April 7, 2014

Race Recap: Chi Town Half Marathon

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I have recently liked reading Kelly's 6 word race recaps, so here's mine for Sunday's race, the Chi Town Half Marathon:
Trained through snowmageddon, rewarded with PR.
Don't worry, I've never been a person of only 6 words, so I of course have to write a full recap.  I had weird feelings going into this race.  In the past, half marathons have either been big goal races, destination races, or stepping stones during marathon training.  This was none of the above.  Sometime in January, I was SO SICK of running and training in the cold and was desparately seeking motivation.  Chicago was hit by one of the most brutal winters in years, and getting out there in the freezing cold, ice, snow, and wind week after week was a struggle.  To keep myself accountable, I found an early-spring half marathon and registered.  No time goals, no big training plan...just me and my YakTrax plugging away each Saturday and trying to survive winter.  (I did survive, but only barely...)

Anyways, back to the race.  The night before, I met friends for dinner and a movie.  We went to a German restaurant, and I stuffed my face with this cheesy-noodle-awesomeness...
Sunday morning I woke up bright and early and cabbed it to the lakefront from my friend's apartment.  (You know someone is a true friend when they let you crash at their place pre-race!  Thanks Katy!)  It was a little chilly pre-race, mid-30s, and I was freezing just standing around beforehand.  In fact, my feet were almost completely numb when we started running!  What a weird feeling.  It turned into a beautiful day, though!

I had no plans to shoot for a PR in this race--I haven't been focusing on speed or time AT ALL in my running.  Typically when I'm shooting for a PR, I'm super conscious about starting off slow and keeping my average pace for the first few miles much slower than it needs to be, but a I've wondered before if an over-conservative start has held me back in races in the past.  Negative splits and pacing are crucial, but have I been starting so slow and holding back too long to be able to reach the pace I'm capable of at the end of the race?  I decided to experiment today, and started off faster than I normally would.
Thanks Mom + Dad for coming out to the race and for being my race photographers!

About six miles in, I realized my average pace was fairly close to what I ran for my half-marathon PR, so I decided to see what I could do!  I tried to shave a little off my average pace with each mile, and then later, with each run interval (I'm a Galloway-method run/walker, and was running 3/1 intervals).  This was definitely not an easy task!  At no point did this race feel effortless, but I gave myself the same pep-talk I did during the Space Coast half a year and a half ago when I set my last half PR--"Setting a PR is supposed to hurt.  I am not afraid of pain"--and I dug deep.

Sub-2:20 has been on my bucket list since I crossed off sub-2:30 half awhile back, and before the race, no part of me had expected to reach it today.  With about three miles left, though, I realized that it was within my reach.  No matter how much my legs and feet were hurting, no matter how winded I was feeling, I pushed through it and reminded myself that the pain was temporary.  I almost couldn't believe the time I was looking at on my watch as I sprinted towards the finish line.  I was going to do it!  In case you're wondering, setting a PR is in no way cute.  This is what I looked like during that finish line push:
So much pain!  So tired!
"Just get across that line and then you can collapse!
 I sprinted across that finish line and couldn't be prouder when I saw my watch read 2:17:47, almost 4 minutes faster than my previous PR of 2:21:21.  And I worked my butt off for that 2:21 PR--I am still in shock that I went out there this morning with no race plan and crushed it.  I guess those awful training runs through the tundra of this Chicago winter paid off!  I stumbled over to my parents after the race, grinning, gasping, and repeating, "I can't believe I ran that fast!  I can't believe it!" :)
I did it!
And now the post race scene--Jimmy John's + catching up on Switched at Birth + bed = perfect post race recovery!
How do you push through the pain during a tough race?
What's your favorite post-race meal?


  1. YAY! Congrats on a shiny new PR! I love the 6 word recap, but I liked reading the whole recap also, hooray for making it through a rough winter and getting an awesome reward.

  2. Wow, that's a great time! Congrats on blowing your PR out of the water.

  3. Great! Congrats on the PR! I trained in the the awful winter so I understand. I hope too to finish under 2:20. Not sure I ever will.

  4. yay! Congratulations! Surprise PRs are the best!

  5. Congrats! An amazing accomplishment!! My favorite post race meal is a big omelet!!


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