May 25, 2013

Race Recap: Chicago Spring Half

Last Sunday, headed into the city to run the Chicago Spring Half Marathon.  I went into this race with two goals: enjoy every mile and stay uninjured so I can start marathon training strong next month.  As I was getting ready for the race this weekend, it struck me how calm I was feeling about the whole thing. My first half I was incredibly anxious about just finishing, #2 I was worried about getting hurt since I'd been an injured mess beforehand, and #3 I was shooting for a PR and was a bundle of nerves (#4 was in Disney and my only focus was on sticking with my sister in law through her first race, so I wasn't nervous about that one.)  Anyways, what I'm trying to say is that I wasn't nervous AT ALL going into this race. Sure, I had one nightmare where I showed up late, forgot my Gu, got lost on the course, and had to run through WATER for part of the race, but that's normal, right?  :)  With a few halfs under my belt, everything felt routine as I lined up at the start--I knew I could do it, and I was just excited to get started.  What a great feeling

My awesome dad came with and brought his bike so he was able to ride down the course and catch me several times along the way.  It was a beautiful day to be running along the lakefront path in Chicago--there is nothing like feeling those lake breezes and seeing the skyline while you're running.
After a few minutes of the race, I realized that I'd forgotten to set my Garmin to beep for my run/walk intervals.  To change that, I'd have to stop it and start fresh.  Crap!  I'm such a slave to my Garmin that I was so worried about screwing with it and having the time/distance be off.  For about 30 seconds I considered just keeping track of the time and walking every 3 minutes without the beeps, but I realized that after an hour there was no way I'd be able to remember when to walk.  I decided to reset it right at mile 1 so I was just 1 mile off--easy peasy.  Phew!  I hoped that was the worst obstacle of the race!
I had all kinds of weird aches and pains the first few miles--does that happen to anyone else?  Parts of my body that I never have problems with will hurt.  I'm convinced it's just my brain messing with me.  Right around mile 5, though, I hit a great stride.  I came out a little fast, and by mile 5 I'd gotten myself to settle in to a comfortable pace of 11min/mi--I planned to run it at 11:30/mi, but once I got started 11s just felt good so I decided to go with it!!  The miles started to fly by.  6, 7, 8, 9--I LOVE when that happens in a race!  I'd see the mile marker up ahead before I even realized it was coming!  BEST FEELING EVER.

Along the way, I got lots of comments about my shirt:
"Dear God, Please let there be someone behind me to read this."
Of course, they were made by people passing me... :) Even though I've gotten faster, I will always be a back of the pack runner--but the pack of the pack is kind of fun. :)

I started getting pretty tired and cooked by the sun by mile 10, but kept plugging along and kept up my pace.  Around mile 11, though, things got tricky--apparently at 9am a 5K walk for the children's hospital started, and it was on the same course for about a mile!  Let me set the scene: a handful of half marathoners are trying to keep pushing forward along a path that dips off into the harbor, weaving through a huge mess of 5K walkers.  I felt like such a jerk weaving through people, but by this point I wasn't going to just stop and walk!  It was scary enough to think about how close I was to falling in the water, but the worst part was that I was convinced I was going to lose the half marathon course!  I kept looking back to check people's bibs as I passed them, making sure there were other half runners around.  I was terrified that I was going to end up crossing the 5K finish by accident and having to turn back around to find the half again!  Yikes!
Luckily there were enough course marshals staggered along the way to reassure us we were moving in the right direction and direct us when the course eventually split.  I crossed the finish line with no idea what my official time was thanks to the Garmin oops early on.  The post-race "picnic" features amazingly fluffy pancakes and watermelon--PERFECT.  I was a little sore, but in nowhere near as bad shape as I was after finishing the Space Coast half, so I was SHOCKED when I checked my time online later and found out I finished in 2:21:22, just 1 second slower than Space Coast!  I couldn't believe it--that whole race I was so focused on my pace and time, pushing deep, ignoring pain, and focusing on finishing with no gas left in the tank.  So when I saw that today I ran just as fast but felt so much better, it was awesome.  Maybe I am actually ready to up the stakes and start marathon training this summer!  Woohoo!


  1. What poor planning to have a 5K on the same course with walkers. Sounds like you did a great job anyways. That is an awesome shirt. And watermelon after a race is the best.

  2. Love it when a race turns out great! Can't believe the walking 5k though..crazy!


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