Saturday, May 3, 2008

Race Report: Chicago Police Run To Remember

My 4 year old wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and we bring her into our bed; I can't fall back asleep and for 28 minutes I lay in bed, trying to forget the fact that I have to pee, wanting to get up and pee but also not wanting to wake up our 3 month old puppy who sleeps in a crate next to our bed. If I make too much noise I know he'll want to go out and start the day. So, I lay in bed awake for 28 minutes because who can go back to sleep when you have to pee so bad?

Get dressed, have my toast and peanut butter, grab a Red Bull and off I go. Only 5 minutes behind schedule. You see -- and this will be important later on, so take note - - I hate to be late. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. It stresses me out, it freaks me out, I can't stand being late. Put it this way. Easiest way to give me a heart attack is to force me into a situation where I only have minutes to catch a plane.

So I breeze downtown from the suburbs and 40 minutes later, arrive at Soldier Field parking. The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation has kindly arranged for free parking. It's about 7 a.m, the race starts at 8 and there are a lot of people on site, but also plenty of parking still available. I text cousin Kim, sister Jeanine and husband Mike to let them know I've arrived. I follow the crowd to Gold Star Memorial Park (which honors fallen Chicago Police officers) and see the race area. No lines for the porta potties and the sun is out, the sky is clear. Beautiful.

Kim sends me a text as she already picked up her chip and as I head over to Kim I call Jeanine.
Jeanine was kind enough to pick up my packet/bib so I didn't have to trek downtown the night before. It's about 45 minutes before race time and I'm starting to feel naked without my bib #.

So I call Jeanine:
Me: Where are you? (Really I'm asking, where's my bib?)
Jeanine: You're there already???!!!!! Are you the first one?
Me: No, a lot of people are here.
Jeanine: I mean other than volunteers.

See, this is the part that I forgot. While it was very cool of my sister to pick up my bib for me, I forgot that she is notoriously late. She can't stand being early. She considers it time wasted. So there she is driving somewhere still way too far north on Lake Shore Drive for a race that starts in 40 minutes, with my bib. Then I think, I hope she remembered to bring my bib. Organization is not really one of her strengths.

To be fair to Jeanine, I should say that while I consider her to be notoriously late, and at times, unprepared and disorganized, she would say that she considers me to be anal and bossy. I'm the oldest, can you tell?

Kim and I hang out, waiting for my bib (I mean Jeanine) and the race area starts getting busier and busier. I can't remember now how many times I called Jeanine on her cell to see where she was, (two or three) but I do remember thinking that my repeated calling was probably annoying the crap out of her and I didn't care.

By this time it's about 18 minutes before race time, Jeanine is not even in the parking garage yet so I figure I'll pick up our chips. I call her to ask her for the bib numbers, she gives them to me along with a mini heart attack because she's at 800 North. Still too far north for my comfort level. Kim and I head to the chip booth and the volunteer won't give me the chips without the bibs. Damn. I call Jeanine for a status update.

Jeanine: Is there only one level in this parking garage? I can't find a place to park!
Me (in my head): Arrrrgghhhhh!
Me (to Jeanine): They won't give me the chips without the bibs!
Can't remember exactly what Jeanine said at this point but I vaguely remember picking up a little panic in her voice. I don't know if she was starting to panic about missing the start of the race, or starting to panic that for the rest of her life I would be reminding her about how she made us both late for the start of the race.

I call Mike at home.

Mike: Hello?
Mike: When do you start?

I call Jeanine again and she immediately picks up and says she's running. Seconds later, she's there. One quick stop at the porta pottie and off we go.

Race highlights (about time I get to the actual race, huh?)
  • Chicago Police helicopter swoops by as runners start. Pretty cool.
  • We start out by Soldier Field, past the Field Museum and head north along the lake. Great scenery on a fantastic running weather day.
  • I realize about mile 1 that I started out way too fast.
  • About mile 2 I wonder how I'm going to complete 10 miles at the Soldier Field 10 Mile in 20 days.
  • The small incline near the Field Museum before Mile 3 just about kills me. I'm so out of shape.
  • As we approach the finish line, the course is lined with pictures of Chicago Police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Very touching and I can't imagine how the familys here who have lost a cop in the family must feel.
  • I finish, not a brag-worthy time (just over 38 minutes), but I finish nonetheless.
  • After the race, Jeanine, Kim and I meet up (Jeanine and Kim finished well before me) and Jeanine and I find our retired Chicago cop dad's "brick" in front of the Police Memorial honoring him for 30 years of service.

Time to end an already long post so I will just say that while my sister and I are complete opposites, I love her dearly and if it wasn't for her, I would have never made it to the starting line for the 2007 Chicago Marathon.

20 days until 10 miles.

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