Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chicago Spring Half Recap

One would think that after setting my half marathon PR at this very race just last year that I would be itching to sign up again, but I wasn't.  I had never intended to register until I came across the code for a free entry that was floating around out there.  With the free entry in hand I figure why not.  It would force myself to keep my training up.  I found out my friend Jim also got a free entry and signed up for the half as well.  It was to be his first half marathon.

Packet pick up was a breeze.  I headed down to Fleet Feet on Saturday afternoon.  They had pick up grouped by bib number ranges.  Once I got my bib I realized that it said I was in corral C.  They did not do corrals last year so I was a bit surprised.  Afterwards I decided to head down to Edzo's because I was craving a good burger.  I took a look inside to see it was jam packed and so threw in the towel and got Five Guys instead.  Those fries count as carbo loading right?  And the red meat has iron, totally justified I think.

Morning came too soon on race day.  I caught the bus and picked up Jennifer along the way and arrived at the staging area held in Lakeshore East Park around 6:15AM.  We used the facilities and time things right because a massive line formed by the time we got out.  We met up with Jim and went over strategy with him.  We told him to use the pacers and not to dart out too quickly.  He's only run 1 other race which was Thriller in Schiller with Muddy Monk last fall and he kept darting around runners whenever he got the chance.  You can do that for a 3 mile run.  It gets harder when you're going 13.1.  I took my bag over to gear check and then headed to my corral.  It felt like we were packed in like sardines.  There was no enforcement so I think we had some extra company.

After the typical announcements and the national anthem the first corral was sent off.  They did hold each corral for 2-3 minutes before releasing them.  While the path still felt a little crowded at the start, it wasn't too bad.  I begun my strategy of trying to run a negative split and do it a little faster than I had done at Wisconsin.  The first 6 miles were spot on.  I started with an 8:42 and dropped steadily from there.  Mile 6 was 8:24 and everything was still going according to plan.  Mile 7 I had slowed slightly to 8:28, but this mile involved the turn around so I didn't think much of it.  Mile 8 dropped me to 8:45, but included slowing down to consume a gel.  I start to notice the sun came out from behind the clouds and things get tougher.  Mile 9 I fight back to a 8:32 and things are still going ok.  On the way to Mile 10 my body tells me it doesn't want to fight to keep pace anymore.  I'm resigned to the fact that a negative split isn't going to happen, but if I stay strong I will still finish with a better time than Wisconsin.

It was just before mile 10 that my body said enough was enough and I felt a pop in my ankle.  It wasn't a painful pop, it just felt awkward.  It was the right ankle which has been giving me problems for quite awhile now, but never anything like this.  I decide to take things a bit more cautiously and slow down.  The rest of the body thanks me for this as well.  I did what I needed to in order to get through the last 3 miles and finish the race.  It wasn't pretty, but got the job done.  I still finished in a respectable 1:55:37 which was only 92 seconds slower than Wisconsin.  After the race the ankle was tender, but that actually soon went away and it has felt surprisingly well ever since.  I did get an injury screening for my ongoing problems from Athletico, but that will have to be the topic of a future post.