I’ve now run 17 races in the past 4 years. Some have been great. Some have been rough. Some have pushed my limits. Saturday’s Lakefront 10 miler was hands down my favorite of them all.
It was on a Saturday (a first for me!)
It was on the lake.
It was small.
It was freezing and sunny.
It was organized by the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) which meant it was going to be very well run. Packet pick-up, bag check, race volunteers, water stops were all managed perfectly. And a huge bonus – instead of the usual t-shirt, race shirts were Boston Marathon blue and yellow half-zip tops. I proudly rocked mine all day yesterday.
It was a hybrid trail-road race. It followed the lakefront trail for most of the course, but there were parts, including a sizable hill at mile 3 that were in the grass and dirt areas around the paved trail. At first this annoyed me, since it meant I had to pay attention to the ground in front of me over the road ahead so I wouldn’t trip on branches or rocks in my Vibrams, but after the hill it started to become a little more fun.
It was a 10 minute (+16 second) PR! Even though I lined up with the 10:00 min pace group, I found myself following the crowd at close to a 9:00 clip for the first mile. A little panicked I tried to slow down, knowing that was not a pace I could maintain for 10 miles. But then the competitive side of my brain took over, and I was determined to not fall to the back of the pack. Most of the people running this race were FAST. I was already starting toward the back of the pack (or so it felt), so I mentally told myself to try to stick to sub-10 minute miles for as long as I could.
Then my foot went numb. In the middle of running. My calf had a cramp, so I am guessing it was a circulation issue that did manage to resolve itself during mile 4. But really. Whose foot falls asleep while running?
It was a fast finish. When I hit mile 5 and realized I had maintained sub-10 minute miles (with the exception of the mile 4 debacle), I tried to see how much faster I could (slowly) go. I stretched my legs out, passed one person at a time, tried to look around and enjoy the fact that I was running on my favorite trail in my favorite city. And having FUN. Suddenly I was at mile 8, then 9. I looked at the clock at the mile marker and realized I was a full minute ahead of where I thought I was. I could actually finish this with a sizable PR. I was cruising along at a sub-9:00 minute pace. Feeling a little tired but mostly strong. Anything below 9 is usually sprint pace for me and I was doing it for 2 miles?! I didn’t question it. I just ran. Although trying to still sprint at the end was hard. I pushed it out anyway, crossing the finish line with a smile on my face at 1:35:27 (chip time).
I love this city. Any chance I get to race along the lake here I will always take. It is just too good to pass up. Next up is the Chicago Spring Half (and hopefully a sub-2 hour finish)!