Showing posts with label race report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label race report. Show all posts

Sunday, April 19, 2015

CARA Lakefront 10 miler race report: PR and IPA

The Live Grit CARA Lakefront 10 miler has to be one of my favorite races. I don't normally run races repeatedly, but this was my 3rd time running this one, and I still love it. The last 2 times I ran this race, I ran it alone, but this year I had the company of my friends Sara and Marcia. We met at my house, and I made them wait while I finished my pre-race breakfast of Cheerios and OJ. The drive into the city was easy and pleasant, as we chatted and gossiped. We got to the race about 1 hour before the start time, and snagged a free! parking spot on the street near the start of the race.

In contrast to the last 2 times I ran this one, the temperature was warm, about 60 degrees and it was sunny. I left my throwaway sweatshirt in the car. This is the third race I've worn this sweatshirt, and I have yet to throw it away. I'm starting to think that this sweatshirt is full of good juju, because every race I've worn it to has been a PR for me. Maybe I need to think twice about tossing it!

Truth be told, I don't even know where this sweatshirt came from!
Anyways, we headed to the gear check tent, left our bags of essentials, and made a stop at the porta-potties. There were a ton of them, and the lines were very short.

Marcia, me, and Sara
We had some time to kill, so we walked over to the lakefront and got some photos. Marcia had plans to connect with Emily, and we walked over to meet her. What a nice person! If you don't already read her blog, you should. She's even more warm and bubbly in person! She introduced Sara and me to Erin and Zenaida, some other local bloggers. It was great to meet them.

Erin, Marcia, Sara, me, Zenaida, and Emily
One more portapotty stop, and I suddenly realized that I left my bottle of Tailwind in my gear bag. I ran over to the gear check and helped the volunteers dig through all the bags to try and find it. When we located it, I ran back to Sara and Marcia, made one more potty stop, and got in line for the race. I lined up with the 8:30 minute milers, hoping for a repeat of my Get Lucky performance. The national anthem was sung, the gun went off, and away we went.

The first 4 miles of the course are kind of a loop-de-loop, and there's giant hill thrown in for fun after mile 3. Personally, I think the hill is stupid. It was probably a garbage pile at one time that the park district covered with dirt and grass. The course runs through the grass, up the hill, and back down onto the path. I started the race too fast, and by the time I finished the hill, I felt like I was going to throw up. I tried hard to get a grip on my pace and my confidence. I got into my head and started sending positive thoughts to my brain. I focused on my music and the motivational lyrics. I worked on getting the pace under control. After the nausea calmed down, I started sipping on my Tailwind. My mind kept screaming quit, walk, but my will wouldn't let me do that. I fought that battle for about 2 miles. It took every ounce of self control to keep running.

By about mile 5, I started to feel much better. I looked down at my watch and saw my split for that mile was 8:23. Seeing that gave me an enormous boost, knowing that I was still running fast and that I felt so much better. I continued along that path at that pace, and I knew then that I would finish this thing strong.

Until mile 6. We had been running south on the lakefront path, with the wind at our backs. When the course turned north, the wind off the lake had picked up and it hit like a cold blast of ice water. I felt at once point that I was being pushed backwards. Mile 7 was difficult, and my split was 8:49. That made me mad. I had already battled through my too fast start, and now this? Determined not to let the wind get the best of me, I continued down the path. There were a lot of trees at this point, and they seemed to be breaking the wind. There were points along the final 4 miles where the wind was just brutal, though. Looking at my splits, I did a good job of battling with it.

I wasn't the only one affected by the wind. I started passing people. There were a couple women that I remember from the start, and I caught up to them. After mile 9, I passed them too. I don't know what happened at mile 9, but my legs started to fly. I spotted a woman in an Oiselle singlet. One of the flock. She looked about my age, and I tried so hard to pass her! As we approached the finish line, I continued to try to catch her. She crossed the finish line shortly before I did. That last mile split was 8:05!

After the race, I went up to her, congratulated her, and told her how I tried to pass her. We joked about being "older", and she asked me how old I was. I told her, and she told me she was 60! My jaw dropped and we talked briefly about this. She said she's been running her best since her 50s. Thrilled to hear this, I hugged her, and wished her luck in her future races. How inspiring was that?

Happy to celebrate with my PR with an IPA!
I met up with Sara, who had a great race but also struggled with the wind. While we waited for Marcia to finish, we collected our gear and put our long sleeves on to warm back up. With the wind picking up off Lake Michigan, the temperature definitely dropped. It was cold. Once we found Marcia, we headed to the beer corral so I could have my celebratory Lagunitas IPA. It's so rare that a race has decent beer at the finish, and I wasn't going to miss out on this one! We reconnected with Emily, Erin, and Zenaida, and talked about the race. The shock of the wind at mile 6 was a common theme heard over and over.

But in spite of my troubles in the beginning and then the wind, what a fun race! Racing in Chicago is always a crapshoot. Here we thought we were going to be too warm, and then mid-race, the wind shifted off the lake, bringing brutal winds and cooler temps to the runners. I was grateful not to overheat, but that was just ridiculous. Since you can't control the weather, you make the best of the day, and that's what we did. It was great to spend the morning with my friends, and to meet some new friends too. Getting to this race is easy and parking is cheap and easy, unheard of for a race in Chicago. Since this race is sponsored by the Chicago Area Runners Association, it is well organized. And who doesn't love a 10 miler?

I'm happy with what turned out to be a 4 minute PR for me, even though my fast finish only got me 5/48 in my age group. This is a tough, competitive race--I call it a runners' race--but that's what I like about it. I'm keeping this one on my must do list.

The final results:

I'm linking this post up Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Get Lucky 21K Race Report: The backup plan

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
Parking was a breeze and we had an hour and a half to kill. Sara wanted to visit the portapotties, and we headed over to the staging area. We marveled at all the portapotties. There were tons of them. It was a runner's dream come true! This was a good omen! The wind was blowing fairly strong over the lake and it was cold. We went back to the car to warm up. Karen texted us a little while later, and we headed back to the staging area where there were warming tents to meet up with her. She was with her running group, and we got to meet all of them. As it got closer to race time, we decided to make one more trip to the portapotties. There was a short line, and it moved really fast. I stood in line next to 2 girls puffing on an e-cig box. Really? Before a race? We finished up our business and I took one last swig of my Tailwind as we headed to line up for the race.

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 gems men for a few miles, and lost them both at an aid station. See ya! I never stopped once. It was really nice having my fuel with me.

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!