My goals going into the race:
- Goal A: Beat my best half marathon time from last year, which was 2:22:53 at the 2012 Chicago Half Marathon.
- Goal B: Break 2:20:00.
Kim very graciously offered to pace me for this race. She had paced me at the Chicago Half Marathon last year, so I knew that I was in good hands with her and that she would push me in a good way.
I felt pretty prepared going into this race. The course ran along the Des Plaines River Trail. I'd heard many folks praise the trail's crushed gravel surface for being more friendly on a runner's joints than the usual asphalt or concrete. This was reassuring as I've been dealing with some IT band flare-ups in the past few weeks (and resulting in many evening dates with my foam roller).
Unfortunately I spent way, way too much time and consideration debating which pair of running shoes to wear for the race. I've said many times that my Asics Gel Cumulus shoes are my workhorse shoes for longer distances. However, I have one pair with over 250 miles on them, which is a little too close to retirement for my liking, and another pair with only 11 miles on them which was a little too new. I considered wearing my Mizuno Wave Riders, which have appropriate mileage but I've had major blister issues with them in the past. In the end I went with the older pair of Asics. I figured that the softer trail surface would help cushion any old-shoe issues (literally and figuratively).
Getting to the race site ended up being much more hectic and stressful than anticipated due to road construction issues. I was thankful that Adam was driving because it allowed me to get out of the car enroute and book it to the starting line without having to wait for parking. After picking up my packet and using the portapotty, I met up with Kim and Chris at the starting line with only a few minutes to spare. They both got to witness me frantically smearing on Bodyglide, while simultaneously scarfing down a banana and trying to get my hat on straight mere moments before the starting airhorn went off. (This is much harder to do than you would think.)
Before I knew it, we were off! Adam took this picture of me at the starting line (I'm the one waving), with Kim and Chris to the right of me.
The course was peaceful and the trail wound through wooded areas with ample shade. There were some uneven patches of gravel covered with some fallen leaves and some acorns interspersed here and there, so I was trying to watch my footing. Speaking of multitasking, I was also trying to focus on running tangents where I could, keeping up my pace without relying too much on my Garmin, and trying to hold a conversation with Kim. It was actually a bit more challenging than expected and my conversational skills took a bit of a hit (sorry, Kim!)
Given the remoteness of much of the trail, there were only a handful of spectators along most of the path. Anytime we did see spectators, it was very welcoming. The course was an out-and-back and we did see a group of enthusiastic spectators at the turnaround point, including my mom! Here is a picture that Kim took of me interacting with some of the spectators somewhere along the way:
I took my first GU around mile 6, which was later than I should have taken it. This meant that I had a mile or two where I started getting tired and was regretting not taking the GU earlier. After the GU kicked in, though, I felt a lot better. However, I started getting mentally tired around mile 8. The patches of the course that were unshaded started feeling uncomfortable. The rolling hills that had initially felt like no big deal also started to feel tougher and tougher. My left piriformis was tight and I was wishing that I had a foam roller handy.
Since the runners were fairly spaced out and there were minimal spectators, it was around this time that I was especially glad to have company. It really helped keep me going. Kim and I caught up with Chris on the course and we took some pictures:
|Kim and me|
|Chris and me|
|Me getting ready to take a salt capsule. Chris agrees that a little bit of salt goes a long way!|
Around mile 9 I took another GU, plus the salt capsule that you see in the above picture.
Miles 10 and 11 are traditionally my toughest miles, and this race was no exception. There were a couple of hills around this time which seemed like they would never, ever end. On the first one, I slowed down to a walk about 75% of the way up. On the second one, Kim told me to think about how good it would feel to run up the entire hill without stopping. Not wanting to disappoint, I did manage to run the entire second hill (although I am sure ants and turtles were catching up to me).
At Mile 12 there was a big loop along the course. In my state of fatigue I contemplated cutting the loop, even though it would meant having to climb a fence twice. I didn't, of course, but I started shouting to Kim that I really wanted to run those tangents. I was fighting to maintain my pace, but Kim was encouraging me to kick it up. She told me that she knew that I had a kick in me after running the Chicago Half Marathon with me last year. All I could say in response was, "NOOOOOO!!!!!"
As we approached the mile 13 marker, I could see the finish line but once again there was another outward loop before reaching it. I screamed, "This is cruel and unusual!" but I did manage to pick up the pace a little bit during the last tenth of a mile.
Here is a picture of Kim and me crossing the finish line.
(By the way - the photo is from the official race photographer, hence the "Proof" watermark on it. But isn't it funny to think that the "Proof" could also refer to the photo being visual documentation that we finished the race? LOL)
My official time was 2:19:16. Goals achieved!
After the finish, we met up with Erica, who had run a killer race and took first place in her age group. Congrats, Erica!
|From L to R: Erica, me, and Kim|
All in all, this was a fun, laidback race. The groomed trail was a nice change of scenery from the usual cityscapes that I am accustomed to at most of my races. The race's mid-size count of participants was nice, too, considering that most of the races I run are the enormous races with tens of thousands of participants.
From a goal perspective, I was happy to have broken the 2:20 mark in a half marathon. A year and a half ago I was struggling to break 2:30, so it feels good to see the progress. My all-time PR of 2:16 and change is within shouting distance now, and I am looking forward to finally breaking that mark. Hopefully soon!
Many thanks to Kim for being such a great pacer again, and to both Kim and Chris for keeping me company during those tough miles. Congrats to Chris on her strong race, too! (Oh and by the way, did I mention that Kim ran two miles prior to the race to get there on time, AND ran a 5K race later that afternoon? The woman is a powerhouse.) And as always, many thanks also go out to Adam and to my mom for coming out to spectate!
My next race: the Carrera de los Muertos 5K on November 2.
Ha! PROOF! Yes! We did it! Hey, you forgot to mention the HUMIDITY! Man... if we would have had Sunday's weather, those open fields might not have been so tough.ReplyDelete
You ran such a great race, and in your goal time! I am so proud of you! And you are getting SUPER close to 2:16! And dayum, 5 halves this year! WOO HOO!
Do you feel like the older Asics held out okay? How is your IT band and piriformis now? Did spectating Chicago work out the kinks? LOL!
Thanks for letting me run with you! I always have a good time, even when we are quieter and pushing it! :)
Kim - thank you for your support along the course and all your kind words. =) I always have a good time running with you, too - and there is so much to be said just for having moral support even if there is no conversation!!!Delete
Ah yes, the humidity! In all honesty, I was just really relieved that it didn't rain that day. I was picturing us having to slog through fields of mud for 13.1 miles. But yes, that humidity was killer. Who would have expected humidity to be a factor in mid-October in Chicago, right!?!?!?!?
The older ASICS felt good! They are very resilient shoes, which is part of the reason that I like them so much. I have this mental rule that I wear shoes to 300 miles and then retire then - but I don't think 300 is necessarily the perfect retirement number. I retired a pair of ASICS at 300 last year which actually still felt perfectly fine. You tend to retire yours a bit earlier than 300, though, yes? =D
IT Band and piriformis are still feeling tight, unfortunately. I was actually too lazy to foam roll yesterday and just did some yoga instead, LOL. But how about you - how is your ankle holding up!?!?!? That was scary along the course when you twisted it. =( I wish you a speedy recovery if it hasn't already recovered fully!
Mine do seem to last <300 miles, when I am at my normal, heavier weight, but when I am lighter, the tread and cushion seems to last longer! I tract mileage, but look at the shoe to decide when to ditch it. I hate it when I have to get rid of them in the low 200s, or eek!, in the high 100s!Delete
Roll! And keep up with yoga!
The ankle is decent! I felt the effect up to my knee and had a few hobbly (not a word?!) steps on Sundays run, but I think it's worked out by now. Sigh. I am suck a klutz!
You do look noticeably slimmer these days and very fit, as always - what is your secret!?!?!? And do you ditch your shoes when you wear down the outsole to the midsole, or what is your gauge?Delete
I am glad your ankle is feeling better! So sorry to hear that you were feeling the effect all the way up to your knee, though. And you are by NO MEANS a klutz. It was seriously attack of the killer acorns out there on the course!!!
Thanks! My secret is simple - quit eating ALL THE THINGS! Lol. I have a bingeing problem, so when I quit, I usually lose weight ;)Delete
I ditch my shoes when the tread is almost gone on one side (since I supinate) making the shoes super unbalanced.
Ha ha! Thanks for saying I am not a klutz! ;)
Good race! Glad to see you hit your time goals... and with minimal issues along the way.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Shinianen! Although, I probably downplayed some of the less-noticeable issues. I.e. It really was pretty difficult to keep up the conversation. Running at goal pace while trying to talk is quite a challenge!!!!!!! =DDelete
Congrats on the sub 2:20 half! Sounds like a beautiful course, and awesome that you were able to run with Kim and having her pace you. Question: What makes a good pacer? If I were to pace someone, what helps them to keep going?ReplyDelete
Good question! I want to hear what the response is, too!Delete
Thanks Pete! Congratulations to you too on your BQ at the Chicago Marathon this past weekend! I'm glad I got to see you out along the course. You looked so strong at mile 13. Way to go!!!Delete
In response to both you and Shinianen regarding what makes a good pacer, I personally think a good pacer is one that helps keep you on track when you are fatigued and want to quit. As the name implies, the pacer obviously helps keep you on pace - but also reminds you when it's time to take your GU or salt pills, is there to offer on-the-spot advice or suggestions, and helps/encourages you to push through the tough stretches. Based on knowing both of you, I bet both of you would be good pacers if you were to help pace others at a goal race. =)
Nicely described. I think I need a pacer at the marathon to tell me when to take GU/Gatorade after my near overdose of sugar at the marathon! Thanks for the compliment. I guess I would not want to feel like a pain in the rear too much by constantly telling my pacee to keep pushing. I know how hard it can be when I am out of gas near the end of a race and I don't know how much words help at that point. It's like when a boxer gets punched hard in the head and is stumbling around disoriented. His coach yelling "c'mon keep fighting!" wouldn't ever make him snap out of it faster and win the match (however many times the movies show otherwise)! :)Delete
I totally agree with you on how it is a delicate balance on being encouraged versus feeling like you are getting pounded over the head. I've experienced that at fitness classes, where some instructors say things like, "The harder you work, the better of a workout you are going to get!" versus "C'mon you lazy bones. PUSH IT!!!" It really is too bad our lives are not like those boxing movies, LOL. I am going to go channel my inner Rocky now. =DDelete
Ha! If you can do something similar to Rocky after he gets hit in the head, you will go far! :)Delete
[Theme music from Rocky playing in the background...] Time to run up some stairs! =DDelete
Way to go!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Tracey!!!Delete
Congrats on going sub 2:20 Em, that is awesome! Sounds like a decent race I'll have to keep in mind for next year. Minus the road construction of course.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Marcia! I think you would enjoy this race but based on my experience you definitely have to get there much earlier than you think to avoid the crowds. Hopefully by next year at this time the road construction will be over. By the way - I looked for you and Mr. Pumpkin this past Sunday along the Chicago Marathon course, bummer that I did not see you!Delete
Ok, i'm totes jelly you and Kim ran without me! :) And CONGRATS on beating your goal! I know youve got a PR in those legs- perhaps even this year!!!! And i'm starting to think running with someone might be a great idea- especially since they might make you push harder than you think you can do- especially when things get tough. :)ReplyDelete
That course looks beautiful.
I looked for you on Sunday but I think I started looking after we might have passed you :( (my garmin was waaaay off so it was tough to tell where you might be.)
No Spastic emmers poses this race? Disappointed reader here.. hehe
Xaar! No jealousy, you were busy preparing for the Chicago Marathon the next day. ;-) We'll definitely have to find another fun race that we can all run together! Thank you for the kind words on my goal and my PR potential. I VERY much think that running with someone makes all the difference in the world. Without a pacer, I won't push myself once I get tired, you know?Delete
Congrats to you and L on your amazing Chicago Marathon experience and his new 30-minute PR this past Sunday!!! I read your race recap and I related so much to all of the details you listed out. Sigh. I looked for you on the course on Sunday, too (I was on Adams just west of Halsted) but it was so crowded that it was hard to spot anyone. =( I only saw two CRBs in total the whole time!
Incidentally, I do have some spastic poses from the official race photographer... but they are not as spastic as usual. Still debating whether or not to post them, LOL.
Brunch soon for SURE!!! I'm out of town this weekend, but let me know what your schedule looks like the next few weekends! We've got a ton to catch up on and it has been way, way too long!!!
Great job on the race!!! I love running on the DPRT but, yeah, those hills can get you at the end :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Erin! Kim was telling me about how you two had biked the entire DPRT awhile back - that is quite an endeavor! By the way - the path reminded me a little bit of the Kal-Haven trail, which was nice (except Kal Haven seems to be flatter!) It's amazing how what seems to be just a little incline along the path can be so tumultuous when you are tired, no?Delete
See you at Crosstown tonight!!!
Congratulations! I am so glad you met your goal!! As I said, I always love seeing you and Kim - your enthusiasm is contagious! Hope to see you soon!!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Erica, and congratulations again to you on taking first place in your AG!!! It was such a wonderful surprise to see you - had I known in advance that you were running, we could have planned a prerace meetup, too! I look forward to catching up again very soon, as well. Btw - what is the status of the blogger cookie meetup that you and Kelly mentioned for next month!?!?!? Is it on???Delete
Congrats on your race! Great pictures too.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Zenaida!!! Congrats to you too on all of your recent half marathons in so many different states, as well as your new PR from Hartford! WOO HOO!!!Delete
I love your race photos because you always look like you are having a blast. In this case, you were having fun and being fast! I know you've got that PR in you. Keep chugging along and you'll get it!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Amy! It's a good thing that pictures only take an instant, LOL. It does get addicting to try to keep running these races and see how much improvement you can get at each one, right? BTW - YAY for your El Paso Marathon coming up in a few months!!! SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!Delete
Congrats on a great race and a sub 2:20!! I've heard great things about that race from one of my former professors and its always fun to see if other people agree :) Thats awesome that Kim was able to run with you!! Looks like a lot of fun! Great job!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Kayla!!! I miss having you here in Chicago - I think you would have really enjoyed this race if you were here to run it. I haven't had a chance yet to comment on your blog but YAY for you signing up for Grandma's Marathon next June! You are going to ROCK it!!!Delete
Thanks Em!! I miss you (and Chicago) too!! I have been looking at what race I should come back to Chicago for.. can't quite decide yet. I was looking at just coming for the Wisconsin half but I don't think that is going to work yet, but I'll definitely let you know when I decide to come out! :)Delete
Kayla - please do keep me posted! It would be so great to see you and to catch up with you anytime that the opportunity permits!!!Delete