For those of you who have been following along, I started the new year with Nike’s Resolutions Crew, pledging to run a half marathon in under 1:50. My first attempt took place this past weekend at the Chicago Spring Half Marathon (you can read more on BibRave). My training plan included strength training (which I’ve never made a priority before) through NTC classes and Shred415 classes, and I alternated those with a few runs a week. I started tapering with a couple of weeks to go (which especially helped cure some knee pain I’d been experiencing), and did some carb-loading a couple days before the race. Basically, I took my preparation way more seriously than I ever have before, which helped me maintain focus on training throughout gross weather and when I just really wasn’t in the mood.
My friend Blair and I arrived at the race around 6:15 AM on Sunday morning, and after a few wrong turns, we wound up at the park at Lakeshore East, a small park with beautiful gardens, a playground, and lots of green space! The race was pretty small – I think about 2,000 for the half and 5,000 for the 10K race – so lines moved quickly and we were able to find other friends running the race pretty easily. We made our way to the start corral by 6:45 AM with my friend Hannah (pictured with me above), and shortly thereafter, we were off!
I won’t go mile-by-mile for my recap, but here’s the gist. I used the bathroom after mile three (too much hydrating before the race!), when there weren’t any lines. First half of the race, I felt pretty great, and then right after the turnaround (around mile 7), I hit a miniature wall mentally realizing I had to do that all over again at the same pace I was going (if I wanted to beat 1:50). At mile 8, however, I perked back up and felt better. I started drinking water at the aid stations after the turnaround, and although I skipped the Gatorade, I think I’m going to have to start incorporating Gatorade during marathon training to get my electrolytes up. Mile 11 felt like the LONGEST. MILE. EVER. Although my second half of the race was MUCH slower than my first, Hannah, Blair and I finished all in a row!
As for my finish time? Well, I did get a PR, but I didn’t hit my 1:50 goal time- technically. My final time was 1:50:52, so I know that bathroom break was probably the difference between me and my goal time. But you know what? I’m okay with that! I have another chance to hit 1:50 in a couple of weeks with the Michelob Ultra Half, and I can’t wait! I’m also signed up for the Soldier Field 10 Miler this week, and I’m excited for a “short” race, although I’m guessing I’ll be pretty tired of the lakefront view by the end of it!
Other lessons from my first go at beating 1:50? I need to make sure to prep my music properly – the volume button on my earphones didn’t work, and I was left adjusting it on my iPhone during the first mile (which was fine because it was still crowded at that point of the race, but it could make a difference). Also, my strength as a runner is my cardio endurance. Throughout the race, I was never REALLY out of breath, and I never had any cramps (brb, knocking on wood). However, I definitely need to continue working on my lower body strength and flexibility. My legs felt heavy around mile 8, and my hips were (and are still) pretty tight. I have really serious plans tonight to lie on my floor in front of The Bachelorette season premiere and just do hip stretches (and before you tell me, yeah, I’m buying a foam roller this week when I pick up my Soldier Field 10 packet!).
Overall, I’m happy with my Chicago Spring Half race, but I know I can do better. Thinking about this race in conjunction with the Chicago Marathon, I’ve definitely realized that I have a long way to go. Aside from getting my legs used to longer distances, the mental battle is going to be way tougher than I thought. By the end of 13.1 miles Sunday, I probably could have done a few more miles physically if someone told me I had to, but I definitely did NOT want to. I’ll admit, after the end of the race when I thought about how I’ll have to do that distance AGAIN during the marathon, I started feeling a little dread-y. But, I believe that training with a group will help offset some of that mental toughness, and I’m still up for the challenge.
How did y’all enjoy the beautiful running weather? Anyone else run a race this weekend?