Sometimes all the stars, moons, and planets align and races just happen to occur at opportune times in your training. Right?
Such was the case this past weekend. I have been building my base back up (in prepping for my next marathon), and the Wintrust Lakefront 10-Mile was the perfect distance at the perfect time. When Wendy (from Taking the Long Way Home) extended an invite to visit the Windy City and run this race with her...well, it was a no-brainer.
Known as the 2017 kickoff to the CARA (Chicago Area Runners' Association) Runners' Choice Circuit, the Wintrust Lakefront 10-Mile has a reputation for being a fast race due to the flat course along the lakefront. There also was a 5K race that shared the first part of the race with the 10-milers.
We arrived at Wilson Beach shortly after 7:00, and had plenty of time to get our packets, use the porta-pots, and head back to Wendy's vehicle for awhile to stay warm. Thankfully, it was a NW wind (and not off the lake), so it wasn't as cold as it could have been.
|Huddling in the car...trying to stay warm....|
|Pre-race planking....thumbs UP!|
|ready to line up|
The first 5K of the race took us on an out and back route, heading north...into the wind (but only for the first mile). Wow, that wind was fierce! Wendy and I had a goal of trying to stay at a 9:00 minute pace, and we passed the 1-mile mark at 9:02. Looking good, feeling fine!
I had brought along a Honey Stinger gel, and opted to hold off until the second mile to utilize it (this was, after all, JUST a 10-miler...not a half marathon LOL). The aid station was just after the turn-around (near the 1.5 mile mark), so I slammed the gel and walked through the water stop briefly as I drank a quick mini cup of water.
As we approached the 3-mile mark, we had what's known as Cricket Hill to climb. Not a big deal (since I have done a lot of stair work recently), but still a bit of a challenge...especially when one gets directly behind another runner who decides to promptly stop and walk midway up the hill (leaving me with no way around her). The hill did give us a great downhill on the flip side, so I was able to catch back up with Wendy. The 5K runners veered to the left (to finish a lap around the Wilson Beach track, and those of us on a quest for 10 miles kept going...and enjoyed a nice tail wind for awhile.
Wendy had mentioned that she wasn't certain if she'd need a walk break or not, but she kept going strong. I think it was near the 5-mile mark when we saw the speedy 10-milers coming back from the other turn-around. We spotted the lead gal a few moments later, and gave her a cheer (and she smiled back and waved at us).
As we approached the turn-around, just after the 6-mile mark, Wendy asked if we could pull over for a few photo ops. Since we knew PR's were not happening (due to the crazy wind and our agreement to run this event for fun), I gladly obliged. We grabbed one of the course volunteers to take our picture. A short ways later, we decided to stop again for another pic (or several)....why not? It's not every day we get to run races together, you know.
|Can you see part of the Hancock Tower, just above my right shoulder?|
It was around the 8-mile mark when Wendy surged a short ways ahead of me (maybe 20 feet or so). Although I couldn't quite summon the mojo to catch up with her, I still felt strong. The ninth mile (as is typical for me when I'm in the midst of a 10-miler) seemed to take forever, though. Although I had my music with me, I never had the tunes going since Wendy and I were chatting for most of those first eight miles. Even though we weren't side-by-side for the last couple of miles, I did appreciate the beautiful course.
The final mile had us, again, tackling Cricket Hill (yes, for a second time!). We were momentarily rewarded with the awesome downhill...only to take our turn on the track...and then run not just one lap to the finish line, but two (seriously???). I made it across the finish line with 1:32:57 showing on my Garmin and 10.15 total miles run (my official time clocked in at 1:32:51). So close to a PR (1:30:30)!
|A big Thank You to the nice guy who gave me his heat blanket|
Mile 1 - 9:02 Mile 6 - 8:48
Mile 2 - 9:36 Mile 7 - 11:01 (photo stops)
Mile 3 - 9:05 Mile 8 - 9:01
Mile 4 - 9:04 Mile 9 - 8:49
Mile 5 - 8:49 Mile 10 - 8:32
Hello! Negative splits! I was especially surprised to see how fast the final three miles were considering we were fighting a pretty strong headwind. Mile 2 was a brief stop for fuel and water, but the other water stops (around miles 5 and 7) didn't really impact our running time. Crazy, huh!
1 - It was fun running with Wendy.
2 - I think I nailed the correct clothing for the weather.
3 - The one energy gel (near mile 2) was the perfect amount of fuel at the perfect time.
4 - The entire race felt (nearly) effortless for me.
5 - The course was beautiful, flat, and scenic.
My final stats showed I finished 12th out of 50 in my (new) age group, 190th of 537 women, and 507th of 1,032 overall. Not too shabby considering this was my longest "run" since Route 66. The first place guy clocked a 51:39 finish time and our friendly first-place gal finished in 58:30. Dang!
Have you ever done a 10-mile race? Ever raced on a windy day, in Chicago or elsewhere? Do you figure in races as part of your training for a "bigger" race?
I'm linking up with Meranda and Lacey and Rachel for their awesome Friday Five 2.0 Link-up.
I'm also linking with Nicole for her Fit and Fashionable Friday link-up.