Race Recap: Chi Town 10K 2015

I spent 2014 busting out PRs left and right, and it felt fairly incredible. I became faster, stronger, even happier. I was proud of myself, proud of the way I rose to each challenge and recorded more notches in my racing belt.

Then last weekend, I busted out a “reverse 10K PR” — a.k.a. my slowest 6.2-mile race ever — and I still felt completely victorious. Fancy that.

My finish time at Saturday’s Chi Town 10K was 17 minutes slower than last year’s PR at the same race and 7 minutes slower than my previous 10K reverse PR (2012 Polar Dash, in a snowstorm).

Saturday’s race wasn’t about time goals, though; it was about running 6.2 miles without literally limping to the finish.

Coming back from injury has been difficult, to say the least, and I’m still not healed. But I needed this race to prove to myself that I truly am on the road to recovery.

Mags Chi Town 10K 2015I didn’t have my usual pre-race jitters, and I lollygagged a little getting down to the start line. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been less nervous about a non-goofy-5K race. I was excited about returning to the Lakefront Trail for the first time since marathon training, and despite the brisk-bordering-on-cold early-morning air, it was a beautiful day for a run.

I made my way back to the 10- and 11-minute start corral, and my ego took one on the chin as I pined over the Ghosts of Races Past, when I was way up front with the rabbits. Then I told my ego to shut the hell up, stop worrying about the past and live in the now (as Garth Algar would say).

I glanced down at my Timex watch as I crossed the start line: 8:22 a.m., 7 minutes after the gun went off. After that, I just ran. My ego would crop up every so often when someone would pass me, and I’d forcefully remind myself that it didn’t matter. I checked my watch a couple times to estimate how much longer I’d be running (the miles were not, shall we say, very clearly marked). I reveled at the new construction and paving on the trail. Damn, it HAS been a long time since I ran here.

My pace was steady, and the pain stayed away until about mile 4, when my left hip flexor started to feel little sore. Sonofa. It wasn’t awful, though, and all of my other “problem areas” felt fine, so I pressed on. Endurance-wise, I felt surprisingly strong — especially considering that I just started running regularly three weeks ago after five months of very little cardio of any kind.

When I reached the final stretch, I picked up my pace and picked off a few people to beat (hey, it WAS still a race), and I finished with a smile.

I hope all my races this year have the same happy ending. — Mags

ChiTown10KSwagA few notes about the race:

  • There were nearly three times as many runners for the 10K and half marathon races this year. Plus, they added the Deep Dish Dash 5K to the mix (which only had 50 finishers, but still). So much for my quaint little neighborhood jaunt. (I’m guessing it’s because everyone read my NBC Chicago Stride post, in which I sang the event’s praises, so I really only have myself to blame and/or congratulate.)
  • When we reached the Lakeshore Drive underpass near North Avenue beach at mile 3, a shouting volunteer informed us there was knee-high water in the tunnel. Um, what?! So we were re-routed out to LaSalle Drive and met back up with the course. It turns out, a pipe burst after the race started! Race organizers said it happened so quickly that the water in the tunnel was only inches deep when the lead runner went through and it was impassable just a couple minutes later. (My friend Troy was with the 8-minute pace group, and they trudged through ankle-high water). Volunteers and race organizers acted as quickly as they could, and police got in position to re-route runners through traffic. All told, it added .12 miles onto the half marathon and 10K courses. Never a dull moment, kids!
  • Once again, thumbs up on the race swag. The medal is fast becoming one of my favorites, and I also enjoy the light-weight zip hoodie race shirt.

Race Recap: Chi Town 10K

It occurred to me as I was preparing for the Chi Town 10K that this would be only the second race of my life where I neither knew anyone else who was running nor anyone who was spectating. The first time? My first race ever, a tiny neighborhood 5K in Upstate New York in 2001. I finished third in my age group and won a trophy at that race.

MagsMedalsWell, 13 years later, I again finished third in my age group and won a medal at a race.

But 21-year-old Maggie would have been no match for almost-34-year-old Maggie. In fact, she would’ve gotten her ass handed to her.

Setting a 10K PR has been my goal for the last two years. I hadn’t really raced a 10K since 2009 — before I’d ever even completed a half marathon — so it was about time I tested myself.

Over the last few months, I’ve been putting in the work and (mostly) sticking to my training plan, but the winter that never quit had all but destroyed my spirit. I didn’t really know if I was making improvements, if I was getting faster, if I was going to be able to maintain the 8-minute pace needed for my lofty sub-50-minute 10K goal. But I had a good run the Wednesday before the race and the weather forecast didn’t look too terrible, so my confidence was on the upswing.

I treated the weekend as if I was running a half or full marathon: mindful of my sleeping and eating habits, drinking lots of water, mentally preparing and resting. There were moments when I thought, “I’m taking this WAY too seriously for a 10K.” But then again, I had a goal and I wanted to reach it, so it had to be done.

On race day, lo and behold, the Racing Gods smiled upon my head and delivered the most glorious of mornings for a lakefront run. Cool and sunny, no wind. Thanks, dudes!

Between the 10K and half marathon, there were only about 1,200 runners, so it was a laid-back pre-race atmosphere. Easy gear check, short lines at the port-o-potties, even parking wasn’t too much of a hassle. I marched in place in the corral near the 8-minute pace sign close to the front of the pack and for the first time, I fired up my Garmin watch for a race.

We took off, and I was left in the dust by the speed demons around me. Uh-oh. Then I settled into a quick-but-comfortable pace and checked my watch. 7:25 current pace. No, Maggie! Slow down! When my watch chimed in with a 7:37 mile 1, I had to give myself a talking to. Going out too fast is rarely a problem for me in half or full marathons, but a 10K was a whole different beast that I was not nearly as familiar with taming.

I eased off the gas just a bit and decided to concentrate on taking in my surroundings. After all, we were running under clear, sunny skies on my most favorite patch of Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, and my legs felt fresh and fast. Good gravy, did it feel GOOD.

I was starting to become rather parched, though, and two miles in, we still hadn’t hit a water stop. Strange. At 2.5, I grabbed water and when my watch chimed at 3 miles, it said 8:01. Refreshed and relieved, I kicked it back up a notch and found my groove, that euphoric place where I was busting my ass but still feeling incredibly confident and strong.

I started picking people off, glancing down at my watch every few minutes to check my current pace. Faster and faster and still strong. I jammed out to my all killer no filler playlist. Finally, I hit the turnaround for the 10K, and my first thought was, “I’m soooooo glad I’m not doing the half!” (Side note: I ran the half in 2012 and set a PR.)

I made the turn and noticed that, gee, there aren’t a lot of people around. “Everyone must be doing the half,” I thought to myself. I hit the home stretch and gave it everything I had left. “Oh gawwwd,” I heaved as a volunteer handed me my finisher medal, laughing. I hit stop on my Garmin. 47 minutes and change.


ChiTownMedalsAs I walked over to grab water and snacks, I looked around. The post-race area was practically empty. Huh, so this is what it looks like when you’re a front-of-the-pack runner. This was all new to me. I got my gear check bag, stretched and munched on some pretzels, and then I noticed a group of skinny runner dudes standing around a big bulletin board in the middle of the grassy area. “Race results!” a young volunteer said, running over to tape up a sheet of paper. I wandered over and looked for my name.

28. Maggie Jenkins / 3 30-34 / 33 F / 47:15 / 7:37/M

My jaw dropped. I walked away, and then 90 seconds later, I turned back to go look again, just to make sure my foggy runner’s brain didn’t make it up.

PR crushed by 5 minutes. Goal time crushed by almost 3 minutes. And third in my age group, which meant I was going to have to stick around for the awards ceremony.

Again, I said, WHOA.

I immediately texted my Bad Angels, and that was the first moment I really wished I’d had someone there with me. Regardless, I was bursting with joy and pride and hope and confidence for the rest of my racing season.

I retrieved my age group award, and then started the walk back to my car, two medals clanging around my neck with every step I took. I could get used to that sound. — Mags

Race Day Playlist: Chi-Town 10K

When you’ve got a short race that you wanna crush, there is but one rule for your playlist: ALL KILLER, NO FILLER. — Mags

Playlist stats: 16 songs, 56:51 total time

1. Everlasting Light — The Black Keys
2. Default — Django Django
3. Valerie — Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse
4. If Raymond Carver Was Born In the 90’s — Library Voices
5. Spark — Fitz & The Tantrums
6. A/B Machines — Sleigh Bells
7. Month of May — Arcade Fire
8. 1901 — Phoenix
9. Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun — Beastie Boys
10. The Walker — Fitz & The Tantrums
11. Thrift Shop — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
12. B.O.B. — Outkast
13. Lip Gloss — Lil Mama
14. List of Demands (Reparations) — Saul Williams
15. Go — Santigold feat. Karen O
16. Sure Shot — Beastie Boys

Race Recap: Chi-Town 10K

So, um, I bailed on that 10K.

You know, that one 10K that was supposed to be my super-fast, destroy-my-PR race.

Here’s what happened: I was crushing my training plan, doing speedwork and surprising myself at the relative ease with which I was completing 400-meter repeats and tempo runs at a fast clip. Then, four weeks ago, I went on vacation, a snowboarding trip that I had scheduled into my training plan (high altitude cardio crosstraining!). And after that, it all went downhill.


I didn’t run the race, but I do love the 1/4 zip pullover (and I will feel like such a poser when I inevitably wear it.)

I was taken down by a sinus infection that was bad, got a little better, then got a helluva lot worse. I finally went to the doctor, got on antibiotics and started to fight it off. Saturday came, and I realized I was staring down a Sunday morning 10K in cold temps and high winds with a major time constraint (I had to be to work at 11 a.m.; the race was at 8:15) and a lingering illness.

So, I bailed.

I’m reminding myself it was only a 10K and there will be other 10Ks. I’m reminding myself it is more important for me to get all-the-way healthy. Though, it still stings knowing I fell short of my goal and that I kinda wussed out.

These things happen. Illnesses happen. Injuries happen. Life happens. And then you have to try to make the best decisions about what to do.

I don’t regret skipping the race; I think it was the right thing to do in this particular situation. I just hope I’m not faced with another decision like that again any time soon (and that my stupid sinus infection GTFO ASAP.) — Mags

Race Day Playlist: Chi-Town 10K

Well, a week of snowboarding followed by two-plus weeks of a sinus infection really effed up my training (so long, PR dreams), but it doesn’t mean I can’t still have a kick-ass playlist, right? — Mags

1. Root Down — Beastie Boys
2. American Boy — Estelle feat. Kanye West

3. Call It What You Want — Foster the People

4. Harlem — New Politics

5. Call Me Maybe — Carly Rae Jepsen

6. Valerie — Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse

7. And Then The Girls — Donora

8. Default — Django Django

9. King and Lionheart — Of Monsters and Men

10. If Raymond Carver Was Born in the ’90s — Library Voices

11. Romance — Wild Flag

12. 1901 — Phoenix

13. Bang Bang Bang — Mark Ronson & The Business Intl

14. Super Disco Breakin’ — Beastie Boys

15. Lip Gloss — Lil Mama

16. I Look To You — Miami Horror feat. Kimbra

17. Party Rock Anthem — LMFAO