async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: CARA Lakefront 5k Race Recap

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

CARA Lakefront 5k Race Recap

The CARA Lakefront 10 miler is a perpetual favorite for me. I've run the race multiple times. It takes place along the Chicago lakefront in late March or early April. Organized by the Chicago Area Runners' Association, the race is a true "runner's race" and as such, attracts some really fast participants. This year, my running friend Steph wanted to run it with me.

I've been struggling with running for the last couple of months and that is mostly due to an ongoing flare of rheumatoid arthritis. Just as soon as it seems that I've gotten my symptoms under control, the disease flares up again. It's been frustrating for me. The week before this year's race was to take place, I had the worst flare since my diagnosis. Not wanting to DNS or risk a DNF, I made the decision to drop down to the 5k. I figured that at the very least, I could walk the 5k while Steph ran the 10 mile distance.



Steph met me at my house and we drove to the Chicago lakefront. The race takes place at Montrose Beach and parking is free and plentiful. We walked to the race village at the Wilson track and I picked up my race packet. We tried to stay warm while we waited for the race to begin. There was an organized pre-race warmup, sponsored by Orange Theory Fitness but we didn't participate. We ran into Pete B and talked race strategy.

Ready to run!
Once we lined up, the crowd kept us warm. The Star Spangled Banner was played and off we went. Steph and I ran together for about a half mile until she dropped back. Knowing I was only running the 5k, I maintained the pace we started at, which was under 8:30m/m. I hoped to stay at that pace for the race.


The first mile of the race runs north on the street where we parked. Oddly, there were cars in the middle of the street that were stopped while the runners ran around them. The street was full of potholes and I pity the runner who wasn't paying attention. Soon we were on the lakefront path running south. There was a brisk west wind and while it didn't affect my pace, it was cold. Mile 1: 8:22.

We continued to run with the 10 mile runners. I started to feel a side stitch and hoped it would pass. I also started to feel increasingly fatigued. I knew then that I made the right decision to drop down to the 5k and hoped I could hold on. Mile 2: 8:36.

The course veered west, into the wind, shortly after mile 2. I started to feel pretty bad and as we ran along Montrose Harbor, I stopped briefly to catch my breath. This was not good. I chugged along to the split point where the 10 mile runners split off from us. Ahead of us was the dreaded Cricket Hill, a manmade grass covered trash pile in the middle of the park. I tried to run up it, I did, but I had very little left in the tank. So I walked up to the top. Damn if there wasn't a photographer up there, so I started to run. Once I got to the top, I flew down the hill. After that, it was a short distance to the Wilson track, where the finish line was located. Believe it or not, there were people walking at the bottom of the hill.

The infamous Cricket Hill
It's a lap and a half around the track. You'd think I would have been able to crush it, but I felt like I was going to pass out. I stopped to catch my breath and another runner said, "oh no you don't! Let's go!". I ran the rest of the way to the finish. Finish time: 27:36


When I crossed the finish line, I felt awful. I walked around for a few minutes and once I recovered, I went to look up my finish time. I was surprised to see that I won my age group! I never would have expected any kind of AG award at a CARA race. Most likely the fast old ladies were running the 10 mile race. Whatever it was, I'll take it.


After I finished, I stood by the finish line and watched the runners come in. It was amazing how fast some of those 10 milers ran! Pete B did great, finishing in 1:07:09. We looked for Erica but somehow missed her! Then Steph came in. We stopped for photos and snacks, then headed home.

Pete B and me

This is always a great race and this year didn't disappoint. The race shirt was a gray tech shirt with colorful stitching--probably one of the nicer race shirts I've gotten. Free race photos, and good quality ones at that, are always appreciated! My AG award was a CARA pint glass--something I've never ever thought I'd own-- and a KUDOS coaster. Post-race snacks included bananas and Kind bars. Instead of the usual Lagunitas in the beer garden, they were serving Michelob Ultra, which was completely unacceptable to us. The free Lagunitas was such a treat after running 10 miles and I always looked forward to it. Why CARA, why?

Celebrating with Cocoa
Drinking a real beer in my CARA pint glass
Last year I ran the 10 mile race in 1:28:26, a 8:54 m/m pace. This year I struggled to finish the 5k at that pace. With that in mind, I know I made the right decision to drop down to the 5k. There is no way I could have sustained that pace for 10 miles. When I finished the 5k, I was completely out of gas.  It's kind of tough, mentally, to be in this place. I'm really grateful that CARA had the option of the 5k and the AG award was the cherry on the sundae. Even though I know there are a lot of faster women out there, they weren't at my race today. Sometimes it's your day.

A change of plans and an age group win /via @oldrunningmom @CARAruns @curearthritis @PeteBeu #cararuns #runchat #rhuematoidarthritis

Did you run the CARA Lakefront 10 miler? Have you ever had to drop down to a shorter race distance due to health issues? What's your favorite post-race beer?

I'm linking up with Zenaida and Kim for Tuesday Topics and Debbie and Marc for Running Coaches' Corner.




35 comments :

  1. Well, I'm glad I didn't come all the way to Chicago to run 10 miles for a Bud Light. ;-) Seriously, the AG prize is quite a consolation prize for having to drop down to the 5K. You are still giving it your all, and that's what inspires the rest of us.

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    1. Thank you my friend! And if you come to run the 10 miler, I'm all in!

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  2. Wendy I know it was hard for you to drop down to the 5K but I hope you realize what an accomplishment it is to finish so strong feeling the way you have felt. You always seem to find a way to give it everything you have and that is a gift that not every runner has. Congrats on a hard earned win!

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    1. I'm at the point of trying to decide--do I keep pushing? or do I call it quits? For now, pushing is my plan.

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  3. You my friend are a warrior. What a fight to the finish and that Cricket Hill just looks NASTY!

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  4. Amazing lady: I have had to drop out of things through health issues (the Manchester Marathon TWICE, once as it was supposed to be 3 days before an operation (which was postponed a month) and once when I was really sick with a cold last year) and it sucks. You did a great 5k and were sensible and we all love you for that.

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  5. Awesome, amazing job Wendy! Congrats on getting 1st in your AG and you look super strong in those race photos! That's a bummer about the beer - Michelob Ultra is definitely not at the top of my beer list, lol.

    Also, I'm giving Cocoa the cutest dog award - always so photogenic!

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  6. Congrats again! You made the wise decision to drop down and you were rewarded for it. Good to hear the shirt was nice but I wish grey could be taken out of rotation for a good long time. What's up with the beer change?? Nice to see Pete!

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    1. We were so disappointed about the beer change. Could be a deal breaker for me. I hope they change back!

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  7. You were so right to run the 5k.

    Under a 9 min pace is nothing to sneeze about. Most runners would be jealous.

    Loved your shirt BTW.

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  8. Wow! Great race. Way to push it and congrats on the AG win. Too bad they didn't have anything more exciting at the end of the race to fill it with, but that does not look like Michelob Ultra in the photos! :) Wise choice to fill it with something a little bit better. And, as always, love your race top. Is than an Ink Burn?

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    1. I love this top! It's InknBurn--the Sakura pullover. It is my favorite and that's why I wore it.

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  9. Congrats on the AG win! I would be so disappointed also at Michelob instead of Lagunitas. Your recap makes me want to run this race some year soon!

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    1. Laura, you would love this race! It's all runner. Except for the beer.

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  10. Just for a smidgen of perspective: I never made my goal of a sub-nine-minute mile. Not once. Yet you, our fearless warrior, with all your health issues, achieved first place AG with 8.52. HoozaH! Our hero, who never gives up. So freaking proud of you, my friend. (Insert love emoticon here).

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    1. P.S. You look positively fabulous.
      P.P.S. There's another word for Michelob Ultra: water

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    2. Thank you! I know I've still got that faster 5k in me. Just need to find my endurance again.

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  11. I've done this race before and always the 10 mile race. It was at this race that I met you. Congrats on your AG award! Is the free parking you are referring to the one on the street? I remember when free parking was also on the lot but now that is for the boats?

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  12. You’ve got grit. Congrats on pushing through and getting that AG award!

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    1. Thank you, my friend! Looks like short distances are in my future, at least for now!

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  13. Congrats on your 5K! I am sorry that you are having trouble with your RA! Hoping you get some relief!

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  14. Congrats on pushing through and getting that age group win. It definitely sounds like it was the right decision to do the 5k. I'm sorry to hear you were feeling badly after the race but I hope you're recovered now.

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    1. I'm in uncharted waters right now. I'm just going to ride it out for a while and hope that things settle down.

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  15. I'm sorry you felt so badly after mile two but WAHOOOOO to the AG win!!! That is fantastic!! And I think you absolutely made the right decision to switch to the 5k. Nice job my friend!!! I hope this bad flare passes soon...

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    1. You and me both, my friend! But you know I wasn't going to walk that 5k.

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  16. Fantastic job Wendy! I know dropping down didn't sit well with you but I love that you went out there and gave it your all - always inspiring! Congrats again on your AG!

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  17. My friend texted me the Friday before the race and asked if I would run the 10 miler with her but alas, I was stuck working. I know you didn't run the race you wanted, but you pushed yourself and were rewarded in the end. Congrats on the AG award!

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