Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 PAWS Run for Their Lives 8k Recap

I'm still trying to get caught up with my race recaps, so I'd like you to meet Hannah.

She is pretty much my best friend, and I happen to think she is the best cat in the world.

I adopted Hannah from PAWS in February of last year. She was a scrawny little stray that had been picked up roaming the streets of Chicago by Animal Control She was at risk of being euthanized until PAWS Chicago found her and brought her to their facility. That's where I met her on a cold winter day. She was trying very hard to hide in the corner, but when I came and sat down in that room, she came over to me, crawled into my lap, and started purring. She told me that I was going to be her human and that I needed to take her home. I, of course, said yes, and we've been best friends ever since.

I'm eternally grateful to PAWS Chicago for saving my sweet girl and bringing us together. My schedule doesn't really allow me to volunteer, and I can't afford to make any sort of sizable donation, but I can run. So on Sunday, June 14, I ran the PAWS Chicago Run for Their Lives 8k and used the race to do a little fundraising for PAWS.

Online registration was super easy, and there was all sorts of information about the race itself, PAWS Chicago, fundraising or donating, etc. I signed up to run the 8k (there was also a 4k walk). 

There were various packet pick up options, with four different days for advance packet pick up AND race day pick up. I went to the first day and got my packet - the official race shirt, a breakdown of the schedule and important info for race day, my bib number, a couple of coupons, and my bracelet showing that I had raised money for PAWS (the bracelet gave me access to "The Lifesaver Lounge" after the race). 

Hannah kept trying to steal my bib number.
My only real qualm is the race shirt. The design is cute, and I loved the color (this year's blue shirt was so much better than last year's coral shirt). is a cotton t-shirt. A cotton shirt that they encourage everyone to wear on race day. I know this is a charity race, but I wish they could have found a sponsor who would have donated tech shirts.

The morning of the race I woke to see that it was pouring down rain. Good times! The race was going to happen, rain or shine, so I got dressed, fed Hannah, grabbed my gear check bag, and went to wait for the bus in the rain. I missed by bus by about 30 seconds, so I had to wait an extra 20 minutes for the next one. This is why I always give myself plenty of time and usually show up to races way too early.

By the time I got off the bus for the short walk from the bus stop to the race site at Montrose Harbor, the rain had magically stopped, and the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. Could it be? Was the rain over? Or, at the very least, would it hold off until the end of the race?

Hello, giant puddles. I'll be running through you later.
I was soon at the race site, and there weren't quite as many people as I expected, probably due to the rain. The field was muddy and had plenty of large puddles, but there was music playing, a cheerful announcer keeping everyone updated on what was happening, and plenty of friendly volunteers.

I made note of the starting line, the gear check tent, the "Lifesaver Lounge", and the bathrooms - basically everything I would need during the morning.

I made a quick round of the different tents to see what there was to see. There were tents for all of the various sponsors of the race, give aways from local vets and pet supply stores, a fundraising tent (if anyone had cash or check donations to turn in), a tent selling raffle tickets, a tent where you could sign up to foster dogs or cats, etc. Basically, there was pretty much everything you would expect to find at a race benefiting an animal shelter.

As I started towards gear check, Mother Nature decided that we weren't finished with the rain, after all. It began to rain again. It was going to be a wet, grey race. Everything would still go as planned, of course.

I checked my bag, waded over to the port-o-potties, and then made my way to the stage where the various pre-race festivities were taking place. There was a parade of adoptable dogs, a thank you from Paula, the founder of PAWS Chicago, a group photo with all the participants who were PAWS adopters, and a fun little show from Junebug the Pitbull.

Junebug and her human were pretty much adorable.
Soon the announcement was made that the race would be starting. The 8k run would start first, followed by the 4k walk. Although the two events were supposed to have different start locations, the 4k starting area was completed flooded, with water up to knee, so the 4k walkers would use the 8k starting line (also flooded, but not nearly as badly) after the runners were sent on our way.

The starting line. Not pictured, the slightly flooded area around the starting line.
Once the race started, it was clear that the rain had done a number on the course. There were huge mud puddles, especially at the couple of underpasses on the course. I found myself wishing that I had worn different shoes, as I knew that I was going to ruin my favorite running shoes thanks to all the water and mud. At one point, I had to slow point because the water came up to mid shin.

I was moving at a good pace, despite some weaving early on. Too many runners ahead of me would just come to a dead stop at a giant puddle or flooded part of the path. I mean...really? You are already soaked through! Another puddle isn't going to make that much of a difference!

I continued on! I have to admit that I was having a little bit of fun just dashing through the puddles. The course was the pretty standard race course along the Lakefront Trail.

Soon, I decided it would be smarter to do run/walk intervals. I did the first couple of miles too quickly and the humidity was getting to me. I knew I would be able to achieve a better time if I took the occasional one minute walking break.

The rain stopped, and the sun came out. As I kept going, I made sure to thank some of the volunteers yelling motivational things, such as "Just imagine that you are running towards a room full of puppies that want to play!" and "Each step you take is helping save more kittens!" One of the folks tasked with keeping traffic from running over the runners was giving out high fives to runners while giving drivers a dose of sass: "Do I look like I care who you are or where you work? People are running here! My job is to keep them safe, so you are just going to have to wait!"

Soon, the finish line was in site, and then the race was finished. I had very squishy shoes, a slight sunburn because the rain had washed off all of my sunscreen, and a new 8k PR.

I grabbed a bottle of water, my bag from gear check, a couple of sample bags of cat food for Hannah, and then made my way to "The Lifesaver Lounge" for food, drink, and puppies.

The orange bracelet means I can enter the lounge. The paw print means I'm old enough to have a beer.
This lounge area was for anyone who had raised at least $125. There was post run food and drink for everyone, but the lounge had shorter lines, more food options (including pizza), and a few small gifts (a reusable shopping bag, a PAWS mason jar, etc) for folks who had raised money for PAWS.

Now that the rain had stopped, people were in a much more festive mood. The 4k walk was pet friendly, so there were a lot of dogs hanging out with their people. They had plenty of dog treats available, so it wasn't only the humans who got to enjoy some post race snacks.

There was also a little area with adoptable dogs. I can't have a dog in my apartment, but that didn't stop me from getting in a little bit of quality puppy time.

This guy decided to sing me the song of his people.
With the music playing and my stomach rumbling, I was in the mood to celebrate and splurge a bit, so I pretty much ate ALL OF THE FOODS! And there were plenty of foods to choose from:


Hello, deliciousness.

So many pizzas, so little time.
And other assorted goodies: water, Gatorade, apples, popcorn, chips, mini Clif bars, cookies, cupcakes, and brownies.

I wanted all of the snacks. Probably because I forgot to eat breakfast before I left the house.
Even with all the rain, it was a good race, and I had a lot of fun. They have scheduled a fundraisers' post race party for a night in July due to all of the rain (I think some folks either didn't show up or left early), but I have to work that evening and won't be able to attend.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the festivities, which had treats for humans and dogs.
I had fun at the race and was happy with my time. It was really nice running a race for an organization that I support and have a connection to. I also really enjoy that this was an 8k and not just another 5k. Don't get me wrong. I love a good 5k, but it is nice to shake things up a little bit every now and then.

I will be running again next year and hope to a.) get another PR and b.) raise even more money to help PAWS Chicago save more cats like Hannah.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on another PR! I love that the volunteers were cheering related to the charity - it sounds like it's definitely well organized as a charity event - not just an event that happens to share some $ with a charity. And I'm a fan of PAWS too- that's how I got my Emma cat!!