(Show of hands: who has Pulaski Day off? I certainly don’t. When I was doing my internship, I came to the conclusion that Chicagoans deal with late winter by taking any possible holiday off–Lincoln’s birthday AND President’s Day AND Pulaski Day mean four-day weeks like every other week for those lucky enough to get all three days off…aka not me).
Funny story about this Wacky 5K: back in December, I was chatting with one of my friends when the topic of running came up. This friend mentioned that she had run two miles before, to which I said, “Oh, you could totally run a 5K if you’ve run two.” I expected her to scoff at my suggestion, but instead she said, “That’d be great! If you find a race, I’ll run it.” I immediately started a quest to find an early spring 5K for the two of us to run. I came across the Wacky 5K and told my friend before New Year’s that we were going to run this race. She was totally game, but neglected to check her calendar until after I had already registered, at which point she realized that the race fell during her spring break, so she wouldn’t even be in Chicago and obviously couldn’t run.
I didn’t want to run this 5K in the first place, so I had a pretty bad attitude going into things. I don’t know if I’ve ever complained about a race as much as I complained about this one. Also, the race shirt is hideous.
Eeesh. That’s going to be an exclusively under-the-fleece-on-a-10-degree-run sort of shirt.
I wasn’t about to get my first ever DNS just because I didn’t want to run, though, so I sucked it up and headed to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Sunday morning. For those of you keeping score at home, this is the third Chicago race in a row that I’ve run at the Nature Museum (not counting my indoor triathlon which was, you know, indoors), and I’ve got to say that I’m a big fan of that race location. It’s especially great during the winter to have an indoor location for gear check, bathrooms, etc. The Wacky 5K pretty much took over the entire museum, which also means you more or less could tour the museum for free, which is cool. I was super pressed for time on Sunday, so I didn’t have time to stop and admire the exhibits, but if you had time to linger it’s a nice perk of having races there.
The Wacky 10K started before the 5K, which was a little annoying because I had no idea they were going to start the 10K before the 5K until I got out to the start line. Communication with this race was a bit sparse and the website didn’t have much information, and I would’ve liked to have known before I headed outside that my race didn’t start until 10:15. But whatever. I suppose as far as bad things go with races, that’s pretty minor.
The original race course had us running on the dirt path right across the street from the nature museum to start out, but due to recent weather events, the dirt path was super slushy/icy/dangerous in general. They let you run on it if you wanted, but you also had the option of cutting across the snow-covered grass to the concrete right along Diversey Harbor if you wanted as long as you crossed the mats to activate your chip. I ended up going that route because I figured since I was at the race, I might as well run hard, and ice isn’t exactly conducive to hard running. The concrete path was really crowded for the first quarter mile but cleared up very quickly, which was great. I love races that don’t involve dodging the people just out there for funzies, especially when I’m trying to do well.
After we crossed under Lake Shore, the 5K course actually turned south instead of north, which was different than my other Nature Museum races. There was, as far as I’m concerned, no wind to speak of on the course, which made it easy to fly down the path. The mile markers were right on, which is something I also appreciate. I hit Mile 1 at 8:28 and though my quads were burning, I knew they could handle more so I picked it up as soon as I passed the marker. We had a hairpin turn a bit before Fullerton and then headed north on the path. I ran an 8:12 second mile and still felt good, so I dug a little deeper for that last 1.1 miles. My sides were a little stitched and I felt a little bit like dying–which is how I like to feel during 5Ks, since it’s how I know I’m giving it my all–but things were still going really, really well. If there was a Mile 3 marker I completely missed it, but I ran an 8:00 split for that mile which is THRILLING! Not only did that mean I negative splitted the race, which is always my 5K goal, but even more so it’s the fastest mile split I’ve ever had since I started running with my Garmin a year ago.
I had to slow down a bit to cross back over the snow to finish and wasn’t really paying attention to my watch at all until I got into the chute. My Garmin said I ran a 25:21. I couldn’t believe it! My previous 5K PR was a 26:19, so this was HUGE! I wanted to PR going into this race in the sense that I always want to PR, but all winter long I’ve been running once a week at a leisurely pace, so I had no real expectations that I’d PR, and I certainly didn’t think I’d PR by that much. My official time was 25:24, so I’m calling that my new 5K PR. It’s still almost a full minute off my previous PR with zero speed training, and I can’t complain about that. This is exactly why I like running in cold weather so much. Nothing like a chilly day to help you get to a baller PR. Naturally the cutoff to change your corral for the Shamrock Shuffle was Friday, which sucks because I really wanted to get into Corral C but you had to have a 5K time of 25:59 or faster to get in there, which I didn’t have before Friday. Lame. Ohhhh well. Next year
I also won my age group, which makes this the second weekend in a row that’s happened. What is my life? I’m really not that fast haha. But I’ll take it! I didn’t get my medal because I had to high tail it out of there after the race, but hopefully I’ll be able to get it some other way.
So despite my lack of enthusiasm about this race, I’d say it was more than worth it in the end