Monday, July 22, 2013

Race Recap: Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon

So this half marathon was initially not in the plan to run.  It became part of the plan once I decided I wanted to run 13 halfs in 2013.  I looked for different half marathons and tried to figure out which ones would work best with marathon training.  I figured since this race ran some of the same course as the Chicago Marathon that it would be a benefit to me as well as keep me honest in my mileage during training.  I also figured it would be ungodly hot and that it would only make me stronger running it.  So when it came to racing only part of the plan happened.

So the race was actually my 4th in a period of 16 days.  I kicked things off with a brutal 5 mile trail run.  Next I might have went a little faster than intended and PR'd at the 8K distance.  Then came Tuesday and the 5K in the 90+ degree heat where I was just a minute or so off of PR pace.  Clearly I know how to pace myself and keep my legs fresh.  To be fair I never intended to run RnR for time, I was just always expecting it to be hot and nasty.  Friday night I was woken from my sleep with stomach pains.  This was not good.  After a night spent up and down and not sleeping very well I finally got out of bed on Saturday and decided to scrap my plans for a short run.  I wasn't feeling good and still needed to get my race packet.  I headed down to McCormick, my first time ever being there actually, and got my stuff.  This time I actually played things safe and didn't sample of of the goods like a good runner shouldn't do before a race.  I mean my stomach was already upset, didn't need to make things worse.  I got home and meant to go to bed early, but of course that didn't happen either.

Sunday I woke up at 3:30AM and on just 3 hours of sleep I choked down a Powerbar and some Gatorade to try and get some calories into my system and off I went.  I managed to make it downtown far faster than I planned on so I wandered around the race site while it was still a ghost town and people were still setting up.  I chilled for awhile under a tree and waited for the blogger meet up.  I finally decided to use the restroom before things would start lining up.  Afterwards I started heading back to the meet up location and ran into Chris.  We talked and wondered where everyone else was at.  Soon we saw Xaarlin, and then Pete, and then others came along with Maggie strolling in a little late.  We took the obligatory photos, chatted things up a bit.  Seems like no one was really planning on going for speed this race, it was fun runs all around.  My plan was to start solidly and decide half way if I was going to pick up the pace or just cruise in.  After a bit it was just me and Chris again and we talked about RnR Vegas since I knew we were both running that and then eventually off to the start corrals we went.

I was sweating before the race began.  I should have taken that as a warning side.  Finally my corral was sent off and away I went.  My Garmin went haywire under Wacker so I had no idea what my pace was.  I had to just guess where I was at.  It also didn't help that I missed the first mile marker.  Finally I saw the mile 2 marker and checked my time and mental math said I was around an 8:40 pace which was where I wanted to be under my plan.  I kept around this pace, perhaps slowing slightly until about halfway through.  It probably didn't help that I wasn't being easy on myself.  A little while after we were heading back east I finally realized that my side of the street was kind of empty and everyone was running on the left side.  I mean I showered, so what was the problem?  Oh right, there was shade on that side.  I shifted over and joined the smart runners in the shade.  Once I reached mile 7 I took inventory to see how I was doing.  The clock said 1:02 and change - that meant 10K PR pace to the finish line to PR.  Yeah I didn't see that happening so I backed off the pace and decided to try and save the legs.

By mile 8 I was starting to hurt, its strange how quickly things just pop up.  I started taking walking breaks, but limited them, just to keep myself going.  I made sure to take extra water - but didn't do like one guy I saw who ran down the water line grabbing a cup from each volunteer, dumping it on his head and then tossing the cup in the air - if you want to talk about bad running etiquette... not to mention the poor runners behind him who actually want to drink water.   By mile 9 mile stomach was starting to really hurt.  I scanned for portajohns but didn't see any.  Finally just beyond mile 10 I saw some behind the aid station and off I went.  A few minutes later I felt much relieved and headed back onto the course just in time to see Maggie whiz by so I caught up to her and we chatted a little bit.  I eventually lost her in the laser and light show in the tunnel under McCormick.  They were playing Gonna Fly Now - the theme from Rocky - and all of a sudden felt like I had star power in Mario Kart and started cruising.  Once I reached the end of the tunnel and was back in the sunlight it was like someone zapped me with lightning and I faded again.  I saw Maggie run by and knew I didn't have enough in the tank to keep up.  I alternated jogged and running the rest of the way.  I walked a lot of the last 2 miles which in uncharacteristic of my stubbornness but knew I needed to play things safe.  I was in early stages of dehydration and needed to be full strength again this Saturday for the Heatbreaker Half.  Once we got up the ramp and I could see the finish line in the distance I started running again.  It seemed like it would never come, but still I kept running.  Somehow I managed to get my legs churning enough to hit a sub 8 min pace for the final 2 minutes of running.  It was all for naught though, my time was my 2nd slowest half.  On the bright side - it was 7 minutes faster than the last half marathon I ran in similar conditions so I will consider it a hot half PR ;)

I saw Maggie again in the finishing chute so we walked and talked and I grabbed some Gatorade and a much needed popsicle.  Maggie complained about the lack of bag to hold all the goodies.  I didn't have much of an issue.  I didn't want anything much to replenish my fluids.  After heading to gear check I decided I should head home while I was still upright.  I said goodbye and off I went.  When I got off at my el stop 2 other guys got off as well and we were all moving gingerly... we looked at each other's medals and laughed.  I got home, downed some more fluids, tried to make peace with my stomach and then passed out for 3 hours.  I woke up feeling hungover.  Guess I didn't drink enough.

A day later and I'm still fighting with my stomach.  Its not as whiny today and I've been able to eat a little more so that's a plus.  I'm still exhausted - I need to work on the sleeping habits.  My quads are a little sore, but not too bad.  I'm sure the dehydration didn't help with recovery.  I still managed a slow 4 mile jog tonight to shake the body lose.  Hopefully all goes well by this weekend.  Its my last chance to jump corrals for the marathon.  My time is only 13 seconds off from moving up so I feel like I should at least try.  I'll probably do things by feel again.  Its going to be difficult to pace myself as I will be running laps indoors and they aren't at an easy to translate measurement.  Its 447 meters to a lap vs. a standard track of 400 meters.  I'll have to translate that into whatever sort of splits I need to maintain.

It was nice seeing all the bloggers out there at RnR and glad everyone made it through and finished in spite of the heat and humidity.


  1. It is admittedly fun to be irrational chasing this "13 for 13" dragon as many of us are. Good job all things considered you had going on. See you next week.

  2. Nice seeing you again at the race. That guy who was dumping water on his head should get a one year ban from races! Good luck at your next race and here's hoping you will be able to move up your corral.

  3. Hot Race PR For the win! Good job playing it safe to save your legs for more training, rather than just a couple minutes off the end of this race.
    Glad I'm not the only one that felt like they were in mario kart! Once I left the tunnel, I was sapped of life again too.
    Live to run again! Hanson on!

  4. A little late coming in on this (technology issues) but wanted to say sorry to hear you had a tough race. I love your shade running realization because it had me a little confused initially too. I was less smart and stayed in the sun - but it did make it much easier to run when I didn't have to dodge people.
    I hope everything works out for your next half.