This week's adventure would be my first serious attempt at a half marathon since last September's Chicago Half. For those who don't remember I set a monster PR at that race which served as a testament to how much work I put into training last summer. I've kept pouring on the mileage and expected even more gains this time around. Heck, I even ran the first half of a marathon faster than Chicago's time. We'll just ignore the 2nd half implosion that occurred after. All signs from other races indicated that a sub 1:35 wasn't out of reach. I appear to be cursed though since things didn't go quite to plan.
The nice thing about the Wisconsin Marathon and Half Marathon is that they do a local Chicago packet pick up. It was at Fleet Feet the prior Sunday and I headed down their after my post-Ravenswood shenanigans. I raced down there with about 5 minutes to spare and only a little tipsy. The shirt was kind of a blah white, but whatever. Fast forward to Friday and I start experiencing the first signs of trouble. I spent the morning running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. Not good at all. I made it through the rest of the day and was able to eat ok. I was up bright and early on Saturday for the drive up to Kenosha. All was pretty uneventful and I arrived in time to see the sun nice and low over the lakefront.
Waiting for the race to begin I used the facilities and walked around a bit. I spotted one of the Redditors and went and sat next to him. From there I spotted Kelly and gave her a wave. There were mosquitoes everywhere and it was starting to get annoying. I could also feel myself already getting warm and the air was thick with humidity. This was sounding less fun. Soon I decided to hit the restroom one last time before heading to the start corral. All seemed fine and after some announcements and the national anthem we were off.
The start of the race was quite crowded and I had some trouble finding room to run. At about the half mile mark I finally found more room and did some mental calculations and figure out I was behind pace for how I wanted to start so I sped up. I never display my pace while running, instead relying on mental calculations which gives my brain a distraction while running. Well my calculation was off and I also sped up a bit too much and hit mile 1 in 7:15. According to my Garmin stats later on I had sped up to 5k speed. Oops. The next couple miles were also low 7s.
Around mile 5 I was starting to feel both the warmth and humidity as well a developing stomach cramp. I guess the issues from the day before weren't done yet. I kept soldiering on, but slowed my pace to mid 7s. I took a little longer at a couple of the aid stations to make sure I stayed well hydrated. Some of the roads that we ran on were quite rough and full of potholes so it turned into a game of be careful where you step. The course is relatively flat, but there are just enough gentle hills to keep you on your toes.
Getting towards the late miles I was definitely in discomfort. I was still holding around a 7:45ish pace and knew I was still on track for a PR, but no where near my goal. I finally decided that I had enough and stopped and used the restroom just past mile 12. I know I was just a mile away, but I figured the relief would allow me to pick up speed to account for the time lost. This was my slowest mile of the day at 8:13, but not all that bad given the restroom stop. I pushed myself and crossed the finish line in 1:38:22. This was a 2.5 minute PR over September's time.