Several months ago, while I was training with CARA’s Six Leaf Clover Series, I won a free entry to the FirstMerit Bank Lakefront 10 Miler. As excited as I was for a free race entry, I was pretty nervous about this race.
When I first entered, I was in the worst part of my knee problems, and 10 miles just didn’t seem feasible at the time. However, not being one to turn down free things, I thought I’d give it a shot anyway.
The timing actually ended up working out quite well. On Friday, I “graduated” from physical therapy, and then Saturday morning was the race. Although I hadn’t been following the 10 mile training plan I normally would have, I had a really great 8-mile run earlier last week, and it played a huge role in boosting my confidence for the 10.
Despite the cold, windy, and at times rainy weather, it was actually a great race day! Here are just a few of the reasons why I loved this race.
- Great Lakefront course. I love running on the lake path, and races along the lake always seem more beautiful to me than those along city streets. Even with the wind and crashing waves from the blustery weather, there’s just something about looking out at the vast Lake Michigan as you run. It’s where most of us in the city run when we’re training, but I feel like there aren’t too many options to have that same view on race day.
- Cricket Hill. Speaking of courses, Chicago isn’t exactly known for its hills, but the Lakefront 10 is the hilliest race I’ve run here. It’s mainly because of Cricket Hill. Used in the winter as a great sledding hill, Cricket Hill is basically a large mound in the middle of Cricket Field, and the race organizers designed the course so runners ran up and over it around mile 3. This was the hardest part of the race, but it’s making my “things I liked about the race” list because it made it feel very unique. Also, the view of watching a constant stream of runners running over the hill was an amazing site to see. (I actually thought about stopping at taking a picture with my iPhone to post here, but I decided to just keep running. Now I’m bummed that I didn’t.)
- It was a Green Race. CARA now has “Green Race standards” for encouraging races to reduce their environmental footprint. I think this is such a great idea. There are a lot of different criteria for becoming a green race, including on-site recycling, avoiding individual water bottles at the finish line, using Virtual Race Bags, and providing reusable totes at packet pickup.
- *A quick note about Virtual Race Bags…I LOVE THEM. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more and more annoyed with every race packet I pick up. What used to be a “goodie bag” is really just a bag full of papers that are going to go straight into the recycling bin as soon as I get home. To me “goodies” are snacks, treats, sample granola bars, Chapstick, or other goodies that actually add value or might be useful to runners. I understand that it’s about sponsorship and advertising, but in my opinion, it’s completely wasteful to just shove a stack of papers into a bag and call them “goodies.” So, I just wanted to say thank you to Virtual Race Bags for helping to alleviate this issue, and I hope more race directors use you in the future!
- Goodies! Speaking of goodie bags and sponsors, I got more samples of Clif products than ever before. In my reusable tote at packet pickup, before the race, and at the post-race party, there were Clif Shots, Shot Bloks, and Clif Bar samples everywhere! To me, this type of marketing is far more useful than giving me a paper ad and coupon. I tried some new products and flavors, got some samples to take home, and will probably buy some more Clif stuff in the future!
- The Shirt. First of all, I love the shirt (despite being the 4th red race shirt I’ve gotten in 2012). They are cute and totally comfy! I’ve never worn a Greenlayer shirt before, but I am now a fan!Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the shirts were actually were lost in transit, so we did not get a chance to pick them up at packet pickup.However, CARA and Greenlayer seemed to have worked their magic and ensured all the shirts were there by race morning. I have to say, I kind of liked the idea of picking up the shirts on race day. I’m one of those superstitious people who treats race shirts as finisher shirts. I typically don’t wear a shirt until after I have completed the race, and I certainly will never wear a shirt for a race I didn’t end up running. So, because of the way the shirt shipments arrived, you had to actually show up on race day to get one. I see that as a reward to all the dedicated runners who braved the wind and rain and cold to get out there and run.
- I have a new medal for my rack! The medal features CARA’s new logo, and while it’s no Mickey Medal, I am proud to have earned this one, considering everything I’d been through leading up to this race!
Overall, I am very happy with my Lakefront 10 experience. From the race itself to my own personal performance, I had a great run. And the best part – ZERO knee pains!!! Hooray!