This was my 2nd year running the Rock and Roll Chicago Half marathon. I only signed up because they were offering decent prices during a registration blitz. July races have a tendency to be a bit on the warm side so this race usually isn't ideal for those going for time. Packet pick up was at McCormick which can be a pain to get to. I managed to escape the expo without any damage to the wallet.
I got up bright and early on race morning. The temperature wasn't too bad - it was upper 60s, but a bit on the muggy side. I've been training almost exclusively at night so I'm not fully adapted to the heat or running in the sun yet. The plan was to go by effort and take it from there. I wasn't sure what that would entail since I had a pretty intense stretch of running leading into this race. The half was my 4th race in 11 days and include an 8K PR, the toughest half I've ever run, and a near 5K PR. I also did not taper for the event and hit my highest weekly mileage this year.
By the time I reached the first mile marker my watch had me at 9 minutes. I later found out the marker was a little further than it was supposed to be. I was a little freaked at the time since I felt like I was running faster. The second mile marker came up just 8 minutes later. Well I didn't think I was going that fast now, but averaging the 2 out put around the right figure. I kept up pace and crossed the 5K mark at 25:47. I did some mental math and figured out I was about on track for PR pace. My effort was pretty steady so far and I felt good.
As the miles progressed after the 5K mark it warmed up a bit and my heart rate slowly rose, but that was all part of the plan. As long as I didn't let it get out of control I was fine. I was starting to wear down a bit by mile 8, but tried to keep focus and form while reeling in runners. I wound up taking a walk break around the 15K mark to make sure I got my Accel-Gel down and followed it up with some water. My heart rate was elevated at this point and the walk break didn't even bring it back down. I trucked on while trying to breath and relax.
The course turned back onto the bike paths and soon we were at mile 10. The DJ here kept announcing the mile marker of course, but he had speakers that reached the 11 mile mark so that by the time got to mile 11 it was a little disheartening to still hear him say only 3 miles to go. I also did some more mental math at mile 10 and realized I still had a shot at a PR if I only held on. The last 5K was tough and I was fading. I had a hard time keeping the heart rate down. I was starting to overheat a little bit. Around the 12 mile mark there are a couple "uphill" sections that are basically ramps. I seriously debated throwing in the towel and walking up. Somehow I found the strength to keep charging. These were bumps compared to last weekend's race.
This race has the longest final straightaway ever. I knew it was deceptively long and resisted the urge to hammer it home too early. I picked up the pace a little, but didn't have much left to work with. About a quarter mile out I realized that if I finished in the next 130 seconds I would have a new PR. I put everything I had into that last quarter mile which wasn't much, but it got the job done. It only took me 120 seconds. I finished the race in 1:49:03 for a 10 second PR. For the first couple minutes after I crossed the finish I thought I was going to be sick from that last push. I regained my composure and got my medal, water, gatorade, a wet towel, and chocolate milk. I was completely drenched in sweat, but I had taken beat up legs and coaxed a strong performance out of them.
Pete and we grabbed some beers. Pete let me know that he had started the race within arm's reach of Shalane Flanagan. We chatted for a bit then I had to be off. I had tickets for a craft beer festival. That was the wurst idea ever after that race. Oh well, have to reward yourself sometimes right?
For those who are curious I ran very evenly for most the race except the last 5K where I faded a little. It was a positive split but mostly consistent. 0-5K 8:18 pace, 5K-10M 8:19 pace, 10M - 13.1 8:24 pace.