Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Proud to Run 10k Recap

Do you know what I did this past weekend?

I ran and finished the 10k that kicked my ass last year. That's right! I ran the 2015 Proud to Run 10k! I did it! And it was glorious!

We meet again!
I was registered to run the same race last year, but I got sick and couldn't finish the 10k. It wasn't good, I wasn't happy, and I spent the weekend last year being ill and disappointed in myself. It was...unpleasant. And it was the start of a series of not good, very bad running days that lasted far too long. I promised myself that I would run the race again. So when registration for Proud to Run opened this year, I jumped at the chance to redeem myself and finally run the full 10k.

And it wasn't just a chance at redemption that had me signing up for Proud to Run again. I was a fan of the race itself last year, even though I wasn't feeling too great.

Proud to Run is awesome for a lot of reasons:

  • The race has been part of Chicago's Pride activities since 1982. Everyone is invited to celebrate, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. All are welcome!
  • In addition to celebrating pride, the race raises funds for local LGBT organizations. This year's beneficiaries were Affinity Community Services, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, and Chicago House.
  • Proud to Run is organized by an all volunteer, community based board of directors. How great is that? 
  • The race offers two distances - a 10k run and a 5k run/walk - and have a staggered start, with the 10k starting 10 minutes before the 5k.
  • There are plenty of packet pick up opportunities, with 5 different advance packet pick up dates this year and packet pick up also being available at the race site the morning of the race.
  • The course is well marked and easy to follow, with volunteers staggered throughout the course to cheer on the runners.
  • Every finisher gets a medal (sorry, but I love the bling!) and various post race goodies (bagels, fruit, water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, etc.).
  • There is a pretty sweet raffle after the race with prizes from various local business, including Universal Sole.
  • The race has some of the happiest runners and volunteers I've ever seen, and the enthusiasm is infectious. You can't help but smile. 
  • Fantastic entertainment. The tunes were pumping before and after the race. Best of all, after the race, everyone was treated to a couple of performances. This year's entertainment was from The Windy City Cowboys and The Chicago Spirit Brigade. 

I woke up not feeling well and was worried that I would have similar problems to last year, but luckily my stomach was just playing tricks on me. After a quick shower and a light breakfast, I was feeling fine and was ready to go. I hopped on the bus (the race started and ended at Montrose Harbor) and made my way to the race. It was easy to know that I had found the right place, because everyone was decked out in their best Pride fashion.

So many rainbows! I was a little jealous of these guys' capes.
I slathered on an extra layer of sunscreen, pinned on my bib number, checked my bag at gear check (the happiest gear check tent I've ever seen - I got a high five when I stopped by after the race to pick up my bag), and attempted to warm up a little.

The weather was cooler than I was expecting, but that was fine with me. I'd rather be too cool than too hot, and I quickly warmed up once I started running.

When it was announced that it was time for the race to start, everyone made their way over to the starting area.

 And soon we were off! There were a few turns on the course, but it was clearly marked and there was a volunteer stationed at each turn, making sure that runners knew which way to go. I felt a little sense of accomplishment when we came to the point where the 5k and 10k course split and went in different directions. Last year, I was walking by that point and had to turn to the left to slowly walk to the finish line and end my suffering, having only completed the 5k. This year, I was running and turned to the right to keep running some more.

The volunteers were great, cheering the runners on. One young lady was high fiving people as they passed her, and one gentleman was dancing as he directed runners to make sure they turned in the right direction.

The 10k course had 2 water stations, both stocked with water and Gatorade. Not all of the miles were marked, but enough were to have a sense of how far you had run and how far there still was to go. They did have a clock displaying the split time, as well as a timing mat you had to cross for your time to officially be counted, at mile 4.

I felt great for the first four miles, but I struggled a bit after that. The sun was getting to me a bit, and I was feeling a little too hot, despite the beautiful day and cooler than usual weather. I managed to keep moving, though. I had hoped to run a consistent pace for the full 10k, but my last couple of miles were markedly slower, causing my final time (1:07:50) to be a bit off from what I had hoped for.

But the important thing is that I finished!

I rarely run races that give out medals, so I was loving the bling.
 There were folks handing out medals and water at the finish line, and just a little ways away were all sorts of goodies in the "Athlete's village". I grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk and downed it in record time. There were also bottle of Gatorade and granola bars being handed out by the armful. Each of the beneficiaries of this year's race had a tent with information about their organization, and there were also tents from each of the race's sponsors.

Whole Foods was one of the sponsors for the race, and they did not disappoint with the post race recovery food - apples, bananas, bagels with cream cheese, and fruit leather strips.

After the race, there was entertainment, introductions of and a few words from each of the beneficiaries, awards, and a raffle.

I loved seeing the shows from The Windy City Cowboys and The Chicago Spirit Brigade.
There was also an after party at Replay, offering free burgers and brats. Though I wasn't able to attend that party because I had to get home to shower and change clothes before heading to work, I thought that it was pretty great that they kept the celebration going.

I'm slowly learning not to beat myself up after a bad run or race, and I was very pleased that I had the chance to run this race again this year. It was basically a chance for me to erase last year's disappointment in myself and replace it with much fonder memories.

I had a fantastic time at the race, and I will be back again next year to run the 10k again.

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