Sunday, November 11, 2007

Do It Yourself Duathlon (aka I GOT FIRST!)

Roll The Tollway

I always enjoy one-off races. While I have my regulars, it's always exciting to run a new race--whether it's the inaugural race of a series, a race out of state, or those once-in-a-lifetime races such as today's Tollway Bike/Run.

As the completion of the I-355 extension neared, the Illinois Toll Authority organized a 20 mile bike ride that looped most of the 12 mile extension and also a 5k run on the same day.

I immediately signed up for the 5k run, only to realize the run wasn't until 11:30am. After reviewing the situation, I signed up for the bike ride to fill up my morning.

Wacker Drive is Done (2002)The morning of the event I dug out my "Wacker Drive Is Done" shirt from 2002 -- a race the city of Chicago organized after the rehab of lower and upper Wacker Drive. I packed my stuff and headed out the door.

There were no plans for the days events, just a bike ride followed by a run. No time goals, no pressure.

Almost since I left my house I noticed people riding their bikes heading south towards the starting area in Lemont. I wasn't sure how many of the morning's bikers were going to Roll The Tollway, but their numbers grew the closer I got.

PB103744cropaEvery other car on the road at that time had bike racks with bikes of every shape and size.

I found a parking lot within a 1 mile of the start, loaded up my backpack and rode right up to the next wave.

PB103754Usually one-off events are a bit disorganized but I found the signage great and the volunteer staff . For the biking portion, there was no check-in or packet pick-up. A wrist-band was mailed the week before and that was all that was needed.

PB103772Bikers were sent off in waves. After several minutes of announcements, another wave would be sent off.

After we were let go it was 22 miles of open sailing.

PB103779Bikes of all kinds were on the course... big bikes, little bikes, bikes with training wheels, bikes with 3 wheels, bikes with 4 wheels, fat tire bikes, thin tire bikes, fast bikes, slow bikes, tandem bikes, recumbent bikes, tandem recumbent bikes, bikes that fold, and even bikes with dogs...

PB103807...and bikes from Canada...

PB103856I kept a steady pace. With my road bike in recurring state of (dis)repair, I brought my mountain bike. I had no target speed or time goals--only to be finished in time for the 5k.

I finished the 22 mile just after 11am which means I had less than 30 minutes to get to the start line. Several bikers were racking their bikes, changing clothes, and pinning on race bibs. I hadn't even picked up my packet yet...

Chapter #2

PB113895I ran to the pick-up tent, grabbed my packet and before I darted off to the start line I noticed a note on the envelope "1st to Sign Up!". Really? I opened my envelope and sure enough, my race bib was number "1".

Immediately after pinning on my race bib I became a mini-celebrity. People would point "Hey, he's number 1!". I was wished "Good Luck #1" by a number of people. I was even approached by someone who claims he was once "#1" in a race a few years ago. I was told I should frame my "#1" race bib. Someone even offered to buy it from me.

I have since learned about the super-secret society of People-With-#1-Race-Bibs. It's so secret most members don't even know who the other members are.

PB103861The start was even more crowded that I anticipated, and since I was late getting to the start line, I was stuck in the back.

PB103864At the back of pack, I bumped in to no less than a dozen people I know. Most were families running/walking as a group or pushing strollers.

PB103867Soon we were off and I was stuck in walking traffic. But the scenery was great. The course was fairly straight, 1.55 miles out, 1.55 miles in. From the start, you could see all the way out to the turnaround and the lengthening line of 5,000+ runners. I had a lot of passing to do.

I did my best and made some progress. I weaved back and forth across the roadway--probably adding a few 1/10th of a mile--as large groups of people were clumped together. The course was not flat, but the uphill was gentle enough it was hardly noticeable.

On the return trip the headwind became more of a factor than grade. However, my temporary-celebrity-status as "that #1 guy" made it bearable. I received cheers and high-fives from numerous people that I passed still on the outbound leg. I had expected my "Wacker Drive" shirt to attract more attention, but its limelight was stolen by the fluke chance of the registration queue.

PB103883Props to Salute Inc for a well organized, one-off event--actually two one-off events (although I've been told that the post-race shuttle bus service left something to be desired).

With a self-timed finish of 25:32, this qualifies as an "average" 5k time for me. However, I will always remember this race as my first "#1" race. Maybe I can put this race bib on my Hole-In-One Golf Ball rack until I have something else to display.

1 comment:

MJ said...

This was great - #1, VERY COOL!!

I can't believe you still have that Wacker Drive shirt...don't you ever use your shirts as throw-aways?? I think you were the one that talked me into that race. It was FREEZING that day!!