Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas in July!

Freddie and I, pre-race
I haven't really run any races outside of a major city other than obstacle course races.  It isn't that I have something against them, I just don't have a car so getting out to the suburbs for a race can be tricky.  The Christmas in July races were held in Lisle, which luckily has a Metra station and the race organizers set up a shuttle to take runners to and from the station.  Throughout the weekend they have several different race options, a 5k, 10k, and then either a 6, 12 or 24 hour ultra.  Considering I knew I would be running a half marathon on Sunday, the Friday night 5k was my only viable option (the 10k was Saturday night).

Race Village Start/Finish
Friday was a bit hectic as I had to leave work a little early to make a stop at McCormick Place for the half marathon expo then shuttle over to Union Station to catch the train out to Lisle.  The expo took longer than I anticipated and I just barely made it to my train on time.  In the midst of all my errands I forgot to eat.  Big mistake.  Someone on the train was eating pizza and by the time Freddie picked me up that's all I wanted to eat.  We stopped at the race village to grab our packets for that night and still had time to kill so we ventured out in search of pizza.  Yeah, a giant slice of pepperoni pizza less than an hour before a race probably isn't the best idea but you couldn't tell my stomach that haha.

Kids Fun Run Winner...look at that stride!
We got back to the race starting line just in time to see the kids run get started.  I've never watched a kids fun run and now I wish I had because it was so entertaining to see kids of all ages giving it all they've got for that loop around the parking lot.  My favorite are the little ones who don't really understand what's going on and veer off course to go back to their parents.  They were so precious.  There were also a few who took a tumble and Santa stopped to pick them up and hold their hand as they crossed the finish line.  New goal is to find someone with a kid that I can adopt on weekends to take racing with me. army of nutcrackers
The closer we got to our starting time, Freddie and I realized that this would probably be the smallest race either of us had done.  I can't say for sure, but I would venture to say there were less than 100 people there.  Out of curiosity I checked the results and I came in 8th place for my age group.  That's never happened before, but now I feel even more motivated to come back next year and maybe even place top 3 (wishful thinking!).  The awards were pretty cool, they had nutcracker statues to go along with the Christmas theme.

Some scenery along the course
I paced with Freddie which was much quicker than my usual, but I wanted to push myself and also not get left behind.  Going through the woods along would've been a little scary.  I'm not used to running in a park like that and the bugs were ferocious.  I'm still itching mosquito bites as I type this.  There was one guy who kept sprinting to pass us and then stop to walk.  I'm not sure why but this bugged me WAY more than usual.  By the end of the second mile we were plotting our take over.  I had been pushing so much early on I wasn't sure I had what it would take to kick past him.  With about a half mile left Freddie turned back to me and all I had to do was wave to him to keep going and we both knew what had to be done.  He took off and left that guy in his dust.  I had to be a little more calculating in plotting my last sprint.

Me, Kim and Freddie (Chicago Runners)
Once we hit the last turn before the finish line it was on.  I gave it everything I had left and sprinted towards the finish line without looking back.  Once I got my medal I stopped to see that guy walking into the finishers area.  Guess my plan worked because he just didn't have anything left to pass me that last time.  It felt good and then when I checked my Nike+ app it felt even better to realize I hit a new 5k PR.  As we did some refueling, we ran into a fellow Chicago Runner, Kim who was gearing up for the 24 hour ultra.  This woman is an absolute beast!  Seriously.  She ran all 24 hours and came in second place overall for the women.  I can't even imagine what it takes emotionally, physically and mentally to push through that but she did and with grace.

Snowman watching over the race
This race was an absolute blast and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a run race with awesome swag.  The post race party featured a band similar to Trans Siberian Orchestra that put on a great show. 
The band putting on a good show