As I made my way to Chicago’s Lakefront for the Hot Chocolate 15K, I knew I would be setting a PR. Not because I felt particularly good (the previous night’s Halloween party had me feeling drained) but because I had never run a 15K. It’s a strange distance and there aren’t many of them.
Ram Racing Series
The Hot Chocolate 15K is a race sponsored by Ram Racing, a group that sponsors a half dozen races in Chicago including a half marathon and a few 5Ks (such as the Bucktown 5K ). They always do a great job and this race was no exception. The packet pickup was convenient, the goodie bag was excellent, and the race day amenities were superb. I especially liked the hot chocolate and chocolate fondue at the end. They even gave out trick-or-treat candy bars which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The weather was beautiful for a run, sunny, cool, and limited wind. I thought it was going to be much colder so I was way over-dressed. However, if you are going to make a mistake in dressing, it’s always better to wear too much than too little. You can always remove pieces of clothing. I got rid of three layers and my running gloves. I still ran in wind pants which probably cost me at least 30 seconds of time.
In the starting corral, I eased my nerves with a little juggling. It’s funny that even after all these years, I still get nervous before a race. Some of the runners around me asked about the juggling. “Are you going to do that the whole way?” “Sure,” I said. “Are you that juggler that runs the Chicago marathon.” “Yeah that’s me. Juggling is kinda my thing.” While there may be people that don’t like having a joggler in the race, the people that talk to me are always fascinated and supportive.
Running the Race
From the start I was sluggish. The late-night Halloween party kept me out too late and the Rum n Cokes had me feeling sketchy. My focus was not on having an excellent race, just having a good one. I ran the first couple miles in a 7:00 per mile pace, passing a lot of runners. Without headphones, I got to listen to the crowd and comments from other runners. I must say, it was great to have my name written on my number. There is something uplifting about having people shout out your name. More races should do that.
With no headphones to distract me, I got to listen to my thoughts. At the start of the race, they were mostly focused on coming up with clever responses to other runners. Whenever I passed one of the mile marker clocks, I would spend the next few minutes mathematically calculating my pace and my anticipated finish time.
At mile 4, I began to think about being done with the race. To combat these negative thoughts, I tried to refocus on the moment. I did this by focusing on the feeling of the Gballz hitting my hands and my feet hitting the ground. I thought of the warmth of the sun, the cool wind on my cheeks and the sound of the crunching under my feet. Whenever you start to feel bad in a race, focusing on specific sensations in your body can help snap you out of it.
Throughout the second half of the race the path crossed back on itself, so you spent a lot of time seeing runners who were behind you. This is great for joggling because you get lots of cheers from your fellow runners. For running, this was a bit unfortunate because the path got a little too crowded.
I finished strong passing a half-dozen runners on my way in. There was an excellent crowd at the finish and the announcer even said my name, and mentioned the juggling as I sprinted in. When I checked my official time later, I had come in at 1:09:04. While it was a little slower than I would like, it was a PR at this distance so I’m not going to complain.
I’ll definitely do this race next year and hopefully, be able to set another PR. If not, I’ll certainly enjoy the hot chocolate.
Joggling Day 349
Oh yes, I should mention that this was the 349th day in a row of joggling. Just about 35% of the way to my goal of 1001 days in a row. I still feel great