I promised you a race report and here it is. Last week I was in Chicago for a conference (Shout out to all my NARCA homies!), and naturally I did some running. Despite being
hungover tired each morning, I would get myself out of bed and hit the streets of Chicago. I was staying downtown at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker (that's just funny to say. Admit it!), so I was pretty central to everything on Michigan Avenue. I ran along the harbor, down to Soldier Field and around Millenium Park a little. I had a blast, and for most of the week, the weather was wonderful.
Since I knew that I would be in Chicago, I went to ye olde Internet and found me a 5K, the 2011 Path to Progress run/walk/strut around Soldier Field on Saturday (Actually I thought that I was going to be in Chicago till Sunday and had signed up for the half-marathon and then discovered that I was leaving on Saturday. D'oh!). So after a loooonnngggg night of socializing (my lovely wife called it "boozin' &shmoozin'"), I managed to get out of bed, get dressed, hail a cab and make it down to Soldier Field. Remember when I said that the weather was perfect for most of the week? Well, it wasn't on Saturday. The temperature had dropped from the 70's into the low 40's and like a dumbass, I had not brought any warm running clothes ("It's May. It won't be cold." Of course, it was). So there I am trying to register an hour before the race and my teeth are chattering and my hands are shaking (from the cold, I swear) so badly that I must have looked like I was going into epileptic shock. I was wearing 2 techincal t-shirts and a pair of shorts with my trusty running shoes, but even this was doing nothing to keep the biting winds of Chicago at bay. So as soon as I got my race T-shirt, I threw it on and thanked God for its heat-retaining thoruoghly abrasive cotton (runners know what I'm talking about. Tape 'em up boys!). I briefly toyed with running without it (as I hate to be the guy wearing the shirt of the race he's in), but it was too damn cold. Fortunately the officials had set up a sponsor tent that offered minimal protection from the wind before the race started, so I hung out there most of the time before the race started. I did find some reprieve from the cold in the shelter of a porta-potty but I'm afraid that the odor kept me from hanging out too long in there.
When the officials called for everyone to line up, I rushed to the front of the line but not too far up front. I assumed that there would be a lot of fast people at this race, because I'm in the big city, right? Well I guess most of them had planned on running the half-marathon the next day, because after the gun went off, I found myself very close to the lead pack. As the race went on, I was picking off people and digging in for what I assumed would be an ugly race. I caught a headwind in the middle of the first mile that almost blew me off my feet, but I hunkered down and shortened my stride. The race started outside Soldier Field and went along Lake Michigan where we made the turn after a mile and half. Luckily at that point, I caught a tailwind that gave me a decent boost into the third mile. I was surprised that I was still moving so quickly as my guts were reminding me that I was not very good to them
earlier that morning the night before. As we were winding our way around the aquarium and into the Field Museum Campus, I was gearing up to make my final kick (I wasn't looking at my watch to check my distance. Rookie mistake) when I almost ran into the runner in front of me and I realized we had just finished the race. And just like that, it was over. It felt anti-climatic, but it was fun nonetheless.
I wandered around the Campus for a bit trying to decide what to do next. Eventually I decided to head back to the hotel, and when I couldn't find a cab right away, I decided to just run back. This let me see more of Michigan Avenue, which was a lot of fun.
My splits ended up being 7:02, 7:02, 6:45 and 6:35/mi for the last .1 mi. I got 1st place in my age group! When I found out later that day, I was happy but exhausted from a week of boozin' & schmoozin'. I haven't received my prize yet for coming in 1st, but it's nice to have the recognition even if I don't get my prize. My time was 4 seconds slower than my PR, but I'm not complaining considering that I was lucky to make it to the race in the first place.
I loved running in Chicago and my brief time up there has me leaning heavily towards making it my next marathon in the Fall of 2012. Assuming the world doesn't come to an end on Saturday, I will probably start making my plans.