A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 7; 11th Edition
248 miles run; 1 mile swam; 30 miles biked in 2012 races
Race: Chicago Half Marathon
Place: Chicago, IL
Miles from home: 2126 miles
Weather: 50s-70s; sunny
Last weekend, I found out I can still complete a marathon with next to no training. This weekend I wanted to see if, having just barely started running again, I could get my legs firing at a decent clip. To say I am happy with the end result would be an understatement. I am hoping this all bodes well for a rapid return to some faster racing.
2010 recap here and my 2011 recap here). I can definitely see myself setting a PR here if I could actually rest prior to racing. As much as I love expos, and the fantastic people I meet, they are a tiring thing to do. Just when I really start to begrudge all the lucky runners who can sit in a hotel and relax, I get the pleasure of meeting someone super sweet and nice like JoAnne, her daughter Kyzee and her husband Earl. JoAnne would be going for a new PR in the half while Kyzee and her Grandpa would be doing the 5K. It's hard to explain how much this makes my heart swell. When you no longer (and never had) the chance to do a race with your own father, seeing those who do makes you both melancholy and happy at the same time.
I was happy to representing both the Illinois Beef Association and the Wisconsin Beef Council jointly. What I loved the most was not only the word getting out that I personally am known as the spokesrunner for beef but already people are saying that they have seen Team Beefs across the nation. More and more people are realizing that lean beef is good for you, refuels you and helps you feel good. Myths and rumors will always be out there but educated with the facts, many more athletes are glad to be saying they are eschewing the pre-race pasta dinner in favor of a pre-race beef dinner! My works is far from done, but we have come a long way in the past 2-plus years.
When the expo ended on the second day, I eschewed hanging out with friends and tried to go get some food. The previous two nights had been fiascoes in that arena and I was starting to get a three-day Hanger (Hunger + Anger) thing going on. I thought about eating and joining my friends as I did not expect the next day to result in anything faster than 1:35 but after eating a ridiculous amount of food (compensating, I guess) I was sleepy. I decided to turn in and get ready for the awful 4:30 a.m. wake-up.
After a short few blocks jog to the shuttle it was rather uneventful trek to Jackson Park, south of Chicago's downtown and where the race began. Apparently, some runners had troubles with buses in other pickups and had a tight connection to the race. I felt for them but listening to the bitching on Facebook and whatnot makes me wonder how unbelievably entitled some runners can be. When NYC Marathon said they would not be ferrying drop bags back to the finish (a decision they just reversed) you would have thought they said they were not going to let gay runners compete. I often wonder how many runners have ever been involved with putting on a race. If so, they would see that 99.9% of those involved are runners themselves who want nothing but the race to go smoothly. If they only saw how many fires are put out before anyone even knows they were lit, perhaps they would be a less like, well, Sam Axes says from Burn Notice.
First 3 Miles: 6:27, 6:52, 6:48
Slowing down here, when I felt good was hard, but if anything I like to heed my own advice. I knew that later I would appreciate having not gone out ridiculously fast for what I could reasonably expect to do on the day. I took a few pictures here and there but the occasional jackwagon runner photobombed a few of them. Sorry, pal, no free publicity on my blog.
Cruising to mile 6: 6:50, 6:56, 6:51
I fully expected the next few miles to have me slowing to closer to 7:05 but with each mile that went by, I kept the pace. In addition, the 3:10 pace group leader stayed right on my heels. I was doing everything I could to stay more than jus ta little bit in front of them so when they finally did pass me (which I felt was inevitable) I would be that much closer to the finish.
The next few miles had me running the tangents as much as I possibly could. It amazed me how few other runners took advantage of this type of running as Lake Shore Drive twisted and turned in long wide arc. I wanted to tell people who continued on the longest possible route "Please! Follow me!" More than few times, just trying to keep a straight line in between curves had me criss-crossing in front of runners. Many of these runners were actually running faster than me but because of the longer distance being run would keep falling back.
Heading onward to mile 10: 6:57, 7:20, 6:49, 7:01
From two previous runnings of this race I know that the 8th mile is in the wrong place. I am not saying the course is long here (although I do believe it runs about .1 long overall, even cutting all the tangents) just that the placement of the 8th mile marker always leaves everyone looking at their watch. True to form, the 8th mile was far and away my slowest mile. Also true to form, even though the 9th mile contains a hill of the off-ramp, it somehow was one of the faster miles of the day.
I remembered the 10th mile being one that really broke my spirit last year and having take me just over 7 minutes, I felt ecstatic. I began playing a game of cat and mouse with a few runners but knew I had my sub 1:33 in the bag. Still quite mindful of the calf muscles which had given me problems in what has been basically a lost three months of training, I was in no mood to fully race anyone. To be here, at this point, at this speed, right now, was more than I could have asked for. As such, I just continued to stay the course.
Coming home: 6:43, 7:10, 6:52 1:06
I love it.
My 12th mile showed I had slowed a touch to take these pictures. I had worn my SPIbelt but carried my camera in my hand for most of the entire race. I just didn't want to fumble with it while trying to run the fastest I had run in four months. However, even just being able to pint and click still took some energy. I am sure I annoyed someone who was struggling with al they had to finish and here I was taking pictures. But this was no walk in the park for me. With each mile I knew I was not only going to go under 1:33 but 1:32 was in the can as well. Up in the distance I saw the 1:30 group and thought perhaps I could just catch them.
Then I remembered that this course seems to run long. Those extra thirty seconds I would need to catch up to the 1:30 group and do this race in 89 minutes were going to be tacked on at the end. Sure enough, if you take my average for the race, the last .1 should have taken 42 seconds, not 66. I held off one fast charging runner, forgetting for a second that I was pleased to be running and wasn't really racing. Hard to turn off that instinct. It is a rare day when I let anyone pass me in the final 100 meters of a race. If they do, they have to bleed for it. I have run too many races where pain and fatigue are par for the course to let just anyone pass me at the end. Bring your "A" game if you care to do that.
Oodles of runners set new PRs this day, including JoAnne I spoke earlier. Meagan's time of 1:18 put her right where she wanted to be to attempt to win the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I have received numerous messages from other runners I met this weekend telling me that they too experienced major breakthroughs at the race. Once again, the US Road Sports people put on a top notch race in a fantastic city. It is always a pleasure to work with them and see how they handle races from soup to nuts. I will be heading to Dallas in just a few weeks to continue working on their 13.1 series by doing a course preview of their race in that city. It promises to be another stellar event and I cannot wait to run the course.
To visitors I met and residents I talked to, thanks so much for making me feel so welcome. And way to go, Bears! That marks three straight years I have run this race and three straight years he Bars have won their opener. That's a streak I will be happy to keep going.