Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
In January I circled March 16th on the calendar as the day I would run my first post-surgery race. At the time, I was unsure whether I would be able to actually run a hard effort, or whether I would be out there just for the fun of it. I just knew that somehow, someway, March 16th was the day of my return.
It was quickly evident to me when I resumed running about a month ago that my endurance was a somewhat lost cause. I am confident in my ability to regain this endurance, but it hasn’t been happening as quickly as I would like. (Then again, does progress in working out/fitness ever happen as quickly as we would like?!) With this in mind, I decided to do something that I have never purposefully done. I went into this race without a GPS watch attached to my wrist. I had no real goal time. (Okay, maybe I had the tiny goal that I didn’t want to be over thirty minutes, but I was also pretty confident that this would be easy for me to accomplish) I decided to run this race completely on effort and how I felt. If I had any foot pain, I would ease off.
The race I chose was the Lucky Leprechaun 5K in Elmhurt, Illinois. It was a fun run where each participant received a leprechaun hat and beard. I typically run the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle every March (or sometimes April), but due to a scheduling conflict I had to bail on that race this year. I decided to run this instead as a fun, St. Patrick’s day themed event. I signed up for it with a few friends that I enjoy racing with, so it was all around a fun plan. At least, it was a fun plan until we saw the weather forecast for the day!
As you may or may not know depending where you live, we have had an absolutely brutal winter in Chicago. It has not only been one of the coldest winters ever, but also one of the snowiest. One day has seemingly been worse than the next around here. While in the middle of the doldrums of winter, we thought certainly March would be safe for a 5K, right? Yeah, it might be cold, but we can handle 40 and chilly. Think again. The weather at the start of the race was a real feel of 3 degrees! There were 26 mile per hour winds. Seriously??!! I am not a winter runner. I head to the treadmill or indoor track at the mere site of a snowflake or a temperature reading below 32. To make matters worse, I just got back from five days in Florida. Five days of riding around in a convertible, sitting in the warm sun at baseball games and now this? I kept (secretly) hoping that my friends would bail giving me an excuse to do the same, but we are all crazies so of course two of them still went meaning I had no valid excuse. Plus, I was looking forward to this, remember? Yeah, I had to keep reminding myself of that!!
We arrived early so we hung out at Starbucks near the race start to stay warm. Shortly before the start we went back to the car to shed some layers of clothing we weren’t planning to run in, and headed out five minutes before the start. We timed it perfectly because shortly after we squeezed into the line-up of people they announced that it was twenty seconds until the start.
When the race started I took off quickly in an effort to warm-up. I was feeling pretty good that first mile, but of course I can’t tell you what my pace was since I had no GPS. Somewhere around mile 1.5 (I am guessing this based on the placement of the water stop) I started to feel that lack of endurance I mentioned. I also remembered that I don’t really love the 5K distance. Running fast is hard. Yes, I realize I just stated the obvious. But I truly would rather pace myself for 13.1 than try to run all out maximum effort for 3.1.
After passing mile two, it became a struggle. There was one stretch where we were heading right into the wind and it felt almost like we were in a wind tunnel. It literally hurt to breath the frigid air. I know I slowed down at that point, and based on the split times at each mile marker, I also know that it was overall my slowest mile by a good minute.
All said and done, I finished about two minutes slower than my best time last year (aka my 5K PR). I am very happy with this given that it will only be eleven weeks tomorrow from my foot surgery. I definitely still have a lot of work to do to get back where I was (and improve even more from there!), but this felt like a giant leap in the right direction.
After the race we headed over to the post race breakfast buffet they had advertised. Unfortunately, it was non-existent. There was beer, but no food as advertised. We decided to ditch the bar and go get breakfast and more importantly hot coffee and tea. I think we are all still trying to thaw out over eight hours after the race as I write this.
This was overall a fun local race. The course was good (except for the wind tunnel, but this was obviously out of anyone’s control!) and I always like a good suburban race. It is just so much easier to not have to trek into Chicago for a race once in awhile. I don’t have a lot of early season races planned, but I have had several people ask me what I am doing this year so here is the plan to date.
May 4th – Cinco de Miler (Chicago)
May 18th – Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K
May 24th – Soldier Field 10-Miler (Chicago)
June 14th – Biggest Loser Half Marathon (Rockford, IL)
July 4th – Four on the Fourth (Elmhurst, IL)
November 8th – Wine & Dine Half Marathon (Disney World)
November 16th – Avengers Half Marathon (Disneyland)
I will almost certainly add more races later in the year, but now that I put this in writing I am seeing that May and June are kind of crazy! If you are running any of these races, please look for me and say hi!
What race are YOU most looking forward to this year?