From the start, I knew this race wasn’t going to go my way. My wife and I had signed up a couple months prior. She was going to do the 10k and I was running the half. We traveled to Chicago a week prior and on return, we were both miserably ill. I was finally getting over my illness that morning, but she wasn’t recovered enough to participate. I felt bad leaving her in bed, but I was still excited to run in the brisk morning air.
I got to the parking lot much later than anticipated. I had purchased a shuttle bus ticket to get to the starting line. Apparently, so did everyone else. There was actually a fender-bender where a carload of runners had rear-ended another carload of runners while waiting to get into the parking lot. Things were not off to an awesome start.
Eventually, I made it to the parking lot, made my way onto a bus and arrived at the starting line. Three minutes later, the gun was going off. By some miracle, I had managed to work my way up to approximately the front 40% of the runners. I assumed I was in a good position as per my expected pace. I was totally wrong.
First off, people were crossing the starting line all over the road. Many of them were missing the timers on the ground. I’m not sure how the officials didn’t manage to clarify this for all the runners, but it was a chaotic start as people were turning around and trying to go back to the start to get an official time. Shortly, I realized the misery of a mass exodus race start. Within the first 1/8 of a mile, people were walking. Five and ten-wide, sometimes. Those of us looking to actually run this thing fanned out to cover all available space. Some of us were on sidewalks. We had to dodge cars that were parked on the streets. Every corner was risky.
Running around the third corner, a man next to me caught his foot on the edge of the curb and wiped out. I tried to help him up and hand him the iPod he had dropped, but I was bumped along by the mass of runners trying to escape the bedlam. I was at mile 4 by the time I broke free of the herd and was able to settle into my own pace. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of energy just dodging people and I never fully recovered.
Other than the volunteers and the unique medal, I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this race. In the future, I’ll try to avoid races that don’t have wave starts. It turned out to be a sunny and warm day for mid-December. I know a lot of people were just there to have a fun run. I don’t blame them for that and I’m glad some people seemed to have fun.
By the time I finished the race, I just wanted to go home. I didn’t stick around for any of the post-race festivities. I was also disappointed in my final time of 1:57:12 at 8:56/mile pace. The medal, though. I admit, that is a great medal.