December 13, 2010


Yesterday, I woke up to a heavy snowfall and high speed winds. "Blizzard conditions," some called it. So, like any semi-sane Chicagoan, I got in the shower, got dressed, pinned on my bib, and headed for the bus uptown for my race.

This is just one of the reasons why I love Chicago. We can't shut down our lives because there's a little snow - otherwise, we'd get nothing done six months out of the year! My boss says that in the fifteen years she's been working for the university, classes haven't been canceled once. And I like that - in Connecticut, even a threat of flurries sends everyone to the grocery store for bread and milk. Here in Chicago, life goes on.

This was the view from the bus stop as I was waiting:

phone camera makes everything a little blue - i kind of love it
Less than ideal, but manageable. In terms of Chicago weather, this wasn't the worst I've ever seen. I kept checking my e-mail from my phone to see if there was any news about the race being canceled - I figured that I'd head out anyway, and even if I got all the way there to find out the race was canceled, I'd just head back and go walk an 8k at the gym. It's a Sunday morning during my vacation, what do I have that's better to do? (You know, besides laundry, dishes, and packing my suitcase for Connecticut.)

I had to transfer buses to get to the race, and as I got to the second bus stop, there was still no race update via e-mail. When I got on the Diversey bus, there were two other people in their racing gears, so I figured that while I might be crazy, at least I wasn't the only one.

The race started in front of the Nature Museum, and this is what the ground looked like as we waited for the start:

crunch crunch
They probably shovel and plow downtown, but in most of the non-Loop neighborhoods, it seems that clearing the sidewalks isn't really a high priority. In Pilsen, where I live, it just gets packed down - which makes for a very slippery commute, let me tell you! I've only slipped and fallen once since moving here, which I'm proud of - I'd rather take twice as long to get somewhere than rush and get hurt. Some folks I know in the city have really messed up their backs and/or knees from falling on icy sidewalks.

The race was sold out - which means a couple thousand spots sold. Only a couple hundred showed up to the race, though. It was really interesting to see so many people unaffected by the serious storm all around us.

right at starting line
Stretching, running in place ... yup, just another race, no big deal. People still wore costumes, even! Lots of Santas, Mrs. Clauses, elves, and giant gift boxes. Despite the reduced turnout, I was still so glad to be there. I know I say this all the time, but I love participating in races - even though I am not running them just yet, I love feeling like a part of something wonderful, a big group of people with a common interest. And especially this Sunday morning, where it was all the die-hards ... nothing was coming between us and those 4.97 miles, and that was great.

The only problem was that of the people who bailed on the race, it was mostly the walkers. Usually at these races, there are a few hundred walkers, and so even when I finish after quite a long time, I'm usually in good company. This time, there were only maybe a dozen of us.

the loneliness of a middle-distance runner
It wasn't bad since I had my Christmas tunes playing and the snow was really only a minor irritation, but still, there were tough moments - like how they packed up the water station before I even got to it, or how they put away the chip timer about four minutes before I finished, so I don't have an "official" finishing time. But there were some great parts that made up for it - as I was passing the four mile mark, some non-race runners were on the other side of the path, and quite a few of them cheered me on - saying to keep up the good work, and to finish strong, and that I was doing great.

And I thought, "You know what? I am doing great!" Because a lot of people decided not to even show up for the race, but I started.covered in ice, but loving it And when I finish, even if I am dead last, I'm still finishing! On Skinny Emmie's blog a while back, she posted a great concept: DLF > DNF > DNS. Dead last finish beats did not finish, did not finish beats did not start.

And, for the record, I was not even dead last - there were a whopping three people walking behind me. But the important thing is, we finished, and that's what matters.

With this race, I was really unconcerned with beating my time at the last race - the conditions just weren't ideal. I wasn't willing to break my neck in order to shave a few seconds off my time. I did the math when I got home based on how far I got into my winter playlist - 89m12s, about eight and a half minutes longer than my last 8k, and I have no complaints or regrets. I still felt like a champion.


Maude said...

Congratulations! I'm so impressed that you went and did your race! And that pic of you is super cute :)

Amy said...

I love the picture! So great! I know what you mean - here in Ottawa life always goes on in a storm. I once went to classes and couldn't even park because the snow was soooo deep that they hadn't plowed, I walked into class and saw like 10 people in a 200 people class... and thought okay seriously why am I here? In my hometown, people are even more extreme - it's just the norm, we get a bucket of snow dumped on us, and you just drive around it. In Toronto.. they get some snow and often declare a state of emergency - it's pretty funny.

I'm very impressed you still went out! Congrats on making such a great time even trucking through the snow!

SheZug said...

way to go!

Jessica said...

Girl you are a CHAMP!!!

Anonymous said...

Great job! You rocked it!

Anonymous said...

Heh, I mused on the same DLF>DNF>DNS thing today. (Not for an actual race, though!)

You ROCK for getting out there in the snow! We're all blizzarded up here too, but I'm a pretty big winter chicken. Love your commitment!

Unknown said...

I'm reading this thinking: Man, this girl has some serious determination. Where I live, we almost ALWAYS get what Chicago gets in terms of weather, and if you went out in 'that' when you didn't have to, I think you should get some kind of giant medal. Very proud of you. I've never been in one of those races, but if I had someone like you to walk with, I'd be there right beside you all the way :)

financecupcake said...

WOOHOO!!! You are a winner because you got out there and raced. Your smile says it all!

I've seen a few DLF>DNF>DNS shirts at different races I've been done. They always make me smile. :)

Retta said...

Loved the photo! and yes, you are a champion. You showed up and finished, and didn't use weather as an excuse. Good job!