I don’t always run in humid, over ninety degree weather, on pure asphalt, but when I do, it’s for a
good cause. Strike out ALS 5K seems to have become a regular race I do each year since my friend Eric got me to join his team last race season. I know this race is in the middle of July and in the parking lot of an enemy territory ball field (go Tigers!) while the sun is still high in the sky so the runners can finish in time to sit in the stands and watch the All-Star game on the jumbo-tron, but this race was even warmer than expected this year.
Since the race started early on a weekday, I worked from home that day so I could make the trek from the boarder of Lincoln Park and Lakeview down to US Cellular field with the CTA Red line out of commission for construction until [theoretically] October. Fortunately we found out that the Red Line was still running, only on Green Line tracks. I ran into Eric on the way to the Brown line to make the transfer and ended up making it down to US Cellular field much faster than we anticipated. We decided to kill the extra hour by relaxing at a table in the shade. A chatty fellow decided that we would not enjoy some silent contemplation before the race and proceeded to talk to us until Jennifer
and Courtney arrived after catching a ride from Kurt. We all caught up and did gear check when Eric spotted some fellow bloggers and we ended up doing a little photo shoot before proceeding to stretch before the race (still in the shade). Announcements were made, a touching story was read, and we were headed to our corrals. I knew I should have grabbed a water with all the time I was relaxing in the shade, instead I ended up in my corral on the opposite side from the water table with several hundred people between me and liquid refreshment.
‘It’s only a 5K’ I thought, ‘I can make it to the first water stand and be fine.’ Famous last words. I underestimated the blistering heat as well as the effect of the sun on the black tar underneath my feet. It was debilitating hot to say the least. Hope remained that water would be ahead shortly and I would be able to rehydrate and continue to slowly make it through to my seat for the All-Star game. The first water station was farther away than I had hoped, but I managed to make it. I grabbed two cups of water and walked while I drank the first before tossing the empty cup. I took a sip of the second and continued along my way with the mostly full cup still clenched in my hands. I was glad I did, as the first water station turned out to be the only water station. Fortunately we ended up passing the first water station again on our way back as we headed into the stadium and the second cup of water I grabbed turned out to be a life saver. For one thing, carrying the cup full of water forced me to slow my pace, second: it was a cup of water. I had to force myself to drink the water slowly but still drink it fast enough that it would not evaporate into water vapor as the sun seemed to nearly bring the liquid to a rapid boil just sitting in my hands.
As I rounded the last turn in the parking lot into the stadium I was grateful for the shade. Even though
it was still warm inside, it felt like a cold front had hit me as the temperature dropped only due to the absence of the glaring sun. We ran inside around the stadium for what seems like an eternity (not an unlikely measurement as GPS signal in the stadium is basically useless), until we finally emerged onto the warning track around the field. Some of the faster runners had some trouble, as there was no one directing them to go all the way around the stadium like there were for the later runners and so, since the first set of doors was open and not blocked off, many faster runners ran out those doors and did not end up running the full 3.1 miles. They corrected this quickly and by the time I got there they had this area blocked off and people stationed there to alert runners that they needed to continue around the stadium and emerge from the other side. . Even though it was hot, this is still one of my favorite ways to finish a race.
Packet pickup – For this packet pickup, I decided to run to and from Fleet Feet as part of my daily run. It was a warm day but it was a fairly slow and casual run with a brief rest in the middle where I actually picked up my packet before continuing back home. I expected the packet pickup to be in the back area of Fleet Feet as it usually seems to be for races, but for this particular race they had a table set up in the front of the store where I picked up my shirt (at tech shirt this year which is a nice step up from the cotton t-shirt they provided last year). This packet pickup run ended up turning into a much longer even (unrelated to packet pickup) and I will probably blog about that event at a later time…
Gearcheck/Waves and Corrals. – Gear check was smooth and orderly as always. I got there early, so checking gear was lightning fast, others in the group who arrived later didn’t seem to take long to check their gear either. For this race it is nice that after the race, they move all of the gear inside the stadium so you can pick it up near where you finish as you check your times. Very convenient! Corrals were set up about average, though a little small but it isn’t that large of a race so it wasn’t a big deal. Wished there would have been water available on both sides of the corrals but I had plenty of time to get water beforehand so it is really just my lack of preparation for that one.
Course layout – This course is set up mostly on the black top of the parking lot outside the stadium. It loops around and zig-zags where it needs to in order to achieve the desired distance while making sure to end with a run through the stadium and a finish around the warning track circling the field. A great finish to a race.
Finish line – As I have said before, I love this finish. It is nice to come out onto the field with a camera on you so you feel like a ball player for a second and then to run around the outside of the field before crossing the finish line, grabbing a water (no snacks or bananas or anything that I could see but full concessions were open if you wanted to buy something afterwards), and finding a seat in the stands to watch the All-Star game. Good race, HOT day.
Official time: 25:20 [Distance: 3.1 miles] [Place: 65 of 567 Overall 10 of 37 age group]
MapMyRun Results: [Distance: 3.27 miles Time: 25:32] 🙂