Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jingle Bell Run 10k Chicago: Race Recap

I signed up for the Jingle Bell 10k using what turned out to be the last schwaggle.com race deal before schwaggle went out of business. The entry was $22 instead of the standard $45. Even though the entire course is entirely on the Lakefront Trail, I thought it was reasonable enough for a whole 10k this late in the year.

Race Strategy:
Since the race was being held in the middle of December and during my marathon training (i.e. no taper), I decided that I should not expect a wicked fast finish time. I did, however, want to break 40 minutes. Breaking 40 is something I have only done twice before, and I should be in sub-40 shape at the moment. Another reason to not expect a fast time: Looking at the weather the night before, I noticed that it would be raining and that the winds would be blowing out of the south at 20 mph at race time.

Pre-race:
Pre-Race in front of the Nature Museum
The race was held in front of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.  The parking lot at the Lincoln Park Zoo race was charging $20/car, which would have nearly equaled my entry fee, so I parked about one mile away near Lincoln and Belden. So, after a mile walk by the Lincoln Park row houses, I checked my gear inside the museum and used the porta-potty. I had just enough time to slip into the corral about 30 rows back for the starting gun.

And we were off!

Mile 1: This was a 5k and 10k combined start so everyone sprinted out too fast, including me. I tried to reel myself in, but I noticed that I was running effortlessly. Then I remembered that there was a 20 mph wind coming from the south and we were heading north!  6:23/mile

Mile 2: This pace was so easy with the tailwind. I knew that I might regret running this fast once we turned around and headed back south. We lost the 5k runners and it was just me running stride for stride along a fast female runner. 6:14/mile

Mile 3: We looped around Cricket Hill, home of the place I should be doing some Boston hill training someday in the near future. I started to pull away ever so slightly from the fast female runner. I thought to myself "What place am I in?  Am I winning this thing?" I spotted some runners way ahead, but they may have just be running the trail for fun. We approached an aid station and I got a sip of Gatorade. Fastest mile of the day 6:09/mile.

Mile 4: I completed the turnaround and started heading back home. The 20 mph tailwind became a 20 mph headwind and my lungs really felt it. I had run on this part of the Lakefront Trail a hundred times before with these type of headwinds, just not in a race situation. So, at this point I realized that I would have to back off of my blistering pace or else I would fade dramatically in the final mile. I passed by the runners still heading north. They weren't cheering for me, so I could safely assume the 10k leaders have gone by and I was not one of them! 6:18/mile

Mile 5: My lungs were maxed out as I passed by the 5k turn around, a mile and a half from the finish line. Due to the many many 5k walkers, I had to run through the puddles of water on the gravel "shoulder" of the paved trail. At certain points I even had to run on the grass because the trail was overflowing with 5k walkers. I don't like these combo 5k/10ks for this reason. I really was feeling the "push-back" of the headwind.  6:31/mile

Mile 6: The trail was bursting with 5k walkers and I had to shout so walkers would know I was approaching, although it did not make a bit of difference. Not one walker moved out of the way! Shouting just ended up using up more of my already maxed out lung capacity! I had to narrowly avoid running over a homeless man sleeping under a bridge that goes under LSD.  6:36/mile
Hairpin Turn

Mile 6.2: As I neared the end of 6.2 on my Garmin, I still couldn't see the finish line. I shouted at a volunteer, "Which way? Which way?" and they told me to turnaround! Yes, the finish line was about 100 yards after a hairpin turn around! Not the best way to finish, but at least I got 100 yards of tailwind! 6:03/mile



Race Summary:
  • Total Time: 39:58
  • Overall Place: 5th out of 143*
  • Age Group Place: 1st out of 11

*Since I was 5th, I made the leaderboard on Active.com!



Post  Race:
Post race at the finish line
After the race, I caught my breath for a couple of minutes then grabbed a banana, drank some pomegranate hot tea, and took a video of some of the finishers:


I was ready to go home at 9:45am. However, the race emcee mentioned that the medals were to be given out at 10am. So I decided to wait. However, I did not actually get my medal until almost 11am. They had a delay in getting the results, held a costume contest, a raffle, the 5k awards then another 5 minute wait, then finally the 10k awards. There were only a few of us 10k medal winners waiting around to the bitter end. I should have just gone home when I finished the race like most of the others and saved an hour and 15 minutes!

Race Takeaway: Only 3rd time in my life to go sub-40 for a 10k! However, I need to remember to pull back even more in the first half of the race if there will be a headwind on the 2nd half. Also, this reminds me again that I don't like races where the last 1.5 miles is weaving through walkers!

Next up:
F^3 Lake Half Marathon in January. Some of the same trail sections I ran today will be used for that one.


26 comments:

  1. Whoa!! congrats, look at that time and placement :O Congrats!

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  2. I saw you speed past me right at the start. Well done!

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    1. Too bad I didn't see you, I would have said hi! Thanks :-)

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  3. Wow!! Congratulations! It wasn't pretty out there this morning but that sure didn't stop you! :)

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    1. Thanks. It wasn't pretty, but the temps were actually ideal for not getting over-heated or too cold! :-)

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  4. AWESOME JOB MR Speedy!!! Congrats on a super fast time, and AG placing! I think this is a nice way to start your boston training.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, I believe I am headed in the right direction with my training. However, I don't want to peak too early, I've got 17 more weeks!

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  5. Damn!!!! AWESOME RACE! 5th overall and first in AG! And sub 40?! You rock!

    I wonder what could be done at these combo 5/10Ks to make them better. I am doing the 5K portion of one tomorrow.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, the 5/10k combos are a pain most of the time. I feel sorry for the 5k walkers as well. They are getting buzzed by runners who are barreling down on them. One solution (besides staggered starts) is to separate the two groups into two long finishing chutes. It may narrow things down a bit for awhile, but would make things more comfortable for all involved.

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  6. Congrats on your speedy time, AG win and being top 5! That's awesome! I agree with you on the combined races. I wish they would just stick to one distance, or put the different distances on different routes. Finishing the Chicago's Perfect 10 (mile) was somewhat similar - I had to weave around a lot of 10K folks who were at a much slower pace during the last couple miles. It just does not make for an enjoyable race experience. Another alternative is to do the races at different times - the Ridge Run on Memorial Day does this, and it also gives you the extra option of doing BOTH a 5K and 10K in one morning.

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    1. Also, I hate when they drag out the post-race festivities. I did the Jingle Bell 5K in Kankakee last weekend, I assume that race was done by the same group. And the awards ceremony took FOREVER. Which was extra annoying since I was with my running club and we had breakfast pans, but everyone had to wait for the handful of us who got awards. But it was the same thing - fundraising awards, costume contest, and then AG awards.

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    2. Yes, there has to be a better way than using the same course for both distances. I didn't like weaving and the walkers were likely out to support the charity, and they didn't need to be buzzed by runners for half of the time. The Ridge Run combo is an excellent idea and I would seriously consider doing both of the distance just to see how I would do with two races in one day! I share your dislike of the post-race festivities that take too long. However, I had one positive experience: I ran the Park Ridge Charity Classic a few years ago. They had the AG medals out on a table. Only minutes after the runners crossed the line they could pick up their medals. No ceremony, just medals! Maybe other races could do this as well.

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  7. Congrats on your AG Win and placing 5th overall. That must have been a pain waiting for the medal display. Did they provide any shelter while waiting?

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    1. Thanks! Yes, at least the awards ceremony was inside the Nature Museum! I don't think I would have waited outside in the rain! :-)

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  8. WOOH! GO PETE! You are famous now ;) Congrats on another sub-40 finish, the AG placing and 5th overall. That finishline sounded like it was badly misplaced. Good thing someone responded to your question, I would've probably just kept going straight, then again, there's usually other runners around me. I always wondered what the first runners do in these type of situations, where the course is not well marked and since you're super fast, you will probably running solo. Now I know. :)

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it was surprising when I went to the results page and saw my name on the "Leaderboard!" Kinda cool. I have had to ask "which way, which way?" in other races. One time the person told me the wrong way and a 6.2 miler became a 5.8 miler. Not good! Anyway, if you expect to be alone on the course for any reason (running fast or slow), it helps to have the turns memorized beforehand. :-)

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  9. WOO HOO! Congrats on the leader board finish!!!

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  10. Fantastic race Pete! Way to make the leader board! This bodes well for Boston!

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  11. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Way to go on yet another sub-40 finish, placing, and making the leader board!!! What a fantastic way to close out your 2012 racing season!!!!!

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    1. Thanks! It was fun to see my name on the leaderboard!

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  12. I thoroughly dislike the 10k so I have major respect for your speedy, speedy time! Congrats on a great race and a nice age group award! I'm very much looking forward to the F3 Half Marathon! Speedwork starts this week! :)

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    1. Too bad you don't like the 10k. For me, it's a nice change from the thousands of 5ks and half marathons. Thanks. I'm looking forward to the F3 as well. Good luck with your speedwork!

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