Last year for St. Paddy's Day I decided to run the Chicago St. Paddy's 5k down at Lincoln Park. I signed up by myself, determined to keep my promise to myself to run at least one race a month. There was another race that day, the Get Lucky 7k and then the Shamrock Shuffle later that month but I chose not to run either one. My friends Abby and Johnny were registered for the Get Lucky and Jacob was registered for the Shamrock Shuffle but having their support still wasn't enough for me. I didn't believe in myself that I had what it would take to get through a 7k or 8k race. I was only about 5 months into my running career and even the thought of something longer than a 5k was absolutely frightening to me. Looking back on it now I wish I would have pushed a little hard, or believed a little more, but things happen for a reason and I don't regret the choice I made. I ran my 3.1 miles, enjoyed my post-race beer and then headed home to relax before meeting up with friends later. The only thing I felt was determination to come back next year and conquer both the 7k and 8k. Seems funny to think about now, I let a race distance scare me.
|Me and Sam - postrace|
This year, the Get Lucky race was probably the one I've most been looking forward to. This would be my chance to face the fear I once had and finally defeat it. The anticipation had been mounting for weeks. I couldn't wait to lace up my shoes and hit the ground running. Forecast was saying it would be a bit warmer that Saturday morning which would help my performance that morning. Per usual, like all Team Ortho races, I volunteered at packet pickup to see all of my favorites. We're like a family and I look forward to our little reunions at each expo.
|Me and Iliana - postrace|
That morning I met up with my fellow running Gammas to take our group picture and then headed to the starting line. Abby and I kept the same pace for awhile but eventually I just couldn't keep up anymore and had to fall back. The course was muddy and wet but I didn't mind. Once the blood started flowing and my body warmed up I truly enjoyed the pace and sights. The trail winded through some wooded areas and back along the lake. I felt oddly overcome with emotion when I crossed the finish line. I finished in under an hour and couldn't tear the smile off my face. After finishing I knew the only other race standing in my way of beating my doubts was the Shamrock Shuffle 8k.
The Shamrock Shuffle has a pretty big expo in the days leading up to the race and I was there for both days to help out Team Ortho with the Women Rock packet pickup. One of the additional perks for that was the male models goofing off with us. We had a great time and it got me super jazzed about the kickoff of racing season. (Even though race season is pretty much year round for me)
|matching shoes, we didn't plan it|
Jenny (my TRI training buddy) wanted to run the race as well so she picked me up and we headed to Grant Park together. We got there extra early so decided to walk around a bit and take pictures. As soon as we entered our corral the excitement was overwhelming. If you're not a long distance runner, but want that big race feel, THIS is the race for you. You can't help but get caught up in the electricity flowing through the air. The weather was great and we were off to a fantastic start. Somewhere around mile 3 I think we encountered the fine gentleman of the Chicago Fire Department. Yes, we ran just a little bit faster that mile and had a bit more pep to our step. The miles flew by one by one until we were coming down the home stretch. I don't think I've enjoyed any other race quite the way that I did this one. I was happy and loving every second of it. We raised our arms in triumph as we crossed the finish line just over an hour after we started.
As I sit here and type this I realize that the only running distance I have left to conquer is the full marathon which I'll be taking on in October. Sure there are ultramarathons and what not but my last true test of myself will be this race because after that I'll truly be unstoppable.