Summer Season Race #1 PAWS Chicago 5K


When I set out to do at least one race per month this summer, I had grand designs of training hard and working toward a PR in both the 5K and the 10K. These are distances I haven’t spent a lot of time pursuing and my hope has been that since they don’t require as much time in training as half and full marathons, I can really knuckle down on the intensity.

That hasn’t been the case, however. I’m not sure what the funk is about, but it’s lingering. But what better way to get out of a funk than to be surrounded by doggos?

My first race of the “season” was the PAWS Chicago 5K Run/Walk, which benefits the PAWS no-kill shelters. My best pal, Buddy is a rescue, so of course I wanted to get involved!

Initially, I had planned to run this for time but I reconsidered based on the following information:

  1. I hadn’t trained well.
  2. The race allowed dogs, but only in the walk portion.
  3. It was untimed.
  4. It was going to be a hot day.

I made a last minute decision, leashed up Buddy and we walked over to the race venue to pick up  my bib.


The race village was well organized and quite busy. We waited in line for some time to pick up my bib (I usually prefer to pick up my bib in advance, but I got the dates wrong.)

Waiting to pick up our bib.

Then Buddy and I found a quiet patch of grass to wait for the start of the walk portion of the 5K.

Sitting quietly and waiting to start.

As I watched people grab handfuls of snacks and water, I hoped there would be enough left over for people who finished later. I grabbed a bottle of water for the walk and we lined up for our start.

When it was our turn to head out, I walked Buddy around the outside of the starting chute to avoid strollers, wagons and general mayhem – he’s a bit of a nervous pup and there was no starting mat to cross, so we just did what we needed to do.

Starting chute mayhem!

Immediately after the start, we walked past Buddy’s favorite place on earth, Montrose Dog Beach – it was actually the second time we’d had to walk past it that morning so far, since we passed it on our way to the race village as well. It took some convincing for Buddy to carry on with the “race”!

I figured we would clear the crowd, and then run/walk for a bit, but that never really became a possibility, so we settled in for a fun walk. Fortunately we had a lot of shaded pathway as we walked north on the Lakeshore, but once we got free of the trees, things really did heat up. I was glad for the bottle of water I had, and kept offering it to Buddy as we walked to keep him cool.

We saw a mile marker, but it was the only one I noticed on the course.

Mile 1

We reached the water station close to the turn around, and I grabbed some water for myself, too and regretted my lack of sunscreen.

Buddy decided on the way back that no “run” with me was complete without his typical stick-break.

Buddy loves to chew a stick – but don’t worry, he spits it all out.

We made our way back slowly, starting and stopping, starting and stopping and eventually just STOPPING. there was no way Buddy was going to pass by his favorite place a third time in one morning.

Ready to storm the beach.

Good thing this wasn’t a timed event, because we took quite a detour.


Who am I to deny Buddy a cooling romp in Lake Michigan? I let him frolic in the water for a bit, and then we headed back to the race.

Cooled down and ready to finish!

As we made our way to the finish line, we encountered some lovely volunteers cheering folks along. Well, I thought they were lovely. Buddy thought they were trying to murder him. So we took the long way around them and I dug into his treat bag knowing I’d need to encourage him across the finish line with some courage-inducing treats.

Almost there!

Since we had taken a side-trip to the beach, we were certainly not among the fastest to return to the race village. As a matter of fact, if you’ve run a Disney Race and heard of the Balloon Ladies, behold this race’s version of the sweep bus!

Finish Line!

The cheerleaders definitely spooked Buddy a little bit, but I encouraged him across the finish line with a treat and praise and he was happy!

We made our way to the beer garden to “recover”. There was a long line, but it didn’t move too slowly, and Buddy was just happy to chill out and look at all the people. I inhaled my bag of chips while I waited. That was the only snack I found.

This is my “I don’t like lines” face. It’s ok. It was worth it.


Everyone wants beer!

We got two drink tickets with our bib, and I opted for beer since I didn’t feel like waiting in two lines and they had one of my favorite beers (a Pilsner) on tap. Thanks Lagunitias!

Buddy isn’t always great with strangers, but I was really proud of him for how he behaved in all the crowds and how willingly and bravely he greeted people and interacted. Maybe it was because we were surrounded by dog people and he just knew.

All in all, I was very happy that I scrapped my plan to run, and chose to spend the day walking with Buddy instead. It truly felt in the spirit of the day, which is advertised as Chicago’s Largest Dog Friendly Event, to include our very own rescue dog.

Cheers to you, Buddy!


Go home, Buddy. You’re drunk.


My fundraising link for PAWS will be open until July 31, 2017 – so if you feel like donating to this wonderful charity, feel free to do so by clicking here.

If you’re considering running this race in the future, I highly recommend it. It was well organized, full of friendly volunteers and was held at a nice venue with lots of nearby parking.

Have you run a race for charity? Sound off in the comments!

Next up: my take on the Tiki Run 5K!


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