My stubbornly lingering groin pain had persisted this past week. My biggest fear was that I would sustain an injury just two weeks out from the Chicago Marathon. Therefore, I went into this race debating whether I would "race" it. I was also debating whether I should even run the 8K or drop down to the 4K walk, just to be safe. I decided that it would be a race-time decision.
The race had a very friendly 9:00 AM starting time this morning. Adam dropped me off near the starting line, then went to go find parking nearby. Packet pickup and gear check were a breeze, and there were no lines at any of the portapotties, either. AWESOME.
People were welcomed to bring their pets along for the race festivities, which included a costume contest, agility course, and pet massages. Therefore, it was also awesome to see so many adorable, energetic, wriggling dogs of all shapes, sizes and colors, many adorned in cute costumes.
I did about 15 minutes of easy jogging to warm up. Then I took a GU and headed towards the starting line. I was feeling pretty good and my achy groin seemed to be holding up allright. So I decided that I would go ahead and try to "race" the race, but would slow down if I needed to.
Prior to today, I have never done the 8K race distance. Therefore, I wasn't entirely certain if I should treat this more like a 5K where I basically try to sprint the whole distance, or if I should treat it more like a 10K where I would try to semi-sprint the entire distance. I decided to treat it more like a 10K, with my first goal to break 48 minutes and my second goal to break 47 minutes.
Adam found me near the starting line, and hung out with me until the race began. I've grown accustomed to the enormous races where the starting line is too crowded for any spectators to wait with you, so this was a very welcome occurrence.
Here's a picture of me waiting to start. Notice some of the dogs in the background?
The airhorn blew and off we went. I had positioned myself near the back of the pack, as usual. I was surprised at how many people I was passing at the start, though. It made me wonder if I'd gone out too quickly.
Our race packets had included maps of both the 8K course and the 4K walk. Before starting, I had very quickly glanced at the first map I saw, which indicated that the course was an out-and-back starting northbound on the lakefront path. I had also heard another runner describing the northern route. So I was surprised when we started running southbound on the path instead (I later realized that I had been looking at the 4K walk map). In the meantime, though, I had no idea how far south we were going, at what point we were going to turn around, or where any aid stations were located. Oops.
I kept trying to push myself at a comfortably hard pace. I walked through a water station around mile 1.7. By around mile 2.25, my lungs were starting to feel it and my groin was beginning to feel tight. I wasn't enjoying the exertion and was starting to wonder why I did things like this "for fun." I started telling myself that after this was over, I would never run another race again.
|Glad that at least one of us is enjoying the couch!|
I reached an intersection where course marshalls were shouting for runners from some other race to turn left. Apparently there were multiple races going on at the same time along the lakefront path, although I only saw PAWS runners. I pushed on, selecting random runners that were ahead of me and making it my goal to pass him or her, then selecting another runner to try to pass, etc.
|Dogs are runners, too!|
(Although, due to the amount of race traffic, pets were not actually permitted on the 8K course.)
We came back to the same aid station we'd passed on the outbound trip. I walked through and grabbed some water, then had a little trouble getting my pace back up again afterwards. But shortly after passing the mile 4 marker, I glanced at my Garmin and saw my time was at 36-something minutes. Not bad! Maybe I'd be able to finish between 45 and 46 minutes?
I could feel blisters forming on my feet and the sun was shining right in my eyes. The distance on my Garmin was off, but we were approaching familiar territory so I knew we were getting close. I kept pushing at a comfortably hard pace, figuring that once the finish line was in sight that I could really gun it. Then all of a sudden we turned a corner and I was startled to see the finish line less than a tenth of a mile away. I gunned what I could of the remaining distance, during which I saw Adam near the finish line and waved at him before crossing.
According to results posted near the finish line, my time was 44:12. Much, MUCH better than I had been expecting! (And I quickly changed my mind about wanting to run races again. =) )
I was very happy to have run this race, especially given the easy, worry-free logistics. I had donated some extra funds in addition to my registration fee, and was glad I did. In the end, I had a really great time at this race and would definitely run this race again if for nothing but the cause.
|Such a good cause.|
Some other training notes:
- I'd read somewhere that it is a good idea to run shorter-distance races towards the end of your marathon training. This is because so much of marathon training is done at very slow, easy paces. Therefore, the shorter races serve to help remind you that you can actually run fast, too. I couldn't agree with this suggestion more.
- I tried a Jet Blackberry GU (which I'd received as a free sample elsewhere) for the first time. I have very low caffeine tolerance, and the Jet Blackberry has double the caffeine of the usual GU flavors (excluding the caffeine-free flavors). Therefore, I was a little nervous that it would make me jittery. But no issues.
- My PT had recommended that I try dynamic stretching for my hip flexor, instead of my usual static stretches. The dynamic stretch basically consists of standing on one foot with one hand on a chair or wall for balance, then swinging the other foot from side to side in a pendulum motion. I think it works well.
- The groin pain persists. With the clock ticking down on two weeks remaining until the Chicago Marathon, I may take the entire next week off of running and just cross-train instead.
- As I mentioned, today was the first time I've ever run the 8K distance. I do still like longer distances (e.g. 10-milers) a little better. However, I've never run Chicago's Shamrock Shuffle, which is the largest 8K in the world (more than 34,000 runners). Now I am inspired to run it next year!