Well, this race was a clear sign my fitness has declined. Not that I’m surprised.
I signed up for the Run Mag Mile 10K shortly after last year’s race. Given the name of my blog / IG handle / my actual first name, I like the swag from this race. And the course is OK (well, the first half is great, the second half is OK), the post-race food/beer is decent, and the timing of the race so far and yielded great weather.
Anyway, like I said, I signed up for this race like a year ago. Well before my year of seemingly never-ending injuries, aches, pains, etc.
- I sprained my ankle in early March.
- Around the same time, I had a stiff back for almost a week.
- I pulled a muscle in my back/shoulder in early June, luckily that wasn’t a bother for too long.
- And around that time, I started experiencing a lot of fatigue in my lower legs, which I still haven’t figured out how to get rid of.
- I sprained my ankle again in early July, this took longer to heal, I didn’t start running again until late August.
- Last week I think I pulled a muscle in my lower/side back, luckly that was gone in a few days.
So, I’ve had a lot of unplanned rest days. The second ankle sprain really derailed things – that one was more painful and took longer to heal and my doc not only told me not to run but told me not to do anything that would put weight on my ankle and/or risk another sprain – even yoga was off the table because many poses require balance.
So, long story short, last year I ran this race in 55:03, an 8:52 pace. This year I finished in 1:13:30, an 11:50 pace. Which is a perfectly fine pace, but the difference is just an accurate reflection of how the past year has gone for me.
Anyway, I almost forgot about this race. Earlier in the summer, I was focused on the Spartan Sprint (which I skipped), and when I sprained my ankle the second time, my first concern was if I would be healed in time to train for the Detroit Half Marathon in October. (I already decided that given how this year has gone, trying to go from 0 to 13.1 in less than 2 months is a bad idea and I already deferred my spot.) It wasn’t until I was looking at my calendar a few weeks ago that I even remembered I signed up for this 10K. I questioned if I could even do a 10K. Luckily this race has a 5K, and when I asked, they said I could just follow the signs on the course and do the 5K instead, no need to change anything else.
But, I still got a 10K bib at packet pickup. And the 10K finishers got a medal. And I was up to 4 miles (with walk breaks), what’s 2 more miles? I’m already used to doing a run/walk these days, I can run/walk two measly extra miles. Plus, I thought about my BRF Kelly, who was doing a Spartan Beast (basically a half marathon with 30 obstacles) in likely pouring rain around the same time … I could run/walk a 10K. But, given that the 5K and 10K runners start together and stay together through about mile 2.8 before the 5K splits off, I also told myself that I could decide on the course what I would do.
Anyway, the race started at 7am in Grant Park, which is about 3 miles from home for me. I got out of bed around 4:45am, had coffee and some PB&J toast, got dressed, and hopped on a Divvy bike. I was able to dock it right next to Grant Park on Jackson & Michigan. My first stop was the jacket swap – I got a women’s medium which was a bit snug. Luckily they had enough extras available and I was able to get a large, which fit a little better (but not great, plus the quality is pretty cheap). Once I was done with the jacket swap, I got in a looong gear check line. Not sure if it was poor planning or enough n00bs that don’t know you’re supposed to use the clear bag from packet pickup to check your bag. Luckily, I got through the line and got into my corral (C – wishful thinking when I registered) right before they started the pre-race elite intros.
I hung in the back of corral C and ended up starting with corral D, crossing the start about 8 minutes after the race started. Like I said above, the first half of the course was great – out & back on Michigan Ave. Once we got back near Grant Park, the 5K course turned toward the finish, and the 10K did an out & back on the Lakefront Trail – but not without passing through lower Randolph, which smelled … not great. And not without pretty strong winds on the Lakefront Trail. I wish the 10K course was just the 5K course, twice, but they need to reopen Michigan Ave. (Which probably also explains the 7am start.)
As for my pace, I just kept it comfortable, or at least, I tried to. I mentioned above that my lower legs (calves, ankles) have been feeling really fatigued for awhile. I tried adding potassium & magnesium to my daily vitamin routine, and that helped a little, but not enough, especially on inclines (I can’t really call anything in Chicago a “hill”). I’m switching back to the multi-vitamin I was taking before this issue started, so hopefully it goes away. Honestly, I think this fatigue is what’s been holding me back, because my heart rate was in the 140s the whole time. I probably could have kept it in the 150-160s if my legs felt fine.
As for race logistics, there were a ton of Nuun and Water stations on the course. I skipped the Nuun (the few times I’ve tried it haven’t gone well) and stuck to water. There were also quite a few photographers on the course, and the race offers free digital photos, which is awesome. The course never felt too crowded, so I think they did a good job with seeding the corrals and spacing their starts, plus the first half is on Michigan Ave, which is pretty wide. After crossing the finish, I got my medal, water and a couple Luna Bars (no bananas, boo), then I was able to quickly retrieve my bag and redeem my drink ticket for a beer, and then waited a few minutes for the “brunch,” which is better than most race offerings. (Makes up for the lack of banana.) Then it was back on a Divvy to head home.
Anyway, this is a decent race and I’ll probably do it again next year, I’ll just size up for the race swag. Because this is the second year in a row that their swag has been a little snug on me.