Monday, June 3, 2013

Soldier Field 10 Mile Race Report and Bike The Drive Memorial Day Weekend Wrap-up

Sometimes, when I have a bad race, I don’t like to write about it. BB asked me if I’d done my race report (NO) and said “well now you’ve lost the magic feeling from the race” or something like that. Truth is, I didn’t feel much of that. Race morning we got to Soldier Field in plenty of time to score a free parking spot downtown (what could be wrong with parking over a mile away?) and make it to our corral so we could wait for 45 minutes. Corral starts make tight courses more navigable, but sometimes the wait is troublesome.

Truth is, I was pretty disappointed that to-date, my best success has only been utilizing a run/walk method. My heel has continued to hurt. I ran/walked a half marathon a month previous and was pretty sure I hadn’t improved much over that time.

So the first 8 minutes or so, BB and I ran together. I decided to keep running through the dark tunnel at the beginning of the course just to stay with him a bit longer. After the tunnel, I walked, he went on his way. I quickly tapped into a 4 minute run/2 minute walk thing, and stuck with that for miles. Even after a complete 10-day break, there was that nagging pain in my heel.

At around Mile 2 I saw a runner down on the ground, not moving. That’s never a good thing to see, I think this is my third time having seen something like that. Hope she was ok. Approaching the turnaround point, I saw BB on the other side. Actually, he saw me and even came over to me for a second. What a sweetie. I was glad to see him, he looked good. Strong. Glad I could provide a training plan that worked for him even if my own plans fell through. Disappointed that I couldn’t run with him longer…even though he didn’t need me, and didn’t seem to mind one bit. (Sorta like the mama bird who says “I’ve taught you all I can, now FLY! FLYYYYY! And the baby bird is all like “Psshhhht…been flying!”)

I walked more during miles 7 and 8. I was on the lakefront path on my old stomping grounds…the forgotten south side of the path. Weird how I still know every twist and turn. I miss it down there a little bit. The path, not much else. I started to get down on myself. Will my heel ever stop hurting? What if the success I had last summer will never come again? What am I doing wrong? I know that some of this weight that I gained back is dragging me down? How much is my running confidence playing into this?

When I’d been running 1:50 I knew that BB was finished or closed to finishing…I tried to send good vibes out to the universe…what were the thoughts HE was thinking in his first ever race??? I was pretty sure he was fine, he has this solid-as-a-rock mentality when it comes to physical challenges.

Finally I was less than a mile to go…I tried as hard as I could to stay running past my walk times. I was WAYYYYY over 2 hours. When I crossed the finish line, there was BB. He’d been waiting awhile, and did GREAT. 2:17:56. An official 10-mile PW (personal worst) for me.

And then we walked the slow long walk to the car, silently cursing the fact that it was pretty far away…and that dammit, why was it barely in the 50’s on Memorial Day weekend.

But the story doesn’t end there…Every year on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, almost the entire Lakeshore Drive is shut down from Hollywood at the north end to 57th at the south end. This was my 3rd year of participating, and first year as a northsider. Year one, I started at 57th and went as far as Belmont (3200 north). Last year I started at 57th and went all the way to Hollywood… I was just 10 blocks from the end (right around 47th) when I got a flat tire and was shooed off the course because it was too close to the time they needed to clear people off of the road to open it back up. THIS YEAR would be the year that I finished.

So BB and I hopped on the Drive at Hollywood shortly before 6am. It was very different starting on the hilly part of the Drive, and I wondered how tough it’d be on those hills as the last part of the ride. We rode and had a blast, stopping only twice downtown in Grant Park, once on the way down, and once on the way back, and skipping the south end rest stop at the Museum of Science and Industry.

(Yes...bogus proof-snatching of photos going on...)

I was still nervous about those hills at the end of our ride. But as we approached them I felt great. There’s a certain deep-down burn in my thighs that I don’t get from running. My legs are strong and I felt the need to prove to myself that I could do these hills. Maybe I couldn’t run a straight 10 miles yet this season, but I could muster up the strength to power through these hills. It came to a point that I was going faster, not slower, on the up-side of the hills…. Pedal-pedal-pedal/dig-dig-dig! Don’t stop don’t stop don’t stop. Coooooooaaaaaaaaaaast down the hill…then just as the decline was about to end, I’d pedal fast again…incline ahead. Pedal slower at first, then fast fast fast, dig-dig-dig! You got this! And this went on, as it turned out later when I looked at my sportstracker app, for about 4 miles. My fastest miles of the whole 34 miles we rode were Miles 30, 31, 32 and 33!

I felt like I redeemed myself somewhat from the day before! BB caught up to me and said he enjoyed watching me ride. I felt free. I felt strong. It was what I needed mentally, my ego has been taking a beating these days on the running path.

Much of the rest of the day was sleeping and eating. But even as I was drifting and dozing and grazing, I wondered what else I could do if I could find that strength inside to do those hills like that? I can power through this running “SLOG” period that I’m having. I can do more. What kind of runner would I be if I did everything possible to be the best runner I can be?

I love Memorial Day weekend in Chicago and I look forward to a more athletic me for the next one. Next race (not including Girls on the Run 5k) isn’t until 7/21, the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon.

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