Monday, April 25, 2016

Ravenswood Run 2016 Race Recap

Okay, so THIS was the fastest race of my life...

As a rule, I don't run at all in the eight days following a marathon. I ran the Carmel Marathon eight days before the Ravenswood Run 5k, but since the Ravenswood Run is within walking distance of my house - and therefore takes place on the same streets I train on on a daily basis - I made an exception. Since running so soon post-marathon was definitely uncharted territory, I had little idea of how my legs would respond.

I took four whole days off of running post-Carmel, and my legs were typically sore/stiff but otherwise fine. I did a two mile shakout on Thursday, and another short run on Friday, but my legs were still stiff. I began resigning myself to relegating Ravenswood as a "fun run" if I could not get proper turnover out of them by race day. To my relief, my legs started to loosen up after a couple of "puppy sprints" on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Feeling more confident that my legs would respond on race day, I wrote and stuck up a Post-it Note on my computer monitor:


= PR pace last year (18:10)

5:45/mile PR pace (18:09)
5:42/mile 17:59!

To be totally honest, I was only looking at the bottom line: 17:59! 18:09 and a PR would be nice, but nothing compared with going sub-18:00. Since my first "competitive" 5k 20 years ago, I've always dreamt of breaking 18 in a 5k. I knew I had the fitness since three weeks prior I had run the final 5k of the Shamrock Shuffle 8k, somewhere around 18:00. It was just a matter of how much turnover I could coax out of my legs.

Again, I was not overly confident I could go sub-18, since running at a 5:42/mile clip for 3.1 miles blows my mind when I look at it on paper. However, I've been to enough dances to know that race day adrenaline mixed with a little running magic, can make the previously unattainable quite attainable.

I would just have to show up and see what happened...

I woke up at 6am for a two mile shakeout run around Welles Park. When I returned home, I had my standard pre-race fare: a cup of coffee, and a bagel with peanut butter. I took my dog out for a half mile jog, packed my backpack, slung it over my shoulders and ran a little over a mile to the start area.

I spotted Annabelle and the BRC, then went over and checked my bag with Eric and we both downed some electrolyte drink at one of the booths on the way to the start line. In the corral, I spotted Annabelle and John and I joked about looking for mayor Rahm Emanuel at his viewing spot on Berteau. John said that I wouldn't see him there because he was standing right behind me. So, I turned around and directly behind me was Mr. Mayor in his running attire ready to race! 

Anyway, a prayer was said (I guess they don't only do this in Indiana) and the national anthem sung, and we were off!
The Race:
Mile 1:  The starts of 5ks are typically mayhem and this one was no exception. 70-year-olds and 10-year-olds alike sprinted by me at sub-5:30/mile pace. I don't know why people try to win the race in the first 100 yards, but there you have it. Once they got winded and their pace slowed to 6:30+, it created a wall of runners that I had to weave around. It's frustrating, but I guess I have to deal with it since my style doesn't mesh with theirs. About a half mile in, I was in the clear and made my way up front with the team runners doing more even pacing. I glanced at my Garmin and I was on a 5:50/mile pace so I sped up - attempting to land between 5:42 and 5:45 by the mile 1 marker. 5:43/mile.

Mile 2: I was right on target pacing-wise and did a mental inventory of how I felt and after close analysis I knew that I felt fantastic! In fact my legs and lungs felt better than they've ever felt at this stage of a 5k. I got a little teary-eyed and choked up because I absolutely knew I could at least hold a 5:42 pace for the rest of the race and that in a matter of minutes my "life-long" quest of a sub-18 would happen. Runners started fading around me, but I felt strong and decided to push myself a little harder and stop looking at my watch. 5:37/mile.

Mile 3: We ran into the quaint shopping area of Lincoln Square and the Chicago Brauhaus. The course headed into the wind as we turned south on Damen, but it was only four blocks before the next turn out of the wind and into the homestretch. I made the turn onto Wilson and spotted a guy with gray hair about 25 yards ahead who was potentially in my age group. 5:40/mile.

Tera Moody at the 2013 Ravenswood 5k (in front of the
 Chicago Brauhaus)
Mile 3.15: I finally started to red-line - as I could feel the lactic acid building in my legs and my lungs begging for mercy. However, I was slightly gaining on the guy in front of me and this gave me the motivation to dig deep and find another gear in my gearbox -and I let loose with a fury. I was still behind him as we went down the dip under the Metra/Brown Line bridges at Ravenswood Avenue and started up the incline on the other side. I gave it all I could.
Sprinting up the incline.
Shadow on the left is from the guy in front of me (src).
Gaining on him...
... even
At the line...
My lungs and legs were flying on pure adrenaline and I got him by a hair at the line as we both stopped our watches. 4:07/mile.


Official Finish Time: 17:37
Official Pace: 5:41/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:36/mile

Place Overall: 39th out of 2,984
Place Age Group: 2nd out of 158

PR and my fastest race ever! Never in my dreams would I have thought I could lower my 5k PR by 33 seconds in a single race. I passed the 18:00's, 17:50's, 17:40's completely and it's now down to the 17:30s. I simply can't believe I ran this fast.

BTW: I realized later that the guy I nipped at the line wasn't actually in my age group, but my final push helped me move from third to second in my age group because my chip time beat the third place guy's by one second!

Post Race:
In my endorphin-fueled euphoria I skipped over to bag check and began blabbing to the volunteers that I broke 18:00 and they high-fived me, but they were probably secretly hoping I would shut-up and leave them alone! Soon enough, I met up with the BRC and Chicago bloggers and we were snapping pictures:

Emily, Erin, Eric, Annabelle and Me (src)
While Annabelle (who also got 2nd AG) and I waited for the awards ceremony we got this picture:
2nd Place finishers!
Finally, they called my name and for the second time in my life, I podiumed at a CARA race:
On the podium
After the awards, Annabelle, Eric and I walked to Lincoln Ave, where we all went our separate ways.

I'm going to take a few weeks off from racing, despite the temptation to try and lower my other PRs while the iron is hot. It's probably best to have some lower mileage weeks out of respect for training cycles and not overstay my welcome in my marathon build-up cycle. I have four PRs already this year and three were in the month of April, so I think I will rest on my laurels for a little bit!

I have my eye on the Humboldt Park Mile at the end of May and the Grim Mile once again in June. After slow marathon training all winter, they will be motivation to work on my speed this spring and early summer.

Next Up:
Humboldt Park Mile in May!


  1. Oh man, that finish! I bet the guy at the end really liked you hahaha. HUGE congrats though!!!! That is such an amazing feat, and I would have been full-on bawling (rather than just getting choked up, as I often do in races anyway) at that realization. 2016 is clearly the year of Pete :)

    I was going to ask if Rahm was out again as usual too. I remember seeing him on the corner with Lynton (and Kiku) a few years back. Cool that he was running! (although I can't find his results... are those classified or something?? DNF?)

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I've gotten choked up mid-race before, but usually by the end, I'm so focused on finishing strong, I'm not overly emotional. Post-race is a euphoric happy feeling for me, so no tears! Anyway, yeah, I didn't see him in the results. I think celebrities sign up under pseudonyms. Maybe we should figure out which finisher is really Rahm!

    2. Can you spot him in the finish line video?

    3. Oh, and I meant to say - my race yesterday had not only a prayer before it, but a mass the night before to bless the runners. Ohio can out-religion Indiana any day.

    4. Ha, ha. First step would be to figure out how old he is, then watch the videos of every male runner his age. Based on where he lined up, he probably finished in the top 5 of his age! A mass for your race?! Wow, Ohio wins the pre-race religion prize!! :)

  2. OMG Pete! That guy is SO PISSED at you right now! lol. You seriously amaze me!! No words. Way to go!

    1. Ha, ha. I've been passed in the last few steps of races before and it doesn't feel super good. Nowadays, even if I don't think anyone is behind me, I still speed up to try and ward off any "snipers" at the finish! :) Thanks!!

  3. Mannnnnnnn this is WONDERFUL! 2016 is so very much Year of the Pete. I am thrilled for you! And holy crap, what a finish!! You are super inspiring. Way to go!

    1. Thanks Erin! Yes, I have been lucky so far this year and I am hoping it continues indefinitely! Ha, ha. Yes, the finish was fun. It's little things like that in a race that make things even more exciting! Thanks again. :)

  4. YOU ROCK, Pete!!! You are on FIRE!!! I loved seeing the photo progression of you eclipsing that guy in your AG at the finishing stretch. WOO HOO!!! That is awesome that you knew during Mile 2 that you were going to be able to smash your goals - isn't that the most amazing feeling, ever??? I was very moved by the church bells tolling right as the race was underway, too. Thought it was a sign from the heavens for all of us. =)

    1. Thanks Emily! I love it too when I realize mid-race that I am going to smash my goals! I didn't hear the church bells, I must have been in another zone. I wish I could hear a replay of the start! Maybe I'll search youtube! :)

  5. congrats on the race - way to rock that end!

  6. WOW! You crushed this spring! Congrats!

  7. SOOO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!! That's awesome! :)

  8. ridiculously and awesomely fast! congrats

  9. Holy cow! What an amazing PR!!! 33 secs?! And so far under 18:00?! AMAZING! Huge congrats! I hope you are still on cloud 9!!!

    1. Thanks. Yes, it's hard to believe that I broke my 5k PR by that much. I think my PR progression before this was something like this 18:23->18:15->18:10. So I was only thinking that I could break it by a handful of seconds at a time. Yes, I'm still pumped about my result. Getting antsy to race again, though!

  10. WOW way to go!!! I swear you must be part Kenyan! hehe!

  11. Jesus, Pete! I'm just getting caught up on everything and I read this. I'm shaking my head and smiling! Way to go! Wow! Wow!

    1. Thanks Wendy! I am still shaking my head in disbelief! Thanks again. :)

  12. So since I always hit your blog from CRB, I guess I was marathon focused when I commented last week and didn't see this recap at all. First - congratulations - and second - I am always amazed reading your recaps. 17:37 is absolutely incredible.

    1. Thanks Heather! I'm still amazed at my Ravenswood time - I guess I was able to put my residual marathon fitness to good use! Thanks again. :)