It was a great weekend for me running wise. I was lucky enough to be in Chicago for work on the same weekend that two of my good friends had decided to run races entirely separate from my travel plans. Having missed the Baystate Half Marathon in October–the race that first sparked an interest in becoming more committed to running and that later inspired this blog’s first post, I was excited to hit the pavement in the Windy City with these besties. Unfortunately, they had each signed up for different races.
Luckily though, Chicago is basically entirely flat (save for the occasional manmade slope of an overpass or on-ramp). And, both races were on the long side for me but short of 13.1 so presumably physiologically doable for my body. So, I decided to do both which seemed just crazy enough that my trusty running partner/spouse decided to join me for the weekend.
We have a soft spot in our hearts for Chicago where we spent 8 years while I was training to be surgeon. Both of our children were born here. And, though I never ran while I lived here, my first every ten mile run in October 2012 happened along the lakeshore trail. My pace was 11:59. I had started running just14 months earlier (with a nearly 14min/mile for just two miles) and had never run more than 6 miles before my plane landing in Chicago on September 27, 2012 (on a whim inspired by husband who running his second Baystate Half, a childhood friend who was running her first, and my just released call schedule that indicated I would be neither post-call or on-call on race day I had signed up for my first half less than 24 hours prior to that first lake shore trail long run).
Back to this past weekend. Sadly (for me), @surgeoninkicks is quite a bit faster than me; so, even though she was my original inspiration to sign up for the second race (having already signed up for the first to join my college roommate on a run) I did not get to run with her and she is thus absent from race day photos. Here are the before shots.
So I felt ready with fond memories, good company, great views, and no hills to conquer Chicago’s Perfect 10 (mile) and the Hot Chocolate 15K. The Perfect 10 started at Navy Pier and was a small, easily navigatable crowd that would celebrate post-run with beer and the usual freebie snacks (think powerbars, goo, go-gurt) while the Hot Chocolate started at Grant Park and was a total zoo with corrals A through T but the masses would celebrate post run with a fairly unique hot chocolate (duh!) and fondue experience with freebies more suited for dipping in chocolate (think pretzels and rice krispie treats). Both races supported good causes, Gateway for Cancer Research for the former and the local Ronald McDonald House Charities for the latter. Both had timing chips in the bib but only Hot Chocolate had live tracking.
The routes for each according to my Nike Run App (and how I did) are below:
It was blustery and overcast both mornings with the recorded temperature between 37-40F and wind gusts up to 20mph making it feel closer to 25-30F according to my Accuweather App. Brrrrrrrr. I crossed the starting line just before 8am both days. The sun came out during the last mile of the Perfect 10 and never during the Hot Chocolate.
If you don’t care about what I wore or the gear I used, skip the next paragraph
Preparing for the weather gearwise was a real challenge for me. I had a hard time judging how warm I would get once I really got going but was afraid of being so cold that my joints would stiffen up. I had packed a range from fully fleeced leggings to vented running tights to capris for the bottoms and from a fully fleeced half zip to regular half zip (both with thumb holes to keep the wrists covered) with unvented and vented long sleeves and tanks to go under. For the Perfect 10, I went with my new Athleta Sting Be Free running tights which have convenient pockets along with the standard rear zip pouch along with one of my many Adidas Perfect Rib tanks and the Nike Element half zip. My legs seemed fine on for the Perfect 10 but my arms got cold though my core seemed fine. So for Hot Chocolate I kept the bottom the same with just a Nike Hyperwarm half zip over my sports bra (my Shock Absorber Run Bra is worthy of it’s own blog post [coming soon]) Both days I wore I had a fleeced earwarmer head band from Reebok (now discontinued), North Face e-tip running gloves (perfect for starting the app to coincide with actually going past the starting line despite my deep corrals), and Nike wristbands (to wipe the snot from the wind and cold more so than any sweat). And, finally, per my usual MO I ran with my Nike shades (despite the lack of sun the shades protected my eyeballs from the blistering wind that had my non-shaded companions shedding tears) and Yurbuds (since earphones were allowed and my runtastic mix propels me during runs). Currently, I am running in my Newton Distance Us (4 lug model; if you don’t know what I mean by lugs, please click on the link).
Ok, resume reading non-fashion conscious or non-gear geek runners
The Perfect 10 course was almost exclusively along the Lake except for a little jaunt under a bridge where the Lake meets the river (due to construction) and a quick loop through Grant Park. The Hot Chocolate, however, started through the City’s underground. While Chicago’s urban plan in the heart of downtown involves a series of duplicate roadways for trucks to get to skyscraper loading docks without marring the main city streets is genius in my opinion, these streets hardly make for an inspiring vista for a runner trying to get some momentum and motivation. Then, after some weaving through the city center, we headed down Michigan Avenue and back up the MLK Blvd where there is some architectural interest until finally ending up back by the Lake but only after running through the bowels of the McCormick Place Convention Center where the lighting is intended for cars with headlights rather than runners running after sunrise.
Both course led to me getting sentimental about the first home that my husband and I ever purchased and the homes where our children spent their first years. We ran by the school where my husband used to take my daughter for Music Together. We ran by the church where one of my best friends got married. We ran by countless signs for the commercial real estate firm by which my husband was once named Employee of the Year (just weeks before he would once again have to give up his career aspirations so that I could pursue mine). I mourned the loss of being able to listen to Lollapallooza from my deck, bike to the Lincoln Park Zoo along the lake or walk to the Field Museum. I freaked out (again!) by the weird headless Agora sculptures at the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
The memories are deep for me in that part of the city along both routes and running past it all was bittersweet. After all my weekend of running was brought to you by one set of grandparents taking my son on an adventure to Hershey PA and another facilitating my daughter’s Indian dance performance for the Hindu New Year, Diwali. So if I still lived in this city with the buildings reaching the clouds and the inspiring lake front running path, I would have a lot less flexibility to run literally and run off whenever work or kid-free leisure called. But at least I can still smile after the occasional tourist run, or two.