Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chilly Chili 5K Race Report

I was a little bummed when I didn't get to run the Turkey Trot in Schaumburg last Saturday as I thought with decent weather and a big crowd I would've had a good chance to meet my goal of breaking 30 minutes for the 5K by the end of the year. Instead, I ended up running the Chilly Chili 5K at the Schaumburg Golf Club, and while it was a much smaller race (120 runners/walkers) it was a memorable one.

OK, quick disclaimer on the bib...it was a leftover from another race and I got it because I signed up for the race 45 minutes before it started. Hey, it had a timing strip and their time perfectly matched my watch, so no worries!

I was curious to see how I would do today, because after the last race I ran in late October (race report here), where I ran 31:02, I'd been doing some much more consistent training and had added some speedwork sessions. Plus, I figured this course would be relatively flat so it would probably be faster.

When I woke up the temperature was sitting at about 35 degrees, so I put on shorts and wore some warmup pants that I thought I would take off beforehand. But once I got to the race it was really windy and I worried if I just ran in the shorts my legs would never get warm.

A shot of the course. You can still see a few runners out there
I got registered very quickly, and thankfully they had the golf course clubhouse and restaurant area open for the post-race stuff, so it was good to stay in and keep warm. I started stretching about 15 minutes before the race, then went for a bit of a warm-up run and did some strides to get loose. As we all converged at the starting line in front of the clubhouse, I was feeling good -- and confident.

Unfortunately, that didn't last long. I had targeted a 9:45 for my first mile, and I went out way, way too fast. What also didn't help is there were some steep drops on the cart path near a couple of elevated tees, and I flew down them instead of taking my usual "relax on the downhill" approach.

Five minutes into the race, I was gassed! I had let my adrenaline and my goals get the best of me, my legs hurt and I was breathing really, really hard. I spent the next several minutes slowing down and trying to get my breathing more even, and at times I felt like my pace was slow.

I hit the first mile at 9:49 and was a bit discouraged. The time itself was good, and if my approach to that mile had been better, I would've been more than content. I really thought I had blown up my race there. I was still upset with myself through the next mile, but much to my surprise when I passed Mile 2 my watch said 9:42 (19:32 overall).

OK, tell me how that makes sense? I was hurting really badly, my stride felt short and I felt like I wasn't running all that fast. It didn't feel any better than the first mile, so what gives?

While it didn't make sense, it gave me new life! One of the reasons I wrote that post last night about my first 5K in 2001 was to pump me up and remind myself that I am capable of pushing and digging deep. I just hadn't done it in a really long time.

At that point, I realized I only had 10 minutes of running left and was determined to just keep holding my pace and pushing on. I checked my watch every so often and just said to myself "six minutes left...four minutes left". With about a half-mile to go another runner came up next to me, and I just sat on his shoulder and worked with him. It does make a difference, I felt a lot more relaxed and actually felt like I was picking up my pace.

As the clubhouse got closer it was really starting to hurt, but I knew I could take it in from there. What was hard is that I couldn't see the finish line anywhere and had no idea how much further we really had. We made a right turn for the final stretch and there was a short, steep incline up to the clubhouse.

Ack! Why??? I mean, couldn't they have moved the start line back a little and had the finish on the flat part!!! The other bad part is that as you can see from the photo, you still can't see the finish line. Oh, and there was no Mile 3 marker either.

But a little ways up this hill I saw the left-hand post of the finish area, and just started pushing a little more. There were lots of people standing on the patio cheering, and when I finally saw the clock my heart sank a little bit because it read 29:53.

I yelled out "OH NO!" but kept running hard through the line. I checked my watch, which told a different story...29:51!

YES! Unofficially I had broken 30! I was so spent I had to lie in the grass for a couple of minutes to catch my breath, but through the heavy breathing and the pain I felt so, so good. Now I just hoped my time matched up to theirs!

Fortunately it was perfect, so I have a new post-40 5K PR! Breaking 30 had been a goal of mine all year and I was wondering if I was going to get there. Thankfully I did!

After the race, they opened up the banquet hall for us for some free beer and chili, and I had a good
conversation with a couple of peeps at my table. What do you think of my post-race celebratory meal?

Overall, it was a nice end-of-season type of event. Obviously it's pretty small but it was well-run and organized. And you can't go wrong with free beer, not to mention chili and brats!

The course was made up entirely of the golf club's cart paths, but outside of the start with a field that small there was room to move around. The path itself was mostly new asphalt, but even the parts of the path that were older were in great shape, a few cracks here and there but no holes or buckles where anyone could've tripped. That and I really liked the layout of the golf course, I'm for sure going to head up there and play it next summer!

I'm so glad that I was able to reach this goal. It seemed like such a mental hurdle to get over, and I think when I start racing again in January or February I can lower that time even more. Now, I have a new goal. When I texted my friend Noah about how I did he came back and said "let's get you down to 28 minutes so you can get a seeded corral at the mini!".

I'm in, brother. I have until March 9 to submit my results, so I'm going to get it done!












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