Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hot Chocolate 5k Chicago

With the start of every journey are a lot of firsts – basically, by definition.  Starting something new means checking somethings of a list.  Today I check off my first 5K race.  Now, I have walked a lot… I mean a lot, including several marathons… walked.  I have been run/walking a 5k in prep for this day but I hadn’t run it straight yet.  I wasn’t sure I could….
This process of becoming a triathlete will have a lot of stages/firsts.  I knew that the run is the most challenging for me due to some severe arthritis in my knees.  I had some Eufluxxa injections in August and the doctor gave me the go ahead for running 5k.  He said if it feels good… do it.  What a doc ;)
I am aware that for a Sprint (or any distance, really) triathlon I can walk the run.  As long as it is within the time frame – I can walk it.  But I didn’t want to.  I wanted – want to be a runner.  TO be someone who is able to pick up the pace and run that portion of the race.  To do that… I figured I should get some 5k races under my belt.  (Well, that and I am super motivated right now and these milestones/goals help me stay that way)  So I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 5K in Chicago.  And recruited a few girl friends who came out in moral support and walked the 3k.
I got to Grant Park in plenty of time having taken public trans.  The wait in the corrals was about an hour… trying to stay warm and motivated in that 34 degree weather was a whole other kind of challenge.  Since the girls were walking I was alone.  And as much as I love those broads, I was glad I was alone.  I was able to soak up the feel of it all.  Get into my own head really find a good peaceful place where my mind and body were ready to do something I had never ever done before.
After the 4 minute start staging process I was finally off…. 3 minutes later we actually crossed the start line!  My app was a pain to keep out and updated, so the actual time has that delay – but I don’t care!
When I hit the first mile I was running a pace better than 9 minutes a mile… HOLY CRAP!!!  Who knew I could run an easy, peaceful 9 minute mile!!!!  I was so happy to hear that in my ear that the next mile was even easier and just under 10 minutes.  I was so happy and proud of myself I had a hard time breathing… no kidding, I started to hyperventilate and walked a couple short blocks to get it under control.
I really fed off the other participants, I kept up with large groups of people from my corral.  I was worried I would be slow and get dropped, but I didn’t see ANY… not a single bib with a corral letter later than mine.  They were probably there, but I didn’t see them and that was a win in and of itself.
We turned on to Michigan Ave right at 2.5 miles and I knew I was going to run virtually the whole thing.  I was so happy and so proud of myself I had a hard time breathing again… apparently you can’t cry and run!!  Who knew???
I crossed the finish line and felt GREAT!!  I can be ready to run a 10k in a couple months… WHO KNEW!!! 
I wound my way to the hot chocolate and enjoyed every single bite of the chocolate fondue.  What an awesome end to a race!!
My friends the walkers were just coming across their finish line but there were so many of us I knew I wouldn’t be able to find them.  So I told them I would meet them at the designated breakfast place – about 1.5 miles across town… I walked there.  No, for real, I felt so good and so happy and so strong I walked another 1.5 miles!!   That breakfast with the three girls who walked in support and the fourth who met at the restaurant was amazing.  I am so blessed – blessed with health, blessed with friends… life is good.
How did the knees do?  I had a bit of a twinge in both of them before the first half mile.  It didn’t get any worse the longer I went.  And it wasn’t any worse than when I walk a lot.  On a scale of 1-10… a level 3 discomfort… but since it didn’t get worse – I call that pretty damn awesome!!
Next race – Soldier Field in January (maybe a December one depending on travel)

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