I ran my first 15k and survived!

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On Sunday, I ran my first 15k, that’s 9.32 miles. The race is called the Hot Chocolate, and I really had no idea what to expect in terms of how many people turn out and even the nitty gritty of how to navigate the starting corrals, where to park, how to kind of avoid the abundance of people.

The race officiants claimed there were over 40,000 people involved in the race, which was a 5K, a 15k and a 2 mile walk. There were 18,587 people in the 5k. 11,072 in the 15k, and I don’t know how many in the walk. But I imagine it’s the difference if they were telling the truth.

Between cheerleaders, onlookers and participants, I imagine there were well over 40k. People were everywhere. It was almost nauseating how many people.

My goal was to run it at a 7:30 pace and I beat my goal by 7 seconds with a 7:23 pace and a 1:08:43 finish.

I’ve been running unprofessionally since I was a kid. On the playground. In the neighborhood. On the soccer field. I was never on a track team. But I’ve enjoyed running, maybe as much or more than soccer.

Two years ago, I broke a toe playing soccer and I decided I wanted to stay away from rough sports that could injure me and keep me from my work.

After that injury, I started running more distance.

About a month or more ago, a friend of mine, Adam, asked me if I wanted to consider running in the 2019 Chicago Marathon. He was recently getting into running, enjoying it, and maybe he was interviewing his friends for a co-runner compatriot.

Before we talked about it, I never knew what it would take to train for a marathon. The biggest nuance to training is that you run way more often, much slower than I was training, and then picking it up once or twice a week. I was almost always running at race pace, which is much more difficult as I am getting older.

I’m a 43 year old male. My only other race experience was a suburban 5K turkey trot, two years ago. I crushed the race at a 6:40 pace. But it didn’t get me any closer to running races with any frequency.

Now I think I’m hooked.

This gives me a better understanding of what to expect as I go forward.

With this experience behind me, I think I’m going to take away a few things:

  • Wear less while running. I was pretty bundled up.
  • There’s no reason to bring along lots of water or a bag of stuff. It might be nice to have a coat to put on after, but I brought a backpack full of water and extra clothing. Didn’t need it.
  • Better organize meeting friends after. There were six people in our group, all starting at different times. In a crowd that size, it was a challenge to get everyone together after. By the time we were in a group, I was FREEZING from my sweat covered body.
  • Have more fun. I really put my heart and soul in this race. I think I could have enjoyed it a little more.
  • Getting access to the first corral is super important (at least for me). My phone GPS screwed up under Wacker Drive so my time was screwed up in my headphones. The timers throughout the race are based on the start time of everyone. So I could keep my pace based on those numbers.
  • I didn’t realize, too, that there would be literal pace setters holding signs to guide runners. I’ve always heard of pacesetters but didn’t realize you could depend so well on them. During this race, I was in front of the 7:30 pacesetter for most of the race and then he passed me on the last 3 miles marker. So I kept up with them for the rest of the race.
  • Do better with my nerves the days before. I was pretty wound up the weeks before the race. Now that I know more of what to expect, I think I’ll do better with my anxiety and shaky nerves.

More pictures below the fold. 

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