The nice thing about Wrigley is that the packet pick up was that they had it at Sports Authority which was only a half mile from my apartment, so very convenient. I opted to do the pick up that was a week before the race. I met up with my friend Jennifer after work and we headed over. It was a painless pick up process, but we were surprised to find that the shirts this year were normal cotton shirts rather than a tech shirt. The lady was like that should be a plus, I've got too many tech shirts. We didn't see it as much of a plus. I overheard others complaining on race day as well. We looked around the store a bit. Jennifer wanted to check out shoes and why not check out gear. I saw that they had some compression tops from Under Armour that are kinda neat. They are called alter ego and are basically compressions shirts made to look like superhero outfits like Superman and Batman. I was definitely tempted, but at $45 I wasn't quite sure about getting one. I'm now regretting that decision, because let's face it, what boy doesn't want to have a Superman costume on underneath their clothes? The shirts are now basically sold out everywhere.
So I was a little late getting to the race, but still got there about a half hour or so before the race started and took some pictures.
So I had 4 friends I was running with and we waited around by the macaroni a bit in case any of the other bloggers decided to stop by. About 20 minutes before start time we finally headed to gear check and were met by long lines. I was starting to get anxious that I wouldn't make it back to the start line in time. I always get real nervous about being late for certain things, and my stomach starts to turn. I really have no idea why it happens to me but it does. I finally check my bag and head to the start line. I was just in time for the 30 second warning. I tried to sync my watch and pulled off my arm warmers since I didn't think I'd need them.
At this point all I was thinking was so much for the plan. I had wanted to jog around and do some striders to warm up before the race. I've finally gotten to a point that I can feel a difference when I warm up for a run and when I don't. Once I warm up I tend to slide into a groove and able to run much faster without even realizing it. Now it was too late. The gun fired and I didn't even have my watch synced so I was running blind and by feel.
Mile 1 - 6:43
I know what you're thinking, how did I know my time without my watch? I made mental notes of the race clocks as I passed them and subtracted how far behind my chip time was. I knew I had gone out fairly fast, but felt I could keep it up. This was my goal race, I was going to endure some pain in order to PR. My watch finally synced up about .4 miles into the race. I have it set to show my current pace and was shocked to see 6:30 flashing at me... and this was after I slowed myself after an initial burst. I slowed myself a touch more to around 6:46 and tried to hold it. I know I slowed again once we turned onto Ravenswood and hit a very slight uphill portion. I see the race clock and knew I had just recorded my fastest mile ever timed. I once ran a 6:45 in the 6th grade, but never timed any of my miles in middle or high school.
Mile 2 - 7:05
Here is where I feel like 2012 all over again. Last year I went out way fast and faded. This year I was determined to keep it strong. Mile 2 involves a slight downhill section of Ravenswood before turning down Irving Park and heading back east. I was cursing myself the entire way, but not letting myself give up.
Mile 3 - 7:30
Shortly into the 3rd mile there is a sharp hairpin turnaround usually reserved for longer out and back races. I lost all momentum. I was able to get my legs back up to speed and turned down Clark for the last stretch. Once you get back to Waveland there is a crowd all around and you enter the concourse of Wrigley Field. I focus on my breathing and keeping the legs going. My PR was in site, I just needed to keep it up.
Mile 3.1 - 0:42
The marker for the 3rd mile was inside the stadium. We exit under the marquee and turn north for the final stretch. I pick up the pace slightly, but can't get my legs into a full sprint like I normally do. I cross the finish line knowing I had accomplished what I came to do and maybe more.
I went through the finishing shoot and got some Gatorade, a bottle of water and half a bagel. There were bananas too, but I never touch those. I went over to Waveland and saw Chris finish. I tried watching for Jennifer but never saw her. We went to pick up our gear and low and behold there was Jennifer. At the table they had QR codes we could scan to find out our times. I came into the race hoping to break 23:00 and had a stretch goal of 22:00. I set my previous best just 2 weeks ago running a 23:20 and the Race That's Good For Life just 2 weeks ago.
I finished in 22:00! I was beside myself. This was a 1:20 improvement in a 5K in just 2 weeks. I'm thrilled that I did so well, but also wonder what could have been if I had time to warm up and ran a smarter race i.e. negative splits. Oh well, there's always next year!