Monday, November 30, 2015

Schaumburg Turkey Trot HM - Recap

So this Saturday to support my best friend I ran the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half. You may remember that her first half, the Indy Women's Half, ended up black flagged due to weather. Boo! So this was first HM redux for her. I wasn't too happy because we knew she'd be running somewhere around 3-3:10 and from experience running at the back of the pack, some races are awesome at supporting everyone throughout the race and some are not. All Community Events is a very experienced well organized race, but they're not known for supporting the back of the pack. The Indy Women's Half should have been a great experience for her - this one I was a little more nervous for her. But, it was the only one we could make work for both of us - if she hadn't been able to make it work I would have been running the 5k though, because this race has awesome sweatshirts that I absolutely love.

Race morning came and we got up, ate, and got out the door by 7:50 for a 9:15 race start, The race was close to my house so this should have been plenty, but due to some issues with crazy runners arguing with cops we ended up cutting it close. The race started on time but we didn't end up crossing the start line til 9:22 - but we made it! Like last time, we planned to run our own races and then I'd run to meet her on course.

Going into it I knew I was not in PR shape - my PR is 2:11 and I have had some really slow long runs lately, with my best pace for a long run being 10:55. When I ran that half last year my best pace for long runs was in the 10:30s. I wanted to believe I was slower this year because it was hotter and more humid, but the truth is I never lost the 15lbs I gained when I hurt my knee. Losing weight was easy the first time I tried, but having a menstrual cycle has really complicated weight loss for me and I haven't been able to lose it. With it being said there are 2 seconds per mile per pound difference...yeah. About a 30 second difference for mile and that's pretty much exactly what I've seen in races and training runs.

My first few miles, which are usually my fastest on race day, were in the low 10:30s when there wasn't a water stop and 11ish when there was. (Even when I skipped the water stop, they were so clogged with cups that I slowed way down to avoid slipping, and mostly succeeded...except when I didn't, haha.) Even with the semi steepish bridgey thingamajig we ran in mile 2 I guess I'd just been hoping to do better here.

Mile 1: 10:30
Mile 2: 10:45 
(water stop I avoided)
Mile 3: 10:35
Mile 4: 11:10
(stopped for water, slipped on a cup!) 

My A-goal was a 2:15 which I thought would be doable, but my legs were just not cooperating. I felt like I couldn't get a deep breath either, so I knew I needed to adjust. This was just not going to be a fast race. My C-goal was to be faster than my spring half and my B-goal was to be in the 2:17-2:18 range. To be honest once I got going I thought I wasn't even going to make my C goal; I was trying to run a smart race but I usually die around mile 11-12 and my back half is usually much slower than my front half. With my first 4 miles not having a single mile in the A goal range, and how crowded the course was and how much weaving I had to do to get around people from starting in the back, I legitimately entertained that this might barely be any faster than my first post-baby half last spring, which was 2:24:57.

But right around mile 5 we ran past a little elk preserve with signs that said "do not feed the elk under pain of death". And right after seeing that sign I got to see not just a herd of elk, but one absolutely beautiful animal staring right at us as we ran past:

Right after the elk we hit a big bridge that was super annoying, especially because I knew we'd have to cross it again. But I guess the hillwork I've been adding to the treadmill is worth something (haha) because I ran up the whole thing, where I watched a lot of people stop to walk.

And then shortly after that, we hit the 10k point and then the turnaround (which was right around the halfway point too.) This course is usually a point to point but due to some construction they had to modify it a bit. I hit the 10k point in 1:06:06, about 30 seconds slower than my spring half,  and the halfway point at 1:10:10...which put me on pace for a 2:20:30ish finish if I held pace, which would be a hair better than my spring half, or if I slowed down like I usually did, an even slower finish. Once we turned around we were running into the wind. That sucked. And we had to cross that bridge again in the 8th mile! It was crazy because I was cold, felt like I was crawling, AND I was sweating like crazy. There were times I wished I'd worn a t-shirt. Crazy! And taking a gel slows me down. I do believe after a lot of trial and error that they work better for me than chews and beans but I am so slow getting them into my mouth, geesh!

Mile 5: 10:26
Mile 6: 10:52 
(skipped water stop but bridge)
Mile 7: 10:30
Mile 8: 11:05
(water stop AND bridge)

The last third of a race is usually my nemesis. I don't know why but no matter how many miles I run or what kinds of workouts I do or how well prepared or how not well prepared I am, the last third of the race I usually die. I start "needing" walk breaks, my heart suddenly won't slow down, blah blah. I do mental math and inevitably bungle it and decide I can't PR and slow down or walk. Well, as much as I am bummed about my pace, I am happy to say I dug deep here and dug for a well of strength I have never been able to tap before. With 5 miles to go I did the math and realized I was still in B-goal and that I could just barely squeak in a 2:19:59 if I fought hard not to fade. It was going to be close though and if I gave in, if I walked the last bridge or the hill I remembered was at 12.5 miles or doubted I was strong enough, I knew I wouldn't make it.

But you know what? I have completed some really hard runs this year. I have run two marathons, finished them while undertrained for one and hurting and emotional in the other, I have completed a 20 that sucked and almost didn't happen and dealt with the ego blow of being a bit fluffier so slower and I did 12 flipping miles on the treadmill and I have a well of mental toughness I don't always remember I can tap during races. I ran the last 5 miles. I picked up the pace slightly. I never stopped, I always pushed. I ran my fastest water stop of the race at mile 10 and my fastest mile of the race at mile 12. I ran even when my goofy watch said I was at 10.38 miles for over 3 minutes. (That was annoying!)

Mile 9: 10:31
Mile 10: 10:47
(skipped water stop)
Mile 11: 10:28
Mile 12: 10:19

And then I was on the last mile and my run numb brain told me I should come in the early 2:19s and that if I walked at all I was going to blow something I'd spent the last 4 miles fighting for. So I didn't stop. Not when my legs got mad or my lungs hated the wind or when that hill half a mile before the finish line had everyone else around me walking. My final time was 2:18:47 - which is over 7 1/2 minutes off my PR, but I feel like in a lot of ways this was a stronger and faster half than I've ever run before. Pace aside, I had a good solid negative split; I only walked a few of the water stops (though as an aside, I was surprised how hard of a time I had getting through them - between the thick clog of cups on the ground each time and people stopping hard and fast in front of me, it took a lot of extra effort to safely navigate them!). I ran up all of the inclines which I usually don't. There were never walk breaks. And I never math'ed myself out of running as hard as I could, which I have done a lot in the past. I may be slower, but I think I'm a better, stronger, smarter runner than I used to be, too.

And my best friend finished - I got to her at mile 12, because I couldn't get my legs into a run so I ended up walking to meet her which meant an extra mile on her own. I felt bad because when I caught up to her I realized she was having a bad asthma attack - and hadn't even realized! She walked the last mile in after I made her use her inhaler and still managed to finish in 2:57, way faster than she had expected. I am super proud of her! (Unfortunately with the asthma attack we didn't get a picture together, but I'm still very happy for her!)

Next up for me is the Hawaii marathon in 2 weeks, which we will be taking very slow. It'll be hot so I am looking at it as more a long scenic run walk with my husband. While I had toyed with the idea of a spring marathon, I think I am going to take some time to curb my mileage and focus on figuring out how to adapt to weight loss with my new hormonal situation - I think if I went back down to my normal weight running at the paces I want wouldn't be so hard. I think shorter runs with some higher intensity cross training might be a better way to kick things up a bit, and hopefully come spring I can take another crack at some speedy goals!


  1. Way to push and not give up Heather! Congrats to both of you. Hooray for the Hawaii marathon! That will be awesome at any pace.

    1. Thank you! I am looking forward to it. A little burned out on marathons atm but I also know that I will want the memory!

  2. Congrats on having such a strong race. Your even pace and determination to keep pace near the end probably helped a lot. Very cool that you were able to help your friend to a sub-3 as well! Also, it is interesting that you can correlate weight to pace/mile. I have always heard that an extra pound is 45 seconds extra in a marathon. I wish I has logged my weight at all of the races over the years to see the correlation! Have fun in Hawaii!

    1. Thank you!

      Yeah it's definitely something I have (unfortunately!) noticed. I guess the number had to have some truth to it!

  3. Good job! WIsh we would have met up! next time!

    1. Thanks Nicole! Definitely, bummed I didn't know you were there!

  4. Great job on the strong finish! Does this make you think that all of the bonking in previous halves was mental, and not fueling or training related?

    I am happy your friend got to get her full half in, too! Too bad about the asthma attack!! Yikes!

    I am happy you shared some pics of of the course - I've always wondered how crowded this is, and it looks way too crowded (I know, it's supposed to be point to point, but a HM on a trail can be pretty crowded).

    That sounds like a good focus for the spring! Every time I lose weight my pace gets faster. The hard part is keeping the weight off. LOL.

    1. I do think it was mental. I always kind of thought that before - while there are instances where it hasn't been (heart slamming in my chest isn't mental, I still think that one was a weird fueling issue especially as I got hungry), I think a lot of it has been me saying "Wellllll I'm close enough". But I did a lot of mental toughness stuff this summer - runs that were hard that I finished and didn't stop, long treadmill runs (they suck, but tell me they don't build character, haha!), stroller runs...I think it helped a lot.

      Thanks! She scared me out there, I've never seen her have a bad asthma attack before!

      The course was really crowded. I don't know if that's because I started in a place that wasn't a good match for my pass - I spent literally my entire race passing people - but it didn't look any better for the faster runners either. I was kind of bummed, I'd heard good things about this race! I may stick to it as a 5k in the future...I really do love their sweatshirts!

      Yes! I do good keeping it off when I stay active. If/when I end up with another injury (I want to say if, but I know the rest of my life is a long time, ideally, haha!) I need to remember to find other ways to stay active if I can't run. My weight has been stable since I started running again, I just wish I hadn't gained those back! LOL. Hopefully I can figure it out. I don't want to turn this into a weight loss blog or anything but I definitely can tell it has changed my running, and not for the better! Boo!