Posts Tagged ‘chicago’

This entry is, sadly, not about Vegas. I got a really good start on that entry Friday afternoon, but then had to leave the computer before I finished it. It’ll be up this week, I promise.

However, let’s talk about my holiday weekend, which was much more laid back and, thusly, does not require an epic novel to describe. In fact, we’re just going to skip right over Saturday and Sunday and head straight to Memorial Day itself. Saturday and Sunday were great and all, but mostly they contained different variations of the theme “sitting around on my ass doing nothing.” There was the knitting variation, the catching-up-on-old-TiVo-stuff variation, the sleeping-in-and-cuddling-with-the-cats variation…. you get the picture. All immensely satisfying to me, but immensely boring to you.

So, Monday. Sadly, my holiday schedule did not involve sleeping in, as I had to be in the Beverly Hills/Morgan Park area by 8 a.m. or so, to pick up my number for the 10K Ridge Run that morning. The race didn’t start until 9, but I wanted to make sure we had time to get there, find parking, and pick up my number and chip well before the race started. So, 7 a.m. Monday morning found us in The SAK’s car, heading over to Chicago’s way south side.

Naturally, we were at Ridge Park with my race number, timing chip, and race t-shirt in hand by 8 a.m. Of course. Luckily, the 5K was just starting, so we could watch that and try to ignore the fact that we probably could have gotten an extra half-hour of sleep. Whatever. We missed the start, but got into a good position right by the start/finish line to watch the runners come back in. Since the winner came in just 15 minutes after the start of the race, we didn’t have to wait very long. Watching the first few people come in was amazing – running a 5-minute mile is something that’s completely incomprehensible to me; never mind running 3 of them in a row. Craziness, yo. The first woman finished right around 18 minutes, which is just equally crazy in my mind. These people are fast.

Around 20 minutes, the trickle of super-fast runners became a steady stream of people, and we cheered for and watched all sorts of people as they crossed the finish. There were a ton of kids, people of all ages and shapes and sizes, and even moms and dads pushing strollers. (One of them was pushing a twin stroller with two toddlers in it. And running. And finishing faster than I would have running sans stroller. I was impressed.) I’ve never really watched the end of a race like that before, and it was a lot of fun. Most importantly, it helped The SAK get a good spot to watch from before it got crowded.

Around 8:45, I made my way over to the starting area. This was my first 10K, so I was a little nervous. I found a spot behind most of the runners, but ahead of the 5K walkers (their race started 5 minutes after the 10K did). There was a DJ making announcements, but I couldn’t hear him as I did little stretches and bounced around thinking loose thoughts. The next thing I knew, I heard an airhorn and the crowd around me started to move.

I didn’t have any lofty goals for finishing the race – I figured I’d come in somewhere around 1:05 – 1:10. My main goal was to keep it under 1:10, but really I just focused on running a nice, easy 6.2 miles. I didn’t even have my Forerunner with me. I figured I’d wing it, take it easy, and just check my splits at each mile where they had clocks posted.

The course was great – it wound around through mostly residential areas. A friend had told me to look at the architecture as I passed by, as it was pretty interesting in that part of town. I don’t know about interesting, but I passed by a ton of homes that were absolutely beautiful. The sort of houses that you drive past and say, “I’d like that one, if I were to win the lottery tomorrow.” It was just a pretty neighborhood. It was also a nice, shady, tree-lined neighborhood, which was nice since it was sunny and warm on Monday (it had to have been at least 65 or 70 degrees when the 10K started).

Even better than the amazing houses I passed by or the plentiful shade was the community support. I couldn’t believe how many people had set up lawn chairs in the front yard to watch and cheer the runners as they passed by. Some houses had signs, some houses had unofficial water/gatorade stations, and lots of houses were blasting music from their stereos onto the street. There were selections such as “The Theme from Rocky,” “Chariots of Fire,” and the Olympic theme. I think some of the houses may have had just one or two selections on an endless loop that morning, to which I say God bless those people. It’s stupid, but hearing something like the Rocky theme can really keep you pumped and motivated while you’re running. However, I cannot imagine sitting in the same place for an hour hearing nothing but Rocky. They are better people than I.

The absolute best thing that people did, though? Was get out their hoses and sprinklers. Since it was a hot day, this was fantastic. Feeling a little warm? Look, on the right, someone has a hose and is squirting the runners! On the left, someone turned their sprinkler on and pointed it at the road! There were even a few houses that had some sort of outdoor shower-type thing rigged up on the side of the street. Seriously wonderful. Loved it. I also loved the kids standing on the side of the road here and there reaching out their hands to high-five passing runners. Too cute.

Enough about all this, though – you want to know how I did! As I said before, I was hoping to keep a 10:30 – 11:00/mile pace through the whole thing, so I expected to finish in 65 – 70 minutes. I hit the first mile marker at 11:30 – good, since I’d been at the back of the pack. I kept the pace easy, and hoped to hit the next one by 22:30. I hit it at 21:30, despite the decently-sized hill I had to climb right before that second mile marker. (It wasn’t huge, nor terribly long, but it was bigger and steeper than anything around here. However, I didn’t have to stop and walk, and it apparently didn’t slow me down any, so I considered it a victory.) And, somehow, without really trying, I kept hitting 10-minute miles through the rest of the race. (Mile 3 was my slow mile, taking closer to 10:30 to finish.) I have no idea how I did it, but I just went with it. I was feeling good as I passed the mile 5 marker, so I picked up the pace a bit, aided greatly by the fact that we ran down the hill that we had run up earlier. I spent the last mile of the race gradually pushing myself a bit more, until I got to where I could see the finish line. I was definitely going to finish in 1:05:00! Heck, if I hurried, I could finish it before 1:05:00!

Heading for the Finish

I went all out for the last bit of the race, crossing the finish line around 1:04:00. I couldn’t believe it! Well under my goal time, and without even trying! I felt great, too – it’s hard to believe that only a year ago I couldn’t even finish a 5K without feeling a little pukey afterwards. It’s amazing what some actual training will do for you.

The SAK was kind enough to not only come down and cheer for me, but to also take lots of pictures. He told me he wanted to get a side view of me near the finish, and then one of me crossing the finish line with the clock visible, but I was just too fast! By the time he got all set for the second shot, I was already through the finish and having my chip removed. Hee. (Also, is it just me, or does “having my chip removed” sound like the sort of procedure an alien abductee would have done upon their return?)

Completely wired and on cloud nine after my finish, I found The SAK and we headed over to the food tent where they had bagels and bananas and oranges and water. YUM. I love bananas after races. Bagels, too. We found a spot to sit in the shade, I stretched out, and then relaxed, ate, and looked through the stuff in my goody bag. I was in a great mood – completely on cloud 9, because I really couldn’t believe how fast I’d just run. I wound up placing 700 out of 862 overall, and 33 out of 46 in my age group (full results are here, results by age group are here). For me? This is absolutely fantastic.

Of course, once we got back to The SAK’s place and I was all showered and relaxing on the couch while he did some work stuff, the high passed and I completely passed out for an hour or so without even realizing it. Oops. At least that meant I was all rested for the golfing we did that afternoon. There’s a small golf course a few blocks from his new apartment, so we decided to go check it out. It’s a 9-hole par 3 course, which is perfect for completely recreational golfers like myself. As I told The SAK, “it’s like mini golf for grown-ups!” Since the longest hole was 200 yards (and most were closer to 150 – the shortest was less than 100 yards from the women’s tee), it was hard to get discouraged. Even if you only hit it 5 yards at a time, you knew you’d get there sometime soon, because it was right there.

We finished the course in just a couple hours, ending with a score of 60 for me (women’s par was 30 for the course) and 47 for The SAK (men’s course par was 28). We won’t be going up against Tiger Woods any time soon, but we had fun. And all of that time out in the sun yesterday meant I slept great last night. The only thing that could have made it better would have been having another day off today, so I could sleep in. (As it was, I’m working from home today, so I did get to sleep in a little. Still, having one more work-free morning would have been nice.)



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I woke up this morning, and for reasons that I wasn’t fully aware of, decided it was Wednesday. I have no idea why, but as I got dressed and took the bus and then the train, I was in a very Wednesday mindset, thinking of the Wednesday things that I do, and generally enjoying the fact that it was the middle of the week, yay. I was especially enjoying the fact that Wednesday would put me just a hop, skip, and jump from the weekend, which promised to be a big one (The SAK! Blood donations! Body Worlds! Socializing! And lots of it!). It wasn’t until I was stepping off the train in Union Station that I realized it was only Tuesday. In fact, that was when I first became conscious that I had been thinking it was Wednesday. My internal clock/calendar, she is a mystery.

However, my disappointment at realizing I was a full 24 hours further from the weekend than I’d been led to believe was quickly tempered by the fact that a new CD I’d been looking forward to came out today. In fact, I fired up iTunes before lunch, bought and downloaded it, and am happily listening to it right now. And it’s good. (And, yes, I’m a dork. I’m a big dorky girl who things Matchbox Twenty is still one of the best things since sliced bread, even though everyone else got over it 3 or 4 years ago. But I still think this new solo CD is good and has everything I like about Matchbox Twenty yet is slightly different and I’m going to listen to it over and over and you can’t stop me!)

Ahem. Anyhow, before we delve further into the closet of Dawnie’s Ridiculous Musical Preferences, let’s move on to more important things. Like this past weekend!

Of course, this past weekend wasn’t particularly groundbreaking. There was the broken washer (which was fixed when I got home from work last night. That’ll teach me to do laundry over the weekend instead of being a lazy slacker and waiting until Monday) which failed to drain and made me wring out an entire load of clean-but-not-rinsed clothes by hand (verdict: Not Fun). We won’t even discuss the fact that it never occurred to me to rinse them by hand as well until after I’d killed 3 dryer cycles (and the remaining funds on my laundry card) drying it all. That sucked, especially since my clothes aren’t really much cleaner than when I started. Thankfully, this was a “do a few loads before it gets out of hand” sort of laundry day, not an “oh shit, I don’t have any clean underwear for tomorrow” one.

And, of course, that was just a continuation of the brilliance I exhibited Friday evening when I fell asleep on the train home. Now, falling asleep on the train home isn’t a big deal – I do it all the time, but since my stop is the 3rd one, I’ll wake up before I have to get off the train. Friday? I woke up just as the train was leaving my stop. Shitshitshitshitshit. Naturally, it was an evening express that went right from my stop to the end of the line, which meant I got to take a cab home from that station. (The next train heading east didn’t leave for another 2 hours.) Apparently that station is out in the middle of nowhere, and so I got to pay a cabbie (and, y’all, I hate taking cabs by myself, because cab drivers just make me uncomfortable for some reason) $26 to take me home. Actually, he took me to the Holiday Inn right off the freeway, and I walked the last half-mile or so home. The meter was already up to $26, and I only had $28 on me and was not about to attempt to guide the cabbie down the side streets to my apartment while trying not to panic about the fact that I might not have enough cash on me at the end of it all. Besides, it was a nice day out, which made for a lovely walk.

The worst part? When I called The SAK to tell him what had happened, he wasn’t even surprised. Now, I realize that this is just the sort of thing we all expect me to do sooner or later, but at least we all have the decency to pretend that I’m a bit more on the ball than that. At least he knows I’m a dipshit and loves me anyway?

Thankfully, in between the unnecessarily expensive cab ride (and the cabbie didn’t even start the meter until we were on the freeway, which probably saved me at least five bucks) and the laundry disaster, I had a nice weekend. The high point of the weekend was Sunday morning, when I ran in the Lisle Chamber 5K. It was a teeny race, and something I decided to do 3 days before the race. (Which, talk about a change: 2 years ago, a 5K was something I needed time to plan and train for, now it’s something I do because, “What the hell – I’ll get a shirt, and I’m going running anyway that morning, so why not?”) One of my goals for this year is to run a 5K in under 30 minutes, and this was going to be it. I figured if I could run 13 miles in just over 3 hours, I could certainly get through 3 in a half-hour. Heck, I can run 5 miles in an hour – doing 3 in half that time should be no sweat, right?

Except speed and distance training are two completely different animals, and going from 5 miles in an hour to 3 miles in a half-hour requires shaving two minutes off your time per mile. Which is huge. Really, really huge. I hit the first mile at 9:45, the halfway point at just past 15:00, and two miles somewhere around 20:00, but that last mile? Was hard. I don’t run that fast when I’m doing my long runs, and I’m just not used to it. I did pretty well, though – I found the energy to sprint the last quarter mile or so (this is just something that I do – I’m all about the Big Finish for races, and no matter how tired I am, I try to cross that finish line like I mean it. Even in Disney when I practically limped through the last two miles, I ran through the finish) and finished in 31:16.

So, not quite what I was shooting for, but damn close, and certainly a heck of a lot faster than the last 5K I ran (almost 4 minutes faster, actually). I’m happy with it, and I’ll break that 30-minute mark on the next one. (Check this – results are online, and I placed 205th out of 286 overall, and 8th out of 13 in my age group. I’ll take it.)


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