Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Race Recap: Chicago Half Marathon

On September 7th I completed half marathon #13, Chicago Half Marathon. I had been meaning to post about it, but with the new job and learning how to balance working full-time with parenthood and marathon training has been no easy task. As always, I thought I was busy before!

Anyway, back to the race. I'm in the last third of my marathon training and I've been running 5-6 days a week and averaging 45 miles a week. I ran 10 miles the Saturday before the race and, including this Saturday run, I was at 36 miles for the week so my expectations for a PR (personal record) was low. I didn't know how my legs would feel come race morning-would they feel tired, sore, or heavy? Also, would my mind be into running strong and fast for 13.1 miles? With all this in mind, I woke up race morning with the intention to treat this race as another training run and, if I bettered my half marathon time of 2:04, then great!

The weather on the day of the race was spectacular. Or at least, it was perfect running weather for the first hour or so of the run as the temperatures were in the 50s. I knew that first mile would determine how the rest of the race would go so I ran purely based on how I felt and not by looking at my watch. When I saw that first mile was in the 8-minute range and I didn't feel like I pushed myself too hard, I knew that as long as my mind held out, I would be able to get the sub-2 hour finish I was hoping for.

I fueled as I normally do, stuck to my run-walk intervals (1:30 run/:30 walk), and kept a mostly consistent pace. Even so, mile 9.5 is where I began to struggling. I wasn't in pain and my body felt good, but for some reason my brain started getting louder with the "you can't do this" messages. I did the only thing I could do, which was to keep moving forward. I was so thankful for my intervals because I forced myself to focus on just running for a minute and a half, instead of just having three more miles to go. I recovered by mile 11, but even so, I did cadences that last mile to help me get to the finish line.

Crossing that finish line felt so good! Even better was realizing that I smashed my previous time by almost 10 minutes! My official time was 1:55:20 and I could barely believe it. I was hoping for a sub-2 hour finish but I was thinking I only had it in me for a 1:59 finish since my PR times in the half marathon distance have usually gotten better by 5-minutes at a time between races I've ran for time. I'm still on a runner's high from that race. To think that I ran my first half marathon in 2:30 in January 2013 to this last one in 1:55 is amazing.

This race reminded me that if you train consistently, you will see results. It also reminded me that most of the time, I'm my biggest enemy and that the person I have to prove myself to IS myself.

What I liked about the race:
  • Packet pickup was quick and easy.
  • Race day weather was perfect at first.
  • Nice course. I especially liked the part that was on Lakefront Drive.
  • Lou Malnati's pizza!
  • Long-sleeve technical shirt.
  • I really liked how they organized the groups. I was in corral G and, based on other races, was expecting to start running 10 minutes after the first group of runners left, but this wasn't the case with this race. There was no wait time between corrals going off and I started a little over 2-minutes after the first group of runners started.
  • Motigo: this is an app where people can leave you messages that you get during the race. There was a glitch and I got all my messages in the beginning, but the idea behind this is awesome. If I would have gotten the messages when they were intended, I would have been that person at mile 10 crying and laughing.
  • Plenty of water and Gatorade on the course.
  • Meeting Instagram friends, like @runningprado in person. 

What I didn't like about the race:
  • I love expo and expo seemed small for this race for some reason.
  • I didn't see any pace groups.
  • This relates to all races, but I heard it more at this race: "it's ok, you can do it" or "don't give up" or "you're almost there" from spectators every time I was on a walk break. This is my fourth race in Chicago and I am realizing that the run-walk method is not very popular and people don't understand that my walks are intentional. I wish I could have gotten more "you go girl" or "looking strong!"

Next official race is Spartan on September 27th and I'm debating whether or not to sign up for the 20-mile run this upcoming weekend.

For more on my running and training for the Chicago Marathon, follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner 

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