The proceeds from this race benefit PAWS Chicago. Excellent! I've said many times how much I value the cause of animal shelters. So when I saw this race I signed up immediately.
This was actually my second 5K in seven days. Having been happy with how things went at the Mad Dash to Madison less than a week ago, I debated how to handle the 5K9 5K. Part of me wanted to just run easy and enjoy myself, but part of me wanted to see if I could beat my Mad Dash time.
There were a couple of other factors, too. Since I'm running the Prairie State Half Marathon in three weeks, I needed to get a 9-mile long run in sometime over the weekend. I know some folks run races and then tack on extra miles before and/or after to achieve their long run distances. I didn't feel like doing that, though. Instead, I went ahead and did my 9-miler the day before, planning to make a race-time decision on how to handle the 5K9. I do usually try to avoid running on consecutive days, especially on long-run days, but this time I figured I'd give it a try.
Now, onto the race itself. The weather was absolutely gorgeous - sunny with temperatures in the upper 50s. The race's start and finish line were both at Montrose Harbor. I was a little bit worried about finding parking since the start line for the CARA Ready to Run 20-Miler was only a few blocks away. Thankfully, I had no issue since I arrived pretty early, but I bet it got tough for participants that arrived later.
I went to pick up my race packet and shirt. The volunteer working the goodie bag table asked me if I was running with or without a dog. I told her I was running without a dog and she handed me an "athlete-only" goodie bag. It was stuffed to the max, so I got excited (I'm so used to the goodie bags that are basically just a stack of flyers). I eagerly went to a nearby table to check out the contents. This is what I found:
|Lots of doggie products!|
So much for the "athlete-only" goodie bag (although I have to admit the little sausage thing looked somewhat tasty). I am guessing I was given the wrong type of bag. But no worries - I gave the contents away to a dog-owner (there was obviously plenty of them at the race).
I found out there was no gear check so I went back to my car to store my belongings. I took a GU for good measure, then did a 1-mile warm-up run and hit the portapotty (no lines!)
Here are some pictures of the festivities pre-race:
|I think dog owners were able to get a free collar tag with their dog's name on it?|
|Dogs and their owners hanging out.|
|More dogs and owners hanging out.|
|In addition to medical personnel for the humans, it was nice to see an onsite veterinarian for the dogs.|
I then headed over to the start line. "Runners without friends" (i.e. runners doing the 5K without a dog) got to line up first, followed by "Runners with best friends" (runners with dogs), then "Walkers with and without friends." Since I was a "runner without friends" I went to the very front of the line (wow!). There were probably only about 100 or so runners without dogs, so in the back of my mind I was wondering if I might actually be able to snag some kind of age-group placement amidst the limited field?
An emcee announced that the runners without dogs would get a one-minute head start before they let the runners with dogs begin the race. Seemingly in answer to my ambitious thoughts on possible race placement, he informed us that the Petco Foundation has hosted this race in ten different cities across the country this year but only once had a human actually won the race. Every other time, a dog had won. The emcee joked that in most instances, the dogs had provided their owners an advantage by pulling them along the course!
While we were waiting to start, the emcee told all of us that they had poop bags available. He instructed us to raise our hands if we needed one. A runner without a dog standing next to me immediately raised his hand. Everyone laughed.
The starting airhorn sounded and off we went. The crowd spread out quickly. Even with the one-minute head start, it seemed like it took no time at all before runners with dogs started catching up to us and zooming past us.
Some of the dogs, which came in all shapes and sizes, were FLYING. I couldn't believe my eyes that the owners were even able to keep up. The emcee wasn't kidding when he said that the dogs provided their owners with a boost! I tried to push myself but seeing so many dogs careen past me with their owners in tow, I realized right away that the odds of me earning any kind of age group placement were exactly zero.
Mile 1: 8:04
Oh wow. Since I started wearing a Garmin two years ago, this is by far the fastest mile split I've ever recorded at a race (previously it was 8:29 at the Mad Dash to Madison). Who knew that trying to race alongside dogs could have such a positive impact? I thought, "It would be nice if I could maintain this... but more than likely it means I started too fast. Again!"
Mile 2: 8:36
Yeah, that's more like it.
I was still watching dogs fly past me. But I chuckled when I saw a couple of dogs suddenly stop to do their business right in the middle of the path, much to the chagrin of their owners. But hey, when you're a dog out for a big day in the park and you gotta go, you might as well just go, right? Just be careful where you step. =D
I kept at it but my legs definitely started feeling the effects from doing my long run the day before. I could feel myself slowing down. But the views of Lake Michigan from the course were gorgeous and I was still enjoying seeing all the dogs romping along.
Mile 3: 9:10
Yikes, did I ever slow down! I didn't think it was to THAT extent, but so be it. I did my best to sprint to the finish.
Mile 3.1: 0:52
My official time was 26:42.
Despite running a hugely positive split, I did succeed in beating my Mad Dash to Madison time by 5 seconds. Admittedly I had been hoping to do better than that and I now wished that I had pushed harder in the final mile. But I was very happy to have achieved the 8:04 in the first mile. It's been a goal of mine for quite some time to run a sub-8 mile, so it felt good knowing that it's within shouting distance.
I went to get some post-race food (they had bananas, oranges, bagels, and a variety of pastries). Then I walked around a bit admiring all of the dogs. Here are some more pictures:
|Dogs and their owners crossing the finish line while others cheer them on.|
|There were several tents with dog treats, so the organizers very kindly distinguished the human food from the nonhuman food.|
|The doggie agility area. |
(It's not a coincidence that I photographed the dog in the Blackhawks shirt.)
|It wasn't hard to identify the owners for the dog in the Blackhawks shirt.|
In addition to some pet trainer demonstrations, there was a doggie costume contest. I didn't stick around for the contest but based on some of the cute costumes I did see, I am sure was ridiculously adorable.
I was thrilled, as always, to run while supporting the cause of animal shelters. This race reminded me quite a bit of the PAWS Run For Their Lives, which is a must-do race for me. The Petco 5K9 race is going to become a must-do for me, too. I had a great time and I can't wait to participate in it again in the future!
Congrats on the speedy finish! Declan and I were running along the Lakefront Trail as this race was winding down. Too bad we didn't start a little earlier and we would have seen you killing it during the first mile! I always start too fast too, well except rarely, and those are my PRs when I run negative splits. :) Sounds like a fun race, of course you got pics of the Blackhawks dog and owners! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Pete! Oh wow, it would have been awesome to see you and Declan out there on the path! Hopefully you were both careful about where you stepped. ;-) Why is it so hard to run negative splits, sigh?!?!? And yes - I am pretty predictable when it comes to folks dressed to the nines in Hawks attire, LOL.Delete
Aww, this seems like a perfect race for dog lovers! Wait, so did a dog win? LOL, I must have missed that!ReplyDelete
Runners without friends! Aww, that makes me sad, lol! I wonder if some runners would be nervous with all the dogs passing them. Of course, then why would they sign up for this type of race? :P
Congrats on beating your time! And WTG on getting that 9 in ;)
Thanks, Kim! Yes - this race would be perfect for Erin and Anne and all of our dog-lover friends! Unfortunately the dogs did not wear timing chips but I am sure a dog won this race (given by how many owners I saw getting pulled along by their pups, LOL). I agree very much that the choice of words for runners without dogs made me sad, too. =( But maybe it was to encourage us all to adopt a pet in need of a home so that we would no longer be "friendless"? Gotta love that kind of marketing! =DDelete
Well, if I ran with my dog Jude, he'd definitely be dragging me across the finish line! He's got an 8 minute mile from running almost exclusively with Bob, so I can't keep up! But he runs right alongside Bob when they run together, wonder if they'd be interested in signing up for something like this. I'd probably just spectate and give out pets instead of high-fives :)Delete
And everyone needs that kind of best friend! :)
I think you, Bob, and Jude or Meko would LOVE this race as well as of the PAWS Run For Their Lives! The proceeds go to such a good cause and it's really fun to see all of the other dogs there. Both races have a walk option, too - so if you don't feel like getting dragged across the course, that might be a good alternative!Delete
And I agree - everyone needs that kind of best friend! I wish I could have one but Adam is allergic. =(
I kind of know how you feel - we could never get a dog when I was a kid because my mom was terrified of them (and now my brother and I have 5 big dogs - HA!), and my dad was always bummed about that. But you're always welcome to visit my furry best friends! :)Delete
That is hilarious that you and your brother now have 5 big dogs! Nothing better than making up for lost time now on the things that you weren't able to do as a child, no? =)Delete
Much appreciate the offer to visit Meko and Jude anytime! I do love seeing their pictures on your blog but it's obviously always much more fun to see them in person!
Lol! I know another runner who needed a poop bag - where was that aid station at the Chicago Half?!ReplyDelete
LOL, they should start handing out poop bags at aid stations all across the country. It would save the hassle of all those portapotties!!!Delete
Hmmm... problem, though. Considering how poorly people aim to get their water cups into the trash can... imagine aiming at a trash can to dispose of your poop bag. I'm not sure how well this concept would go.
Good point! I can relate to this personally because I usually don't even bother trying to get my cup into the trash can. Most of the time I just drop it on the ground (bad, I know!) So when a poop bag is involved, I guess it would kind of defeat the purpose for folks like me, right? =DDelete
The picture of the dog pulling its owner made me laugh. Great race! you are getting speed!!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Zenaida! Glad you liked the picture of the dog pulling its owner. It really wasn't very far off from the reality of what I saw at the race, LOL!Delete
What a fun race! I am such a dog lover I'd LOVE to do this one! Emily you're getting speedier and speedier! Congrats!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Marcia! I think you would LOVE this race as well as the PAWS Run For Their Lives! If your schedule permits, please do consider doing either or both next year - the proceeds go to a great cause!Delete
Way to beat your time already!!! I think I would be so distracted by all the cuteness around me, and probably stopping to take tons of pictures, so there's no way I could PR at a race like this :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Anne. =) It's fun to celebrate a 5-second improvement, LOL. Indeed, this race is definitely one in which there are TONS of photo opportunities. It's really, really heartwarming to see all the adorable pets interacting with each other and their owners!Delete
I'm glad no humans stopped mid run to poop on the course!ReplyDelete
Sounds like a fun time! Glad you beat your mad dash time!
Thanks, Declan - and I am also very, VERY glad that no humans stopped to do their business in the middle of the course, too. That would not be good at all. Can you imagine the poor volunteers that would have to clean up after that? Yikes!Delete
Looks like a fun race and for a great cause!!! You're getting close to that sub 8 mile!!! Awesome!!!:)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Kayla! Congrats to you, too, on your Women's Rock Half - way to push through despite the nasty weather and your crazy-busy schedule!!!Delete
Yay! Congrats on another great 5K time. I completely forgot this race was Sunday AM but it looks like so much fun. There aren't many races where you can actually run with your dog so I hope this one sticks around. Maybe when I have a "friend" (which better be in the next two years) I'll come out.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Erin! I think you would have loved this race, so if you are free next year you should definitely sign up! I think you are right in that this is the only race I am aware of where you actually get to RUN with your dog (since the PAWS race has separate courses for runners with and without dogs). I hope you get a "friend" soon, too. If you ever want to go to one of the shelters and look for your new best "friend" I'd always be up for going with you. =DDelete
Aww! Yeay! Any race with dogs is a good race in my book! There was a time when Geronimo would be perfect for something like this. These days he's really only running a mile or two at a time. It's still a little hot for him to do more than that. Chicago must be having nice weather though. I see people wearing pants and long sleeves in your pictures. Lucky!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Amy! Knowing how much G-mo is a part of your life, I know that you do truly appreciate races like these! The Petco Foundation does these races all over the country so they may end up coming to El Paso in the future. =) And yes - we've had a bit of an extended summer here, with autumn only recently starting to show its colors (literally and figuratively). Race-day temps were in the upper 50s/low 60s so we were blessed with gorgeous weather that morning! What are the temps like in EP at the moment!?!?!?Delete
Big Woot on the 8:04 and beating the Mad Dash time! Makes me curious to know if there are any certain breeds of dogs that have advantages over others (sportswriter thoughts), but nice to see the dogs get their day in the sun!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Chris! Indeed, you should have seen how deliriously happy the dogs were to be able to go for a big romp outdoors with their owners and so many other dogs. Very heartwarming. =)Delete
I definitely have to imagine that certain dogs (e.g. German shepherds, greyhounds, etc.) have advantages over, say, chihuahuas or any of the "weiner-dog" types. Even so - I would never pick any human to win over any dog! I think any dog could probably still win out even over the Kenyans! (Having four legs versus two legs makes a big difference, no?)