Monday, August 26, 2013

Race Recap: Peapod Half Madness

If you couldn't tell by me posting here - I'm still alive!  I went through a whole 5 day stretch last week without running at all.  I was a bit under the weather and extremely fatigued if you couldn't tell by my last post.  I went for a short shake out run on Saturday to see how I would hold up.  I quit after 2.3 miles because I was overheating and my body wasn't having any of it.  I knew Sunday was going to be a challenge, especially since the course had real hills and the forecast was for temperatures to approach 90.  I texted my friend wondering where in the world I was going to get more energy in time from the race since I was still dead tired.  I hoped a shower, pizza, and a nap would revitalize me.

Near the start line
Thankfully the Half Madness had an option for race day packet pick up.  The race was in Batavia which is near Aurora (Party time, excellent! for those Wayne's World fans) and was just around an hour drive outside the city.  I woke up at 3:30 AM after what was basically a 2 hour nap instead of a real sleep to get ready for the race.  I headed out at 4:30AM and made my way to Batavia for the pre-race packet pick up.  I was there a little before 6AM and had no issues.  I use the port a potties a couple times and sipped on Nuun water and ate a fig newton waiting for the race to begin.  The area was pretty scenic and definitely different than a Chicago race.

Start/Finish Chute pre-race
Finally it was time to line up for the race.  I got in the chute just behind the 1:59 (yes it was 1:59 instead of 2:00) pacer figuring I'd hang with them and see how things went.  This wasn't going to be a PR day, that was for sure.  The chute got really crowded as 1,131 runners crowded into a small space.  You couldn't get in from the sides, so the faster runners who waited until the last second started pushing their way through to the front.  One of the runners joked about running with the 2:59 pacer - the course had a 3 hour limit so I shot back that its called the sag wagon, just stay in front of it!  The pacer was an older gentleman who was friendly and energetic and seemed to know everyone.  People were teasing he might leave us behind since he normally runs 6s.

The race was soon underway and off we went.  I fell behind the pace group right away.  The start was crowded and hard to get through.  I wasn't going to waste energy weaving so I just did my thing and caught up a couple hundred yards later.  About a half mile in we already shot up our first hill and I was hoping I'd be able to hang on.  By mile 2 I was ahead of the 1:59 pace group and separating.  I was feeling decent and decided to go with it.  I definitely made sure to walk through water stations to get every last drop though.  The area around the mile 4 marker was just nuts.  You drop 50 feet in a quarter mile then make a sharp turn.  I tried to just go with gravity on the downhill portions, but this section was too steep and my quads are feeling it today.

The course and elevation map for the race -

After mile 4 we wound up on a trail going up and down the Fox River which was pretty nice.  Most the course was actually shaded which helped a ton.  Things were nice and easy on the path and I picked up the pace a little bit.  We left the trail around mile 6.5 and thus began a series of climbs through side streets and a neighborhood.  Some of these were monsters.  We finally stopped climbing around mile 9.5.  I spent the next mile and a half cruising and letting my legs recover.  We re-entered a path around mile 11 and I settled behind a guy and his g/f and he seemed to be coaching her along letting her know what a great job she was doing.  They picked up the pace and I let them lead the way for me.  The 12th mile featured a net 100 foot drop so that made for a quick mile.  I stopped for water shortly after the 12 mile marker and had trouble getting my legs going again after that.  My energy was finally spent, maybe I should of taken the gu they were offering at mile 8.  I willed my way through the final mile.  The mile 13 marker is at the beginning of a bridge so the finish is a bridge, a street crossing, then the finishing chute which was kind of neat.  I looked down at my watch and saw 1:55:43.  That's exactly 6:30 slower than my PR, but far faster than some of my halfs.  I call it a victory after being sick and tired all week.  Its really a victory considering the hills on the course and the fact that the temperature was about 80 when I finished.

Finishing chute during race
Post race party
I think one of the things that got me through this race was the community involvement.  There was support over the entire course.  People were out on their lawns cheering on the runners, waving signs, ringing cowbells, it was fantastic.  The first water station had a bunch of high school girls dressed as super heroes. The final half mile was through an old fashioned downtown district and across a bridge with people lined up all over going crazy.  At one point on the course there was a little girl who had to be 3 or 4 years old telling runners you look fantastic, keep it up.

The post race atmosphere was just as great.  There was a tent set up with pizza, pop, water, gatorade, pretzels, granola bars, oranges, and bananas. It was a help yourself free for all.  There was also a tent with all the Sam Adams you could drink.  There wasn't a beer ticket to cash it, just have a runner's bib?  Ok here's your beer.  I refrained from drinking though, given the drive home I had after.  I settled for Dr. Pepper and pizza.  I walked around a bit, and then found a spot in the shade and just soaked in the atmosphere.  The medals for the finishers were also pretty cool.

The metal was kind of fitting... I had to be mad to think I could do as well as I did, but I did it!  The race capped off my little gauntlet of races as well.  I completed 4 half marathons and a 10K in a 5 week period. I'm kind of amused that my slowest of the bunch was the first half. My last was 9 minutes faster than the first.  The fastest was run 6 days after the slowest and was 16 minutes faster.  I have another half 2 weeks from now, then a 5K later in September, then its marathon time!

1 comment:

  1. A great race to bounce back to after being sick! ALl races are hard too with Hanson on the legs!