For those following along… or not following along as the case may be… I haven’t been a very good blogger. If it makes you feel better, I have written a ton of blog posts in my head… I just haven’t actually put them down on paper… so-to-speak
If you follow me on Instagram, then you are probably aware that I am not running as much as I used to. There is a reason for this and it is all part of a bigger picture… but all of that is a blog post in and of itself.
So this whole lack of running thing kinda means that I was going into this race a little blind. The last race I ran for time was back in November when I ran a half while injured.
This whole not really running thing does not mean I have been slacking off. Quite the opposite, I have still been working out hard but I have been leaning more towards HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and trying to get back into strength training.
I knew, from a cardiovascular perspective, I was in top shape… my only question was how would my body handle the pounding of 10 miles. My longest training run was an easy 6 miler with Eric and other than that ONE (yes, one) 6 miler the majority of my running has been 5 milers or running to/from my HIIT training (which is between 1 and 2 miles).
Weekly mileage has been incredibly low… so… yea… running blind
My overall goal going into this race was still that 1:40:00 that I have been chasing for a couple of years now but I also knew that, realistically, I am not really in PR shape for a 10 mile race right now.
Then you factor in the weather… we went from winter to summer more or less overnight so there has been zero time to acclimate.
I didn’t exactly have factors stacked in my favor but I still hoped for one of those perfect running days when the running gods and weather gods decide to be nice… spoiler alert… the gods didn’t get the memo.
I had also figured out that this would be my 79th overall race. And despite having run 78 races already… race anxiety was still out in full force… so needless to say, I did not sleep all that well.
These early race starts are when my work schedule work in my favor because I only had to get up 15 minutes earlier than I normally do for work… then again, I had been wide awake for a solid hour and a half before my alarm went off…. lovely…
Race morning and I checked the weather… it was already 68 degrees at 5 am with about 70% humidity… yea… the weather gods DEFINITELY did not get that memo
I had prepped my bag the night before so I didn’t have much to do in the morning and headed out to the train. The train ride was uneventful and as soon as I got off the train I spotted Eric so we walked to the race together. I checked my bag, took my turn at the port-a-potty (it was far more complicated to get back inside to use a normal restroom) then grabbed a bottle of water and got into my corral.
There wasn’t a ton of time to kill and one of the things I love about this race is the pre-race stuff. Since the race is always on Memorial Day weekend and always at Solider Field… well… you can guess the theme. After a moment of silence for our fallen heroes and heartfelt thank you for those that serve the race began.
Thanks to a nice little 8K PR last summer, I was placed into a decent corral and was right at the front of the start line…. Of course as soon as we were off, I remembered why I told myself that was a bad idea last year… It causes me to go out too fast
It took me about a quarter mile to adjust my error and soon we were heading under the old McCormick place or McCormick Place East and I couldn’t help but think that it would be wonderful if the Star Wars museum went in here and this horrendous under pass was eliminated… but I digress
Mile one split and I am on pace for my goal but I was also very thirsty already… not the best sign but I know that there is a water station about a half mile up. I grab my water at the station and take a short walk break so I can actually drink the water instead of wear it.
At the mile two split, I lost some time but I am still even for my 1:40:00 goal. I was optimistic but I was already thirsty again… and it had only been a half mile.
Once I get to mile 3 I see that I am not WAY off pace… I am also dying of thirst. Yea… this isn’t good. Luckily there is a water station so I grab a cup of water to sip while I walk and take another cup of water to sip half of and then dump the rest on my head.
Mile 4 split and I notice that I am no longer sweating… with just a mere 6 miles left in the race. I am even more off pace now and I know I can either finish the race or I can put myself into danger. Given that I have played the severe dehydration at a race game once before, I opt for the smarter decision and back off a bit.
Right before mile 5 is the turn around and for once I am thankful to be on the LFT because I know there are water fountains there. I stop at the water station which is shortly after the turn around point but I am also walking more than I would like. I keep telling myself to run a quarter mile and walk a tenth but my body is just not cooperating. I proceed to stop at every single water fountain I see.
Come mile 6 I am still stopping at water fountains and I know there is another water station around mile 7. I have internal dialogue going about fighting and not giving up but my throbbing head reminds me that I need water.
I start to feel better after the mile 7 water station and find it easier to push myself a little so I start to try to extend my running intervals a bit and I succeed a bit.
By mile 8 I have still been stopping at water stations and it is definitely helping because I am feeling significantly better than I was just two miles ago. A quick glance at the mile 8 clock tells me there is zero way I am coming in under 1:40:00 and now even a 1:50:00 is out of reach but I still have a fighting chance to come in under 2:00:00
And really… coming in over 2:00:00 would have just royally pissed me off
Time to fight
I manage to run more than walk and I grab water at the last station and try to talk myself into kicking it up a notch for mile 9…
My body just doesn’t entirely agree with that whole kicking it up a notch part. But I do manage to run almost all of mile 9 so that’s something.
When I hit the down hill that will bring us into the stadium, I use the momentum to gun it… and then we TURN instead of going straight. DAMNIT!!!!!!!!
Stupid Beyonce is in town for a concert… and there are TWO shows on consecutive nights so the stage is blocking out NORMAL entrance onto the field.
I am beyond pissing and moaning in my head right now because I was counting on using that downhill like I have in years past but since we have a little extra to go now (I thought the course was a little different this year) so I start losing speed and am barely holding on trying to keep gunning as hard as I can through the finish. I want to go wide into the finish line but I am boxed in and can’t get around anyone so I am forced to slow just a tad.
I cross the line and feel like I am dying… that little reroute definitely did me in. I know I am officially done for the day.
Another favorite aspect of this race is that service members hand out the medals which is just beyond awesome. They congratulate us when they are the ones we need to congratulate.
After getting my medal and my water, I go and grab my bag… from the person who apparently doesn’t know what bib number area she is working in because it takes her quite some time to find my bag (despite my pointing it out several times) but she keeps telling I am in the wrong number area
Finding Eric was easy because he was waiting outside by the exit. We start heading back to the train. I invite him to get breakfast with me but he isn’t all that hungry. I opt to get off the train a few stops early so I can transfer to a bus to eliminate the mile walk from the train to get breakfast (which is a block from my place).
I was thrilled that I came in under two but I definitely have some work to do and I know I cannot skimp on the long runs come fall training cycle.