Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ravenswood 5K race recap

Before I recap the Ravenswood 5K, let me talk briefly about my beloved Blackhawks after last night's results. They had an amazing run this year. I am always proud of the team for battling to the finish with everything they've got. Win or lose, I love the team with all my heart. Nothing will ever change that.

Time for the Blackhawks to get some well-deserved rest. We'll get it back next year.

And now, switching gears onto the topic at hand.

Last Friday afternoon, I was at the office trying valiantly to maintain some semblance of productivity. All of a sudden, I got an email from Erin saying she might be able to get me a free entry to the Ravenswood 5K on Sunday if I was interested.
OH HECK YES!!! I responded back to Erin's email as quickly as my fingers could type. I love neighborhood races and I have heard countless rave reviews about Ravenswood.

It turns out Erin's running club had received some race entries to use as raffle prizes, but two of the winners were injured and unable to run. They offered up their entries to anyone who could use them. Erin snagged one for herself, and when nobody claimed the other one she was able to claim it for me.

Huge, huge, HUGE thanks to Erin for thinking of me!!!
I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but over the last few months I had actually thought about signing up for the Ravenswood 5K as a PR attempt. I had initially decided against it because the Pittsburgh Half Marathon is next weekend. Plus, I haven't been doing any speedwork. But now I had a great opportunity to test myself without having too much time to overthink things.

In general, I am not a huge fan of the 5K distance. I find the breakneck tempo to be extremely challenging - much more so than longer distances like the half marathon. I've been so gunshy that I haven't made any 5K PR attempts in almost two years.
On race morning, I still had reservations about making an attempt. After going to the Blackhawks game the night before, I had gotten very little sleep. My nerves caused me to suddenly be conscious of all kinds of bodily niggles. The weather was noticeably warmer compared to a few days prior. On and on and on.

Erin and I drove up to the race site to find everything extremely well organized with great volunteers. Easy parking, no lines at the portapotties, good signage, and gear check was a snap.

We headed out for about a 1.2-mile warm-up run together. During this time, I still had phantom aches and pains. Why must the body and mind torture us in this way?
At the starting line, I enjoyed the energy of all the runners and spectators surrounding me. During the pre-race national anthem I stood with my eyes closed, let the anthem sink into my heart, and prayed for a strong race. I thought about the adrenaline I had felt less than 12 hours earlier at the Blackhawks Game 6 victory, and I tried to channel that feeling.

At exactly 8:00 AM on the dot, the starting airhorn went off. As the runners were underway, we were serenaded by church bells tolling from the All Saints Episcopal Church nearby. It was perfect.
Source
My plan was to try to run the first 2.6 miles at around an 8:20 pace, then pick things up in the final 0.5 miles. As is typical with most races, the course was crowded at the start, making it challenging to get my pace going smoothly. I tried to run off to one side to minimize any weaving and bobbing. In the first half mile I glanced down at my Garmin a few times and saw my pace was below 8:00, so I made myself slow down a bit. I told myself, Run by feel and keep the pace comfortably hard.

The Ravenswood 5K is famous for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel making event appearances, since he lives in the neighborhood. Incidentally, he is actually quite the athlete, too! 
Mayor Emanuel at the 2012 Chicago Triathlon
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Pete mentioned that the Mayor liked to spectate near the 0.70-mile point on the course. Initially, I planned to keep an eye out for a sighting. Ultimately, I ended up being completely focused on pacing, running the tangents, and keeping my footing (the roads had a plethora of speed bumps, plus some potholes and debris).

Mile 1: 8:15

Mentally, the second mile of a 5K is always the toughest for me. I was starting to feel the exertion from the fast pace, contemplating if I'd started out too aggressively, and wondering if I could keep it up. At one point I looked down at my Garmin thinking the Mile 2 marker had to be close - only to see I was only around 1.35 miles in. Yowza.
After slowing down to make one of the course turns, I made the mistake of checking my pace. My Garmin showed 8:40, which messed with my head. It brought flashbacks of a previous 5K PR attempt where my second mile fell off considerably. I tried not to think about it, instead trying to be conscious of feeling reasonably strong while reminding myself I had a 5-second cushion from Mile 1. Every second counts, right? Sure enough...

Mile 2: 8:20

Whew, still on track! It was a relief to see the Mile 2 marker. Just over a mile to go! Despite the exertion, I was feeling pretty good. Normally I feel no joy while on a 5K course. Here I actually had a few moments where I might have thought I was having a slight hint of fun???

The course included some straightaways which allowed me to keep my tempo solidly on target. At one point we were running straight into the sunshine, but I tried not to let it bother me. If you can keep this same tempo up, you'll hit your goal!

There was a course turn near the 2.6-mile point after which my plan was to give everything I had left. 
My breathing was ragged and my lungs were burning, but I knew I was close. Come on, you can do anything for just a few more minutes! I kept stretching my eyes to look for the finish line, but couldn't see it.

We made one final turn. Suddenly, there was the finish line just past a small downhill and uphill slope. Ahhh, the agony! But I hit the Mile 3 marker in 24:46 and knew I was going to PR. I was too exerted to physically smile, but mentally I was already smiling inwardly.

Mile 3: 8:11
Mile 3.1: 0:49

My official finishing time was 25:35, which is a 20-second PR for me. Most importantly, since my previous PR was set well over a decade ago, I am so thrilled to finally have a relevant current PR. High-fives all around!!!
Post-race, I met back up with Erin, and then we found Eric, Pete, and Annabelle. It was so great to see everyone!
Pete told me Mayor Emanuel had run the race and was standing right behind him in the starting corrals. Wow! We later tried to look up the Mayor's race results but couldn't find him. He must have run under a pseudonym?

Afterwards, one of Erin's triathlete friends, Gurneet, hosted a post-run brunch. The festivities were a great time with terrific food and company. I am grateful to both Erin and Gurneet for inviting me! It was wonderful to meet so many other like-minded folks and talk shop.

Many thanks again to Erin for giving me the opportunity to finally achieve such a longstanding goal at the Ravenswood 5K. It feels redeeming to finally see payoff after a period of stagnation! This race has increased my confidence in perfect time for...

My next race: The Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 1

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Linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

32 comments:

  1. Nice work! Even better to PR on a whim entry to a free race. Can't wait to hear about next weekend.

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    1. Thanks Natalie! Yes - any race is always better when done on a whim for free! That way no matter what happens, you can think, I ran for free anyways!!! =D Thanks for the enthusiasm for the Pittsburgh Half coming up!

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  2. Congrats on your PR. And it happened when you least expected it.

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    1. Thanks Zenaida! Yes - there really is something to be said for not having time to overthink things (even though I still had plenty of reservations on race morning, LOL), and just going out there and letting it rip!

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  3. Congrats on your PR!!!! I had the same "you can do anything for a few minutes" thought during my race on Sunday too! It's hard to keep pushing sometimes, but you did it!

    I'm so glad you finally got to do the Ravenswood Run, it's such a great race! In part, because it's so well-organized by Fleet Feet (which hopefully won't change once RAM takes over), but really because the Ravenswood/Lincoln Square area is so nice and fun to run through (and I'm probably biased for having lived there 6 years). It feels very small-town, despite being in a big city.

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    1. Thanks, Anne! I am super excited to hear about your race last Sunday, too! It sounds like you also had an awesome day racing in your hometown. =)

      The Ravenswood 5K really is fantastic! Neighborhood races are the best because of the friendly cameraderie. Someone said they saw runners chatting with spectators along the course, saying things like, "Hey, why don't you come over later this afternoon?" It was awesome. Ravenswood and Lincoln Square are wonderful neighborhoods!

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  4. Great job on your PR! 5k's are so much harder than longer distances, which is weird. I'm having body niggles too, which started last week. They can stop any time :-p

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    1. Thanks Lesley! Yes, I find it much easier to maintain a slower pace for a longer period of time than I do to run a super-fast pace for a short distance. It gives me so much respect for the 100-meter dash sprinters you see on TV - they have ZERO room for error! I hope your body niggles go away very, very soon!

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  5. Congrats Emily! See? Breakout year. Believe it. I'll bet Pete totally dusted Rahm. ;)

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    1. Thanks Marcia! Really appreciate your confidence in me!!! Oh yes, based on Pete's pacing, I am sure he totally dusted Rahm. We're embarking on an investigative journey to try to figure out what Rahm's actual time was by reviewing video footage of the finishing line, LOL.

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  6. Great job in your 5k and finally hitting that PR after so long. Love a good brunch after a race. Enjoy your accomplishment!

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    1. Thank you so much! Agreed - there is nothing better than a solid brunch post-race with good company. Much appreciated!!!

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  7. YAY! Great race. I'm so impressed you kept up the pace the last mile. My last PR attempt at the 5K I remember thinking around 2.5 miles "Yeah, NO - It's not worth this much pain" and slowing down.
    GOOOOOOD LUCK this weekend!

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    1. Thanks Kelly! At least you made it to the 2.5 mile mark before you thought that! I once ran a terrible 5K PR attempt where I went out so fast at the start that I was already ready to die by the time I hit the first mile marker. Ahhh, the lessons we learn the hard way! Your next PR attempt will be better. =)

      Appreciate the well wishes for this weekend very much!

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  8. Sorry to hear about the Blackhawks last night. At least you will have a lifetime of memories from game 6 when the roof was almost blown off! Congrats again on the PR and wow, nice splits! 8:15, 8:20 and 8:11 are about as even as possible (especially given the wind conditions). If you noticed my three Ravenswood mile splits were all within six seconds of each other. All my 5ks PRs have tightly grouped times. I've heard that even splits are best for 5ks so you did incredibly well! Maybe Rahm didn't finish the race. I wonder if he just ran to his house and then stopped there because it is practically on the course! Congrats again!!

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    1. Thanks, Pete! It's funny - a lot of folks are saying that their pain from last night is being eased by both the Cubs and White Sox being in first place. Imagine that, right??? I've learned a lot from you about proper pacing at these races - it was through your suggestion that I wanted to evenly split the first 2.6 miles and pick it up only in the last 0.5. At 5Ks, the pacing is so important since there's so little room for error! LOL - that would be funny if Rahm DNF and just went home! But I imagine he's a pretty busy guy, right? =D Thank you again and huge congratulations to you too on your own smoking PR on Sunday (and your other two this month)!!!!

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  9. Congratulations on the 5K PR!! That is awesome!

    Sorry to hear about the Black Hawks! Maybe next year!

    The body starts to play all sorts of tricks on us when running!

    Yay for Running with the Mayor!! The most awesome celebrity I've met/seen at a race was Christopher McDougall, the author of Born To Run, he was at the Bird In Hand 5K and Half Marathon last year. He was such an awesome guy!

    I need more friends who call me with free race entries!

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    1. Thank you so much, Ana! Yes, next year the Hawks will get their championship back! Isn't it ridiculous all the tricks the body plays with us? OH WOW - you ran into Christopher McDougall? That is AWESOME!!! I've heard rave reviews on Born to Run - it's on my list of books to read. =)

      LOL, I need more friends who call me with free race entries, too! I am sure this will be my one and only time it'll ever happen! =D

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  10. Congrats! You're amazing!

    And I'm sad about the Hawks too, but you're right, next year! <3

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    1. Thank you so much, Alexandra!

      It seemed like a long shot for the Hawks to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions this year after three straight VERY long playoff runs and so much team turnover. Regardless, they still came thisclose to winning the series! We've got a good future ahead of us for years to come. =)

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  11. Yay! Congrats on your PR!!! That is awesome! Great splits, too!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kim! I learn a lot about pacing and split planning from all of my fellow runners, you very much being at the top of the list!!! =)

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  12. HOORAY for a new PR! Your time was awesome Emily. And, you ENJOYED it? LOL. 5ks feel like pure torture to me. Yet I keep going back again and again.

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    1. Thank you so much, HoHo! Don't worry, my enjoyment lasted all of about .00000001 nanoseconds, LOL. But I guess that is better than nothing, right? Likewise, every time I run any race, I always tell myself NEVER AGAIN. Yet I keep going back, too! It's part of being a runner - you totally understand!!! =D

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  13. Congrats again on the PR!!! AWESOME! I honestly can not remember the last time I did a 5k minus the color run I did last summer which I didn't race at all. Sorry about the Hawks...seemed like it was an exciting series though. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Kayla! Likewise - I don't do a lot of 5Ks for various reasons, and a lot of them are so geared towards other focuses that they can be tough to "race." Thanks on the Hawks - and sorry about the Wild, too. I watched Game 6 and that last goal that got waved off was a toothpick's distance from counting. CRAZINESS. Can't wait for next year for both of us!!!

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  14. Woohoo!!! So, so, so happy for you! You've been working for this and wanting this for a long time, and I'm just thrilled that you finally get to add a shiny new PR to your collection. Maybe that hill work has been doing you more good than you've given it credit for! I'm glad you got the chance to experience Ravenswood, too - such a fantastic race :) Congrats again!

    Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

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    1. Thank you so much, Bethany! I am bummed that I didn't get to see you at the race on Sunday, but congratulations to you too on a super strong race! I can certainly see why folks love Ravenswood so much, too. It was really, really well done and neighborhood races in general are such a great way to explore the city! Much appreciate your kind words. =)

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  15. Wow! That hill work really worked for you :) That is a very speedy 5K time. Congrats on a great run.
    I find 5K's to be very challenging, trying to sustain that hard pace for so long is tough.

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen! It was very rewarding to finally see payoffs from all the hillwork, even if on an indirect basis. =) Much appreciate your kind words!!!

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  16. Awesome job! Congrats on the PR!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sharon! Really appreciate it!!!!! =D

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