Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Soggy 10K

Well, the weather didn't cooperate, but I felt GREAT about this race!

I had a million excuses to cancel on this. It seemed like the entire universe was against me making my way to Chicago this morning. And usually I would take that as a sign to just turn off the alarm and sleep through the darn thing. But for some reason I was determined.

I woke up at 3:40am. It was raining. Not lightly raining. We're talking sheets of rain falling from the sky raining. I really had to push myself to get the heck out of bed and not just fall back to sleep with the sound of the rain. I mean, who wants to drive in this stuff? And then who wants to run in it? It just seemed like a bad idea all around.

But for some crazy reason I got out of bed and got ready. I brought some coffee and a bagel with to eat in the car. I knew something was terribly wrong with the state of my life when the radio mentioned "Late Nights with Someone or Another." It wasn't even early morning programming! I was just waking up and it was still late night programming. That is just wrong. I remember days of just getting home at this hour on a Saturday morning and here I was voluntarily lugging my happy butt across the state line to have the pleasure of running 6.2 miles. In a row. Two hours away. In the rain. Perfectly sober. What the heck has become of me?!

I got over it when I realized that I had the car all to myself with no judgemental kids trying to tell me that A)My music sucks and B)My singing hurts their ears.

Cue the DJ hosting the 80's weekend marathon. Oh yeah!

Whoa....oooo....we're halfway there. on  prayer!

Blinded by the light - revved up like a duece another runner in the night. Blinded by the light.....

My new BFF DJ even played a little Tesla for me. It was a fun drive :)

I got to the train station a few minutes early. I met a really nice lady there. She was on her way to Indiana to see her grandkids. It was such a pleasure to get to know her. I never got her name, but we talked like we were old friends. I love when you meet people like that.

The train arrived downtown just a few minutes late at 7:15pm. I hooked myself up with a cab and 12 minutes and $20.00 later I was at Montrose Beach picking up my race packet.

(I'm not in this picture, so don't try looking for me. Remember? I do these things all by my lonesome. I can't take the pictures AND be in them....sheesh!)

So I pick up my race number and goody bag. I got a race t-shirt, another t-shirt from a vendor there, a shoe horn, a clif bar, a tote bag, and some random coupons for fitness centers and running stores. I do love me some free stuff.

Can I just tell you that Chicago's running scene is just amazing? There were runners everywhere. And not just the ones running the race. There were random runners all over the city. And it was still raining! It was a far cry from my lonely little trail or neighborhood runs. I'm totally moving to Chicago. Or maybe NYC? I'm so over rural Wisconsin....but I digress.

The 10k started 15 minutes before the 5k. So everyone lined up anxious to get on with the show. It was pretty darn chilly out there right next to Lake Michigan. The rain had lightened up, but it never stopped the whole morning.

The first mile was awesome. My handy dandy Garmin had me sticking pretty close to my pace and not going out too fast. But I was able to run for much longer without stopping for a walk break. I think all that time in the car and on the train just made me want to move! By the second mile I was still feeling good and surprised that I was keeping a 12:30 pace. I felt good though. I pushed myself to mile 3.1 so that I could see how much I could beat my previous 5k by. I got the first 3.1 miles done in 39 minutes. I was thrilled by this at the time, but at the end when I was watching the awards for the top finishers of the 10k there was a guy who did it in 40 minutes. Geez, buddy! Way to ruin it for a girl!

Anyway, things got tougher into mile 4. I was feeling pretty crappy. And I was seeing all these people pass me and then I was seeing some of the really fast 5kers already coming around the bend! I trudged through. I kept doing the running/walking thing. We were circling around by the starting line and heading in a different direction for the last 2 or so miles. I saw several people quit around there. I wasn't gonna quit. I was going for Last Place or Better (that could totally be a t-shirt logo, huh?)

So mile 4 sucked. I really had to dig deep to keep running. I was just ready to be done. But then once I hit mile 5 things just got easier. I don't know why, but I started running and had no desire at all to stop. I ran most of mile 5, but then when I got almost to mile 6 I didn't have much left in me. I tried to finish strong, but my legs were like lead. I did muster up a jog for the last .2 miles to the finish line. And boy was I happy to be done! I finished at 1:26:04. The "official" pace had me at 13:51 minutes per mile. But my Garmin said I was at a 13:35 I'm gonna have to go with Gary on this one. Either way it totally blows my 15 minute miles of my last 5k out of the water.

Walking around the park I was listening to announcements and top finishers. They also had some lung cancer survivors there telling their stories. It was very touching and made me thankful for the life I have and the strength I find in this body of mine.

I would've like to have ended my day right there, but there was a little matter of getting home to take care of. Montrose Beach is a pretty big place. And you have to walk at least a mile to get up to a street where you can get a cab. Here's what the harbor looked like on my way back:

It started raining a lot harder and I was just drenched. It took another 1 1/2 miles before I finally got a cab. But another 12 minutes and another $20.00 and I was safely deposited back at Union Station.

I had a little wait for my train. I got myself refueled with a turkey sammie and some soup. (I went with the loaded baked potato....cuz, you know....I just ran 6.2 miles and then walked another 1.5!) I passed the rest of the time updating Facebook and having an awesome chat with one of my friends who wanted to know every detail of my morning. Don't you just love friends like that? :)

The train ride was uneventful. My muscles got really stiff though. Clearly, it wasn't such a good idea to sit for two hours after running. Had it been sunny out I probably would have taken an hour or two to mosey around the city, but I was so ready to get out of the rain. A nice shower and some Motrin have helped with the pain.

And even though I'm still walking like an 80 year old man. I'm feeling more like this: (Thanks Mr. 80's DJ Dude!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Race Logistics

Can I just tell you that I have every single reason in the world to flake out on this 10k tomorrow?

But am I gonna? Nosireebob! I will be there one way or another!

First off I was supposed to stay in Chi-Town tonight so that I could pick up my race packet and then be all fresh and ready to run tomorrow morning. However, my daughter's plans fell through and she has nowhere to stay for the night. I was having a hard time justifying the cost of the hotel anyway, so it seemed like the right choice to just suck it up and travel the day of the race.

So now the plan is to drive in the morning. Now I'm not scared to drive through Chicago, or even to a destination within the city with a parking lot - like Soldier Field or the Shedd Aquarium or something. But I HATE having to park in the city. HATE IT! I'm sure it has a little something to do with the "Great Parking Garage Incident of 2004".

Until the Incident I could manage the city almost as well as a native. And I ventured downtown at least once every couple of months for work without much concern. This particular morning the normally 1hour 45 minute commute downtown turned into about 2 1/2 hours thanks to some extra special traffic on the expressway. Anywhoo, I was going to an attorney's office on Wabash and thought I knew right where I was headed. Short version is that his building was not the one I thought it was. I decided to just park the car and walk. (I think this is a good time to interject that I have Green Bay Packer licence plates on my SUV which seems to bring out the warm fuzzys with all the Bears fans.) I ended up in some shady parking structure that had two open spots clear on the top level. I get into the rickety elevator and it abruptly stops in between floors. Did I mention that I'm already running late? And that I'm claustrophobic?

It was no fun. I had to wait until someone else came to use the elevator. Thankfully it was only a few minutes - which felt like four and a half days!

So. I hate driving into Chicago when I don't know EXACTLY where I'm parking. It doesn't bother me in Milwaukee or Minneapolis or anywhere else I go.

This little phobia of mine has made me a very fond customer of the commuter train. We have a station about 30 minutes from me in a nice rural little town where I can park my big ole SUV with bright yellow Packer plates without worry.

Guess what? The first train into the city on Saturdays doesn't leave until 6:35am. Which means it doesn't get downtown until 8:23am. A little late for the 8:30am start. And, oh yeah, I still need to pick up that race packet.

So I found another rail line about 45 minutes from me. That train leaves at 5:38am and gets downtown by 7:08am. This is much better except for the fact that I'll have to leave my house by 4:30ish in the AM! But it would give me time to cab it over to Montrose Harbor, pick up my race packet, and run 6.2 miles all before lunch.

And, as if on cue, I get an email from the organizers of the race saying that the parking lot nearest the event will be closed on race day. They offered up suggestions of off-street parking and some parking structures in the area.

I'm still considering whether to drive or take the train. I'm sure whoever gets the pleasure of sitting next to my sweaty, stinky self on the train on the way home is pulling for the drive option.

Crazy Fall Schedule

Wow! Time has sure flown. Sometimes I don't know how it gets away from me.

So the last post I had up here detailed a rough run for me. That was followed by two seriously stressful weeks. I didn't completely lose it. I got a couple good runs in, but I certainly wasn't at the top of my game. I'd like to say that its easy for me to separate "real life" from my running regimen - but that just doesn't always happen. There are mornings when that alarm at 5:00am just gets shut off because I have a long day ahead and I need to rest an extra hour instead of zombie-running through the neighborhood. And sometimes, on a long car trip, I succumb to the convenience of a drive-thru meal in a paper bag. It happens. And it happened a little more than usual these last couple weeks. I own it.

And as if my Blackberry needed more entries in the calendar - I had the bright idea of going back to school this semester. It sounded all sorts of brilliant a few months ago. I have all these credits hanging around in limbo from an unfinished degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. I decided to transfer all the gen-ed stuff towards a Technical Communications program. It won't take me long to pound out the program specific classes and then I will feel all warm and fuzzy inside about actually completing the darn thing.

Like I seemed like a good idea.

This week was the first week of school for me and I severely underestimated the time it would take for studying and homework and all that jazz. I'm a little overwhelmed with it all. But, like everything else, I'm sure I'll figure out how to get it all done.

What actually makes me feel better is a good run. Who knew?

I did my own little private 5k yesterday and got it pretty close to 14:00 minutes a mile. I know I'm not qualifying for Boston with that - but I felt really good afterwards. Once I force myself to get those running shoes on and hit the pavement it does wonders for my stress levels.

Tomorrow I venture to Chicago for the Lung Run 10k. I'm a little apprehensive about this one. I'll let you know how it goes!