Earlier this week I decided I wanted to race this weekend. So I googled for a Chicago race calendar, found some CARA thing, and found that the Proud to Run 5k/10k, as part of Chicago's Pride weekend festivities, was going on in Montrose Harbor. Apparently they get lots of straight dudes out for the run, too, and why not? The course used almost all the elements of Montrose Harbor I'd include in a 10k race, and I have really good taste in running routes so it was definitely going to be a great course. And there aren't nearly enough 10k races in Chicago.
I sort of thought the pre-race stuff might be really loud and cheesy, a little slice of Boys' Town nightlife at eight in the frickin' morning (which is totally cool on an abstract level, but not really my style), but it was really pretty much like any other Chicago race. Loudspeakers pumping in every song ever recorded with the word "run" in the title, like every other Chicago race (except that because of the spaciousness of Montrose Harbor they didn't seem so oppressively loud and omnipresent as at other races). A few runners wearing capes and one dude in a clown costume, like every other Chicago race (both the rate of costume wearing and the range of costumes fell very much within Chicago race norms... we have some pretty colorful races here).
I was not under any illusions that I was going to PR today. I think I'm calling my PR 35:18, but really it could be anything. I'm having a really great summer in terms of running long, seeing new places, and enjoying myself, but I'm not fast right now. And I'm OK with that; I worked hard and got fast last fall, maybe I'll do it again this fall. So I just wanted to run 36:30 and maybe win.
We got out to a 5:40 first mile, and around me were a few muscular guys, a dude that looked like a runner in a blue shirt, a young dude that looked like a runner in a red shirt, and an older tall bald guy in a black shirt who didn't look comfortable at the pace. I pegged the muscular guys for either 5k runners or 10k runners that would fade a lot. Yeah, I'm biased against muscular runners, but I really do think they go out too fast way more than runners with other body types. Red shirt guy didn't look as calm or smooth as blue shirt guy, black shirt guy looked like he might be able to tough-out the race despite uneven form. I sort of wonder how people would size me up in a race recap. Bony, long-haired guy in a dark blue shirt with really inconsistent cadence and stride length and some weird upper-body catches?
After the split (goodbye to muscular guys and red shirt dude) black shirt guy was out in front, blue shirt guy was 30 or 40 meters back from him, and I was about 20 meters in back of him. We held those positions without change for about three miles. We were all fading a bit, at about the same rate. I was surprised how long black shirt guy stayed up front. Blue shirt guy passed him early in the fifth mile and I did not too long afterward. Blue shirt guy wasn't really pulling away from me, though, so I got visions of victory, and early in the sixth mile I made a big move. It was ill-fated. I took the lead with probably a mile to go but then died hard and blue shirt guy passed me and pulled away in the last half-mile. Blue shirt guy 36:35 or so, Al 36:42.
I saw both of them after the race. Black shirt guy said he'd tried to go out with the muscular guys, thinking they were running the 10k, and that that was too fast. I was pretty impressed with how long he held on after that. Blue shirt guy probably ran a slightly smarter race than I did, going out a bit slower and not trying a ridiculous surge with a mile to go, but it wasn't strategy that won it. If I hadn't gone for it then I would have finished about the same distance behind him.
The awards ceremony was really long and I missed out on shade, so I got sunburned. Part of the long wait was attributed to the lack of chip timing in a race with over 1200 participants. In my experience races with chip timing don't get results much faster than this one did, and they tend to need big, fenced-in starting areas to make sure everyone crosses the start line. I liked the open, wide start of this race, as it didn't break up the beautiful view of the harbor. This race, despite its size, probably doesn't need as many age divisions as it has, or to even take awards all that seriously. Frankly, it could probably be done somewhat like the Elmhurst Turkey Trot: give a silly prize to the first male and female across the line, don't even keep results for anyone else. Or maybe add a masters division and a retirement-age division by using different-colored bibs. Most of the runners here, like at Trot, aren't running for times and places, and those that are are wearing their own watches.
I randomly chatted with an older couple of women wearing complementary jumpsuits and capes, and a younger woman with IT band problems who gave me info about a trail running series. Woot! There was a performance by the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps, several speakers on subjects of interest to various combinations of the queer and athletic communities, and a raffle. All Chicago races seem to have raffles; is that common elsewhere? In this one the prizes ranged from a year's supply of bagels to a goodie bag from a Boys' Town toy shop. Unfortunately the woman who received the latter didn't seem to have much use for some of the contents. Overall, a fun race, a race with some history whose long-time participants are very proud of. Lots of people there knew each other, so there was a lot of socialization and a sense of community, which is rare for a Chicago race.
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