I had actually done packet pick up for this race long ago. They allowed pick up during the expo for the Chicago Half Marathon. I went over to the booth at the expo with Jennifer and killed 2 birds with 1 stone. I also wound up signing up for Polar Dash that day so Team Ortho will get a 3rd chance to prove themselves. The date for Polar Dash has actually already been moved and now falls on my birthday. Who loves winter racing on their birthday? Anyways the swag for Team Ortho races is always pretty cool and this year they gave out hoodies that ran a little big.
|Oops, hobbit feet in the photo|
So Sunday morning I get up at 6AM and prep to catch a 7:30AM bus. The morning is going fine and I step outside into the frigid weather. I get to the bus stop to find out its delayed and try to keep myself warm for an extra 10 minutes. The bus arrives and I'm off. Jennifer gets on a few stops later. We get down to Grant Park and make the trek over to Arvey field. We met up with our friend Courtney and I do gear check and get ready for the start of the half. I decided to line up in front of the 8:30 pace marker, but behind the 1:50 pace group. I was still feeling really good at this point and decided to see what I could do with it.
The race started and off we went. The start was pretty typical for this area - crowded and you have to dodge cracks in the sidewalk. This race had the added bonus of dodging costumed runners. I held steady for the first quarter mile before I let my legs do what they wanted. They carried me past the 1:50 pace group and before I knew it I was well under PR pace. I decided to slow down a bit, but I was still under pace when I passed the first mile. The 2nd mile was right at PR pace. The third mile I came back to earth a bit and slowed down a little. I also started to notice that my body wasn't really happy with how I started the race. The third mile was slightly slower but about where I should have been running the first half of the race. The 4th mile is where I fell apart. My hip started screaming at me. I stopped and tried to stretch it out before continuing on. Also the first aid station wasn't until well beyond the 3rd mile marker which wasn't nice for half.
I spent the next few miles running what I could before slowing down to walk and try and stretch my hip out. I noticed that when I ran I was doing really well, but then the pain would set back in and make things hard again. I wish I was better at adjusting my pace naturally to compensate. I eventually saw an aid station on the left that I would hit shortly after the turnaround and this became my marker for my next stop. I continued down for what seemed like forever and hit the sharp turnaround which didn't help with my diminishing mobility. I walked through the aid station and then walked off the path and hit the ground. I gave myself a really good stretch and watch as all the costumed runners went past. Once I felt good enough I got up and kept walking. I was going to finish this thing, I'm too stubborn not to. I soon got frustrated with walking and tried running again. The first attempt was just 1/4 of a mile. After walking again I went for 1/2 a mile. This was how the rest of the race went until I finally pushed myself to run nearly all of the last 1.5 miles. I was never more happy to finish a race. Even with all the issues and all the walking that I had done, it was not my slowest half. I collected my medal which was kind of absurd and doubles as a belt buckle.
I soon spotted Jennifer and Courtney and limped over to them. I collected my gear so Courtney could borrow my coat and then went and found a place to stretch. I was getting worse by them minute. After stretching we walked like what seemed like forever to catch a bus back to get brunch. The movement helped, but I stiffened up whenever we stopped. We got to the bus stop just as a bus pulled up. We took it back up to Lincoln Park for brunch and when I got off the bus I knew I was in trouble. My knee started hurting and I really hobbled into the restaurant. After brunch I walked the half mile back home. My knee really hurt a ton, but the movement helped once again. I got home, changed clothes, grabbed an ice pack and crashed on the couch. Later in the day I stretched a bit more and tried to figure out what was going on. Eventually I realized it was my IT band that was tightening up and tugging at my hip and knee. I used the foam roller which hurt like hell, but helped relieve some of the soreness and stiffness. I've been stretching the IT band every few hours since.
Now that it is a few days later I'm doing much better. I've stayed away from running, but did some light workout on a stationary bike last night. For something that nearly incapacitated me on Sunday, I feel like I should be ok to do some light running again in a few days. I'll just have to be careful this weekend since I'm running back to back 5Ks. I'm not going to concern myself with time. My friend Jim is running his very first ever race with me on Sunday for Muddy Monk's Thriller in Schiller so I want to make sure I'm there for him. I realize now the mistakes I had made with Monster Dash - 1. I shouldn't race so soon after a marathon and 2. If I do decide to race, don't go out at PR pace without having enough warm up, especially after not running for a week.