Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chicagoland Spring Half Marathon - Recap

Let's have a quiz! Let's say your two longest runs are 7 and 10, and it's supposed to be hotter than you're used to running in and more humid. The smart thing to do for your long run that weekend is -

1) Easy long run
2) Run a half marathon spur of the moment

If you picked two, congratulations! We might be soul mates. (Sorry though, I'm married!)

Anyway, as you might have guessed I ran the Chicagland Spring Marathon/Half Marathon this past weekend, on May 17. I knew I was not adjust to running in the heat and it was supposed to be 70 and humid - well past my comfort zone and temps I'd only run in a couple times since coming back post injury. "It's okay though self, it will be completely cloudy and it might rain!"

I'm not sure why I decided to do the half - I'm undertrained for it and I promised myself I would never attempt one like that. I knew I could finish it, but I also knew I could end up as much as 20 minutes off of my PR if the conditions ended up poorer than predicted. I guess I'm jealous of my husband; he wings not just half marathons, but fulls - does no training, hits maybe a run in or two in the month leading up to the full, and then goes out and runs a full. And while that kind of undertraining doesn't appeal to me especially, he does them! He finishes them. He's run 6 marathons now and I can't help but be jealous - so I thought to heck with it and signed up on Saturday to run on Sunday. Faulty logic, but hey. Got myself a cute little spring tech hoodie for my troubles, too.

Photo courtesy of All Community Events. 

When I arrived at the race site the next day, I will admit that I wibbled a bit - there were tons of portopotties but the lines were massive, and like every runner ever, quietly panicked at the thought of starting a race without peeing one last time. Fortunately the lines moved quick and before I knew it I was lining up - with tons of butterflies in my stomach. "I'm so nervous!" I told my husband, at which point he raised an eyebrow. "Why?" "I don't knowwwww!" I whinged, causing a woman next to first laugh, and then turn away when I glanced at her. Haha.

Starting line nerves!

After waffling over where to line up, I finally smacked myself right in between the 10 m/m corral and the 11 m/m corral. My 10 miler had been a 10:30 pace, but it'd been 30 degrees cooler...I felt funny lining up by 11 since none of my long runs have been that pace.

We finally got to start .. sort of. For whatever reason they funneled the start line, so despite us being in corrals maybe 8-10 people wide, only 2-3 of us could get through the start line. It made starting a really long process and was pretty silly, but eventually I got through and I was running - and grinning. I was running a half marathon! Hell yes!  I even got to see my husband and kiddos about 1/3 of the mile in, with my 6 year old waving a cowbell she got from the Chicago expo last year. And then it was time to get into a groove - I attached myself to the 2:20 pace group. I figured there was 3 possibilities - either I was going to find that was too easy, in which case I'd take off at the 10k point, it'd be too hard, in which case I'd drop back whenever that assessment came, or it would be perfect, in which case I'd stick with them. Either way, I knew I had a lot more to lose timewise by starting too fast when it would get hotter faster, and the pace group seemed like a good way to prevent overexcitement from burning me out. The first couple miles went down the high way to end up in the forest preserve after going up an ugly bridge.

Mile 1: 10:25
Mile 2: 10:29
Mile 3: 10:35

I felt okay after the bridge but knew it was going to be ugly on the way back. I was feeling okay though, and it was misting - if the mist kept up I knew I'd be okay. I had a rough guess that if this kept feeling okay I could go after a 2:15.

Mile 4 saw us in the forest preserve and crossing a timing mat (I asked the pacer what that split was since it was weird to see one in the fourth mile and he instead told me what splits were useful for, haha. I later figured out that we were in a mini loop and would cross that mat again at the 10k point.) I ate half a pack of honey stingers and plodded along. For 5 and 6 we were running along the path, and it got really cramped; we were running into the loop but the faster runners were running out, and it was the width of a normal bike path, which meant that I spent a lot more time than I liked avoiding stepping on the person in front of me and avoiding being stepped on. I'm not really sure how it could have been avoided but dang, it sucked. I felt way more crowded than I ever have at much much bigger races. Worse though, the fine mist that had been going ended in the 6th mile...which I knew was bad news, since it was still getting warmer.

Mile 4: 10:29
Mile 5: 10:45
Mile 6: 10:35
10K split: 1:05:39

I took off at the 10k point because I realized I needed to pee. Annoying, because other than while pregnant I've never had to stop for a bathroom during a race. I knew if I waited til one came up - the next one was around mile 8 from what I remembered - I'd lose the pace group, so off I went. And for the most part those miles were okay, not being in the group felt a little less crowded although honestly, not by much. After a couple minutes to pee (seriously, it is so hard to readjust your pants when you're ridiculously sweaty - I've never taken that long at a portopottie, lol!) I took off again, knowing by then the pace group would have passed me because I hadn't gained much time in the past two miles. There were only 5 miles to go but without the rain I could feel the heat creeping up on me. I ate the other of my pack of honey stingers and on I went; I was pretty sure going after any kind of time goal was going to be stupid because the heat was smacking me. I was having fun anyway though - I was running a HALF MARATHON! Can I get another hell yes?!

Mile 7: 10:26
Mile 8: 12:09 (potty)
Mile 9: 10:09
Mile 10: 10:23

By mile 10 I'd found the pace group again, so I decided to just match my pace to theirs and turn off my head, but we hit that big bridge in the middle of mile 10. They ran it - I walked it. My HR was struggling and I knew I just hadn't dealt as well with the heat as I wanted. I could be stupid and push when I knew I was nowhere close to a PR anyway, or I could do my best to just enjoy the run. At mile 11, I caught myself shivering and stopped running. Hot and shivering was bad, so I let the pace group go and decided it was time to let time go completely. My goal was to finish happy and healthy - I knew going into this I could not PR, and that was okay. I was going to finish, so for the last two miles I ran when I could and walked to get my heartrate under control. I was bummed, because I couldn't remember the last time I'd walked during a run, but I'd known both that I was undertrained and that I was under-adapted for heat. So it was what it was! I was going to finish anyway.

Mile 11: 11:09
Mile 12: 10:51
Mile 13: 10:44
13-13.2: 1:37

Running down the finisher chute was something else. Someone yelled at me that it was a great finisher kick and "way to finish strong" - I poured my heart into that final quarter mile. I crossed the line in 2:20 and change - almost 10 minutes off my PR, but you know what - so what? I finished a half marathon! I can do this running thing again. Screw you, stupid mud that twisted my knee and knocked me out for months - I'M BACK AND I CAN DO THIS THING!

And yes, the caps were necessary.

Why yes, that IS the marathon finisher medal and not the 13.1 version. 

Apparently, they ran out so started giving us marathon finisher medals...supposedly, the right medal's in the mail. I just hope they had enough marathon medals for the marathoners!


  1. Way to rock a half Heather! So great you are back and feeling good. Ugh it was humid over the weekend. So funny to get a marathon medal! Congrats!

    1. Thanks Marcia! It really was and I dislike humidity, but I think at the end of the summer it will be a lot easier to power through than it is now.

      And I am happy to feel good, that's the best part. Knee seems to have healed up fine!

      Lol the medal IS funny. I don't know what to do with it once they end the right one!