Monday, July 18, 2011

My First Race in Chicago - Fleet Feet Sports Women's 10K Race Recap

I finished my first road race here in Chicago and it was a good one!  I mentioned last week that I had been contemplating this race for awhile and after finishing it, I am so glad I did.
Wednesday I went over to Fleet Feet to pick up my race packet.  Since the race was sponsored by New Balance we got an awesome NB sleeveless tech tank with the race logo on it.  We also received a nice reusable shopping tote that can actually fold up into a small ball so it is easy to take with you.  
Most of the races I have done use the D-Tag timing where you get the orange tab to put around your shoe.  This race was timed using a B-Tag, which are two strips already attached to the back of your race bib, so no worries about remembering to put something on your shoe.  

Race morning started early when my alarm went off at six.  I got my race outfit on and double checked that I had all my gear before heading out the door.  I made sure to bring my usual pre race fuel of a blueberry Clif bar and a big bottle of water.  It was a warm morning, so hydration was important!  I rode the bus over to Montrose Harbor and walked the half a mile to the staging area.  I was kind of nervous on the ride over.  This was my first race in the city and I was a little anxious about going by myself.  At all my other races my family has been with me, so it is kind of different.  As soon as I got there I jumped in the port-o-potty line, but it was pretty quick moving, so I didn't wait long.  I then headed over to the start corrals.  The race start was scheduled for 7:30 AM and by the time I was in the corral it was already around 80 degrees.  I knew it was going to be a warm run.  The national anthem played and soon the race had begun!  
My goal for this race was to beat my previous 10K time.  I did that race in November of last year, so I have grown a lot in my running.  I took into account the heat and made sure to stay in tune with how I was feeling throughout the race.  

The race path was around the harbor and nearby parks.  It was essentially a big loop, with some turns throughout.  Because of that I got to see the faster and slower runners ahead and behind me on turns.  We did get to run by the lake for awhile which is always nice.  Another plus for the course were the shaded areas.  I tried to plan my short walk breaks so I could be in the shade and run through the sunny spots. 
The race started with a few small hills and I really got to see how many women were running the race: a lot, over 2600!  Around mile 2.5 the 5K and 10K runners path split.  I kept a relatively steady pace the first three miles with one or two 30 second walk breaks per mile.  Then mile four came and the heat hit me.  It was a difficult mile to get through at points, but I pushed through.  I carried my water bottle of half gatorade half water with me, and also had some energy chews during the run.  I felt a bit of surge after some chews and kept chugging along.  There were hydration stations every mile and half too.  The race volunteers were great at cheering everyone along.  Also since most of the race was on the Lakefront Trail we ran by and with other runners and bikers, some even stopped and cheered after their workout!  

Finally, the last mile approached and I was set to push it till the end.  In my last few races after the finish I felt like I could have given a little more.  I pushed through the difficult parts of this race so I would know I did my best crossing the finish line.  After a final run through the "Lunabar Tunnel" (as the announcer called it) the finish line was in sight.  I gave it all I had and crossed through, relieved to be finished.  As I stopped and checked my Garmin I found the race to be about .1 miles over the 10K, but I finished in good time.  I met my goal, by beating my previous 10K time and achieving a new PR of 1:19:32!  That is almost two minutes faster than my last time!  I am really happy with the results especially since it was a hot run.    
Post race we were given the obligatory water bottle along with an ice cold popsicle, banana, and mini bagel.  I just had a few bites of the bagel and a quarter of the popsicle, but chugged the water. 
After the finish I got a chance to meet Sara, from Sara Runs, and Mana, another local runner. We have communicated a few times through Twitter and it was nice to meet both of them in person.  We sat and chatted for a few minutes.  (forgot to take a picture! :/)  Both Mana and Sara are members of the FF Cheer team.  It is essentially a group of runners that support running in the community.  Pretty cool, huh?  They were both super friendly and hopefully we will get together again!  Unfortunately I had to leave early because of work that afternoon, but made sure to grab some free Lunabar samples and the free gift from New Balance. 
Kind of messy, but delicious!
When I go home I enjoyed a tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich on this great whole wheat bread I got at the market Saturday.  After a shower and some stretching I made sure to ice my knees as well.  I only had about an hour and then I was off to work.  I stand up the whole time for my job so when I got home seven hours later my legs were definitely sore.  I plan to get some more stretching in today to work out some of the tightness.  

And remember that lucy giftcard I won from Self Workout in the Park?  Well, I finally got it in the mail two weeks ago and bought a cute running skirt with capris.   That's what I wore for the race yesterday.  It was really comfortable, breathable, and had three secret pockets!  I still have a little more money left on the card, so I will certainly be getting something else.

Although it was a long day it was a good one!  Running a race again felt great.  There is always such wonderful energy at organized races.  Everyone is there to have fun and run!  I am happy I achieved a new PR and met some new people as well.  Fleet Feet put on a great event and I cannot wait for the next one!

Congrats to everyone else who competed in a race this weekend as well!