Sunday, April 26, 2015

Race to Wrigley 10K recap

I've had my eye on the Race to Wrigley for a long time. I've run races at the United Center, US Cellular Field, and Soldier Field, but had not yet run at Wrigley Field. This year I decided to take care of that!


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
Enroute to gear check, look who I ran into!
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:
Source
Prediction #7: The post-race food selections would include the usuals - bagels, banana, water, etc.

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
Source
In terms of the day's time goals, the only thing I wanted to do was break an hour. I took it nice and easy the first half. Despite the crowds in the second loop, I kicked it up during the second 5K and got a solid negative split. My final finishing time was 58:13.

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

35 comments:

  1. I've gotta feeling... this could be the year !

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    1. Every team can have a bad century, right?

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  2. I laughed at the comment your husband made about the Cubs!!!

    Glad weather conditions were better for this race. This is one race I've never done. Maybe next year. Good luck at the Cinco de Miler.

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    1. LOL, the Cubs have quite the legacy, don't they? =)

      I think you would enjoy this race! It would be even better when Wrigley isn't under construction and the weather is nicer, too!

      Thanks for the good luck wishes. It looks like you all had a great time at the Illinois Marathon Relay yesterday! Can't wait to hear the recap. What race is next on your calendar!?!?!?

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    2. It was a fun race but it rained. Oh, and it was cancelled due to the weather. Our team members kept running and we got to finish with a time of 4:29.

      I am thinking of running the Quarryman 10 Miler on May 9.

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    3. I heard about the race cancellation! What a bummer. It must have been raining really hard for that to have happened. =(

      4:29 is fantastic!!! GREAT JOB!!!

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  3. Sounds like a great time and congrats on the sub-60! I'm glad your predictions turned out to be mostly unfounded. Sounds like they should have started the 10kers more than 20 minutes ahead of the 5kers. Unless you are going to run a sub-20 first five, you will likely have to deal with walkers. Anyway, I love the "uniform" especially the baseball sock look! I wish this race weren't always on the Ravenswood Run weekend so I could do it!

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    1. Thanks so much, Pete! CONGRATULATIONS to you too on your new 5K PR at Ravenswood! Great point on starting the 10K more than 20 minutes ahead. Unless we can all run a sub-20 5K like you (AMAZING!), obviously we'll see some walkers on the course the second time around. And hey - this race is really just for fun, so I vote that you still run it sometime, maybe as a shakeout run and for the experience. Just a thought. =)

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  4. So fun! Great job on the finish. I've only DNS'd one race my whole life and that was for a broken foot. Never for the weather. I'm so glad you did it!

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    1. Thanks Wendy! A broken foot is a GREAT reason to DNS a race! I've had a few races that I should have DNS'd due to both injury issues and weather issues, but was always too stubborn to do so, haha. I hope that you never have to DNS another race, ever!!!

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  5. I love your baseball "costume". Isn't it funny how what we think is going to happen, usually does not? I'm horrible about deciding how I'm going to run before the race even starts. I've got to stop doing that. Congrats on a great time and a fun race. BTW, our minor league baseball team is named The Biscuits. Beautiful stadium. Bad name.

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    1. Thanks HoHo! The simple costumes like these are ones that I can handle, hehe. I don't know how some folks can wear the really elaborate outfits to run - especially at half marathons or longer. In line with "never wearing anything new on race day" - do these folks test out their costumes in advance!?!?! LOL.

      YES on overthinking things before we run these races. It's so hard sometimes to just go with the flow without any visions of what could go wrong, you know?

      The Biscuits! What a name!!! I am glad they have a beautiful stadium to make up for the name. =D

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  6. I am happy this race/day exceeded your... very low expectations! LOL!!!!! I love your race outfit, and congrats on the sub 1:00 and negative split!

    I don't follow any major sport, but this is something electric about those environments, that just make you have fun when you are in them! I really enjoy going to baseball games, and hope I get to attend some other sports games in my life, too! :)

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    1. Thanks for everything, Kim! Very low expectations is right, LOL. I was honestly thinking I would just race and then run out (literally) so it was a pleasant surprise that things ended up working out so nicely.

      I think one of the best parts about professional sports is being immersed in the fan environment and feeling the energy and passion of everyone around you! It's actually kind of similar to when we are running races and the crowd is cheering us on and spoonfeeding us motivation to keep going. Huge adrenaline rush. I am starting to get more excited about baseball games, too! I also hope you can attend some other sports games. You know that I think Blackhawks games at the UC are the absolute bestest so I am ALWAYS up for going if you want to check one out someday. =)

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    2. I think you would be the person to go to a Hawks game with! I am just not sure I could ever afford it. Or justify the pay when I don't know anything about the team, or exactly how the game works! Ha ha!

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    3. Yeah, I won't kid you, Hawks tickets are expensive. They keep getting more expensive as the team gets more and more popular, too. But for future planning - early-season tickets (e.g. the games in October) are comparatively much more affordable. You know that I'd be more than happy to give you a crash course in Blackhawks Hockey 101, too. =D Just let me know if you are ever up for taking the plunge!

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    4. I have heard how $$$! I was thinking early season would be best :) I will let you know when! :D :D :D

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  7. I think it's so awesome how much this race exceeded your expectations! I'll be honest: sometimes I worry about doing events put on by groups that aren't really running groups (like the Cubs) because I'm afraid they'll drop the ball on standard running things, but it doesn't sound like that's the case with this race at all. I'm glad you had such a great time, despite the weather - though you are probably used to it by this point :P

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    1. Thanks Bethany! I COMPLETELY agree with you on being uncertain when running races that are not hosted by experienced race organizers. (Heck, even the experienced organizers sometimes have issues, right?) The Race to Wrigley doesn't have the most detailed website, too, so I was definitely wary. It was a wonderful surprise that things worked out so well! Maybe since this is the tenth year they've done the race, they have all of the kinks worked out now!

      And yes, sad to say that I am used to running in the rain now. Aren't you happy that I didn't run Ravenswood? LOL ;-) Watch out, Cinco de Miler race participants - the rain magnet is coming your way!!! =D

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  8. Hahahaha, the Cubs are a pretty high-grossing charity!

    I love your race outfit - you DO look like you're ready to play baseball :) Saturday was a pretty crappy day for running (or leaving the house at all, really), but it sounds like you had a really good experience despite it! Congrats on beating an hour!!!!

    The neighborhoods near Wrigley are nice, I did many different run routes around there when I lived nearby.

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    1. LOL, yes, the Cubs pull in a large revenue stream for being a charity, indeed. =)

      Thanks! I was actually thinking about you on Saturday because I remember you were thinking about coming into the city to get a haircut. Did you end up doing that? The weather was crappy enough that if it were me, I might have rescheduled.

      I was very pleasantly surprised at how nice the Wrigleyville neighborhoods are! I guess I tend to just visualize all the Clark Street bars when I think of Wrigleyville, you know? But there is obviously so much more to the area than that!

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    2. I did! My stylist gets booked up pretty quickly, so it's hard to reschedule now that I don't live down the street from her. I did that, had some lunch and did a little shopping, despite the icky weather.

      There's actually a block of really awesome, huge houses just east of Wrigley (can't remember exactly where) that I used to like running down. It looks so out of place! But the area is definitely more than bars, although that's certainly the most prominent thing about it!

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  9. Steak?! That has GOT to be the strangest thing I've ever seen given out post race. And I've even seen cupcakes topped with frosting & lucky charms, bloody marys, and bacon.

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    1. The steak was super bizarre! It was a good thing it was pretty cold that day. For food-safety purposes, it would NOT have been good if it was a warm spring day. The steak company was probably the only group that was happy about the cold weather!

      Cupcakes with Lucky Charms? Yum!!!

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  10. I'm visiting from the race linkup. Glad you ended up running because it sounds like it was fun! All the photos from around the ballpark look fun.

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    1. Thanks Lauren! It seems that the hardest part with most of these races is just getting out of bed and to the starting line, right? Once you get going, it's usually a good time. But that early-morning alarm clock can be killer!

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  11. Fun race! I found you through #TuesdayTales :) I love the way you set up your race recap with predictions and reality. I've never seen that before! I might need to take that approach in the future!

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    1. Thanks so much, Amanda! Really appreciate the feedback on the setup. I am always looking for new ways to structure race recaps, myself! It's all about shaking things up and keeping them varied, yes? Both for us as the writers as well as the folks that read them. =)

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  12. This is very cool. I grew up a Cubs fan. My husband is from Southern Illinois and is a Cardinals fan so he always gives me a hard time. Pre-packaged steak is an unusual option for post-race treats!

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    1. I've only recently come to understand the passion that is a Cardinals fan! I can only imagine how hard of a time your husband must give you, especially given the Cubs' struggles for the last century! We're all glad that the Cubs are turning things around these days, yes?

      I've never seen pre-packaged steak before at a post-race so I was really blown away, too! What will they think of next, right?!?!?

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  13. Great job getting negative splits with the crowds on the second loop! Nice recap - I like all the predictions/realities. Thanks for linking up! #TuesdayTales

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    1. Thanks Jessica - I'm always looking for new ways to recap races, so much appreciate the feedback! Thanks for hosting the race link-up, as always!!!

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  14. I love this post. I love the prediction vs reality. We all do it but it was so fun seeing it written out like this. Well Done! And I'm a huge baseball fan too, so this just looks like an awesome opportunity. My husband and I were lucky enough to visit Wrigley Field a couple of years ago. Although not for a game, but to see Pearl Jam. I love old stadiums!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lara! It was actually a little shocking to put the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) with all the predictions versus reality. I've come to understand that I tend to fear and visualize the worst when 99% of the time none of it happens, you know? Wow, Pearl Jam at Wrigley must have been an AMAZING experience!!! Old stadiums are the best, especially when used as venues for other great non-baseball performances!!!

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