Sunday morning Babu and I ran the XSport Fitness Rock N Roll Mini (5k) Marathon in Chicago. Earlier in the year I signed up for the 1/2 Marathon portion of this race. I came off the Indianapolis Mini (13.1) Marathon with an injured sesamoid joint, rested 4 weeks and then lazed ( the active verb tense of being lazy, coined by a friend of mine). I wasn’t properly trained for another 13.1 so soon, but I also wasn’t going to just throw away hundreds of dollars in race fees and hotel costs. So for a few weeks prior to this race I had crazy girl runner is going to run/walk 13.1 anyway plans going on in my head. I know I have said this before but ANYONE can complete a half marathon. You might not be able to complete it quickly, you might not feel very good during or after, but you could get up off your couch and go bust out 13.1 miles right this very second if you chose. I wasn’t worried about my ability to “get it done”. I have been training for about a month and Sweet Thang/Speedy (still working out running buddies nickname) and I have reached the 6.5 half-way mark in distance runs. I am smart enough to understand trying to run a half marathon right now would have basically ruined the rest of my trip to Chicago and possibly left me injured with only 40 days until my next scheduled Half Marathon over Labor Day Weekend.
So imagine my glee when I discovered that there was a Mini (5K) and there was a medal for it! Here in Indy a Mini is 13.1, that is why I keep making the distinction, but I imagine you are clear now, so I will stop. I basically race for two reasons, to feel strong and proud of myself and for the bling. In the middle of 13.1 miles getting to the next water stop begins to be replaced by getting to the medal. I like shiny things, and I’ve started a medal hanger in my home office. Behind it sits an apron my mother embroidered. She was a stay at home mom and local piano teacher who also raised and showed Schipperkes. She married in the 50’s and lived in the housewife era and died in 1971 at the age of 40. I am the antithesis of housewife, I hang the apron there so my Mom can be a part of those medals, a little cheesy I know but it is also red and my home office color scheme is retro robin’s egg/tealish blue and red for the exact same reason, a nod to mom. But I am digressing.
The event in Chicago was very well-organized and executed. It was our first out of town race and there were things I really liked about it. For starters the 5K and 13.1 all start at the same time. The corrals are stagger started one at a time every 1-2 minutes. This is quite different from what I’ve experienced in the past where the whole mass of people just starts moving at once and you feel like you are some sort of death march to the start line. The Race emcee actually gives a start countdown for each and every corral from the top seeds to the slow people in the back like me. We were in corral 25 of 29. The 5K bibs were red and the 13.1 were blue. At first I was worried I would be one of only a few “losers” in blue bibs running the red race, but as it turned out I was worried for nothing, lots of blue bibs ran the 5k. Babu avoided this by waiting until the packet pick-up Expo to sign up for the 5K, thereby getting a red bib.
Speaking of the Expo it was fantastic, we walked about 2 miles down the lake front path from The Palmer House Hilton, where my Hilton Honors membership scored me a VIP check-in and a courtyard room that had zero street or L noise, to McCormick Place for the expo and back. It was hot but we enjoyed the scenery and the exercise. We walked out of the Expo with probably enough SWAG to cover at least his $50 5k late entry fee, our nice new bags were quite heavy on the way back. I only bought some NUUN at $5 (a good price) a tube so I felt like I restrained myself quite well. We got to try a whole bunch of different GU’s, Gel’s,shot blocks and bars. It was like being at the Sam’s Club on a weekend and eating lunch from the samples, only with running energy options. I discovered that Cliff Bars are WAY better than the PR Bars I am choking down before long runs or as run night dinner these days, that RAZZ GU is quite tolerable and that Snickers started making something they are calling Marathon Bars.
Race Morning we woke up at 5:30, dressed and stretched quickly then made the 3 block walk from our hotel to our corral. The race energy and vibe was friendly in our corral and we cheered for each of the 24 corrals in front of us as they were released. It was hot, I had sweat running down my back before we even began and the humidity was pretty high. The emcee went on and on about how we should all back off and slow down due to weather conditions, that today was not a day to try for a PR. I have been running in these conditions for a few weeks now and I told Babu that I wanted him to push me during this race, I wanted to go HAM because I was only going 3.2 not 13.1. I figured I’d see how far I could push myself in prep for having to run 13.1 in close to the same weather. I often feel like I don’t push myself enough to go faster. Soon enough it was our turn. I knew I simply had to follow the red bibs and stay to the right. The route took us under some tunnels and then dumped us along the lake path for most of the miles before turning us in the middle of mile 3 back up the street to the finish. There was an extra water/Gatorade stop added to the route. I really do NOT like Gatorade, I think the yellow tastes like goat piss, it upsets my stomach every time but I took a few sips because of the heat and humidity.
Running felt great. My legs, breath and heart were all in sync, Babu pushed us as promised and backed off to slow down when it started to become too fast too soon. As we hit the mile 2 marker I knew I was going to have enough energy to push through the last 1.2 and maybe even PR. In spite of my Runkeeper seriously screwing up in the first mile I was pretty sure we were at a sub 12:00 pace and could keep it for the duration. Then we found the “dude with a tude”. Age and body type are not a unilateral fitness indicator, every runner knows this. In every race I am going to get beaten by a seriously fat dude, an old lady and a little kid. It is simply a fact of running. Plus you can never truly tell on the course if you are faster than someone else you are passing because a- everyone starts in a different corral and b- lots of people do run/walk intervals. The best indicator is to keep an eye on the other runners you started with and gauge your performance based on theirs. Every runner picks out people to pass, it is part of being competitive, I don’t take it personally when I get passed and neither do most other runners. But without fail there is always some guy we pass who is younger and in better shape than me who is not pleased that the chubby middle aged woman is “beating” him. It is easy to tell when this happens because Babu and I keep a steady run stance and we almost always encounter the ‘dude” while he is walking. This time as we got past him, he sprinted and then stopped just ahead and went back to walking. We kept our pace and passed him again, as soon as we got past him he again sprinted to get past me and then went back to walking. This happened at least 3 times. I always get a bit “fuzzle you dude with a tude” and if I can I pick up my pace and just keep running knowing that every single race (so far) I’m going to beat the dude. Sure enough we smoked him on the small up hill climb at about mile 2.5. As we made the turn to head to the finish we could see it up ahead. I knew it was further away than it looked, but something about seeing that banner always puts some pep in my step. There was NO WAY I was letting this dude beat me. I knew he was back there, I knew he was tiring himself out by not holding a steady pace and I knew he was going to try to book it past me as near the end as possible and that, Lovies, was not going to happen. We picked up the pace, pushed it to within a quarter to a tenth of a mile near the finish, set our sites on the person who was some what ahead of us we wanted to beat ( this isn’t personal, I just need extra mental motivation to sprint at the end so I always pick someone I want to reach and pass before the end and others are likely picking me out as well) and let loose. Babu and I passed her within the last 100 yards one on each side, I kicked into after burn and gave it all I could muster knowing he was back there, trying to pass us and wanting so badly to stick to him. And we did, he didn’t come through the post chute until at least 30 seconds after we did. Feeling like I was going to puke for a full minute after finishing was worth every second of distance we put between him and us. Babu and finished together at 35:58, an 11:14 pace in heat and humidity. I thought I might of PR’d but alas I was wrong, my PR is a 33:42 (10:30 pace) I achieved in February of 2011. This race definitely falls in my top 5 favorite runs though, and serves a spring board of confidence to get me to the next half in 39 days.
POST RACE SWAG
We were handed so much in the post chute I almost couldn’t carry it all. Full bottles of water, full bottles of Gatorade, Jamba Juice frozen smoothies, chocolate milk, fruit cups, marathon bars from Snickers, the list goes on, I couldn’t possibly take it all. The best thing ever was not nutrition or hydration, it was small towels dripping wet as they came out of huge ice water vats. We each were given two and we placed them around our necks and on our heads. I first used mine to lay them on both wrists and wipe my arms down. It was instant body temp drop, we kept them on while we walked back down to the sidelines of the finish and cheered the rest of the 5K and top runners of the 13.1 on. I was lucky enough to see the first female half runner cross the line within 5-10 minutes of my 5K finish time. She glided in without even looking all that worked up. These elite runners have such smooth gates, they are so beautiful to watch. I get choked up about the fast girls during every race. I have only an inkling of how hard they must work to train and maintain that level of fitness and strength. They are badass mother runners and an inspiration to me to train harder, longer, smarter.
All in all I give 2 thumbs up to the Rock N Roll and Chicago race organizers. Very well done.
Doing what I love with who I love. Race update later Lovies, it is time to drink beer!!