BTN Big 10K Race Recap

The streak lives on! For the fourth year in a row, I pretended to be a Big 10 alum and ran my only 10K of the year: the BTN Big 10K.

This year, the race (10K and 5K) had 12,105 finishers – which, fun fact, is more finishers than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half had last Sunday (12,031, though with the 10K, the overall Rock ‘n’ Roll event had 13,961). Despite now easily being one of the five biggest running events in Chicago (with the Chicago Marathon, Shamrock Shuffle, Hot Chocolate and Rock ‘n’ Roll as events one through four, respectively), for reasons far beyond my comprehension, the race still insisted on holding packet pickup at exactly one Fleet Feet location. That went about as well as you would expect a small store hosting packet pickup for 12,000+ runners to go.

That is to say, not well.

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Now, I will admit that I went to packet pickup at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, which was probably a pretty popular time to go to packet pickup. HOWEVER. I have never, in my four years and 30+ events of racing, seen packet pickup this disastrous (then again, I’ve also never run Hot Chocolate, so maybe that’s why ;) ). For those of you familiar with Fleet Feet Old Town, the line for packet pickup began in the Piper’s Alley lobby, snaked down the hall that goes past Chipotle and Starbucks, out onto the sidewalk on Wells in front of Adobo Grill and Fleet Feet, beyond the gated houses next to Fleet Feet, and down to the hair salon to the north of those homes – when I got there. I have no idea how much longer the line got later. All told, packet pickup, which involved getting my bib and participant bag–a task that should, AT MOST, take five minutes–took 40 minutes. The line moved along at a decent clip, but that is ABSURD. The Big 10K has, without question, outgrown Fleet Feet as a packet pickup location, and it’s time to look into other options – especially since this is now a Top Five race in the city.

If only everyone consulted with me before organizing their races, eh? ;)

Continuing with this year’s trend of bare bones packets, there was next to nothing in this year’s for the Big 10K.

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Which is fine. I only need to throw away so many Chicago Endurance Sports advertisements, you know?

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I’m starting to feel silly for having four Michigan Big 10K shirts, and I’m thinking of getting shirts for random schools if I continue to run this race – maybe see if I can collect the entire conference? (Except Ohio State. I may not be a Michigan alum, but that doesn’t mean I want any scarlet and grey shirts in my wardrobe.)

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In my opinion/experience, this year’s start line was the most organized of them yet. I was in an appropriate corral (unlike 2013), and I thought they did a good job of spacing us out as started the race. In the weeks leading up to the race, we kept getting emails touting the new course (as if changing the course were a new concept: this race has changed the course literally every year – not that I’m complaining!). This year’s race took us under McCormick Place TWICE (kill me), which threw my watch into a tizzy. And while the race didn’t read my Rock ‘n’ Roll recap and provide me with a club atmosphere inside McCormick Place, they did play music inside the tunnels, which I really appreciated. Let’s make this a permanent thing, shall we? McCormick Place tunnels are so much more tolerable with music.

After such a lousy week of running, I really wanted to keep myself under control during the race and not bonk no matter what. I hit the first mile in 9:30, which was just about a full minute faster than I wanted, but I had a really hard time slowing down. I eventually got more into the 10s, though the heat certainly helped with that. It was mercifully overcast on Saturday, but it was hot hot hot and humid humid humid, making conditions less than enjoyable for the heat-averse like me. Also, there were only three aid stations on-course, which was about three fewer than I would have liked. I really, really needed more water out there on a day like Saturday.

The last mile of the course was super weird, with us winding all around the area of McCormick Place before going into a tunnel that lasted for.ev.er. (and caused my watch to think I ran a 12:02 last mile. Lulz. I guarantee you that is NOT true.). I actually felt pretty good and able to push it towards the end, which made me so happy. Aside from Rock ‘n’ Roll, I’ve been so spent at the end of most of my races lately that it’s been a struggle to make it to the finish line. While I suppose that’s a somewhat effective way to race, at least in the sense that it means I’ve given it my all, I much prefer to not feel like death for the last mile.

I ended up finishing in 1:03:01, which ranks as my #3 (out of five) 10K time. No complaints from me! Though I would like to break an hour in the 10K again sometime, ideally sooner rather than later, Saturday was not the day that was going to happen. If I want to run a fast 10K, it’s going to have to be in the spring or fall, no question about that.

I met up with my CARA BFF after the race and hung out with her and a couple of her friends for quite some time. She hasn’t been to training at all yet this summer, so it was SUPER great to see her and catch up. And eat those delicious chicken sausages they serve post-race, which in and of itself is pretty much enough to keep me doing this race :P

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I feel oddly loyal to the Big 10K since I’ve done it every year since its inception, but I’m also starting to feel weirder and weirder about doing it, since I didn’t go to a Big 10 school. Obviously no one at the race knows that, but I still feel like I’m not ~supposed~ to be there since I don’t have a Big 10 degree to my name (would just like to reiterate that I did get into Michigan and could have gone to Michigan but chose not to go to Michigan. Sorry not sorry.). Big 10 alum are so oddly possessive about their schools, and I get sick of justifying my presence there to people who ask why I’m running if I didn’t go to a Big 10 school. But it’s a fun event, and the post-race party is honestly my favorite out of all of the post-race parties, so…yeah. We’ll see.

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Chicago Marathon Training Week 7

Sunday, July 19: 13.8 miles in 2:25:50 for a 10:36 pace.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, by my watch’s stats.

Monday, July 20: Rest.
I intended to do yoga, but my day ended up being PACKED, and I just didn’t have time. I figure resting the day after a half isn’t the worst thing in the world, anyway.

Tuesday, July 21: Dance.
We finished (I think? I hope!) a combo we started last Tuesday that is COMPLICATED in hip hop, and were all over the place in break. We worked on transitions, we worked on falling, we talked about how “real” bboys battle and perform. I continued attempting to put forth a solid effort in both classes, especially after some registration ~dRaMa~ for hip hop next session.

Wednesday, July 22: 6 miles in 1:03:42 for a 10:37 pace.
This…was not a good run. I really didn’t want to go for a run (story of my training cycle), but I knew once I got out there, it’d improve. You know how a lot of people talk about how the first mile is the worst one in every run? Yeah, for me these days, it’s everything leading up to the first mile. As soon as I get out there, I’m good to go 99% of the time, but man, the struggle to convince myself that running is better than laying in bed and doing nothing has been REAL lately. Anyway, headed out for my run and was surprised by how lead legged I felt. I decided to try a new-to-me route, which I actually really enjoyed. I had some great views, and I think it’s fun to spend three miles on the same road in Chicago because of how DRASTICALLY things can change in that short of distance just by passing through a handful of neighborhoods. My legs loosened up within the first mile, and things were fine up until about mile 4.5, where I bonked so hard. HOW. How do you bonk a six miler? Even more importantly, how do you bonk that early in a six miler? I could barely pick up my feet for the last 1.5 miles and basically shuffled home. I really couldn’t believe how miserable I felt. That was so out of character for me.

Thursday, July 23: 4 miles (tempo) in 41:25 (9:22 and 9:38 tempo miles) for a 10:21 pace.
Same story, different day. I, once again, started my run out with lead legs that plagued me for the first mile. I was happy from both a time and effort standpoint with my tempo miles, but my “cooldown” mile was a DISASTER. I ran an 11:56. WHAT IS HAPPENING. Once again, I could only manage to shuffle instead of actually run, and when I got home, I was so, so beat. I sat on my floor recovering for a long time and hung out with my legs up against my dresser for awhile because I didn’t even have it in me to stretch (I did stretch eventually).

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Friday, July 24: Rest.

Saturday, July 25: 6.33 miles in 1:03:00 for a 9:57 pace.
BTN Big 10K, by my watch’s stats. Full recap tomorrow (last race recap for two months, I promise. Thanks for bearing with me :) ).

Wednesday and Thursday concerned me a lot. Both days had a few things in common: it was in the low 80s while I ran (and even though 80s are much better than 90s or worse, it does feel 20 degrees warmer when you run, so low 80s is still low 100s as far as my body is concerned), which is warmer than I’d like it to be (though not by that much), I had a somewhat heavy snack between coming home and heading out for my run, I only drank maybe 30ish oz. of water during the work day instead of my minimum target of 48 oz., I got less than seven hours of sleep Tuesday into Wednesday and Wednesday into Thursday (when I know I need to get as close to eight as possible, if not more). Any of those elements could have played a role in feeling like I bonked twice in as many days. My average heart rate was right on target for where it should have been/has been, so I don’t think this was so much a question of cardiovascular fitness as it was of muscular endurance. I suppose it’s entirely possible that I needed more recovery time from Rock ‘n’ Roll, but I haven’t taken extended recovery time from a half in ages, and in a couple of weeks, my long runs will be longer than a half marathon anyway, an obviously I can’t take a week to recover from those. I don’t know what happened, and it’s frustrating and upsetting.

In the back of my mind, I wonder if I’m overtraining. It seems so unlikely – how on earth can you overtrain on three days of running a week? I mean, yeah, I’m active (usually) six days a week, but I do take full rest days, and my activity is SO varied: rock climbing is nothing like dancing is nothing like running is nothing like circuit strength HIIT workouts is nothing like yoga. And it’s not like six days of activity is new for me. I’ve been engaging in five-six days of activity per week since I was in college. I have a little bit of physical soreness, but nothing major or consistently lingering. Mentally, though, I’ve been a mess for weeks. I’ve been inexplicably weepy, I haven’t been engaged at work, I haven’t wanted to run at all, as I’ve mentioned several times on here, and to be honest, I haven’t wanted to do much of anything at all but sleep or otherwise be lazy. I feel a lot like how I felt in early 2014, when I wanted to run away from real life and responsibilities and go on a permanent vacation. Incidentally, when I felt like that in early 2014, I was also doing fairly intense training (more intense than what I’m doing now, I’d argue: every run was either an interval, tempo, or long run), and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection between the two. I want to try to take better care of myself over the next couple of weeks and see if things get better. If they don’t, I may have to reevaluate my training plan. It’s really frustrating, because while hard training isn’t fun, I know it pays off. I earned ENORMOUS PRs off hard training in 2014. Rock ‘n’ Roll proved to me that my hard training has had a major impact on my fitness this year. I desperately want to run a faster marathon this year, and dialing in my training isn’t going to get me there…but neither is hating running. I honestly don’t know what to do, and it’s really bothering me.

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Thursday Things

Pitchfork edition!

1. Because I’m insane ambitious, I went to Pitchfork Sunday afternoon. After finding out Nick from The Bachelorette was also attending Pitchfork on Sunday (as did Clint, apparently. If only my future husband, Jared from The Bachelorette, had been there, so I could introduce myself and let him know of my intentions to marry him :P [I’M KIDDING, I promise. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a celebrity crush in any capacity, and I’m milking this for all it’s worth]), my #1 goal became to stalk him, but my mission derailed literally less than two minutes after I got into the festival, when, while snapping a photo of the Missed Connections board (lulz), I heard someone say, “Bethany?!”

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It was one of my very best friends from MIDDLE SCHOOL (and high school). I could not believe it. We actually went to college together as well, but had different majors, different friend groups, and different interests, so we grew apart in those four years and rarely see each other anymore since our lives are in different places. My friend still lives in Michigan, so she was the last person I expected to see at Pitchfork, but it was SO exciting to run into her! I ended up hanging out with her and the friend she came with for an hour or so and went with them to see Courtney Barnett.

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I had planned to see Perfume Genius at that time, but Courtney Barnett was a fine substitute. Seeing her also made it fairly easy to get to Jamie xx’s set, which was right after hers on the Red Stage (Pitchfork has three stages: Red, Green, and Blue. Red and Green are more or less right next to each other, while Blue was off in a different corner of the park).

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2. I wasn’t as close to the front at Jamie xx as I had hoped to be, and the people around me weren’t all that into his set, which kind of (definitely) brought down the vibe for me. That was a bummer for sure. It was also pretty hot and sunny (though not as unbearable as it had been during the race), which I’m sure also impacted my mood. He did play my favorite song of his, Loud Places, to close his set though, which ended things on a good note for me.

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In addition to music, Pitchfork has a fairly extensive small business/nonprofit/art fair sort of thing, so after Jamie xx I got some food and browsed around the artsy area for a bit. I didn’t plan to buy anything until I stumbled upon Whole Foods’ booth, where not only did they have a bunch of “refreshing” products (hand sanitizer, dry shampoo, etc.) and free (!!) bananas, but they were also selling a bunch of fresh fruit for a DOLLAR. As in, an entire bag of cherries, an entire box of strawberries, etc. for ONE. DOLLAR. Never in my life have I associated Whole Foods with insane deals, but holy smokes! I’d expect to pay more like $4 or $5 for that same bag of cherries at an actual Whole Foods, so you better believe I bought a bag there, even though that meant carrying it around for the next three hours.

3. I ended up catching a bit of A.G. Cook’s set before Todd Terje & The Olsens. I had arrived early enough to A.G. Cook that I was able to get pretty close to the stage and ended up being second row for Todd Terje, which I think is the closest I’ve ever been at any show.

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I had gone to Pitchfork for Todd Terje, and being so close was a MUCH better experience than being far back for Jamie xx. People were stoked to be there, and it was a lot of fun. I also may or may not have made it onto the video screen at one point, soo… :D

4. Todd Terje finished after Chance the Rapper had began, and since Chance had tweeted that one of the themes for his set would be “Sunday,” I wanted to check it out just in case he played Sunday Candy, which I’m obsessed with. And he did…after bringing out Kirk Franklin. WHAT. Kirk Franklin’s a HUGE name in gospel music and, after my best friend from middle school, was probably the last person I expected to show up at Pitchfork.

Oh, if only you all could have seen me. I danced like I’ve never danced in my life. I scream-sang along with the hook every time. My face hurt from smiling so hard. It. Was. Amazing.

Anyway. Chance’s set was one of the highlights of the whole festival for me. I’ve never really gotten all that into Chance, mostly because I’ve never been able to get all that into rap, but MAN. That guy can put on a SHOW. His enthusiasm was contagious, and I don’t know if I have ever felt more Chicago than standing in Union Park, the Sears Tower lit up in the background, with one of Chicago’s own performing. I know I keep saying it, but these moments–these are the moments I moved to Chicago for. These moments are what I wanted out of my 20s. These moments make me feel so alive. And I love them.

Have you ever been to a music festival?

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