen, me, Sara|
There were no minute/mile markers, just pace leaders with balloons with times written on them in marker. Feeling optimistic, I lined up with the 1:50 pace group. The song Get Lucky by Daft Punk started blaring and we took off. I wasn't planning on pacing with a group, I just wanted to be with people running about that pace, to avoid the weaving I was so worried about. We headed south on the lakefront path, and had the wind at our back. My legs felt good, and at mile 1, I looked down at my Garmin. I saw 8:24 mins/mile and thought I should pull back a little bit. I still had 12.2 miles to go and that was pretty fast for me. I felt really good, though, and I didn't feel like I was working hard. The weaving that I was worried about never materialized, and I settled into a nice groove.
By mile 4, I was sweating a ton. I rolled up my sleeves and unzipped my top. I hadn't planned on starting my second bottle of Tailwind until mile 5, but I decided to take a sip. Good idea. I felt a lot better after a while, and kept sipping it every half mile or so. The reason I know this is that there were mile markers every half mile at this race. I don't know about you, but that made the race feel longer to me. It did help me fuel though, and I looked at it as a plus.
The race course was mostly flat with a few inclines up over some roads. The course was out and back, and I knew those hills would be tougher on the way back. My pace continued at that 8:24 min/mi pace. I was really happy with that, but worried that it might bite me in the butt in the back half of the race. I still felt good, so I continued on. I saw Sara a little before the turn around (mile 6.6), and got a high five from her. We headed back north into the wind. Oooh, it was cold, but it actually felt pretty good, considering all the sweating I was doing. I continued to sip my Tailwind. I saw Karen a little while after that, and gave her a high five.
On the way back, I found myself running with a couple of men. I was behind this one guy who would not let me pass him no matter what. When we headed up those hills, I kept my steady pace while he slowed down. I would pass him but after the hill he'd speed up to get ahead of me. I kept laughing about it to myself. Was it the being "chicked" thing? Was it being passed by an old lady? Anyways, I decided to draft behind him, and he has no idea how much he helped me out by blocking the wind. I'm sure if he knew, he would have rethought his whole plan to stay ahead of me. And the guy next to me wouldn't look over at me. He just kept pace with me. I ran with these 2
At mile 10, I started to think that I was going to get my PR. My legs still felt really good. I was slowing down a little bit this second half, with mile splits in the 8:30s but still really fast for me. Then my GI tract started talking to me. Oh no. I realized then that I had not seen one portapotty on the entire course, except at mile 2. Seriously. What would I do if disaster struck? Well, I thought, THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. This became my new mantra for the final 3 miles. I thought about the spare clothes I had in the car. The wipes I had tucked into my spibelt. NOT GOING TO NEED THEM. I chugged along.
Mile 12, I knew I could do it. I started pushing my pace again, but I was getting tired. I ignored that protesting from my abdomen. Sorry, I thought, not stopping now! I finished up my Tailwind and turned it up to 11. I flew across the finish line--saw that race clock with 1:52 on it! Once I caught my breath I smiled from ear to ear. I knew I had PR'd!
I headed back to the heated tent to find Sara, who had gotten a PR of her own. We celebrated our victories, and I looked up my official time. I was shocked to see the AG placement:
My smile got bigger! It sure helps to be in the old age group, right? There was also a fun statistic on the results page, the age graded results, which gave me an age-graded finish time of 1:33:52, and put me in 49/770 finishers. I'd never seen that before, but I kind of liked it! I'm starting to embrace this whole aging thing, really. Soon I'll get senior discounts and that will be good as well. Especially if they have them on race entry fees...
Anyways, at the finish line, there was the usual water and snacks. We never did make it to the beer tent because we started to get really cold. We couldn't find Karen, and decided to head home. Later we found out she finished, but ended up in the medical tent with dehydration. She's fine now, and I'm sure had a great rest of the day celebrating her birthday!
|Sara and me|
So the race turned out great after all. There were no glitches, as far as I could see. A few comments and observations, not really complaints: No national anthem was sung prior to the race, which was a first for me. There were no photographers along the race course. I hear that Get Lucky does post pictures on their FB page, but other than that you're on your own. I think that's ok, but I do like a finish line photo. What can I say? I'll keep checking the FB page and see what comes up. And no portapotties along the course? That was a little disconcerting. I don't know where runners were supposed to relieve themselves. Thank goodness my tummy
behaved controlled itself, but it was touch and go at the end of the race! The half mile markers were a little much. But the weather was beautiful, perfect really, and the scenery along the course was spectacular. For this Chicago girl, there's no better view than that Chicago skyline, set along the panorama of Lake Michigan and blue skies. I fueled perfectly with my Tailwind Nutrition, and my training from Becky was spot on.
Would I do it again? I don't know, but it's always fun to race with friends! And a PR? AG placement? I doubt that I would have had this race in the heat and humidity of Florida. Silver linings everywhere. And that makes this one a win for me!
Did you race this weekend? How'd you do? Ever have a backup plan race?
I'm linking this post with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head over and see what the other bloggers have to say!