Monday, May 23, 2016

Chicago Spring Half Marathon 2016

Pro tip: Don't fly across the country, move and then run a half-marathon in one weekend. It's as exhausting as it sounds. While this wasn't an ideal situation, all three events were incredibly important for Graham and me. All three were events I've been waiting for all year.

I spent the week before the Chicago Spring Half Marathon resting my shoulder, which had been bothering me since Week 12 of half-marathon training. It even felt sore the day before the race. I worried that I wouldn't be able to run the half-marathon. I tried to alleviate the soreness with a back massager and Max Freeze pain relief gel. It did relieve some of that tension, and I felt much better on race day.

I awoke about 4:30 on race morning and stayed in bed. That was a mistake. I finally hopped out of bed, muttering curse words, at about 5. I needed to leave the house by 5:30, so I threw on my race clothes, packed some rice cakes with almond butter and honey, and ran out the door. It takes 45 minutes to get to Lakeshore East Park on the L train. I ate my breakfast and drank water on the ride, while downloading my running app (Map My Run) on my new phone and unpacking my new headphones. I clearly wasn't prepared. I had thrown on shorts underneath my running tights, which I had planned to take off at the start line. I decided instead to change into just my running tights because the shorts were not as comfortable as they had been previously. They felt too tight, and nothing bothers me more than running clothes that are too constricting. I raced to the portable restrooms to change and, you know, relieve myself before the race. When I finally made it to my assigned corral, it had been closed and the runners were about to head out. I went to the next corral and cut throw a gap in the fence to get to my corral, because I wanted to start earlier. And we were off!

I felt good through the first half of the race. While it was much warmer, in the 70s, than weather during my training, there was a nice breeze that cooled us off. The Lakeshore Trail offers little shade, though, so sunglasses and a hat are a good idea. (I opted to just wear sunglasses.) Along the way, local musicians and DJs entertained runners. One of my favorites was a rapper when you get to the South Side. I am unsure of his name, but he had so much energy despite being the only person on stage and having no crowd around him. Running waved their hands in the air as they passed him, and he proclaimed, "I'm doing a marathon performance for two and a half hours!" 

I felt emotional during several parts of the race, as I often do. It feels incredible when people cheer you on and high-five you, especially during the last few miles. Also, I wished I had stopped to take photos of the view of the Chicago skyline when you turn around on the route. It's incredible and makes me feel lucky to live in this beautiful city. 

As far as pace, I kept at an average of 10 minute/mile pace. I started at 9:30 but then felt dragged down by wind when we turned north. The last 3 miles were even more difficult; we were closer to the water and the wind felt more powerful. I was trying to stay ahead of the 2:10 pacer but she passed me with 2 miles to go. I lost momentum and felt disappointed. My last half-marathon pace was 2:22, so I was trying to beat that, but I secretly also wanted to beat my PR of 2:08. I ended up finishing in 2:13:34. I am proud of myself for improving since last September, and now I have something to keep working toward. I love to PR at my next half in the fall (Chicago Fall Half Marathon). 

The post-race festivities included breakfast, a beer garden, lots of vendors, and free flowers! I loved that we each got a flower to take home.

Holding my medals and flower after the Chicago Spring Half.

Overall, it was a well-run race. The volunteers were great at cheering us on and giving us our water, gels and sports drinks. The medal is awesome: It has a spinning Ferris wheel on it! I would definitely run this race again next year.

Half-marathon training recaps:

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