This was my third year running this race. After the fiasco that was last year… Most of which was to blame on the 105 heat index at race time, I swore I wouldn’t run this race again. Then I got a free race entry and figured why not.
The race is hardly my favorite. I really love that I get to run on the warning track on a baseball field (what die hard baseball fan wouldn’t love that?) but I hate the rest of the course which winds through the parking lots at US Cellular Field. I also like that you can (if you so choose) hang out after and watch the all star game. So it’s sort of a love/hate thing.
After a week of being sick… I really did not have high hopes for this race. When I still had visions of a PR attempt at Bastille and I saw the expected weather forecast, I thought I might be able to finally chase down that sub 31:30 time that I have been after for a year and a half. But I knew it was not the night to attempt a time goal. Instead, I shifted the goal to surviving…
I headed home after work to quickly change and then met up with Eric and we headed to the red line. Neither of us took advantage of the pre-race packet pick-up since the location for it wasn’t all that easily accessible on Sunday in a touristy area of Chicago. But I knew we would have plenty of time to get the packet at the race.
We got there and almost right away spotted Natali. Eric and I got our packets and signed the waiver (I don’t recall having to do that before for this race…) and we snapped a pre-race photo. It was then that it started to sprinkle a little. Yea… just what I need after being sick for a week. We took cover under one of the patio tents and just chit-chatted for a bit.
Soon it was time for gear check and to line up. I was very glad to see that they had a huge separation between the runners and walkers. Natali and I hung back while Eric went to closer to the start with the speedy people. The race started about 5 minutes late, which seems to be par for the course for this race. Meh… I wasn’t really in any hurry this time but it’s still a bit annoying when you don’t start the race on time. Soon we were off
The course was different this year than the past two years. It still went through the parking lots and had a ton of turns but instead of ending on the baseball field, we ran around the field and then ended right where we started. Yea… I was never a fan of the old course but it was better ending on the field.
Somewhere around a half mile, I overheard a runner talking about the course. He mentioned that it was like when you got in trouble in gym class and had to go run around the parking lot. I couldn’t help but chuckle because he was absolutely correct! A very apt description of the course.
Right before the one mile mark I saw a band underneath some trees and they were still setting up their equipment. Call me crazy but wouldn’t it have been better for them to have been playing while most of us ran by? I have no idea who the band was either but that was just the thought that ran through my mind.
I walked through the water station right after the one mile mark. The fun thing for me when I am sick is that I want more water than usual when I run… which meant the ONE water station on the course before the half-way mark wasn’t thrilling for me. Luckily it was cooler so I was ok but I have said three years in a row now that this race needs TWO water stations… at least this year wasn’t a heat wave though.
I was actually feeling sort of decent. I knew I wasn’t running terribly well but I was at least able to keep moving. Before starting the race, I mentally allowed myself to walk if I needed it since I had no idea what to expect from my body. So I was really glad that I wasn’t feeling the need to walk.
The volunteers near the two mile marker were awesome! They were shouting and cheering and just generally in good spirits. It was much appreciated because this was where it started to rain… Blah
At this point I just wanted to be done. I hate the course and it is raining and I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. But at least we were heading to the point of the race where we got to run around the baseball field. That always works for a boost!
I made my way through and was heading toward the finish line and spotted Natali so we waved and smiled at each other and then I turn into a wall of wind. Ooof… fun. I saw the three mile marker and wanted to try to kick it to the end but I knew there was at least one more turn to go and I really wasn’t all that interested in a sprained ankle so I waited until after the turn to kick it a little… though I did not go full out.
After finishing, I checked my watch and was pleased with my time. Not stellar but not terrible. I could definitely live with that for a first run after being sick. I went to grab my bag from gear check and then wandered around looking for the water bottles. I was REALLY thirsty and I couldn’t find water. I finally saw Eric and asked him. Turns out they were hidden away. Note to race directors… please don’t make runners search for water.
Eric and I took cover again to wait for Natali because it was still raining. Eric had an awesome race… third age group and 16th overall! Natali found us easily and we took a post race pic.
Eric tried to find out about his age group award. We found out those awards would be given out about an hour later or mailed. Eric wanted to wait but Natali and I did not. I told him to stay but he left with us… after a funny encounter with a race person who insisted he couldn’t eat anything that began with an “F”… Interesting.
All in all it was a decent race. I still hate the course but I also understand that there aren’t too many options for them around US Cellular field. But I would prefer if they had us end the race on the field… but I guess the stadium has to agree to that as well.
My Official time 32:32 for a 10:30 Pace