A bit of babble following the March 26th Chicago Lakefront 50K:
Mary Gorski's Race Report...
I say it every spring -- Chicago BLOWS! But yesterday the lakefront was particularly blustery for this year's running of the Chicago Lakefront 50 Kilometer George Cheung Memorial Race -- a race that has a letter in its title for every kilometer run, plus one for a cool-down. Though this year you really didn't need to cool down at the finish. Runners were well chilled at the end having just pushed through the worst of the winds in the last couple of kilometers of the course.
The Chicago 50K is a great early spring run -- generally flat, and contrary to what one might think in a very urban place like Chicago, much of it can be run on dirt. The course consists of three, ten-plus mile loops from Foster Beach to North Avenue and back. Aid is available every two to three miles. It was great to see several of my CHUG friends staffing one of the stations, including Ian Stevens and Brian and Kelly Gaines at the turn-around. That's another thing that I enjoy about the Chicago 50K -- it's a nice time to connect with runners that I haven't seen through the winter.
Unfortunately, this year the cold got in the way of the usual pre and post-race stand around and chat time. Pre-race, many runners were hiding in their cars, checking under seats and in the back of their trunks to see if they might have an extra layer of clothes to put on. Occasionally, we popped out to head to the porta-pottie line. But even then, bundled head to toe with faces covered, it was sometimes difficult to find a familiar face. When Bruce Purdy yelled "hello" it took me a minute to figure out where and from whom the voice was coming from under his pile of clothes.
Larry Hall -- doing just a loop or two as a warm up to next week's Umstead 100 miler -- was recognizable by his knees. A down coat, hood up, and a pair of shorts with lily-white knees sticking out. He's one of those guys who has never seen a need to cover his legs, at least when running (I hear that he wears suits to work, though I don't know if they have long pants or not).
Actually, the temps weren't bad... if it were mid-January. My car thermometer showed 25F at the start -- really not too awful. And while I drove through a snow-globe of a storm coming from Wisconsin early Saturday morning, Chicago's lakefront was generally sunny.
But the wind! Again, Chicago blows. Within a mile of the turn-around the course was supposed to go on a bike path close to Lake Michigan's edge. But the incoming waves blurred the line of where that edge actually was. Race volunteers re-routed us to higher ground. I didn't mind running the extra distance to stay clear of the waves (and ice-covered path they left behind).
So it was a typical Chicago 50K -- a wind-filled opportunity to get a long run in, say "hi" to a few friends. I know that I've missed mentioning a few like Bill Thom, Juli Aistars, Julie Wickwire Bane, Jerry Shepard, and even Steve Batterson -- one of my buddies from crewing Nikki Seger at her last Badwater race. Evidently Nikki still hasn't talked him into taking up running, but she did talk him into walking over to a run course. The first step to becoming an ultrarunner -- hey Steve?
I have described the race as more of a social training run rather than a REAL race. Being the self-absorbed only child that I am, I tend to forget that just because a social (WINDY, FREEZE-YOUR-BUNS-OFF) run was what I was doing, there were also a few runners on the 50K course doing a REAL RACE.
I was so excited to have spent a bit of time running with the first-place man. That bit of time was about two seconds as he whizzed past me and headed toward the finish line while I went to the turn-around cone to mark the end of my second lap. It was 3:16 into the race and I had just finished two laps while the guy who turned right toward the finish had completed all three. Phenomenal effort in extremely windy conditions. The winner? Matthew Flaherty, 25, of Chicago. The women's winner was Jennifer Benitez in 3:53. Effing FAST!
So that was this year's Chicago 50K. As for my run, I was in good shape for a nice 20-miler. Must been that extra distance running up and away from the waves of Lake Michigan that tired my legs out for the last 10-11 miles. During the final loop I felt like a cartoon character, spinning my legs but seemingly going nowhere. And then I swear that those CHUGS moved their turn-around aid station a bit to the south. It took so much longer to get there that last time! Ian?!?!?!?!?
However, after a few months of working out some injuries I'm happy to have that day-after-a-long-run-heavy-legged hang-over once again.
PHOTO: Me, two of the RDs (Pat and Stuart) and Bill Thom of RunRace.net