Lakefront Love

standard April 22, 2014 Leave a response

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.

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It was on a Saturday (a first for me!)

It was on the lake.

It was small.

It was freezing and sunny.

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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.

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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?

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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).

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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)!

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