On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Downers Grove 10m race report

When you think of Illinois, do you expect it to look something like this?

If so, you're not that far off. That's an actual picture I took out the car window while driving in Illinois.

Then why was the race I did on Sunday so freaking hilly? While others of my internet running friends were doing the Mini 10k in New York, I was running a 10m race in Downers Grove, IL.

My sister had told me that there were some hills. "Nothing too bad," she said. "That's where I set my PR."

I first got an idea that it might actually be bad on Saturday, when we mentioned to a friend of hers that we were doing the race the next day. "Oh, man," she said. "I'm never doing that race again. It's terrible."

And it kind of was. As we were driving into Downers Grove, the hills began to grow ominously. My sister kind of giggled and said, "I think probably the hills are more like roller coasters. It's pretty bad."

Personally, I would put the hills somewhere between "gently rolling" and "punishing."

The event had both a 5m and 10m race, organized on a two-loop course. With only about 700 participants, and only 200 of these in the 10m race, the second loop was fairly desolate. The course ran through the streets of Downers Grove - mostly shady, and actually with some substantial flat bits - and most of the streets were closed off. There were volunteers at every turn (to the point that I kind of felt sorry for how many of them there were!), police at every intersection, and more than ample water stations.

And the Buffalo Wild Wings mascot at the finish. (He's on the left. I'm on the right.)

I'm a little bit grossed out by how badly my shoulders evidently sweat. Nasty.

Overall, this was a surprisingly fast race, due largely to the participants. I don't mean it was a fast course - I mean that after we finished the first loop and began the second, spot on at 10:30 pace, we were amongst the very last of the runners. We didn't finish last, but I'll bet there were fewer than 15 people still behind us. (The official results aren't up yet, so I'm not sure.)

I wanted to take it slowly, and we did - mostly. I was extremely tight from Saturday's 5k, and the first couple of miles were painful. But we settled into a groove, walked through the water stations, eavesdropped on other runners' conversations, coughed at the pollen, and the miles clicked off. I noticed as the first loop ended that we were mighty close to my 10m PR pace, but I didn't give it a second thought. Surely we would be slowing down in the second half. By mile 8, we were still on track. By mile 9.5, when we began a sprint to the finish, I knew it would be close and a PR was within sight.

Completely unexpectedly, I finished just under 1:45 - over a minute faster than my PR. I hadn't even mentioned to my sister that it was a possibility, because I didn't want to be racing. I got another printout of my results:

Inexplicably, my sister's watch and mine both had our final times 20 seconds faster. On Saturday, the results were 20 seconds fast. On Sunday, 20 seconds slow. Still a PR. Still all good.


  1. I don't think I've ever even raced a 10m..that sounds brutal. Congrats on the PR for a "roller coaster" course!

  2. Nice PR!! I've never done a 10m race but I think that's pretty close to my 15k pace. We would be great running buddies...you sweat, I smell.

  3. Awesome PR on a tough course! Note to self: Don't race in DG :)

    P.S. You should have been doing the relay with us! :)

  4. hooray for a new PR in hilly conditions! And for getting your picture iwth an awesome mascot (kind of...). You are kind of a racing machine.

  5. Thank you! Thank you!

    I seriously need to stop racing. Yes, I do.

    And Marie: no preggos. Just kidding.

  6. YAY for an unexpected PR! Those really are the best kind.

    (And sweaty runners = awesome runners. At least this is what I tell myself, since I tend to finish any run longer than an hour totally drenched, regardless of weather.)

  7. Shit, man! Congratulations! Nifty little printout. Put it on your desk or your face the next time you need motivation.

  8. Love the photo with the Buffalo Wild Wings guy. I ran the 5 mile portion last weekend and I have to agree that the hills were unexpected and unpleasant. But at least we had good weather, right?

  9. I did get one of those towels! I also took home one of the little footballs that they were giving away, which my dog has very much enjoyed chewing. Are you running any more races in Illinois soon? Let me know at kellymahoney26 [AT} g mail com.