Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chicago Half Marathon "Race" Report

It's taken me a few days to sit down to write this "race" report. Even though you call it a race, it's not like I really raced it. And like I mentioned before, it was a "C" (meaning low priority) race. What is the point of having a blog to talk about your races if you aren't going to provide race reports? I mean, I'm already severely slacking with my Bachelor Recaps so I need to get back to blogging here.

As a recap, my main goal for this race was to have negative splits. I didn't exactly achieve my goal but that doesn't mean this race wasn't a success. My other (secret) goals were to beat my Houston Half time from this year and to also come in under 2.5hrs. Ok, for those of you who know me, you know my PR for Houston a few years back was 2:10:54 but this wasn't a PR race so that's why I had a different goal. I don't know why I feel like I need to explain myself but I just do. I think some would see 2.5hrs after finishing 20 minutes faster as a failure but it wasn't! Anywho, on to the recap (errr race report).

I love Chicago and have really enjoyed spending time there since Heather & Michael moved there. I did have very high expectations for the race and I hate to admit, I was a little let down. The scenery and the course itself were awesome. I mean, who wouldn't love to run down Lake Shore Drive with a view of downtown? The fan support on the other hand left a little to be desired. While this is only the 3rd large city I've done a half in, I have to give Houston major props. The spectator support in Houston is still better than Austin & Chicago...hands down. The course entertainment in Houston is far better too. I'm not just saying that. I speak the truth! The Chicago Half does get props for serving Lou Malnati's post-race. Holy deliciousness Batman. While I didn't partake b/c I rarely want "real" food post race, the smell of it was good enough. This race was on the 10th anniversary of September 11th and they did a great job honoring this terrible tragedy. Engine 4, which lost all 8 of it's crew, was on hand. Wow. As I walked past the engine, I couldn't help but think about the families of those who were lost that day.

I was in corral J with the 2:10 finishers. I immediately knew I should not go out with this group b/c that would be my PR pace which I was not supposed to do. Perhaps that was my 2nd mistake of the day. My 1st mistake was eating something new on race morning....but I'll get to that gem later. It took nearly 8 minutes to get to the start line once the gun went off. Geez! This was a BIG half marathon! I had told Keith if I made it to the 5 mile mark in less than 55 minutes, he needed to yell at me to slow down. Well, I made it in 55 and change. And then I hit mile 6 in 66 minutes and change. I went out at about 11min/miles which is a fine pace but not a pace I should've gone out at to have a truly good warmup. Despite that, I did feel good and felt like I could run that pace all day long if I needed to.

I knew Keith would be at the 5 mile marker and sure enough, there he was along with Hannah, Heather, Michael & Addie!!!!! How fun to have a support crew at an out-of-town race. I was really happy to have made it to them in about the time I thought I would. :) Yay me. Sort of.

The first 6 miles were uneventful and pretty fun. Miles 7 through 10 however...not so much. I will spare you the details b/c I'm thoughtful like that. Let me just say the picture below sums it all up perfectly. As I was approaching the port-o-pots at mile 7, I felt a rumbly in my tumbly and thought maybe I should stop. Nah, I'll keep going. As the nasty pots were upon me, I thought maybe it would be wise to just pull off the road. There was a line (of course) so I paused my Garmin b/c I wanted my Garmin time to read my actual running time. Remember, not an A race. :) All I will say is THANK YOU LORD for making me stop and THANK YOU CHICAGO for leaving some TP in there AND having hand sanitizer. I mentioned earlier my first mistake of the day was eating something new race morning. I'm no rookie and I knew better but still didn't pack or stop to buy something I knew worked for me. Trust me, I will never make that mistake again. Another pit stop came between miles 8 & 9. Are you kidding me? Now it was just comical. My Garmin pace for this section dropped to 12:18/mile or so. Actually, not terrible. But not a negative split either.

Mile 10 brought my first double digit mile marker as well as the comforting feel of a calm tummy. I knew I had ground to make up but also knew I wasn't far off the 2:30 group b/c I had seen them at my last pit stop. My goal was to try to catch them. My pace miles 10 through the end averaged in the high 11min/mile range BUT descended. So mile 11 was faster than 10 and mile 12 was faster than 11 (you get the picture). I was happy with that. As I approached the 12 mile mark, I was happy to see the Chalfant/Buttenob gang cheering me on. I think they all knew I was off pace, especially Keith but they cheered anyway. See, this is the part of racing I don't like...the part where you feel like you let everyone down.

I wanted to sprint the end as hard as I could and had high hopes of going balls to the wall at mile 12 but I was tired and my butt hurt. :) I settled for sprinting the last .25 miles and finished with a smile. I collected my finishers medal (my 7th) and made my way to the official finishers photo area. Chip time was 2:36 and change but my Garmin time was 2:31:20 (or so). I refer to this time as my RAT (restroom adjusted time). Either time you look at was better than Houston this past January so I was H A P P Y! I haven't been training with Ana that long and my longest run mileage was 8 going into this so I felt I did really well. And while I didn't execute my plan the way I hoped and the way my coach hoped, I kept a really good attitude and stayed focused. Even though I felt a little sad at first, I'm actually really happy with the results now.

Now it's time to shift my focus to my next week which is already knocking at my door. The Houston Oly is a week from Sunday and I'm getting excited. Still not an A race but I already know my coach is expecting me to push. I'll talk more about my goals for that next week. I'm also now signed up for 10 for Texas on October 8th and then of course, Try Andy's Tri on October 16th (relay).

All in all, I had a great time at the Chicago Half and would love to do it again next year and maybe even beat my time!

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