Here's how it went down:
The night before the race I am usually in full-on running robot mode and the night before the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon was no different. Dinner is always pasta. As plain as possible. Served with bread and a cooked vegetable, preferably spinach. Since I had a super early wake up call the following morning, dinner was at 4pm. I felt like a senior citizen! Bedtime was at 8pm and it was still light out. But, my alarm was set for 3am so early to bed it was!
Maybe I'm a complete weirdo, but I always shower before morning races. It helps me wake up, plus it loosens up my muscles a bit! After showering, it was time to get dressed and I realized a crucial packing mistake - I forgot my Oiselle Randies! This left two options: wear a different non-running-tested pair of underwear under my Distance Shorts or wear the buns I threw in my suitcase at the last minute. After a few minutes of panicking, I decided I would wear the buns (which turned out to be a fine decision - zero chafing of any type!). They look great with my Oiselle Team singlet plus they make me feel fast!
One of the best parts about CHI RNR is the number of participants. This year, there were nearly 14,000 runners in the half marathon race plus an additional 1,900+ runners doing the 5k race. Everyone is excited to be there and you kind of forget you've been up since 3am to do a race that starts at 6:30am :)
Anyhow, I waited a bit late to get into my corral and had a tough time getting through the crowd. I was a teensy bit worried I wouldn't get there in time but made it in with about 2 minutes to spare. Nothing like waiting til the last minute!
Photo from Competitor website
And soon enough, it was time to run! My plan from Coach Matt was to start the race at a conservative pace and pick things up after mile 3. The overall goal was to run 7:45-7:55 pace for the race. Although it was a humid morning, I felt really good during those first few miles. Never did I feel out of breath or as though I was working too hard.
One thing that made the early miles go by fast is there was a wheelchair participant that somehow got stuck in the middle of all the runners. He would go fast for awhile and then slow down to a crawl at any inclines. It was actually pretty dangerous because he was moving down the middle of the road and yelling to runners to get out of the way - and many couldn't hear him because they were caught up in their own race or listening to music. I was worried about getting run over at some point so when we got to a bridge, I surged for a bit and lost him.
The CHI RNR course is fantastic because you get to run through the streets of downtown Chicago with tons of spectators to cheer you on. I love it! This goes on for about the first 6 miles of the race and at that point you're pretty much halfway done!
I didn't start feeling the race until between miles 9-10. The air was getting warmer and I had to concentrate to keep my legs moving at a decent pace. I should add at this point that I didn't know my time or pace during the race. My Garmin decided to not work right before the start of the race so I was going by feel and using the clocks at the mile markers as my guide. Fortunately, I run by feel a lot and can decently estimate what type of pace I'm running.
The final 5k was when I really had to work. I knew I was on track for a PR. I didn't know by how much but knew if it was going to happen I had to keep grinding away. During rough patches in training runs, I tell myself I only have to make it to the next street light, sign, etc. and then I can slow down. I never do, but it breaks up the run a bit and gives me something to focus on other than how my legs feel. So that's what I did during the last few miles of this race. My goal was to make it to mile 12 and then pick it up to the finish. It felt so great to see the mile 12 marker ... and then the mile 13 marker. And then it was time to fly!
Time: 1:42:08 - new PR!
Pace: 7:48 min/mile
Age Group Place:30/1,481 (Top 2 percent)
Gender Place: 164/8,328 (Top 2 percent)
Overall Place: 795/13,754
This year's bling
The only part about this PR that kills me is that had I run 9 seconds faster somewhere on the course, I would have a 1:41 time. And I believe I could have done it since I know I left a bit on the course. But it's okay. I'm in the heart of marathon training right now. Maybe next year I'll do a half marathon training segment and focus on a sub 1:40 time!
My confidence in half marathon racing is restored. And I'm that much more excited for Lakefront Marathon in 10 weeks. Running, I heart you :)
My questions for you:
- Do you shower before racing? Or, do you do any other 'weird' things before a race?
- How do you break up a race to make the miles go by faster?
- Where's your favorite place to eat in Chicago?
Post-race, I can't get enough of Gino's East. Deep dish. To die for!