I closed out my month of short, painful races that remind me why I prefer long distances on Sunday with the Ravenswood Run 5K, one of my favorite events of the whole year.
To be honest, I don’t know why I enjoy Ravenswood so much. I don’t particularly enjoy any of the “actually running the race” aspects of it, given that it is a 5K, and the only part of 5Ks I enjoy are the parts that take place about two or three minutes after I’ve finished, once my heart rate as descended from cardiac arrest levels and I can actually breathe again. But regardless, I’ve made a point of running Ravenswood every spring I’ve lived in Chicago thus far.
I picked up my packet at Fleet Feet in Lincoln Square Sunday afternoon and was quite pleased to find no line whatsoever. When I picked up my packet at that store two years ago (I went to Lakeview for packet pickup last year), the line was bonkers. Apparently showing up at 1:30 rather than 10 a.m. makes a difference!
What I was not pleased to find, however, is that the race shirt is COTTON. And I don’t mean “cotton-feel, but actually polyester, so we’ll call it a tech shirt.” I mean 52% cotton. What is this?! 2003?? Does anyone wear cotton to exercise anymore? You would be very hard pressed to find any sort of article about what to wear while running that in any way suggests you should wear cotton these days. We’re not even supposed to wear cotton socks or underwear! And this race–not some rinky-dink, suburban, obscure charity fundraiser with 25 participants race, but a reputable, CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit race–hands out COTTON shirts?! I know plenty of runners say that they don’t want or need another tech shirt, and quite frankly, I would agree with them. I have more tech shirts than I can go through in an entire month. HOWEVER. That doesn’t mean I want a cotton shirt instead!! When am I ever going to wear this? Answer: I’m not. Maybe to dance, if I think I won’t sweat much. But I’ll never wear it on a run. I’ll never wear it to the gym. I’ll never wear it climbing. I’d never wear it to a fitness class. Just because I don’t need another tech shirt doesn’t mean I’d rather have a shirt I’ll never wear as a replacement. Obviously this is a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it still irked me.
Anyway. On to race day. It was 40-something degrees when I woke up, which is my least favorite temperature to dress for, because I never have a clue what to wear so I don’t freeze to death while waiting to start running, but also don’t melt during the race itself. I settled on crops, a [tech, because duh] short sleeve shirt, and a lightweight pullover, along with yoga pants and a fleece for getting to the race. I felt too warm as I headed to the race area and felt even warmer after doing a light jog around the block to get my legs moving, so I ended up ditching my pullover at gear check (shout out to the volunteer who took my pullover and put it in my bag like 10 minutes before the race started, long after I had initially checked my gear).
I didn’t have any real plan for this race, though I did hope to run faster than I had run at Good Life two weekends ago, if for no other reason than that I really wanted to break 25:00 to keep my sub-25 streak alive (all of my 5Ks since last April, with the exception of Rock ‘n’ Roll in July, which isn’t really fair to compare to my other ones because it was about 60 degrees warmer at that race than at any other 5K I ran in 2015, were sub-25), and since I ran a 24:59 at Good Life, it’d be difficult to break 25:00 if I didn’t run faster than I ran there. I also wanted to not freak out over my mile splits, as I have a tendency to do during 5Ks.
I went through the first mile in 8:04, which made me happy. I went out with a 7:50 mile at Good Life, which I knew I couldn’t sustain, but I felt pretty good about my chances of sustaining an 8:04 (or 8:00ish) pace. Ideally, I wanted to negative split the race, but through that second mile I was really feelin’ it. I glanced at my watch and noticed I was running a 7:50 pace, which made me feel better about how tired I felt (it wasn’t just fatigue that made me hurt more–I was running faster. Or at least that’s what I told myself.), and then decided I wanted to take 10 seconds off/mile for the rest of the race. I hit the second mile in 7:55, putting me right on track for that 10 seconds faster/mile goal, and then, as always, dropped the hammer (as much as one can drop a hammer in the last half mile of a 5K…so more like slightly lowered the hammer) once I got to Damen. I turned in a 7:52 mile, which wasn’t ~perfect~, but at least meant that I had negative split the whole race! I don’t remember the last time that happened, so that in and of itself made me quite happy.
The official clock still read 24:xx when I crossed the finish line, so I knew I had run a sub-25, since I didn’t start at the front of the pack. It took me a little while to collect myself after finishing, but when I finally looked down at my watch, I saw 24:35 (24:36, officially). While that’s 19 seconds off my PR, it was, nevertheless, the fastest 5K I’ve run since my PR two years ago, and that made me quite happy! Even though I’ve run lots of sub-25 5Ks, I’ve been having some doubts lately about my ability to PR my 5K again, since, prior to Sunday, the closest I had come to touching it was a 24:5x. Nineteen seconds, however, is only about seven seconds/mile faster. And while I loathe 5Ks and have absolutely no intention of running another one until December, it’s nice to see that maybe my PR wasn’t such a fluke after all.
After stumbling through the post-race food, I gathered my gear and made a beeline for, let’s be real, the only reason I actually run this race:
Ann Sather. #willrunforcinnamonrolls
And thus concludes my month of racing! I have two more events coming up before marathon season kicks off, but those aren’t until late May. I’m hoping with a few more weeks of training, and a few more weeks of maybe not stuffing my face with chocolate chips, I’ll be able to keep up these sorts of times a month from now. We’ll see!