Monday, October 29, 2012

Chicago 50/50 Spectating & Ghost Runner Report

As some of you may know, I've completed 1 marathon in my lifetime. It is a difficult distance, no matter who you are and how long it takes you to complete it. When some of my friends decided they wanted to run a 50k, the thought of that distance is unbelievable to me. I didn't get the chance to see my friend Kate during the marathon, so I thought I would help support her during this beast of a distance. The Chicago 50/50 was a looped course (10 mile loop to be completed 3 times for the 50k) so I could stay in one spot and see them go by a few times. I packed up my general store and headed downtown.
sleepy eyes, ready to go!

When I arrived, I had just missed the start and the temperature were freezing. (But perfect for running 50k.) I headed to the start line anyways to investigate and figure out my strategy. I was having trouble converting their estimated pace and placement on the course to a time frame, so I just waited at the start for awhile because I didn't want to miss them! When I saw the bright yellow FNRC shirts, I was jumping up and down, knowing it was them. I took some quick photos before hopping in with them.
They looked great and were feeling great after loop 1. I ran with them a little bit, got some more pics and tried to exert some of this energy everyone always says I have. :)

Self portrait on the way back to the start.

After arriving back, I waited in my car and tried to stay warm. There were plenty of port a potties at the start (that were replenished with TP) so that was helpful. I did a quick post to the running group to give everyone an update before heading back out.

When arriving at loop 3, some of the smiles and energy had faded. They had over 20 miles under their belts and they were starting to feel it. I tried to be positive without being too energetic as I headed out with them (into the headwind) of the last loop. I ran with them until the next aid station where I waited for them to come back before running back with them. The excitement was gone and the pace was speeding up. The feeling of just wanting to be done was in the air. They all finished with smiles on their faces and talk of this whole 50k thing being a "one and one" type of thing. I was happy to have gotten the chance to share in such a monumental event for these runners!
FN Done

The Chicago 50/50 has been going on since 2000. It is obvious that they know what they're doing as the race is pretty well-organized. As the course is looped, there are officials keeping track of everyone's loops as there isn't a timing pad. The aid stations were well stocked with water, Gatorade, and lots of real food (cookies, chips, pretzels, pickles, bananas). Kind of says something about the impact of real food versus the chemicals in the synthetic stuff. (This next training cycle, I plan on giving more real foods a try to help give me energy and settle my stomach.) The only spectators on the course were those folks at the aid stations and fellow runners. There is definitely a huge sense of camaraderie among the ultra distance, and everyone is so cheery, respectful, and friendly towards other runners. It isn't serious and all about the pace, and every person for themselves... it is about completing something that not that many people would attempt to do. I would say that I would run this race, but I don't plan on ever tackling an ultra. I'm happy with the marathon distance and don't have the desire to go beyond... :)

Congrats to my friends that completed their first ultra!

Have you ever completed an ultra distance? Do you know folks that have? Have you ever been to spectate an ultra race? Did you have the same sense about the race?

22 comments:

  1. So happy you cheered your friends on at the 50K! Congrats to them! I would love to spectate this one some day. I am not sure about a flat, paved ultra though. Even though the 50K I did was hilly, I loved that it was varied. I wouldn't want to do the same loop over and over.

    After the 50K, Steven was asking me why marathons don't have real food at aid stations. I think it because people would not want to stop, but it helps SO MUCH.

    And yes, the camaraderie. That is why I wanted to do an ultra. I heard about how awesome everyone is and thought it would be less stressful than a marathon :)

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  2. interesting that the course is loops! how many total loops do they do?

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  3. I'm sure all your friends were grateful you came out to spectate! I've been sucked into the ultra world, there is something wonderful about it!

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  4. I love observing the ultra world from the sidelines. They all seem like a great group of people, but I don't think that distance is for me. :)

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  5. From what I've seen of other ultras, they are frequently looped courses. This course was a 10+ mile loop that the runners did 3 times. It didn't sound fun to me. The 50 milers (yes, runners completing 50 miles) did the loop 5 times.

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  6. I really wish I could have gone to cheer you on for your 50k! It is such an amazing achievement, not to be taken lightly! :) I'm excited to try REAL FOOD this next cycle. I've been eating Picky Bars (made with real food) and they seem to work, but I need to incorporate the pretzels which always seem to help settle the stomach rumbles.

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  7. It's great that you were able to support your friends for the ultra. I have never done one, but if I did, I probably plan on taking a month off afterwards just to recover!

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  8. Amy B @ Second City RandomnessOctober 29, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Oh man... it was so windy and chilly this weekend! You're a trooper to go out there and support the ladies!

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  9. Never say never...... LOL!

    Great job getting out there to support them! Its a tough distance and the wind and cold had to eat at them a bit. Love my F'N Runners! You all rock whether your spectating, running or cheering from afar. So proud to be part of such an amazing group of people.

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  10. I wish I made it about a mile further south on my run because I would have seen you then :)

    I was planning on doing this race post fox valley and Chicago marathons, but my body had other plans. What's an extra 4 miles anyways?? I really love the idea of real food along the course instead of gu and other synthetic stuff like you mentioned. Congrats to your friends for finishing! I'm sure they appreciated your support out there.

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  11. I think I have to finish a marathon without throwing up first. Haha!

    I was happy to be out there supporting the fellow FN runners! Someone even came up to us after the race, saying that she lives in the area and hadn't heard of the club. She might be joining us on Wednesdays and Thursdays (she doesn't have Facebook so can't see the event invites)

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  12. Haha, the wind was pretty brutal but thankfully the runners had it on their backs during the way to the finish. It was definitely a little unmotivating.

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  13. I saw your instagram post and thought maybe we'd run into each other. Hope you had a great run and that your body heals quickly!!

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  14. Did they seriously run out and back 6 times on the lakefront path??? That's hardcore. Congrats to your friends and how nice of you to be there for them!

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  15. Yes, here is the course loop that they did 3 times. http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/26463122/

    Thanks!

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  16. That's awesome that the runners are so respectful, etc at this distance. That makes sense though, this race doesn't have the same marque status as the Chicago Marathon, so it would definitely attract a lot of serious runners and not just bucket-listers who never race other than one marathon just to say they did. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but they don't add much to the sense of "community" of runners. Anyway. Sounds like a great experience, but I don't know if I can run a 10 mile loop 3 times in a row. But it would definitely make the logistics much easier for race organizers.

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  17. so awesome of you to support your friends like this! You are awesome!

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  18. PretoriaRunningManOctober 30, 2012 at 5:58 AM

    Looks like you had fun there. Don't you ever get that feeling like you should be running at races where you're spectating? You know, that symptom of running being being so addictive. My brother will be running his first marathon this weekend and I'm going to support him. But there's that nagging feeling in me that says I should run. Don't you ever get that feeling when you're out there supporting your friends?

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  19. Everyone on the path had a smile and a cheer for those wearing a bib. Everyone was so friendly and nice. It was like the Old Plank Trail, but during the race in the city.

    I think the looped course was helpful for the race director as I think it was easier to keep track of all the runners that way. (And less surface area for aid stations, etc.)

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  20. Haha, yes! I definitely have the marathon bug and may or may not be planning my next one already.... Right now with this exam, I don't have the time to train, but maybe afterwards.........

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  21. Irina @ Chocolatea TimeOctober 31, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Props to you on being a great spectator! It helps so much during a race, and I can only guess what it meant to the runners who were conquering this distance! I wish this race received more coverage - it could use more spectators like you!

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