Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ultra Marathoner! Chicago Lakefront Ultra 50k

I didn't name this post "race recap" because it's not really about the race too much.  It was more about me and my feelings on it.  I just didn't feel as though it is an accurate "race recap" but whatever! Let's get to it, shall we!

I remember at the beginning of this year, my friend Julie said she was going to run the Chicago Ultra 50k this November. I thought she was crazy. I told her my plan was to run 2 fall marathons about 1 month apart (with Fox Valley being the first).  I mean, 2 fall marathons isn't crazy or anything, right? She mentioned, "Why don't you do the Ultra as your second one instead of a 2nd 26.2 marathon?"  I simply said...and I quote, "I don't ever want to run more than 26.2 miles!"

Fast forward to ... maybe...August of this year.  I had signed up for Fox Valley Marathon in January.  Training was in full swing, and really wasn't going that great anyway.  My shoulder was giving me problems and I was considering having surgery this winter on it.  So while walking at lunch one day, I decided that I was going to sign up for the Ultra since I would probably be having shoulder surgery and would be out for a while after that.  Long story short...got a new job and therefore not having surgery just yet.

After the hard time at Fox Valley, I almost didn't do Chicago.  Got talked into Chicago but didn't want to do the Ultra.  Finally after realizing my friend Julie wanted to do it with me, I decided to give it a shot.  I was feeling pretty good and thought that I just needed to finish anyway.

Race day was here.  Julie, Derek and I headed to the South Side of Chicago near Jackson Park.  The course was an out and back (5+ miles) and run 3 times.  Julie and I picked up our packets and saw some friends.  How I know so many crazy people is beyond me!  While waiting in the line for the bathrooms, we started talking to someone who'd done these before.  She had a big bag that she was placing near the start line (which is also the turnaround point 2 times, and the finish line).  People put bags there in case they need a change of clothes, food, whatever they might need.  Julie and I had nothing.  We had our race shirts on and that was it.  We were pretty cold and after talking to the woman, we decided to place a bag there because we wanted to layer up for the first loop and then ditch our clothes for the rest.  I commented to Julie that I liked how we were still deciding what to wear 15 minutes before the race start.

Julie and I after picking up our packets - Start line (No Whiners Allowed!)

Waiting to start (L to R: Julie, Nicole, Me, Susan, Joe)
Julie and I had a plan to run 7 minutes and walk 1 minute.  We never really tried this at a race before but we thought maybe it would help conserve our energy and our legs.  I set my watch for the intervals and it would beep and vibrate so I didn't really have to be conscience of it.

And we started.  And we ran.  We ran our 7 minutes and walked our 1 minute.  Many people had this type of plan and I was constantly hearing beeping and seeing people walk and run in the beginning.  Soon, lots of people passed us.  I didn't care. I just wanted to make it to the end.  Our first 10+ mile loop was upon us.

The first 10 miles went pretty well.  There was also a 50 miler going on and those people had 4 loops (longer loops) and started 2 hours earlier so there were already people running the opposite way from us.  Also, the 50k had an early start for those that wanted it.  I didn't want to start early because I wanted to full experience.  The out and back 3 loops provided many opportunities to cheer people on or have people cheer us on.  That was the part I liked!  Soon, we were done with the first loop.  We ditched some clothes and gloves and went to the bathroom.  Derek cheered us on and snapped this photo.

Running in after the first loop.  Bad form already!  But smiling!
I definitely liked the breakup with the 3 loops but the endless cheering from new "friends" we made on the course.  Julie and I both wore our Fox Valley Marathon Shirts and were known as the Fox Valley Marathon girls (original, I know!).  It was funny hearing people coming in the opposite direction... "Hey! It's the Fox Valley Marathon girls!  Hi guys! Great job!"  We were pretty recognizable and that made it fun!

The second loop was the worst.  First, the start sign said "No Whiners Allowed" and we definitely tried to follow that.  But we made some aches and tiredness known.  By mile 12, my legs were tired.  I still had 19 miles to go.  We saw people on their last lap...and we still had this one and one more.  It was pretty draining.  But, Julie and I made it through. For the most part, we kept our 7:1 interval.  Occasionally I slipped in an extra minute walk but that was it.  We also took our sweet old time at the aid stations, which had all kinds of food.  I'll elaborate later on that.  But finally lap two was complete!  Side note, to get to the start/finish/turnaround area, we had to go under the street which meant there was a pretty mean hill we had to go up every.single.time.  I'm proud to say I ran up it every.single.time!

Half way point!

About to complete our second loop and running up that dreaded hill again!  But still smiling!

The third loop was among us!  Only 10 miles to go!  We were definitely both tired, definitely both feeling it, definitely less talking going on.  Derek helped us by running the last loop with us.  We were crabby but it really helps having someone there! 

Derek and I on my last loop of 10 miles.

City in the background

Aid Station
 By this point, we knew where the aid stations were, we were supported by "friends", I was pretty optimistic since every mile down was one mile less in our LAST LOOP!  Near the end, Julie asked to cut it down to a 6:2 interval which was fine by me.  We actually only had about 3.5 miles left.  Julie was a little grumpier than me at this point. Somehow I found Ms. Optimistic in myself!  "Julie! Only 3 miles left!  Julie...only 2 miles left!  Almost done!  Look Julie!  The building!"  This building was one I remember from my 20 milers on the lakefront and knew the end was right by there!  I had said I'd never be so happy as when I saw that building!  Julie said later than my optimism did help a bit.

And Julie and I wanted to finish together.  And I sprinted up that last hill!  Sprinted after 31 miles!  Up a hill!  And we finished.  Together.  Well, she finish 1 second faster but whatever! Ha!

Finish Line!!

After the finish (Me, Jen, Julie)
Did I tell you, we get homemade red beans and rice at the finish?  It was so good.  They even gave some to Derek which I was happy about.

Red beans and rice!  So warm and tasty!  Perfect 50k post race food!
We finished in 6 hours 22 minutes.  I was perfectly fine with that.  Considering I did 3 marathons/ultra in 6 weeks.  Considering I wasn't going to do anything else after my horrible time at Fox Valley.  Considering I didn't injure myself with all of these major runs.  Considering.  I'd say I did a pretty darn good job.

So yes, I was disappointed with my performance with Fox Valley and Chicago.  In fact, my Ultra marathon pace was better than both the 26.2 marathons!  So even though I was originally disappointed with the first two, I'm really proud of myself for that last one and in turn, really proud of myself for this amazing accomplishment of completing all three.  People have a hard enough time doing just 1 marathon...and I did 3. In 6 weeks. 

My next goal is to lose weight and get more physically fit before I ever do anything longer than a half marathon again.  I've been working on it and dropped about 10 pounds so far. 

I actually had more pictures to show but for some reason, I'm having a hard time downloading them.  I've been sitting on this blog post for a bit now and want to get it out. After all, my Ultra was over 2 weeks ago! Ha!