Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicago 50K Review

[ultramarathon: defined as any race longer than the traditional marathon distance]

completed my first ultramarathon this past weekend -- Chicago 50/50. there were two courses for the race; a 50Miler and 50K race. (4 loops for the 50M and 3 for the 50K).  i originally was going to do a fun halloween race this day but saw this race was actually cheaper so figured... why not!

Scott was kind enough to drop me off in the morning.  We were out late the night before for a halloween party so i woke up very tempted to just roll over and sleep. i was all prepared for miserable weather but we lucked out with just frigid temps to start.  Within 10 minutes of getting dropped off, i picked up packet, gear checked and started my race. *yeah small races!* i opted to do early start as i had lots of things to do later that day and my son told me verbatim "mom, don't take all day!". i ended up only starting about 45 minutes early and joined the 50 milers that were already pounding the pavement.

Race Report:
the course was very straightforward.  3-10.something miles loops.  easy enough for a math crazed runner like me.  there was no chip timing or mile markers which was fine.  i had my garmin and the mile markers along the lakefront path were good markers too.

got into a groove quickly. PR'ed (can you say PR when it is part of a bigger race?), the first 13.1 by 5 minutes and then got to 20 miles without much issue.  there were three aid stations.  one at each turn around and then one in the middle of the course but it was 3 miles into the 5 mile one way loop.... which threw me off.  funny how that extra mile each way felt sooo long!  i didn't carry any hydration and was happy with my decision.  the aid stations were fully stocked and had awesome food options:  oreos, goldfish, trailmix, m&m's, pretzels, COKE, donuts... amazing!  as a lover of food, this was awesome. the path was very quiet.  not many people out and no spectators which didn't bother me.  i didn't have anyone meet me on the course and managed quite fine on my own.  with it being an out and back multiple loop course, all the runners shared smiled or words of encouragement when passing by.  even the hardcore guys were supportive! other random things along the course: i rubbed down a guys cramping calf, an old man slapped my butt, answered two work calls and a bunch of texts from my boss, another 50Ker tried to give me his business card so we could train together and followed a pair arguing about dishtowels for about 2 miles.... random but passed the time.

i got through 26.2  10 minutes faster than my PR a few weeks ago which was great.  however, i had a total extremely unattractive meltdown (crying for no reason... hysterical at mile 29).  i sat on a bench for 5ish minutes to compose myself.. as there weren't a lot of people racing, i only saw one person during my meltdown so i was lucky.  i am guessing some of you have had that feeling into a long race where all your emotions come to the surface and they hard to suppress.. well, for the first time, i let them boil over... i don't recommend it. right after my meltdown, close to the finish, i saw this girl waiting to cheer on her boyfriend... she made my day!

finished the last two miles fine.. i actually wasn't in too much pain but just ready to be done.   scott and josh were waiting at the finish!!

Post Race:  Remember how i said i wasn't in too much pain??? yeah, that lasted about 10 feet after the finish line and then i got really sore, really fast!  I enjoyed chatting with some of my new friends i met on the trail and others whom i have seen during the summer.  Afterwards, scott helped me hobble back to the car and we stopped for my celebratory Whopper on the way home.

Great Race, Great Organization and really like the communal feel this race provided.  i have really come to appreciate the ease at which small races operate.  yes, i love a big race downtown. the excitement, people cheering, awesome nike gear and hooplah but all those awesome things means long bathroom lines, issues with parking (or no parking), getting into corral early, horrible gear check,  going an extra day to get packet, gauntlet at the finish line (i.e. Hot Chocolate 5K i just ran) and paying an arm and a leg for any or all cool swag you might get.

i think a balance for me is good.  some big races, some little.  as i set my sites on some mountaineering next year with my brother, i think the bit of isolation in these smaller races is probably good training for being alone with my bro on a mountain. 

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