Saturday, July 4, 2015

Warrenville Firecracker 5K -- July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July everyone! It's hard to believe that we are closing in on the midpoint of summer already. I don't know about you, but around here June was kind of like November, only a little bit warmer. Dreary and rainy, it didn't feel like summer at all!

It seems like we are in for a turnaround, though, as this weekend has been perfect so far, and looks to keep getting even better. While I didn't decide to run this race until this past Thursday, it was for sure a good decision as it was a beautiful morning, with temps in the mid-60s and the humidity actually pretty low.

I was pretty excited to run the race, as it was the first time I have run a race since the Apple Blossom run back in May. Not only had I been training pretty well, I had the weight loss thing going too.

Warrenville is about 20 minutes from Bartlett, and I wanted to get there early so I could get my race packet and get stretched and warmed up before the race started. I was there an hour early...plenty of time! I stretched and did a little warmup run and some strides, and by then it was time to go.

I have to admit, I was really nervous and anxious. I had some high hopes for the race, between the conditions and everything else I felt like I could go under 28 minutes pretty easily, which I guess was where my nerves came from. In retrospect I think I was more afraid in "failing" than I was in actually succeeding. I need to try and change that mindset.

After lining up and hearing a great rendition of the national anthem by a young boy named Austin, we were ready to go.

I went in wanting to run three evenly-paced miles at about 8:45 each. That would put me on pace to run around 27 minutes or so, which I would've been very happy about.

Warrenville is a typical Chicago suburb in that it has a really quaint, tiny, beautiful downtown, surrounded by more and more sprawl. Most of the course went through the "original", non-sprawl part of town, which is very nice. It also incorporated some of the Prairie Path, which brought back some nice memories as I began several Chicago Marathon-prep runs there.

I kept track of my pace on my Runtastic app, and settled into an 8:45-8:50-ish pace. The early part of the race was a bit downhill, which I tried to relax going down instead of just hammering the hill. I settled in and felt really comfortable. There were a couple of people who seemed to be running the same pace as me, so I hung with them for a while.

After heading into the neighborhoods and circling back towards downtown, we jumped onto the Prairie Path, a stellar, crushed stone path that winds through some beautiful woods. Just then I saw the 1 Mile sign ahead, and when I looked at my phone I was at 8:44 and the sign was placed PERFECTLY in the right spot. Thanks!

A little further ahead, we made a right and headed down a HUGE downhill. I mean, absolutely huge. Long and winding, it just kept going and going through the woods. It was pretty sweet! I tried hard not to just hurl myself down the hill, and it seemed like my pace was OK.

A quick right, over a bridge and up a hill, and we were at Mile 2 in 17:28...another 8:44 mile! I was pretty happy, but that didn't last long because about 100 yards later I just hit a mental wall. I'm not sure why, and it hadn't happened in a long time, but my legs just went out from under me and I just lost it.

The last mile was a death march. Every time I tried to keep the pace up, I had to keep slowing down and actually ended up walking briefly a couple of times. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get myself to go. It was so frustrating!

Finally, with about a quarter-mile to go, I just kicked it in. I can take anything for two minutes, right? I passed this sign -- which again, was in the perfect place -- and had run 9:41 for the third mile. From there I just tried to go as hard as I could.

I couldn't see the finish line clock until just before I got there, and was disappointed to see it had already rolled over 28 minutes (it was a chip race). When I crossed the line in 28:06.2, good for 111th overall among 360 finishers.

I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't disappointed, because I was. The race was fun and the course is there for the taking, I would really like to try it again. I think a time trial in the future might be in order!

As bummed as I was, two good things happened at the end of the race. The first one was when a fellow runner came up and said he had run behind me the whole race and even though I had a couple of issues he thought I ran a great race. That was the boost I needed!

And of course, being the voice of reason, my ever-supported wife, Darcy, gave me some great perspective. She reminded me of the recent past where I was trying to break 30 minutes and how long that had taken me, which was most of 2014, and now I'm two minutes below that. I've made a lot of progress and dwelling on a race where I don't PR is kind of a waste of time.

Taking the analytical approach, I think I could use some speedwork, which I haven't done in a couple of months. And I could probably be a little more rested, as I kind of overdid it on Friday, playing 18 holes of golf, running 6 miles and walking around the Bartlett 4th of July fest. So there's that!

Fortunately I get another shot at 27:59 quickly as I'm running the Bastille Day 5K in Chicago on Thursday night. The weather looks to be great and the course is flat. Not to mention running along the Lakefront with a view of the gorgeous downtown is always worth a few seconds.

So let's move forward! It was a great way to start my Fourth and I'm feeling great. Can't wait until Thursday!

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