Sunday, November 1, 2015

Chicago Monster Dash 10k - recap

This is my first post in a while - mostly because in what is apparently going to be a post-marathon tradition, I've been hella sick and not running much. My daughter brought home a nasty bug and I've been down for the count - I wasn't able to run for almost 2 weeks and for the first week of that really couldn't do much of anything. I added walking a few miles a day in the second week but even that left me a little breathless. I added running back in this week and was a little bummed to be struggling to run what should have been easy paces, especially with the cooler weather. But I had a bib for the 10k Monster Dash and I had wanted to PR...I figured I would anyway because my PR is really old. But with being sick I knew my primary goal of a sub-60 10k was probably out. My previous PR was 1:11:02, set at the Tryon Farm Trails 10k, and it was an insane course filled with obstacles. My A-goal was sub-60, B-goal 1:02 or better, C goal 1:08 or better, and D goal PR.

From the course of my 10k PR set in May 2014. I don't do many 10ks!

When yesterday dawned it was .. pouring, and chilly. Mid-40s is great for running unless it's a downpour, and then it's cold. But the weather report said the rain would break for a few hours, so while it would be cool it should have been good running weather and okay spectating weather too - since the race wasn't in the city my family was coming too because I won't do Chicago by myself. Well sadly - the weather report lied and my family was soaked to the bone!

But, we got to the race on time. I had gotten a bib from my running group because one of the ladies in the Lake/McHenry Moms Run This Town chapter had an injury and couldn't use it. So, we filled out the transfer form and I dropped it off race morning, and then had a whopping two minutes to spare before the race started because our Metra train was running 15 minutes late. I definitely set a PR for fastest portopotty use ever, and props to Team Ortho for having potties a plenty...usually there are lines but I am happy to say there wasn't one. WHEW!

Thank goodness for plentiful port-o-potties!

After the fastest portopotty use ever, I jumped into the crowd waiting to start. I had no idea where to line up because there were zero pace markers. Which uh...was not helpful, and I remember thinking it was odd, but I think the weather did a number on the amount of volunteers for the race because this was not the first place the race would have some issues. The gun went off on time (the half had started at 9, then the 10k at 9:20 and the 5k at 9:40 - actually a very very good system, worked really well here to prevent some extra course congestion) and we were off. We ran around Grant Park before circling back to go north for a bit. I quickly figured out I had started wayyyyy too far back or some people had started wayyyy too far up because I spent a lot of the first mile dodging. Dodging was less than fun because in Grant Park the sidewalks are hugely broken and I saw a lot of people trip and fall. Yikes! For the first mile it mostly drizzled. I wanted to be conservative so wasn't checking my watch - I knew I was definitely not back up to optimal and while a 9:30 pace would get me my sub-60, I was pretty sure my lungs didn't have that in me yet. When the first mile clicked in at 10:26 I knew I was right - that pace felt comfortably hard and while that is usually a pretty easy pace for me to maintain, today I didn't have too much more in me. It was what it was and I was happy to be out there. Oddly enough, the first mile marker came up at .9 miles. That had me thinking back to the lack of pace markers for the start - and I got glared at by a couple runners around me for saying out loud "That can't be right!" Hah!

Around 1.25 miles we turned towards the lake to start running south. The second mile clicked in at a steady 10:26. I was a bit disappointed I hadn't sped up a little, but there was a stretch here where we were climbing onto the lakefront and I think the big uphill jag had more to do with that than anything. There was no mile marker for mile 2, which had some people muttering around me and me still pondering the structural oddities of the race. I was also concerned because while I didn't need an aid station, the race website had said there would be 4, which had me figuring about every 1 1/2 miles...Mile three came in at 10:04, which may have been a bit fast, but hey - at least it had a mile marker! The first aid station showed up at 3.5ish miles. I skipped it because unless it's hot I don't usually drink if it's a single digit run and I didn't want to walk if I didn't have to - I've taken walk breaks on every other 10k I've run and I figured today I could run the whole thing even if A goal and B goal were out of reach. We hit a turnaround point shortly there after but it was terribly marked, and I later heard that a lot of people missed it entirely. It didn't help that the course overlapped with the Lakefront 50/50 this year, so there were two races going opposite directions on the lakefront with their own markers.

For mile 4 I tried to tone it down a little bit, thinking with how my chest felt that may have been a bit fast and it popped in at 10:12. I was happy there were only 2 miles left - I could definitely tell I was not healthy / recovered enough to be racing today. Not surprisingly, there was no mile marker here either, and we wouldn't see any the rest of the race except for the 11 mile and the 13 mile for the half. My husband told me later he saw all the mile markers in the race village, on the ground. I can't think why they wouldn't have been set up but it was a bit disconcerting to have a few randomly about. In mile 5 it started pouring, and I started feeling tremendously guilty that my family was out there waiting for me. I was cold, and wet, and I knew they had to be colder and wetter. So much for a break in the rain - it literally never stopped!  I hit mile 5 at 10:03 and felt about done. I reassured myself I didn't need to walk - not 5 miles into a 10k! - but I also found myself internally muttering about a particularly peppy looking runner and grumbling that people could only look peppy 5 miles into a race if it wasn't a 10k. I'm not usually that much of a hater so I just have to laugh at my internal monologue!

And who's a big sourpuss? YOU ARE! Err, I am! Whatever.

The last mile about killed me, I think. I felt like I was crawling. I told myself it was okay to slow down, but not to walk - I had run almost 20 miles at a faster pace than this without walking, there was no reason to walk now! I was sure I slowed down but didn't check my watch. It was still pouring and I felt pretty miserable. Mile 6 at 10:03 and I was amazed I hadn't slowed down but simultaneously bummed I didn't have a sub-10 this race - I had at least one mile in the 9s in both marathons, but not for my 10k. Oh well! As we continued heading north on the lakefront I was about ready for it to just be over. By the time we crossed Lake Shore drive to go under the bridge to the finish line, my watch was way past the 10k mark and if I had had more energy I would have been irritated because I knew that other than some dodge/weave in the beginning I'd done a good job at tangents, way too good to have my watch show almost 2 extra tenths of a mile for a 10k. But whatever, I was done with an official time of 1:04:51, which is a 6:11 PR. Looking back I hit the 10k mark at 1:03:15. When I'm healthier, I'll chase that sub-60 goal again and I'll get's race pace is usually my easy pace. I'll get it!

For me though, I think this will be my last Team Ortho Race. I've run the Polar Dash a few times and it's never well organized. Their Women Rock this year had the cutoff times drastically slashed at the last minute to the point where many friends who signed up could not complete them in time. This race wasn't fully set up, wasn't even close to fully staffed, wasn't well marked at all (and come on - Chicago has races all the time - you can do better!), and the food at the end was bananas and pretzels and chocolate milk. Fine for a 5k, marginal for a 10k, felt bad for the half marathoners. Their swag is great usually, the medals are okay, the races themselves are getting worse and worse. Though they push packet mailing (to the tune of $30 before a race) I can say from experience they wait until the last moment to mail them and not everyone gets them in time, and their packet pickups tend to be really inconvenient. My first half was through Team Ortho and for nostalgia's sake I want to love them, but they're too expensive for the poor experiences they give their runners. Glad to have my PR, but wish I'd done the Muddy Monk trail race instead!

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