I did the St. Paddy’s Day 5K today, which was a blast, though getting there was a bit hectic. I’d stayed overnight with friends in Evanston the night before. We had a dance party, which amounted to playing lots of Just Dance for the Wii. We also did most of a Bollywood-themed workout video, in which the Bollywood star frequently exhorted us to “just have fun with it”. She also told us to breathe into our heart at one point (K* noted that’s not really possible) and later to inhale from our groin (which caused me to laugh so hard I fell over from my frog pose). It was a fun day, but I’m digressing.

This morning, I woke up, showered off, and headed out to walk to the CTA station in Evanston. I managed to miss the station first (I wasn’t expecting a cute little house/hut so much as a government-looking cement blob), so I overshot it a bit and had to come back. That put me behind some. Then, I realized that I had stupidly made my time estimates based on the purple line running to Fullerton. Because it’s the weekend, it only ran to Howard and then you have to transfer to the (not as express) red line. D’oh! I briefly considered switching to a cab, but, by that time, I was already close enough that it seemed silly.

When I got to the Fullerton stop, I started fast walking east, as I had a around a mile between me and the start line. The race was scheduled to start at 10am, and it was 9:20am at this point. I stopped at a McDonald’s along the way to use the restroom but otherwise high-tailed it to the start area. I was really nervous about getting there so late because I had not picked up my bib and shirt in advance (an option that was encouraged and available), but it ended up working out alright. They still had the registration area and bag check area open, and I probably missed the lines by being late. Score! πŸ™‚ The race HQ was inside the Nature Museum in Lincoln Park, which was pretty cool. I do need to visit that museum at some point when I have time. Having dropped off my bag, pinned on my bib, and looped my D-tag through my laces, I was ready to go by 9:55am. Woot! I joined the crowd of folks toward the back of the much larger crowd at the start line and waited.

It was then that I learned that the 8K people were starting at 10am, but they weren’t starting the 5K people yet. They waited until 10:20am to start the 5K, which really sucked (even though it gave me some downtime after my rush to the start). For one thing, that wasn’t advertised on the site, so everyone was confused as to why we weren’t starting. For another thing, it was an unusually hot day for March, and the later in the day it got, the hotter it got. For folks at or near my pace, it was around 75 degrees when we finished (the “feels like” on AccuWeather said 80, because it was also sunny with relatively little breeze for Chicago). If we’d started at our original time, it would have been a few degrees cooler throughout.

But, we started and off I went. The heat definitely took its toll. They had a water stop at the start and a water stop that was at the 1/3 and 2/3 points (it was an “out and back” course) for the 5K. (The 8K folks also had a water stop at their halfway point, but that was off of our course.) I was grabbing two cups of water: one to drink and one to drench my shirt with. I walked briskly for the first mile, as per my plan, but I was feeling hot from that alone, so I kept it to just walking until the water stop. From the water stop onward, I did mixed running and walking, though not as much or as fast of running as I usually do. At the time, I just knew it didn’t feel right, but in retrospect, it was the heat hitting me. I’m not at all used to hot (from a running perspective, wherein anything over 65 is warm to hot) weather this early in the year. It hit me hard on the half-marathon, too, once the sun got up and was heating us up.

At any rate, I finished. I even managed to jog/run the entire last tenth of a mile, but, while I set a new personal record, I missed my goal by 40 seconds. Missing a running goal by 40 seconds is a bit like losing an IMP match by 1 IMP in Bridge. There’s just so many little things that you could have done to make it up that it drives you crazy for the rest of the day. I had my usual brief cry after the finish line, though this time I was a little sad that I hadn’t made my goal rather than it just being post-race joy. Then, I grabbed the customary banana, protein shake, and powerade and headed to have my finisher picture taken.

A radio station was also doing a plinko-esque game to win prizes, and I stood in line for it while I drank and ate. While I was standing there, a woman came up to me and tapped me on the arm. She was another fat chick (I saw at least five fat chicks, my size and larger, out walking and running, which made me uber happy), same height as me, and when I took out my headphones, she half-spoke, half-whispered, “You’re my inspiration. I just wanted you to know. I spent the whole race trying to catch up to you, and I never did. But, it was great to see someone like me out there doing so well.” Well, that did it to me again. I teared up. I said, “Thank you.” In retrospect, I wish I had offered to give her a hug or said something more awesome. I also wish I hadn’t been so sweaty and out of it as to not be able to recognize her well enough to say hi to her later. Should she happen to end up here through some chance, I want her to know that it meant the world to me. I was pretty sad with my finish time, and that pumped me right back up again. πŸ™‚

This particular 5K included a free Guinness drink at the finish line. I ended up having a hard cider drink, which was delicious and really hit the spot. I could get used to this drinking post-race concept! This was the first time I’ve been able to take advantage of such things because I had a nice long walk and train ride before I had to drive. I didn’t hang around at the party for long, as I needed to be back up in Gurnee by 2pm, and I knew how long the train would take based on my morning experience. My cellphone was also near dead; I’d left the GPS on in map mode the entire time I was on the race by accident. Thus, I posted a quick tweet and then turned the phone off so it would still have juice should I need to make a phone call or use the map on my way back to my car.

I learned the other advantage of using transit for going to and coming from a race. People see your bib and congratulate you! πŸ™‚ I also like to think that they quietly forgive you for stinking. A long train ride later, and I was back in my car at 1pm. I felt bad for not calling G* and K*, but my phone was dead, and I was really too smelly to be near people I like. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, traffic ended up being worse than normal for a Saturday headed out of the city, so I had to go to my haircut appointment without getting to go home first. I switched shirts at least, and I’d aired out on the ride, but still, I apologized profusely to my stylist. She laughed it off, though. She runs, too, so she forgave me.

While my race result didn’t leave me feeling particularly glowy (though I really need to get over that…it was hot, I’d already done a mile of speed-walking to get there, and I still set a new PR), knowing that I’m someone’s inspiration made me feel like a rock star. Lesson learned: if you have someone who inspires you, tell them. You never know when it’s going to be at a time that they really need to hear it.

3 thoughts on “Inspiration”

  1. I HAVE told you how impressed I am with your running. You need to HEAR it sometimes, I think! Lighten up on yourself, You are doing awesome!!

  2. Thanks, Allison and tml. πŸ™‚

    (Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to fish for compliments…more that I felt like the lesson I learned was to make sure to tell people when they impress and inspire me. I’m not good at that, and I’m trying to improve on that front, especially at work but also in general.)

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