Ahh, back in the Windy City. The hardest part of coming home for all of three days was honestly deciding on one place to eat. Do I get a vegan milkshake from the Chicago Diner? Ethiopian food at Demera? Dim Sum? Sushi? The options are endless. I wanted to wait to go out to eat until after the marathon on Sunday so I wouldn’t gorge myself in my excitement to be back, so I just cooked for myself on Friday and Saturday night.
Saturday was bound to be exciting. My flight got in late on Friday so I didn’t get to make it to the race expo, and instead I crashed nearly as soon as I got home. I woke up at 5 and made my way in the freezing cold downtown to the start line of the International Chicago 5k.
For an inaugural race, this sure didn’t feel like one. The course was a point-to-point 3.1 mile jaunt through the heart of downtown, starting at the original Chicago Marathon start line near Daley Plaza, and finishing at Roosevelt and Columbus, near the current Chicago Marathon finish line. The course even ran down Columbus for a minute so we could get a close-up view of the start line before we headed down my old friend, the Lakefront Trail. The last time I ran this portion of the Lakefront Trail was in the BTN 10k this summer. It was hot, I wasn’t well hydrated, and I had to take a walk break because I felt like my heart was going to explode. Thankfully, I had no problems on Saturday, although it was pretty chilly when we started out.
There was no gear check for this course (and even if there was, we would have had to take the train or walk back to the start line). It might have been nice to have a sweatshirt ready for after the race, but I survived. There was one aid station, which I think had Gatorade Endurance formula in addition to water, but I already knew I was going to PR and I didn’t want to waste time getting fluids when I didn’t need them.
My garmin splits were totally messed up running through the loop, but I think I ran the first mile at 8:29, mile 2 around 8:10, and, to my utter astonishment, mile 3 at 7:56. The total time I recorded was 26:02, which is an awesome 12 second improvement over my previous 5k time, but when I checked the results I saw I had finally broken the 26-minute barrier, and ran my fastest 5k ever at 25:57 (average pace 8:21/mile). That’s an overall 2 minute improvement in my 5k time since June 1! Absolutely insane.
The finish line was great. I had to stop and collect myself, since my sprint to the finish had me almost throwing up, but I made my way over to the tables and picked up some water, gatorade, powerbars, an apple, and of course, the finisher hat, which is super warm and snug.
Overall, I absolutely loved this race. The course was amazing, it definitely didn’t feel like an inaugural race, and I loved seeing everyone’s nationality on their race bibs – in the start corrals alone I met people from the UK, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan. So fun that racing brings us all together. Even though I may not run Chicago again (at least until I can register as a time qualifier, I would definitely run the International Chicago 5k again if I were in Chicago during marathon weekend!