As you all have probably heard me state before, this is my favorite 10K. I usually make it a goal race because I know the course so well.
However, this year, due to construction inside the zoo, there was a different course… and I was none too pleased. I knew just by looking at the course map that it would not be a fast course due to narrow pathways and lots of turns.
A look at the weather forecast and I was positive it would not be a good day to run for time. So I settled for just a decent run.
One thing I love about this race is that the start line is a mere few blocks from my home. They do packet pick three days prior to the race, including at the New Balance store across the street from my place. Could packet pickup be more convenient? Not likely. So Thursday I stopped in to get my packet before getting home. Decent shirt this year too. Loving the blue race shirts this year
Eric and Chris were also running the race. We made plans to meet at gear check before the 5K would start. However, Chris was stuck in line waiting to get his packet… he should have taken me up on my offer to get his packet for him (sorry, Chris, had to mention that :-p)
As soon as I walked outside I knew it was going to be a miserable day for a run. I started sweating almost immediately and I had only crossed the street. It was rather warm and humid so I knew that I was not likely to have a decent race. So I adjusted my expectations and figured I would do a run/walk race instead.
One thing that surprised me is that the start line did not have pace signs this year… which was odd because they had them the past 4 years. So Eric, Chris and I lined up together. I knew we would not be running together but it was fun to see Chris get rather crazy waiting for the race to start. And hey… it was free entertainment
The race started with no frills and we were off.
Immediately I am thinking about how much I hate that the course is different this year… I REALLY hope they revert back next year… assuming the zoo construction is done by then.
I was drenched about a quarter mile into the race. It was very warm. Luckily the first water station was a little over a mile in. However, the race did not have us running on the inner path… which is completely covered and therefore shaded by trees. Grrrr
We also had to go under the Diversey harbor underpass right next to the water. Which is all fine and well if there are two only people… but races should NOT have this underpass as part of the course. We came to a dead stop and I was stuck there for probably 5 minutes before I was able to get to the other side and start running again. It was here that I decided it would not be worth battling for a decent time for the race. Especially since I had just lost about 5 minutes…
Despite the fact that this race has always used part of the Lakefront trail, this year we were using more of it and there were a ton of bikers, walkers and runners who were not part of the race. Plus, as always, the Avon Breast Cancer walk was sharing the course with us. It was very crowded. It was sun exposed and I was just not happy.
I was already walking more than I had originally intended but the heat was already getting to me. After the brutal winter and almost no spring, I was hardly acclimated to this weather. I was also stopping at water fountains along the course. Normally the three water stations this race has is enough but this year since it was so warm, a 4th water station would have been welcomed.
I was making my way but it was hardly at any sort of decent pace. Eventually we went BACK under the Diversey Harbor underpass… it was a lot less congested this time but as I was running (yes, I was actually running at this point), I wouldn’t have been able to pass anyone if I tried because it was just too narrow.
Eventually we got closer to the zoo and that is when the 5K walkers and the 10K shared the course. And of course the walkers took up the entire path. I really cannot blame them. I know I am at the back of the running pack here but in past years, we have not shared over a mile of course before. So really… this was just awful.
I passed the 5 mile marker and saw the clock time and every last ounce of fight I had was gone. I was trying to weave around people by jumping up on the grass but walkers were still stepping in front of me and even though I tried to get around them without running into them and was calling out “on your left/right” I still ran smack into some of them.
I gave up… I completely gave up and decided to walk until I was inside the zoo.
Another 10K runner was right next to me and she and I both shared how much we hated this course and how much we hated sharing over a mile with 5K walkers. We both also commented on how much the heat was getting to us and that another water station would have been helpful.
I told her that this was not the normal the course and how I hoped the course would revert back once the zoo construction was done. I emphasized how wonderful the normal course is and that the normal course was actually a fast course.
We ran to the finish line together then parted ways with a “it was nice running/chatting with you”
I was happy to see full bottles of gatorade and water at the finish line. I think more races should offer bottles of gatorade. I grabbed one of each and then I saw the most ingenious thing I have ever seen after a race. POPSICLES!!!! Considering how hot it was… this was beyond awesome!!! More races should do this!!!
I found Chris and Eric easily and Chris mentioned that he and Eric were starting to wonder if they should be searching out the medical crew. Yea… it was that bad of a race for me.
We all agreed that the course was horrendous and Eric commented that he is fairly certain they found and used every single “hill” in the neighborhood. I agreed. They also found and used every single turn in the neighborhood.
The boys wanted their free beer and I wanted my free pizza slice so they headed off to the beer tent while I waited in the short line for my yummy pizza slice. I also think all races should have pizza after :-p
The boys opted out of the beer since the line was so long. Instead we decided to just go to brunch. I text Courtney to meet up with us and I enjoyed delicious Oreo Pancakes… clearly this was not a morning to count calories :-p
My official time – 1:21:33 for a pace of 13:07
This is officially my worse 10K time…
I am disappointed to say the least. The course was just horrendous this year. It was also very hot and humid… and I cannot fault the race for the weather but the lack of shade on course did not help. My biggest hope is that the old course comes back next year. If the zoo construction is still going on, then for goodness sake, use a DIFFERENT course.
It is still my favorite 10K though and I still have every intention of running this race again next year. Despite my not so great experience this year… I still love this race and I love that it supports the zoo and runs through my neighborhood.