Given my lack of training over the past 6 weeks… I really didn’t go into this race with high hopes. But I wanted it… I wanted it bad. Still, I wasn’t confident that I could hit my goal of breaking 1:56:00. Instead I went in with three time goals in mind… one (hopefully) easy, one slightly more difficult and my dream time. My easy time goal was 2:05:00 or under. My slightly more difficult goal was under 2:00:00 and my dream time was 1:55:59 or better… and in all reality, I would have been ecstatic with a time of 1:56:00 on the nose.
Despite my lack of distance running, this race is one of my favorites. I feel like the distance is manageable for me and this race is so much fun. It has quickly become a race that has to be on the calendar year after year.
But despite my like for the race, it was also looming over my head for weeks… all those weeks in which I was barely training. It was the constant reminder that I more or less gave up. I went into this race with a max run distance of 6.64 miles in training done on the first Saturday in April… and though it was an excellent run, my lack of running… especially my lack of distance running scared me a tad. Yes, I consciously knew what I was doing each time I choose to bail on a run over the past several weeks but that didn’t change the facts. I had a goal DISTANCE race coming up and I was feeling less and less prepared by the minute.
I made the decision to go into the race with the same strategy as last year. It worked for me then so why wouldn’t it work this time?
I barely slept the night before the race… race anxiety is always there for me and when it is a goal race it is ten times worse. So I was up before my alarm clock went off and went through my normal morning routine. Eric met me at my place and we headed to the red line. The red line was REALLY slow for some reason and we made it with pretty much no time to spare for Eric to get into his corral (he did make it just in time). I found an indoor rest room, took some pics of the finish line and then checked my bag and headed to my corral.
I waited about 30 minutes before my corral was released but at least this year I started before the winner went flying by… small things make me happy.
My race strategy was to run 5 miles legit… in other words, I would actually RUN the first 5 miles… walking through water stations, of course, and then do a full body check at each mile marker to see how I was feeling. If I needed to walk then I would walk but otherwise I would go ahead and keep running.
The first 5 miles flew by relatively quickly and I was feeling pretty good through 5 miles all things considered. I was having some GI issues but nothing dire. I did notice, however, around the 4.50 mile mark I had the first signs of a dehydration headache.
The weather was probably my biggest fear going into the race. I have not done a lot of warm weather running and I don’t fare well generally. The addition of full sun exposure and not a cloud in sight worried me further… I knew the sun would make it warmer.
So I decided that I would start to take two cups of water at the rest of the water stations and hope that would be enough.
The third water station was shortly after the 5 mile mark so I did my body check and the extra cup of water seemed to help and I was still feeling good. So I decided to keep running.
Then I saw the big hill… the biggest hill on the course (by Chicago standards) and I knew walking up was the best choice, so I did. I recall doing the same thing last year. As soon as I reached the top, I took off again. At the six mile mark I was feeling pretty good and I was actually really surprised. I had expected to start falling apart around this point but I wasn’t.
I still wanted that 1:56:00 and I was fighting for it.
I had been having some slight GI issues but I noticed it was starting to get worse… not emergency worse but it was becoming an issue.
At mile 7, body scan, still doing good, keep running. GI issues… still present but not dire. I did briefly consider stopping in one of the restrooms on the trail (not a port-a-pottie) but decided against it. I have never used a restroom during a race and this was not the time to start.
The next mile went by quickly for me and I was really surprised when I saw the 8 mile mark. I started to feel a blister on the bottom of one of my little toes on my right foot… Please don’t get any worse.
I also started to notice that I wasn’t sweating as much any more… I knew I was getting a bit more dehydrated but I also knew there was another water station coming up. This is where my mental battle started. I WANTED my goal… I wanted it BAD but the GI issues were getting worse and I knew I was on the slightly dehydrated side. I considered my options and I knew that I wasn’t in danger territory with the dehydration so I choose to keep fighting.
One thing I should point out here… When I run, I only have the pace and overall miles displayed on my watch. I always run better when I have no idea how long (time wise) I have actually been running. As such, I had no idea where I was time wise on the course. But I felt like I was borderline comparing the current race to the previous year.
I was thrilled when I saw the next water station and took my two cups of water. I could see Soldier Field and I knew I was close.
I started running again and saw the 9 mile mark… I am almost there. I just fought for 9 miles, I can fight for one more…
Or so I thought… here is where the GI issues started to catch up with me and it was much worse… Like I really regretted not using the restroom around mile 7 worse. Running also wasn’t helping so I started to take short walk breaks… about a tenth of a mile each time and I tried to limit them but I was forced to do three. I hated having to walk but sometimes you just don’t have much of a choice. Some things you can’t battle through.
The final downhill into the stadium and I started to pick it up and bolted as soon as I hit the field and passed everyone around me. I was almost there. I had no idea where I was for time but I didn’t want to lose any time here, in this moment.
I crossed the finish line and felt really good about the race I had just run. I had no idea what my time was but I felt good… for the most part. I knew I needed water and I knew the GI issues were not going to away anytime soon but I ran a good race.
I checked my watch for my unofficial time…
I was devastated… I had missed my goal by about a minute. Those walk breaks during the last mile killed me.
BUT… I was only 20 seconds slower than last year and I was still under 2:00:00 so I at least hit one of my goals.
I told Eric before the race I was going to leave immediately after the race because I was going to the baseball game with a friend and we wanted to try to be there by first pitch and I wouldn’t have a lot of time to spare.
I got my medal and my bottle of water and headed off the field. I got a cup of gatorade and started drinking my water. I walked up to get my gear check bag and as soon as I walked to the section where my bag was one of the volunteers handed me my bag… he must have seen me walking up and grabbed it for me. How nice of him!!! I didn’t have to wait at all. I went to grab my runner refresh bag and briefly considered using the restroom before leaving the stadium but decided against it. Soreness was starting to set in and I wanted to get to the train.
Going downhill was starting to become and issue… going downstairs was DEFINITELY a problem. Hello soreness. Although, it took longer to set in than it had last year… this year it waited until after the race instead of mile 7… so slight improvement.
I switched to the bus at Division to avoid the approximate mile walk home from the train and as soon as I got home I bolted for the restroom… not using the restroom before leaving the race site was a horrible idea… My stomach was not happy with me for the rest of the day…
My official time – 1:57:05 for a pace of 11:43
This is not the time I wanted but I also know that I ran a good race. And given my lack of training for the 6 weeks leading up to the race, I really am very happy with my time here. I have full confidence that if I had kept up the training, I would have smashed my time goal and gotten a sizable PR… next year…