A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chicago Half Marathon Race Report

I know, the suspense is killing you. Did I break 2:10? Did I get a new PR? What happened??? I promise to tell you if you promise to keep reading after I do. Okay?


Official race time?


Not only did I break 2:10, but I blew my old PR out of the water by almost 9 minutes and I came thisclose to breaking 2 hours!

And it didn't even feel that hard. But let me back up.

Race weekend events did not get off to an auspicious start. Due to a snafu with packet pick-up on Friday I had to go back to the packet pick up location on Saturday. Wearing shoes that were not designed for hiking all the way to and from the far east end of Navy Pier. When I finally got home I realized I had two huge blisters on the insides of my heels. The night before the race. Great. I drained them, slatered on Neosporin, and hoped they wouldn't give me trouble the next day.

I ate my new favorite pre-race meal (pasta with roasted broccoli and walnuts with chicken sausage and parmesean cheese) but when I went to bed at 9:30 PM my stomach was still rumbling. I've discovered that the key to a good morning run is eating A LOT the night before so at 10 PM I got back out of bed and downed a Clif bar and some pretzels. And some more water.

My alarm went off at 4 AM and I jumped out of bed. Got dressed and ate my bagel with peanut butter. Amazingly I wasn't as groggy as I thought. I drove to the carpool location, picked up my riders, and off we went. Except we didn't go more than half a mile before I saw flashing lights in the rearview mirror.

Yes, I got pulled over. By a cop. For not having my headlights on. Which is totally strange because I NEVER turn my headlights off. I blame my husband. He drove my car last. Thankfully the officer just double checked my insurance, ran my license, and let me go. That's one way to get the pre-race adrenaline flowing!

We arrived at the race super early, parked, hiked about a mile in the dark to the gear check/race prep area and did our best to find the rest of our group. We were only marginally successful. One good thing about getting to the race so early was that there was little to no line for the portapotty. So, I used it. We waited awhile before checking our gear since it was downright chilly and we wanted to keep on our jackets. Plus, I wanted to wait until about 45 minutes before race time to eat another Clif bar.

After checking my gear and hitting the portapotty one last time I found where I wanted to stand in the starting corrals. I positioned myself near what I determined to be the midway point between the 2:00 and 2:10 signs. All by my lonesome I did some stretches and tried to ignore the leg aches I was feeling. My left shin was also not happy about hiking all over hill and dale in those shoes the day before.

The next 30 minutes went by quickly and before I knew it they were singing the national anthem and we were off. Well, we walked briskly for almost 10 minutes before we reached the actual start line and then we were off.

(Note: my personal race photographer was not available so I have no photos of me actually running. Unless the race photographers got any and I feel like paying for them later.)

At Tuesday's running club meeting someone mentioned that at the full marathon you shouldn't waste energy dodging people at the beginning. I decided to employ this strategy and only went around people when I was right on their heels and couldn't get between them. It seemed to work as it kept me from going out too fast and feeling like death after the first 3 miles.

Most of the race itself is a blur. I had my headphones on and I was doing my best to ignore everyone around me. I wore my fuel belt with one bottle of water and one bottle of Gatorade so I was able to skip the aid stations. At the 10K mark I considered walking so I could take my Clif Shot Blox but instead I figured out how to take them while still running. I wasn't looking at my current pace on the Garmin and I only occasionally looked at my average pace. Imagine my surprise when I looked down to see it was at 9:21 and then later 9:16!

"You've got under 2:10 in the bag," I thought. "You could slow down if you wanted." But I ignored that voice and decided I would try to hold on as long as I could and see just how far under 2:10 I could get.

I read some funny signs ("My girlfriend is the hot one"), some sweet signs ("Did I ever tell you you're my hero?"), passed a guy in a frog costume and a guy dressed like a flamingo. Listened to a high school drum corps and got cheered on by the cheerleaders from the university where I work.

And just kept running.

Around mile 10 I walked through part of an aid station and refilled my water bottle. I didn't know if I'd need more water but I'd rather have it just in case. I was alternating sips of Gatorade and water every mile just like I do on my training runs and it was working perfectly. The few times I did catch my mile splits I was amazed that they were around 9:00 or faster. "Am I really running that hard?" I'd think.

Apparently this course is kind of hilly but I didn't notice until near mile 11. Then we hit a bridge that just about killed me. Still, I kept on going, passed one of my coworkers on the downward side, and realized that while I was getting tired, I didn't feel like I wanted to walk. Not once.

When we hit the 1/2 mile to go sign I desperately tried to look at the time on my watch and do the math. I couldn't, though. So, I just tried to run a little bit faster. I was pretty wiped, though, but I swear I tried! Then we rounded a corner and I could finally see the finish line! I was finally able to pick up the pace and I charged to the finish.

One bottle of water, one medal, and one chocolate chip cookie later I was meeting up with the running group who convinced me to get my official results printed out just in case my Garmin, which said 2:01:24, was off. Instant official results? Isn't technology amazing?

Except that as soon as I stepped up to the table all the computers froze.

Thankfully they got it straightened out and I got my sticker and my official 2:01:21 time. I was ecstatic! Still am, actually.

Actually, several people in our group had good races. Several PRs, one time that means a New York Marathon qualification, and general decent runs. It really was a great day for racing.

I can't wait to get under 2:00. Give me another day like this one and perhaps a slightly less crowded race and I'll be all over that. Just you wait!


Route:--Elev. Avg:589 ft
Location:Chicago / Northerly Island, ILElev. Gain:+13 ft
Date:09/12/10Up/Downhill: [+291/-278]
Time:07:10 AMDifficulty:3.1 / 5.0

Distance: 13.17 miles
Speed:6.5 mph
Pace:9' 13 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 02+0' 496.0-0.50 ft
29' 45+0' 326.2-0.40 ft
39' 33+0' 206.3-0.2+3 ft
49' 17+0' 046.5-0.00 ft
59' 05-0' 086.6+0.10 ft
68' 58-0' 156.7+0.2-4 ft
78' 59-0' 146.7+0.2+4 ft
88' 53-0' 206.8+0.20 ft
99' 00-0' 136.7+0.20 ft
109' 11-0' 026.5+0.00 ft
119' 00-0' 136.7+0.2-3 ft
129' 07-0' 066.6+0.10 ft
138' 50-0' 236.8+0.3+4 ft
end8' 25-0' 487.1+0.6+10 ft
Versus average of 9' 13 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com


Anonymous said...

You SO needed a good half marathon race! What a fantastic one. :)

Anne said...

FAntastic!!! You did awesome!

Jessica (Bayjb) said...

Congrats!!! That is such great news on the time. I'm so glad to hear everything went well this morning.

Oz Runner said...

congrats on the PR, excellent time..you'll get under 2 hrs next time for sure....that's funny about getting pulled over by the police, good thing you weren't running late...

TerryProf said...

Excellent Job Erin! Greta races are just all around great.; and sub-2 is going to happen just as easily (take it from someone who did the same as you the first couple times out).
...From one of your lurkers

financecupcake said...

AWESOME RACE!!! Girl, my nerves would have been shot if I'd been pulled over. You must be so pumped about finishing waaaay under 2:10!

d.a.r. said...

Congrats!!!!! I think I may have seen you, but I wasn't 100% sure and didn't want to parade up to a stranger and make a fool out of myself. Not sure why, it is what I do best :)

What a GREAT race!! I cannot wait to see you break 2:00!

Oh, and weren't the medals nice??

kilax said...

Oh my gosh! Were you worried when you got pulled over?! I would have been jittery all the way downtown! Happy it was just a light issue ;)

You totally kicked this half's butt! I have a feeling you could have kept going at the end. You are such a strong, amazing runner! Congrats!

The medals are so neat! :)

Did you think it was too crowded for comfort? Are you going to try for sub 2:00 at CU or earlier?

Johann said...

That is super, well done! Next is sub 2! That is a lovely medal.Sounds like you really enjoyed this race.

Mica said...

I'm currently reading this post when I should be doing work! Congratulations! That is an awesome time! Man, we should sign up for a race together and try to beat 2:00, yeah?

It sounds like you had an excellent race day, the kind that people DREAM of. ("What? I'm running faster than I expected? No sweat!") It also sounds like the race was much more enjoyable this year, especially the weather. :) I'm glad everything aligned for your day! Let's hope CHI does the same thing.

Congratulations again!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, Erin - you CRUSHED your old 1/2 time! You are so, so fast - and the fact that you didn't even want to walk? That is huge! You are thisclose to a sub 2-hour 1/2, and I KNOW you can do that, because obviously you rock. :-) Congratulations!

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