This was my 3rd year in a row running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Remix Challenge. The Remix Challenge is when you run the 5K on Saturday morning and the half marathon or 10K on Sunday morning. I’ve sort of loved the idea of a mini “ultra” for this series, and it has given me the opportunity to really make the most of my race weekend in Chicago!
My strategy every year has been to focus on training just for ONE race. I know that if I try to PR at both races, I’m going to crash + burn and be miserable all weekend. So, the goal this year was to focus on the 5K. My 2017 running goal is to PR at the 5K, and this was my 2nd opportunity this year to attempt that. Although the course was new, it was ran the same part of Chicago: through Grant Park, toward the Field Museum, and along Lake Front Drive. It seriously is an ideal course – very few hills, but a few just to keep it interesting.
I have been training the last 4 months to PR this race. I had a chance 3 weeks prior to RNRCHI and missed my PR by just 2 seconds. So, I was VERY hopeful for this weekend, but extremely nervous that I was going to end up disappointed all over again.
My mother-in-law + I headed to the start around 6:30AM for the 7:30 start time. I had to pick up my bib since we couldn’t make it to the expo on Friday evening, and it gave me time to use the porta-potty and get a really good warm-up in. I ran a good amount of the course as part of my warm-up and got in a good dynamic warm-up in before heading to the starting line.
My first year running, Meb was the running celeb on the course. This year, was none other than Katherine Switzer! It was so amazing to be up close and personal with the woman who revolutionized not only running for women, but athletics in general! Her mantra is “fearless” and after watching Beauty + the Beast at least 10 times a day for the past month, I’ve started to adopted this mantra myself and made sure it was the affirmation I was repeating over and over during the race.
When the gun went off, I immediately got boxed in. Sooooooooo frustrating. There were even corrals for this race, but does that stop anyone from going to the front at the start of the race? NOPE. So, I was stuck for the first 200-meters, but then made my way out and found my stride. I immediately started working my way past people and found a few women in front of me I knew I needed to pass before the first mile. I had one girl pass me about 0.75 into the race, but I was able to get in front of her on the hill and never saw her again.
One of the things I’ve been talking to my coach about in regard to 5K racing is a good strategy when there isn’t anyone within reach to pass. Luckily, for this race, I had plenty of people around me to really focus on ahead of me to catch up to and pass, but I couldn’t see any women around me. For the entire race, I thought I was in first place. I even looked at one of the turnarounds and didn’t see anyone in front of me. Although this race was NOT about winning, it is always nice to at least THINK you are winning!
I felt great all of mile 2 when we turned around, but mile 3 was definitely when I started to struggle mentally. My legs felt great but I knew that I didn’t have much left in them. It became a mental battle to keep holding on, to keep fighting through the runners in front of me, and toward that PR. I kept telling myself that I am fearless and to keep pushing, to keep fighting.
I checked my watch for my splits every mile, just to make sure I was on track toward my goal. I knew exactly what I needed to hit each mile – and based on my last mile split, I knew I had to give it everything I had to PR the last 0.1.
I rounded the corner and saw the time – 19:xx. I can’t remember exactly what the clock read but I knew that this was it. I had that PR if I just pushed a little more.
Sure enough, I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and saw the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen…
I can’t even begin to tell you the pure JOY I felt seeing that number! It was a HUGE confidence boost and proved to me that I really can do ANYTHING. I’ve worked my butt off for that PR – and I’m not about to quit there! I’m ready for MORE!
FINISH TIME = 19:39
AVERAGE PACE = 6:20/mile
2ND PLACE OVERALL
So, no… I didn’t win, but I seriously cannot complain about SECOND OVERALL! I actually had to TALK on stage, which totally sucked (I am NOT a talker), but made a new friend with the 3rd place winner (who just so happens to be from the same town as my coach)! And the first place winner was Canadian and training for the Canadian Nationals this year! She beat me by a minute, so now I’m determined to see that 18 someday!