Friday, July 28, 2017

Run For Gus 2017 - Race Recap

Since the Rock 'n Roll Half 10 days ago, the only running I've done has been the occasional puppy sprint in Welles park with my two dogs. I guess our little sprints have made an impression with park goers. In the park yesterday, we walked by a boy in a stroller who had apparently seen us sprinting through the park a few days prior. He looked up from the stroller at his dad and said, "Dad, those dogs are really fast!" to which the dad replied, "Yes, son, dogs are fast." The boy said, "No, dad. THOSE dogs are fast". I had to smile at that one, because he was right. The "kids" make speedwork fun. It's intense, especially when the pooches spot a squirrel, rabbit or another dog, they instantly take off and pull me along for the "hunt" and we fly at a pace much faster than I would otherwise.  

In any case, on a dog walk a couple of days ago, I bumped into a neighbor and he asked about my running. I told him that since I was taking a long break post-RnR, I was looking for a 5k to use some of my residual fitness. He mentioned that there was a 5k he was doing called the "Run for Gus" which supports children with brain cancer. A kid at his son's school who was the top fund raiser for cancer research in his class, coincidentally and tragicaly came down with brain cancer a few weeks later. So, in order to get a 5k in and support the cause, I decided to run the race.

This was a Thursday evening race, so it was challenging to figure out what and how much to eat for lunch so as not to drag me down too much for the race. Morning races are much easier. I have a four day hiatus before I go into an even more restrictive elimination diet on Monday, so, I had some meat and cheese ravioli for lunch, figuring maybe the carbs would do me some good. It was still sitting heavy in my stomach as I jumped in the car and headed down to the lakefront at 6pm for the 7pm start.

As I got down to the parking lot at the Diversey Harbor driving range, I noticed a woman loading her golf clubs into her trunk, so I waited for her to leave. She went over to the passenger side and grabbed here parking receipt off her dashboard and came over and handed it to me. It still had 2 hours left on it (an $8 value)! I thanked her profusely and parked in her spot after she left, which was only about 200 yards from the start line!

I went to the registration tent and signed up. They had iPads, so I was able to use a credit card. Then I put on my backpack and headed out for a shakeout run. 
Pre-Race Overlooking Diversey Harbor

When I got to the underpass at Fullerton, up ahead I saw a man on rollerblades and his dog going down the hill on the other side of the underpass super fast and nearly slamming into the concrete wall. Luckily, he was able to turn at the last second to avoid the wall. Suddenly a woman on rollerblades came even faster and she (likely a novice) slammed into the wall going about 20 mph! She instantly crumbled to the ground and screamed "My knee! My knee!" As I got up to her, I could see her knee was badly messed up. Her boyfriend (who was the guy on rollerblades) came to her aid and immediately called 911. In the excitement, the guy had forgotten about his dog, and the dog was wandering away. So, I went over to the dog, told him to sit and he did right away. Then I grabbed his leash and held onto it. I waited with the dog a few minutes, but as race time was nearing, I asked a bystander if they could hold the dog until the ambulance arrived. They obliged and I took off to the start line. I decided then and there if I ever decide to rollerblade, I will wear knee protection!

After dropping off the dog, I ran back just in time to check my backpack and get in the corral. Without pomp or circumstance, the horn sounded and we were off!

The Race:
Mile 1: There was quite a headwind heading north (about 15 mph) and loads of people sprinted out ahead of me. Since it was an out-and-back course, I knew we'd have a nice tailwind coming home. So I held back as we made our way over to the Lakefront Trail. I could still feel the lunch in my tummy, but tried to ignore it. 6:04/mile.

Mile 2: I started to think I should tuck behind someone for drafting purposes, but I was all alone with the next runner pack about 20 yards ahead. I just kicked back and waited for the turn at mile 1.55. Once we hit the turn at Belmont, I accelerated with a tailwind assist and started gaining on, then picking off runners. The course was kind of a figure 8 in that we had to cross back across the course, narrowly avoiding the runners (who were behind us) coming towards us. Luckily, I made it through unscathed.  5:59/mile.

Mile 3: Right after starting mile 3, I set my sights on a young 20-something runner in racing flats and who was wearing a college cross country singlet just ahead. I gradually made my way up to him and we were flying stride for stride. I was really feeling like I was redlining, but was determined to keep up with him. I drew on every drop of endurance I had built up over the last six months and focused on turnover. We both spotted the finish line ahead. 5:49/mile.

Mile 3.07: The college guy had just a little more juice in the tank than I did. Plus, he probably had a little more leg speed due to being 25 years younger. He broke ahead and stayed a couple of paces ahead of me until the finish. I came in with all I had and was finished!. 4:38/mile.


Official Finish Time: 18:09
Official Pace: 5:51/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:56/mile

Place Overall: 15th out of 765
Place Age Group: 4th out of 51

So, this would be my 3rd fastest 5k ever, except the course was definitely short (by about 70 yards in my estimation). It should probably be counted as an 18:23. In that case, it might barely fall into the top 10 fastest since I have a whole bunch of 5k finishes between 18:10 and 18:23. 

So, taking a ten day rest post-RnR didn't hurt me. In fact, it helped me! My RnR finish time was a 1:28 and according to McMillan's Calculator, an 18:23 5k is equivalent to a 1:25 half marathon! So, note to self, take a much longer, easier taper before a goal half. I'm in better shape to run fast now than I was 10 days ago!

Post Race:
I went over and congratulated the college guy, and he told me I pushed him at the end since he didn't want me to pass him. I told him he helped pull me along as well. Then I got my bag and changed, then went out to root for my neighbor and some other friends.

The Run for Gus course
While on the sidelines, a woman named Tracey from the Chicago Tribune introduced herself. She had interviewed me over the phone a few years ago for this article and somehow she recognized me! Anyway, after everyone I knew had finished, I said my goodbyes and took a lake picture as I walked back to my car. 

On my way to the car, I snapped this one.

Then I left to go shopping for two dozen eggs and whole milk to splurge on over the weekend until my new restrictive diet starts on Monday!

Next Up:
I'm probably still going to do some intense resting over the next two weeks. Rest is certainly doing some good apparently! Then, maybe I'll think about training for a fall half.


  1. Congrats on an amazing 5k post RNR! Even after seeing that woman crash.

    What fall half are you looking at? My friend Steph and I are most likely going to do Fox Valley. Have you done that one?

    1. Thanks! I haven't even looked into which half I'm going to run. Maybe I'll check out FV! I've never done it.

  2. Great work! Looks like quality > quantity miles :) also, nice work holding onto that dog for a bit before the race- I wonder if that event gave you an extra shot of adrenaline. and those puppy sprints... I'm excited to see how puppy sprints pay off for my goal half. I'm thinking Naperville. Where are you thinking?

    1. Yes, it pays to be fresh and fast for a 5k! Yes, maybe it did give me adrenaline. I've seen way too many crashes on the LFT. Makes me sometimes worried about riding there and especially now rollerblade! Yes, your puppy sprints will come in handy for Naperville. I will look at that one as well.

  3. Congrats on a solid race! And being a good samaritan! :)

  4. Nice job on the race, and man, talk about a crazy way to start the race! Glad everyone was ok.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I think she was going to be okay except for her knee which I'm sure will heal.

  5. Nice splits and race! I was expecting this to be a small race when you described it, but dang, that is a lot of participants!

    It's so sad about that kid getting brain cancer after being the top fundraiser. Was he there or did they say anything about his condition?

    I am totally LOLing at your pre race lunch choice :) That would sit so heavy in my stomach.

    I hope the rollerblader is okay. Gah. That sounds so horrible! It's great you were able to help!

    1. Thanks. I think it's pretty expensive to hold a race on the LFT, so I think race organizers have to expect a lot of runners, otherwise they might lose money. Entries were expensive at $50, but I didn't mind since it was going to a good cause! I don't think he was there. Yes kind of amazing that he was the top fundraiser, to help people before so soon before he was afflicted. Yes, I need to figure out a lunch routine for these evening races! Yes, the poor rollerblader, I cringed as I saw her hit the wall, luckily she wasn't going any faster or it might have been worse!