It almost didn't happen, though. The rain magnet (yours truly) struck again! Forecasters were predicting rain, wind, and temperatures in the 40s during race morning. This would prospectively be my fourth race in about 9 months that was plagued by inclement precipitation. I very, very, very seriously considered DNS-ing.
Had I actually elected to skip out, I would have felt better knowing that the race proceeds were going to charity. (Incidentally, when I mentioned this to Adam, he said, "The Cubs ARE a charity." Ouch!!! Although, they are supposed to be much better this year, right?)
Alas, in tune with what I learned in my college economics/psychology classes, I am a billboard for honoring sunk costs. I really did not want to waste my registration fee. So I grudgingly arose at the crack of dawn on race morning and got ready to go.
Once the day got underway, things went much, MUCH better than expected.
Prediction #1: At 7:00 AM on a Saturday morning, CTA service would take forever and a day to haul my sorry butt up to Wrigley Field.
Reality #1: I caught a bus as soon as I stepped outside. My bus-to-train transfer took less than two minutes. My train ride was filled with other excited race-goers, which lifted my spirits. I had allowed an hour of transit time, but the total ride only took about 30 minutes. Bam!
Prediction #2: Upon arrival, the streets would be mobbed. It would be nearly impossible to take any pictures with the Wrigley Field statues or marquee.
Reality #2: I present to thee - saying hello to Ron Santo:
and giving a high-flying greeting to Ernie Banks:
As you can see, I lived dangerously, broke the runner's rules, and wore the race shirt on race day. Normally I wouldn't do this but the shirt was so festive that I couldn't resist!
I also wore white compression sleeves and black shoes in an attempt to emulate the "baseball knickers" look.
I wore the white hat primarily to ward off the rain, but I thought it completed the baseball look nicely, too. (This is about the closest I've ever gotten to running in costume, heh heh.)
Prediction #3: All the runners would be standing around in the pouring rain and wind waiting for portapotties, gear check, and the starting gun. We would freeze our collective patookies off.
Reality #3: There was zero wait for the portapotties. An enormous tent housed a gear check (which had no lines) while also providing substantial protection from the elements. Additionally, runners had the option of waiting inside any of several Cubs merchandise stores or a nearby McDonald's. Normally the waiting is the worst part, but this morning it was effortless.
|Runners hanging out inside the tent pre-race|
|Baseball themed McDonald's near Wrigley Field|
|Chicago Cubs mascot, Clark!|
Prediction #4: I would be running the race amidst packed crowds, many of whom would be unfamiliar with race etiquette. Things would probably start out very crowded, but then start spacing out after a few miles.
Reality #4: Normally this race is just a 5K. However, in honor of the Race to Wrigley's 10-year anniversary this year, the organizers offered a "Let's Run Two" 10K option (two laps around the 5K course) which I jumped at. The 10K runners started 20 minutes earlier than the 5K runners and walkers. As a result, the course was not at all crowded during the first loop. It was awesome!
Things did get very, very crowded during the second loop, though. I was weaving around groups of people walking five or six in tandem.
Prediction #5: Other than finishing in front of Wrigley Field, I didn't think the course would be very scenic. The entire event takes place outside of the stadium, so how festive could it be? Wrigley Field is under massive construction right now, too. Here are some pictures:
Reality #5: The course went through some very nice neighborhoods! I'd only ever seen some of these streets while driving by in my car. It was really fun to experience them from my running shoes. It was also fun that the post-race area was staged right in the heart of the Wrigleyville social scene on Clark Street. Wrigleyville is so vibrant!
Prediction #6: There would be nasty rain and wind. Everyone would be complaining and would make a mad dash for the exits as soon as they finished.
Reality #6: The rain was relatively light and I didn't notice any wind. I didn't find the conditions to be bothersome at all. The other participants around me were all having a blast, too. Plenty of people were hanging out afterwards (and of course many headed directly to the Wrigleyville bars, LOL).
Here's the finish line (photo taken pre-race):
This was the scene at the post-race refreshment area on Clark Street:
Reality #7: One sponsor had lines piled up for very unusual food giveaway: Prepackaged steak!
|A few of Chicago's finest taking advantage of the free steak|
In the end...
I had a blast at the Race to Wrigley! What a wonderful surprise that all of my fears of bad weather and crowds turned out to be completely unfounded. The atmosphere and festivities were a lot more fun than I had expected!
Dare I say that I'm starting to catch some of the hype about Cubs baseball? I am not a baseball fan. But, being surrounded by hundreds of happy runners/walkers in Cubs gear can actually be pretty infectious. =)
My next race: the Cinco de Miler on May 9