I signed up to run the Chicago Half Marathon back in May when I was trying to get into my last minute Chicago 13.1 race. Going into this race, I was hoping to push myself as hard as I could, potentially PR, but my big goal right now is having a strong showing at the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October. I figured I would target just barely PR’ing, so a 9:28 pace, or if I was feeling amazing, a 2:03 which would be a 9:23 pace.
Leading up to the Chicago Half Marathon
Friday, I biked around to get to Soldier Field to pick up my race packet, and then headed out to do my run once I got home late afternoon. I did about an hour run with some half marathon race-paced miles, so this race was not one I was tapering into. My eating on Friday was the same as it normally is for weekdays, with breakfast & lunch as normal, and noodles pasta for dinner.
Saturday I took things easy, got my hair colored for fall, and had an early evening. Breakfast was 3 eggs and 3 slices of GF toast, lunch was my normal “yogurt mess” breakfast, and dinner was frozen GF pizza, and I snacked on some almonds and a piece of dark chocolate post-dinner. I snacked on nuts and a granola bar throughout the afternoon. I felt pretty bloated and sluggish the day before and after the Madison Mini Marathon, so I wanted to try a slightly less carb-focused pre-race eating. I felt good about what I’d eaten, and had also had some fresh beet juice as well (which I have most days).
I was up and at ’em early to get my extra 3 miles in so that I’d hit sixteen miles for the day. Just a few easy-paced miles, with a build-up toward the end. I hit my goal race pace, and backed off easy. Once I got home, I ate the rest of my breakfast (I’d had a Honey Stinger waffle before my first run), three hard boiled eggs and another honey stinger waffle. I still had two hours before the race, so a decent amount of time to digest. I drove down to Jackson Park, where the race starts, and found street parking very easily. I got to the race start, had some time to chill out, take some photos and check in on social media. Got my bathroom stops in, ran into my friends Denise and Claire, and then headed to the start corrals. I was feeling really good.
After listening to the national anthem, we were off! I was positioned just behind the two hour pace group. I figured I’d be able to try and stay slow, keep behind them but potentially use them as a gauge for how far behind them I was. (Lesson Learned: Many pace groups will NOT keep running with the sign up, so you shouldn’t plan to monitor them unless you’re trying to actually run WITH them.) Either way, I was starting out easy – I wanted my first three miles to be above my goal pace of 9:28. Well, I ran those faster than that, but it felt so easy. I tried to just keep the pace easy. These miles run around Jackson Park (I think) and you end up running north on Lake Shore Drive (LSD). Miles 1-3: 9:25, 9:27, 9:26.
My plan for miles 4-10 were to keep steady at that 9:28 pace. Things still felt easy, and I was ticking off the miles with relative ease. It wasn’t too hot out, and for a while I was running with my sunglasses on top of my head. When I started seeing the sun rising, I put them on. Just staying on the nutrition and hydration plan, sipping Osmo each mile, and taking a salt pill and 2 Honey Stinger Chews every 3 miles. I heard that the turnaround was at mile 8, but we passed the 8th mile marker and no turnaround visible. It ended up being closer to 8.5 or 8.6, and was the off-ramp from LSD, turning and then getting back an on-ramp down back onto Lakeshore Drive. This 9th mile, because of the uncertainty and then the uphill of the onramp, felt particularly hard. Miles 4-9: 9:19, 9:18, 9:19, 9:22, 9:16, 9:38
After this the sun was up, and from what I heard from others, there was a bit of a headwind as we headed back south toward the finish line. Regardless, this is where the wheels started coming off for me. I completed mile 10 at a 9:20 pace, so still faster than planned, and I finished up my bottle of Osmo during this mile and discarded it at an aid station. I realized I had skipped my mile 9 salt pill after I dropped my bottle and left the aid station, and tried to take it, but I couldn’t swallow the pill dry. Onward, I started struggling. I tried to keep up the pace, or at least maintain a 9:28 pace, but was finding it difficult. Miles 11 & 12 were 9:37 & 9:35, which weren’t horrible because I could potentially still be on pace for a PR since I’d technically banked time earlier on. But in my last mile and change I slowed down even further, and started to get a bit dizzy. I took a moment to step off the course and definitely stumbled a bit. Looking back, this was less than a half mile to the finish. Once I started again I picked up the pace, but overall this last 1.2 miles I averaged a 9:44 pace. I just barely missed a PR by less than a minute.
I finished in 2:05:10, just 54 seconds off my PR. Post race, I tried to sit down on the curb until a race volunteer made me get up and keep walking. I got a cold towel, two water bottles, and the snacks they were giving out. I also got this big Flava-Flav medal.
I wish I’d known how close I was to the finish when I slowed down and stopped briefly; I could have PR’ed if I’d simply just kept jogging. I know that potentially it could have been very bad if I did get to the point of passing out, but was I really that close? Who knows today.
Missing that salt pill at mile 9 definitely didn’t help me, and I did notice some symptoms of dehydration afterward (spacey thinking, and first bathroom trip once I got home). I’m not sure why I didn’t think to just try the last salt pill I had at the last aid station. But while I’d stopped using Base Salts because I was thinking that salt pills every few miles would be easier, I probably lost today’s PR by not having a quick salt source available to me. I may start carrying it again with me for races, if only for the insurance policy.
My pacing definitely leaves something to be desired as well. I was hoping to run those first few miles around a 9:38-9:40 pace, and be able to speed up and recover those missed few seconds at the end. But even if I had not gotten dehydrated, could I have sustained that pace? I was averaging a 9:24 pace when you include mile 9, so I think it’s possible that I could have kept that up for the final 3 miles, or at least not slowed down quite in the way I did.
What went well? First of all, my race outfit is a success! I felt comfortable and there was no chafing or blisters. Next, my nutrition leading up to the race was spot on. I felt filled up but not too heavy on race morning, exactly how I’d like to feel. And there were no tummy troubles or bathroom issues once the race started – another success! And my pacing, while faster than I’d planned, seemed to work out for the majority of the race.
I wore my light blue Coeur Sports run top which I have been loving because it is weightless was particularly amazing and light, despite the sweat and humidity! I wore Coeur tri shorts on the bottom, which I really liked even though this was a run-only event. I also wore Feetures socks with New Balance Vazee Pacers. On my head, I wore Smith Optics’ Asana sunglasses, and then a Coeur Sports trucker cap on my head. For hydration and nutrition, I carried a handheld filled with Osmo, and ate Honey Stinger Chews in Cherry Cola throughout the race. 1 salt pill every 3 miles.
Official Time: 2:05:10
Official Pace: 9:33 min/mi
Next Race: Hero Half Marathon, 10/2/2016 (although this will not be a PR-paced effort!)
Linking up to share my story with the Weekly Wrap, hosted by Holly and Tricia, and Tuesday’s on the Run, hosted by Patty, Erika, and Marcia. Check out and join in on both of the linkups if you’re not already!
Last Week’s Workouts (9/19-25):
- Monday: Bike Commuting. No yoga, yes folk concert 🙂
- Tuesday: Run 9 miles
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Strength (pool closed, no swim)
- Friday: Bike commute, Run
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: 3 miles + half marathon!
Did you run this past weekend? Have you ever done a half marathon plus extra mileage as a part of marathon training? Before or after the race?