Where has the summer gone? It was only about 10 weeks ago that the Hawks had their championship parade down Michigan Avenue with the Stanley Cup! Is it really time for hockey already!?!?
This was my first experience running the Mad Dash to Madison. I had signed up for last year's Mad Dash, but last year the race got cancelled due to the NHL lockout. Also, Blackhawks Training Camp Festival usually takes place on a Saturday morning. However, this year there were arena conflicts at the United Center with the Disney on Ice show. Therefore, this year's festival took place last night, on a Monday evening.
Given the weekday timing, things got a little hectic for me leading up to the race. I left the office a little later than I wanted to. As a result, I ended up having to rush home where I literally threw on running clothes, slopped a gear bag together, and smashed a protein bar into my mouth. Then I scurried over to meet Erin for a warm-up run to the United Center.
To paraphrase the famous Blues Brothers quote: It was one mile to the United Center, I was carrying my gear bag awkwardly in one hand, was wearing capris that kept riding down on me, the sun was super bright, and I wasn't wearing sunglasses. Hit it.
|The Blues Brothers with their Blackhawks Bluesmobile|
Once we go to the United Center, the lines to enter the building were already stretched all the way down the block and around in every direction.
|The Hawks are kind of popular.|
We met up with my friend Gina who I hadn't seen in probably 10 years! Gina was so kind to act as our personal gear check. She also got seats for Erin and me for the team scrimmage inside the United Center while the 5K was taking place. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures with Gina or with Erin. #BloggerFail
Prior to the 5K race and the team scrimmage, the team hosted a viewing of the Stanley Cup at center ice. Here's a picture that someone tweeted from the viewing:
Back outside, Erin and I discussed race strategy. She wanted to race the 5K but I was undecided on whether or not to race it. Therefore, we agreed on a post-race meet-up point and went to line up at our respective pace areas. We were surrounded by a sea of red shirts and it very crowded trying to line up. I managed to squeeze my way in between the 8- and 9-minute pace signs.
When the starting airhorn blew, it was quite chaotic for the first few minutes. The sun was shining directly in our eyes, which made it very difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. Given the lack of visibility and the crowds, I did my best to get my pace up and I even moved up onto the sidewalk for a little bit. I decided I would try to run at a reasonably hard effort and see if I could beat my best 5K time from the last year (27:52). Once the course turned a corner, the sun was no longer in our eyes and it was much more pleasant.
Mile 1: 8:29
I know all too well that 5K paces are supposed to hurt. But this is actually the best mile split I've ever clocked at a race during my history of wearing a Garmin (about 2 years). Not a bad way to start! Although it also meant I might have started out too quickly.
Mile 2 is usually the hardest, most painful mile for me, both mentally and physically. And painful, it was. It felt like Mile 2 would never end. Somewhere along the way there was a water station with some really great volunteers. I was thirsty, but I was so focused on keeping my pace that I didn't want to stop for water. Instead, I just barreled through.
I kept thinking about how much I hate 5Ks. I focused on pumping my arms. I also tried to focus on leaning forward slightly in an attempt to let gravity help propel me. I felt like I kept getting passed by other runners and it didn't feel good.
Mile 2: 8:44
I was actually pleasantly surprised at my Mile 2 split. I knew I had slowed down and my Garmin had been showing paces anywhere between 9:05 to 9:15. So this was good.
As the remaining distance started ticking down, I started feeling better. I had studied the course map, knew the neighborhood well, and knew exactly where the finish line was. As the Mile 3 marker and the United Center came into view, I glanced down at my Garmin and saw that my time was 25-something. Yay! At that point I knew that I was going to beat my 27:52 time. The question was - by how much?
To quote one of Jonathan Toews's finest acting moments:
Mile 3: 8:42
Mile 3.1: 0:52
My official time was 26:47. Woo hoo!
Little known fact: My all-time 5K PR, which I set in July 2001 (yes, over a decade ago), is 25:55. I am excited because I am finally starting to get within spitting distance of that PR. Maybe in another year or so I'll finally be able to break it?
I met back up with Erin, who had also run a great race. We headed into the United Center, collecting our Jonathan Toews bobbleheads along the way.
|L: Captain Jonathan Toews (aka "Tazer") in human form|
R: Tazer in bobblehead form
What do you think of the resemblance?!?
We found Gina, then settled into our seats to watch the scrimmage. Ahhh, it felt so good to be watching hockey again! I reveled in hearing the sounds of pucks hitting the sticks and boards, the old familiar goal horn, and the blare of Chelsea Dagger.
|The view of the scoreboard from our seats|
I didn't get many pictures of the actual scrimmage (another #BloggerFail), so here are a few pictures that I poached from the Blackhawks' Facebook page:
This was a great night for me. A great 5K race performance followed by Blackhawks hockey with great friends? For me, you can't get much better than that!
I am definitely ready for hockey season to begin now. Just two more weeks until Banner Raising night at the UC. Let the countdown officially begin!
Awesome 5K time! I'm jealous!ReplyDelete
Aww, thank you! And definitely no jealousy - my running progress has historically been REALLY slow...!Delete
Emily!! You rocked it!! Great race - and HOORAY for hockey season :)ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Bobbi! It was too bad that you weren't able to make it to the festivities because I think you would have had such a great time - and it would have been awesome to see you, too! HOORAY for hockey season, indeed. Are you proudly sporting your news Hawks license plate?!?!?!? =DDelete
Congrats Emily! SMokin' fast time! Looks like such a fun race. How can it be 10 weeks already? Feels like the Hawks just won last week!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Marcia! These fan-themed races are always really fun, indeed, because they are so laid-back and spirited. =) It really does feel like the Hawks just won last week - I can only imagine how the players on the team feel!!!Delete
Congrats on the time! I'm a little jealous you saw goals since I missed all five my friends and I stayed for since I was wandering the concourse for food ;) Happy running!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Chris - and HUGE CONGRATS to you, too, for taking first place in your AG! WOO HOO!!! That sucks that you missed all the goals. If it's any consolation, I've learned NEVER to go to the bathroom when the puck is in play because it seems the team ALWAYS scores just during those few moments when I step away. ALWAYS!Delete
Congrats on the PR!! I am super impressed - and that you'd kind of gone out with ambivalence on racing it. Keep up the great work!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Lauren! Let's call this a "current" PR since I still have almost a minute to cut before I reach a true PR. But we should still celebrate all the milestones, yes? (Now, time for me to work on my half-marathon times, sigh...!)Delete
YAY For race PR! That means another Stanley Cup for the blackhawks right??ReplyDelete
Thanks, Declan! As I was just mentioning to Lauren above, let's call this a "current" PR since I still have almost a minute to cut before I reach a true PR. But I'm still happy to celebrate a good race. =)Delete
That would be AWESOME if my race performance had a direct correlation with the Hawks winning the Stanley Cup. =) (If so, it would probably be the reason why Stanley Cups are so hard to win, LOL)
Post-race bobbleheads, how cool! That's worth it right there!ReplyDelete
Way to go knocking a minute off your "current" PR! :) That's awesome! I'll bet you'll beat your all-time PR sooner than a year from now.
I guess I'm just used to people passing me in races - it never really bugs me :) Especially since it often IS the people starting out too fast (I think this is a lot more common in my slower corrals), and I get to pass them again later. The only time it's felt bad is when a guy running in flannel PJ pants passed me. Like, c'mon.
Thanks so much, Anne!Delete
It's definitely a huge perk to receive unique swag at races! Anything other than (or in addition to) a race shirt is great! (The shirt for Mad Dash was actually very nice - and it's surprisingly hard to find technical shirts with a Blackhawks logo on them.)
I very much appreciate the confidence on my prospects for setting an all-time PR in the near future. =) And yeah, I generally get passed a LOT during races, too, usually by folks who look like they are floating effortlessly by. How does that always happen? And I can relate to the flannel pajamas incident. I once got passed by a guy wearing a banana suit! =D
Hahahaha, now that would be awesome!Delete
(Do you watch Arrested Development? Passed by the guy in the $3,000 banana suit, C'MON!)
Unfortunately I don't watch Arrested Development - although I do hear that it is crazy funny! I can just imagine an actor/actress saying the $3,000 banana suit line, though. =D HILARIOUS!!!Delete
Awesome race!! I knew you were flying but I had no idea you finished so fast. Sorry for not asking afterward! I think we were both kind of wiped out for a bit :-)ReplyDelete
And I'm happy I got to break my UC "cherry" with you! I'm looking forward to going back.
As for people passing you, I was getting passed toward the end, too. I was trying to keep any women from passing me but, alas, I think I got passed by two or three in the last mile!
Thanks so much, Erin! For sure, after crossing the finish line I had to take a few moments to reacclimate myself to the world around me. =) Huge congrats to you on your fantastic race, too! For someone who says she hasn't been running much these days, you sure are consistent at keeping your speed!Delete
Yay for you getting to check out the UC for the first time at Training Camp! We will definitely have to go to a Hawks game sometime (you know me, I am ALWAYS up for a Hawks game). And I love your idea about racing in all the sports stadiums! I am definitely up for doing the Race To Wrigley and the Soldier Field 10 next year in addition to Mad Dash and Strike Out ALS. =)
Boo for getting passed in the last mile! But at least they weren't by people wearing bizarro costumes (hopefully), since I don't think I saw many people dressed up, yes?
I've never been to a Hawks game either (but several Bulls games, so I'm no UC-virgin), so I'm inviting myself :)Delete
Oh my gosh!!! We all definitely have to go!!! Hawks games are an experience like NO OTHER. They are SO ADDICTING. I am up for going ANYTIME.Delete
This is the PERFECT race for you! Congrats on beating last year's best time! I think a PR could be in the cards for next year!!!ReplyDelete
LOL, I was downtown yesterday and wondering why so many people had BH stuff on! Geesh! Where did summer go?! :)
Thanks so much, Kim! I am really excited for the prospects for finally setting a new PR relatively soon. I usually hate the 5K distance but I have to admit that now I am motivated to run more of them. =)Delete
Yay for the Blackhawks fans proudly sporting their attire!!! And how often are you downtown?!?!? Now that I am back to working downtown myself, we need to meet up!!!
It's so hard, but maybe one of the most rewarding distances... since we can go so fast!Delete
I am normally only downtown on Wednesdays but I have a lot of work coming up for a Chicago project, so I will give you some dates I am going to be downtown, when I know them! :)
5Ks are so hard yet can be so rewarding indeed! I think the only thing tougher than a 5K might be a one-mile time trial, yes? (I shudder at the thought of doing one of those...)Delete
Please do let me know when you have a better idea of your downtown schedule! It's been such a long time since we've had a chance to really catch up!!!
Congrats on a great race! From your mile splits it looks like you were flying!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Zenaida! There's something about autumn races that I think works well for a lot of us runners. After training all summer in heat and humidity, autumn races are the opportunity to enjoy all that we've accomplished, yes?Delete