I think the last race report I did on the old loop was either Chicago 2014 or maybe even Boston 2013... Anyway, that's about the time I kinda started losing the old running mojo. It was a slow decent into lethargy. I ran 6 races in 2014, including two 1/2's, and the Chicago Marathon in a steady 3:31 which was actually my 'easiest' marathon ever. I felt great the whole way through, and ran basically 7:50-8:10 splits for every mile. I was in excellent shape, but not running for any particular goal any more.
Maybe it was not tough enough? I don't have any races logged for 2015 OR 2016. I think I actually did a couple in 2015 but didn't even log them in. I was getting bored with running. Of course there were tons of outside distractions. Changing jobs (not completely by choice), teenage daughters (don't even go there...), and other excuses we can all make. Sure there were some injuries too, but basically I was losing the motivation to get out there the way I had since 2008 when I started "chasing the unicorn" as it's called. Maybe once I completed it, I didn't have anything to replace it with.
So fast forward to 2017 and I'm pretty far gone. 20 pounds heavier and going weeks between runs. Run three of four days in a row. Then take three or four weeks off... Around my 50th birthday I committed (again!) to get back on the program, and hopefully this time it's sticking. I joined a gym. I got a fitbit for X-mas, and I've since 'lost' my Garmin. I count steps instead of mph now. It's kinda liberating to run without checking pace every 3-4 minutes actually. I knew the answer would be depressing anyway...
After getting a few decent weeks in a row of running in, I started to feel good about running again. And (finally) seeing the scale show I was 10 pounds lighter, I bought some new running shoes. First new pair in 18 months at least... So I signed up for a race. I think deep down since I DNS'd at the 2015 polar dash (I just slept in. I've never, ever, DNS'd before) I knew I needed to get back to racing to try to get the mojo back. So I signed up last week for the Hot Chocolate - one of my favorite races that was coming around the corner.
So this morning was race day. Up at 4:50 AM. Feed and walk the dogs and on the train by 6:05. Ate a power bar on the train and headed to the race. It was still dark and cold. 34 deg and 5-10 mph winds. I waited around the gear check and stretched until almost 7 then took off my outer layer and headed for the corals. I had signed up with a 8:45/mile target pace, which I thought was honest... That put me in coral F, fine by me. I really was looking at this as a training run. I hadn't actually ran 9 miles all year I don't think... And Like I said, I 'lost' my garmin... So I assumed most people around me would be running around 8:30-9 ish pace. Nope.
So finally we get going. The first 1.5 miles is pretty much in the tunnels of lower Wacker Drive, which is a bit funky but warmer than at street level. It was pretty congested There are 45,000 runners in this race, most of them in the 5K. And obviously a lot of them were less than honest about the coral they belonged in. Once the 5K throngs split off at mile 2.8 it was much better, but still a lot of slow runners...? Certainly reminded me why I used to care so much about getting seeded up in coral A for these bigger races. But that's fine.
Anyway, I'm totally rambling. Sorry. Here's the nuts: I ran 1:24:08 or 9:02 / mile average. Wow. Yeah, that looks about right... (it felt faster, whatever that means). Looking at my race history I've never averaged anything slower than 8:12, which was a hot year marathon. But I'm not disappointed. I wasn't running for time. I wasn't shooting for a PR. I was hoping to run a little faster than that I guess, but I'm ok with the time. I felt good throughout the race (mostly). I didn't stop running, I finished strong, although much more winded than I should for 9 miles at 9 min pace.... But still! I negative split each 5K. In the end, what matters is I got out of bed and got the damn race done. It's all up-side from here is what I'm saying. Hey, if I had run my pace from the last Hot Chocolate I would have been 10th in my age group. Yeah yeah... The important thing is I may just have my mojo back. We'll see in a couple weeks if I'm still out there on the frozen tundra that can be Chicago in winter. I think a certain Polar Dash needs to be added to the calendar next.... Run Happy my friends!