Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Esprit de She 5k/10k (2014)

I admit that I have been remiss in blogging.  After the Color Run (which was my fourth race in four weeks), I decided to take a big step back from running.  It was a busy time at work anyways (not to mention needing the physical and mental break!)

The time has flown by and lo and behold, it is time for my next race - Athleta's Esprit de She.

This race series is for the promotion of women's health so I was excited when I stumbled upon this race.  Considering the Zooma 10k and the Chicago Women's Half in the coming weeks, I decided to stick with a fun but motivating 5k.

Packet Pick Up
Packet pick up this year was at the Athleta Southport location.  This location was very convenient as it is just a few steps way from the Brown line.  When walking in, a greeter directed me to the back where I needed to claim my bib.

It was a simple claim process - I just told them my assigned number and it appeared in my hands moments later.  The bib came with claim tags for 20% off an Athleta item, a Lifetime trial and two glasses of bubbly.

I've had my eyes on some Athleta capris for a while so I decided to take advantage of the discount and bought a pair of pants.  While in the dressing room, I decided to toss on the race tank to see how it fit. Though it was very comfy, it had an odd fit in the back (it crumpled where the fabric joined) and was a little loose in the arms eye/arm pit area.  I told myself that I would out it on again at home before attempting to swap it after the race since everything else seemed to fit well.  UPDATE:  I did try on the shirt again and found that if I pulled the front down a little more, it straightened out - no more bunching!  Also, the capris (Be Free Knickers) are AMAZING.  Great fit, awesome side pockets and zippered pocket in the back - I could carry around so much and never felt weighed down! 

Race Day
I'll be honest - I've been a little nervous ever since EDS announced the race course.  I thought the race would be in Lincoln Park but this year, it is at Montrose Harbor running north to Foster Beach.  This course, which I run weekly and have done one race on, is lovely and has some great views of the Lake Michigan.  The big issue is that it is 7 miles north of the city and that means that you really have to leave work on time to get there!

A second fear was how hot it was going to be but we lucked out with 70 degrees and sunshine.

So I hopped on the express bus and as I anticipated, it took nearly an hour to get up there.  Luckily I had plenty of time to spare so I perused the night market beforehand.

At first, I thought the area was very small but I was very excited when I stepped in; there were many sponsors and the entire area looked very organized.  My eyes caught the massage/beauty tents, gear check, LUNA bar station and EDS gear store.  Soon after, the announcer called for us to join the warm-up and to start lining up for the race.

The Race Itself
We lined up and though it was pretty clearly marked, some runners still didn't know where to go (The plan was for 5Kers to line up in the front and 10Kers behind them).  The issue here was that the 10K dividing sign was so close to the front - and since the 5K area in front of it was full - the remaining 5K runners didn't know where to go. Eventually, more room was made and I think the majority of 5K runners got to the front.

The race course started at Cricket Hill, went north past Foster Beach, turned around at Bryn Mawr and headed back to The Dock. The course was very clearly marked and there were plenty of aid stations.  

The big issue (and last one - I promise) is that the mile markers were off.  Like...REALLY off.  I am no expert runner but I 1) can gauge a mile pretty well and 2) I run this path almost weekly so I have mile markers drilled in my head.  There were two sets of mile markers which caused a ton of confusion.  When we were just half a mile or so into the course, there was a fold up placard that said "Mile 1".  Many ladies were super excited but I was skeptical because Montrose to Foster - in city blocks - is one mile.  I knew it was impossible because we had just passed Lawrence.  

When we got to the first aid station - where mile 1 should have been - there was then chatter about the second mile marker.  Going up to Bryn Mawr and turning back (aid station #2 being roughly mile 2), many ladies began asking where the second mile marker was since the first mile marker came so quickly and we saw miles 3 and 4 for the 10K race.  The volunteers then shouted "Mile 2!" and many runners were confused.  About a tenth of a mile after the volunteer station was a marker for mile 2!

I knew in that instant that if the volunteer station at Foster Beach was mile 2, we were running a long course.  After seeing mile marker 3 and remembering the location of the finish line near the night market, my thoughts were confirmed - it would be the longest ".1" stretch ever!  But that was okay with me.  I just felt bad for the new runners who were trying to pace themselves who overexerted in the first part of the race and were losing steam at the end.  

And poof - the finish line came and passed!  And my GPS?  3.3 miles (which does include SOME of my weaving....).

Post Race
The mile marker fiasco was quickly forgotten when we arrived at the night market.  Lines were short all around and there was so much to check out:  photos booths, shopping, tapas, beverages, LUNA bars, beauty bar, etc.

This is hands down a race that is worth every penny and more.  The vibe was awesome and it was truly a gathering of people supporting each other and their individual health journeys.  I mean, in addition to the tank and timed race, look at the swag I brought home:

You should definitely grab a few girlfriends and run this race.  I'm really excited to embark on my first Duathlon with EDS next year and plan to run the race, too!

Blurry selfie!

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