Over the years, this race has become one of my favorite races… it is a race that will always appear on my race schedule. In all good intentions, I wanted to train for this race… for the first time ever since I missed my 10 mile time goal in November. But life happens when you are making plans and training went to hell in a hand basket. Despite my desire to nail my time goal, I knew that ultimately, I wasn’t where I needed to be to make it happen.
But I was still optimistic that things would line up perfectly and I would have one of those magical run days…
I headed over to Fleet Feet to get my and Chris’ race packets on Wednesday after work and it was a seamless process… although getting the confirmation email from them was not so seamless… I think they had some sort of email issue because this is the first time I have ever had that issue with a Fleet Feet Race.
While looking at our bib numbers in the email, I noticed that Chris was two corrals behind me… and I haven’t the foggiest clue how that happened because he is faster than me. Luckily, this year, I had an early corral so I knew I would start the race earlier than in years past. But I joked with Chris that my new goal was to finish the race before him… Because I knew if he passed me he would happily smack my butt while running past me. We then came up with a running plan. He would more than likely catch up to me and then run the rest of the race with me since I was going for a 1:40 and he would be happy with a 1:30.
He was gracious enough to pick me up the morning of the race which made the logistics far easier. Post race we would head to breakfast before showering and then leaving for Milwaukee to go see Book of Mormon. We got there with plenty of time and no issues. After taking a quick pre-race picture, we checked our bags and headed over to the start corrals.
The starting ceremony honored all those that have lost their lives fighting for our country and thanked those that continue to serve. There was a long list of names read out of those that have lost their lives since this race last year. I found myself getting choked up this year thinking of S just starting his career in the military and hoping that I never have to hear his name at this race.
The race started at 7 am on the dot with the elites and then the first two corrals. They allowed a minute and a half between each corral after that so 6 minutes later, I was at the very front of my corral and right on the start line when the horn went off and we started running.
And I stupidly went out WAY too fast… I was running sub 8 for maybe half a mile which I is a pace that I can maintain for… about half a mile. Being at the very front of the corral might not have been the best idea…
I slowed it down and just ran comfortable for the next few miles, walking through the first water station. I was checking my mile splits whenever I saw the mile markers and knew I was already off pace for hitting my goal and knew my pace was not going to get better the more I ran.
Right after the second water station as I was finishing my cup of water, I saw Chris and sprinted to catch up to him. I briefly debated smacking his butt since he would have done the same to me had he actually seen me as he passed me but instead I tapped him on his shoulder. This was about 3.50 miles into the race. We ran together until the mile 4 marker and I checked my split. I was slowing so I told him that 1:40 wasn’t going to happen. He said he would see me at the finish and we parted ways.
We reached the turn around shortly after and I was started to head back toward Soldier Field I did a body check. I was starting to feel sore and I knew I had a blister forming… or already formed on one of my toes that would only get worse if I left the tape on it.
I also saw someone down on the ground… clearly in distress and not moving. There were about 10 other runners around this person and I heard one person on the phone with 911… Scary sight to see and I hope that person ended up being ok
After the next water stop which wasn’t too far after the turn around, I stopped to take the tape off my toe to stop the blister from getting worse. So I lost a few minutes there but knew it had to be done. I then headed on my merry way…
Until I reached the one massive hill that kills me every year. I know I write about this hill every year but I also manage to block it from memory each year and never remember it is part of the course until I am upon it. Since I was already struggling, I opted to walk up the hill instead of run.
The next few miles were a struggle… the sun was shining bright and I was getting thirsty quickly. One thing I love about this race is that there is a water station about every mile and a half which I am very thankful for. I was walking more than I wanted to but I just couldn’t hold on.
Once I hit mile marker 8 I saw 1:34 and change on the clock. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run two miles in 15 minutes so I knew that a 1:45 was out the window but I still had a fighting chance for a 1:50 so I started to try to pick up the pace a bit but still allowed myself a few walk breaks.
Hitting the 9 mile mark and knowing I was almost done, I allowed myself a short walk break and then took off. I wanted to leave everything I had left on the course. The last half mile feels like forever because we have to go past the start line and keep running until we reach the downhill to head into the stadium. I love that downhill because I can pick up time and charge ahead.
As I entered the stadium I could see the time clock reading 1:55 and change so I rushed forward as fast as I could to beat the clock from turning over to 1:56. After crossing the finish line, I was definitely done. It wasn’t my best race but I did give it my best. I got my medal from the nice serviceman and thanked him for his service before getting a bottle of water. I then headed toward gear check to get my bag and find Chris.
He had already checked his time and knew he was 1:23 and change… Awesome job!
I got my bag and we headed out of the concourse and got our runner goody bag… which is an actual bag. I think more races need to do this because it is difficult to carry the bottle of water and all the snacks we receive post race. We did not stick around for the post race party and headed to the car to go get food and shower and get on the road.
This race always does a great job on the medals and this year is no different
My Official Time – 1:49:35 for a pace of 10:58. It is not the time I wanted but I am happy with it knowing that I wasn’t where I needed to be physically. I have some work to do to get to that 1:40 goal….