Salute, Inc is a local organization in the Chicago suburbs dedicated to helping post 9/11 veterans as they transition back to civilian life. Several of my neighbors and running friends are involved as volunteers and also as part of Team Salute, running the Chicago Marathon not only to raise money but to raise awareness. Every year there is a 5k/10k/Tactical Challenge hosted by the town where I live. We are always out of town Memorial Day weekend, but due to my son's injury, we were home and I decided at the last minute to sign up for the 10k. It's always fun to run a race where you live and this one was no different.
I picked up my race packet at the local running store Saturday on my way home from work. I noticed that the bib had no timing chip. I asked the volunteers about it and they just shrugged their shoulders, responding, "we know nothing. We are just volunteers". The store owner thought maybe the tear off tabs on the bottom of the bib would be used to keep track of finish place. I laughed because this is how races were run years ago! "Keeping it old school, " I commented.
That night, breaking with tradition (I usually have pizza the night before a race) we went to dinner at the BBQ place where my son works. I ordered the pulled pork platter and it was delicious. Later, when he came home from work, Tom told me that the cooks were very concerned about making my food just right. I thought that was kind of cute! Clearly they must have put some good juju into my food, because--spoiler alert--I had a great race.
I woke up to beautiful blue skies, 70 degrees and no humidity. How perfect! The race didn't start until 8, so I had plenty of time for coffee, breakfast, and race preparation. I left my house at 7:30, parked a few blocks from the finish line, and headed to the start line. I found some of my neighbors who were walking the 5k and we caught up before we had to line up. I had hoped for a portapotty stop before I ran but there were only 4 portapotties and the line was ridiculous. With a hope and a prayer that my GI tract would behave, I skipped the portapotty and got ready to race. Since the race wasn't going to be chip timed, I lined up near the front, hoping not to get run over by the faster 5k runners.
|My friend Cathy and me. This is actually after the race.|
|And her beautiful daughters Jackie and Julia.|
After an actual prayer (a first at a race for me) and the national anthem, the starter blew the horn. Instead of the loud noise we were all expecting, a bunch of liquid kind of oozed out of the horn. It was hilarious! So he just shouted GO! and we all took off. I went out pretty fast, but I felt good, and decided to keep my pace at 8 min/mile for the first mile and go from there. In these smaller local races, there are a lot of kids and people who don't normally race, and I watched them sprint ahead, only to pass them a mile or so down the road while they walked. Been there, done that.
At mile 2.5, the 10k runners split off from the 5k runners, and the race became much more relaxed. We ran through the neighborhoods and a lot of people were out in front of their houses, cheering us on. That was pretty awesome. It was a little warm, and a few folks had hoses or sprinklers on the parkway. I took advantage of those. I also stopped twice for water, and walked through the aid stations. Since I was running pretty fast (for me) those stops gave me a chance to regroup. It turned out to be a great strategy for me. Plus I can't run and drink from a cup at the same time. I'm just not that skilled.
About mile 4, I noticed a woman running next to me. We would run together for the rest of the race. I didn't mind. I think we both kept each other going, especially after mile 5, when there was a long straightaway to the finish. That was probably the toughest part of the race for me. You could see the finish line but it was soooooo far away. As we got closer to the finish, my "friend" slowed down a little bit and I pushed across the finish line at 51:54. I saw a woman writing down my bib number and finish time.
|No official race photos but my neighbor got one of me approaching the finish line. The woman behind me was my "pacer" for the race.|
|This is me with Juli Aistars. She is a legend in the ultramarathoning world--and a hometown gal. She's also really fast and I'm glad she's not in my age group this year.|
The announcer finally called out the 10k winners and I was happy to find out that I came in 2d place in my AG. The woman who came in first always wins--she's super fast. Interestingly, the woman I ran with came in first in her 45-49y age group. She came over to thank me for sticking with her! I believe that we got each other through the tough middle miles.
|The only medals for this race were the AG medals. Incentive to run fast!|
I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!