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Chicago Half Marathon – A Tough Day

If you can’t tell by the post title I had a bad day. It sucked. I am trying my best to move on from it and chalk it up to bad race conditions and no taper but I can’t help to not question myself in the immediate aftermath. I know that this thinking is flawed and will pass but I am annoyed right now. I wanted to run well and I did not. Not at all.

I wrote this paragraph yesterday and as I return today I already feel different about the race. I am still frustrated, not in the results or in questioning my running, but in how I executed the race. I ran poorly. I ran undisciplined. I am a smarter runner then that.

Here is my race recap.

Pre-Race
I had this race circled as a good race simulator for the big show in October and was hoping to run well. I wasn’t overly concerned with PRing but if it happened it happened. I was coming off two big weeks (70 and 79 miles respectively) of training, at least for me, and wasn’t going to taper but still wanted to run well. My pre-race plan was to go out in about 6:00 or so and then see how things felt…then I checked the weather forecast. It was going to be about 72 with dew point around the same at the race start with a nice cross wind coming off the lake. Not exactly prime racing conditions. Ok…I said. I can adjust my paces just run smart.

Given the weather, I was planning on running 6:15-6:18. See below for this nifty chart. You can thank Mark Hadley for blogging about it.

Pace adjustment chart.

That was the plan.

My Dad and I drove up Sunday morning from Crown Point…which was a big help and fun to hang out with him. He actually went to the expo with me as well as I was riding solo for the weekend with Lindsey and Marshall birthday partying around in Indy an Bloomington.

He dropped me off about .25 miles from the start and found a parking spot. I jogged up, used the bathroom, oh and while I was waiting in line for the bathroom I ran into Neal, a long time friend, and his girlfriend. We chatted a bit. It was good to see him. He’s a good dude. I did a little more warming up with some strides, and before I knew it was race time. I jumped in the corral sweating already and was ready to run.

Race

Remember the plan. I was going to run smart, 6:15 – 6:18. Running fast was out of the question given the weather. So guess what I did….NOT THAT! I went out at 6:00. Mile 1 6:01. Mile 2 6:05 again. By this point I am drenched and my body is working too much. Mile 3 I did it again. 6:02. At this point we are running toward the lake about to turn on onto Lake Shore Drive and meet a nice headwind. We turn onto LSD and the wind is pushing across the front of us kind of from the side. We try and pack up a bit but it doesn’t really help. Mile 4 6:08. That is probably from the wind. I was working too hard still at this point. This goes on for another mile or so but the damage has been laid already. I keep running. It is too hard too soon. Mile 5 6:12.

At this point I try and reevaluate as it is not going well and I knew I made a mistake. I back off the pace a bit and am going to try and run it in at the pace I had originally plan to run. 6:15-6:18. We are continuing north on LSD. I am alone but see some runners up the road. I hit mile 6 in 6:17. Perfect. Not feeling great. I see a purple singlet up the road a bit. He looks a little familiar. I thought it might have been Jeremy, heck of an athlete and runner. We are about the same speed and both training for Chicago and tweeted back and forth about looking for each other. Sure enough I get to purple singlet at mile 7 or so…it is him. Problem is at this point, we both are not having much fun at all. We say what’s up and run together for a bit looking for the turn around. Mile 7 6:17.

The turn around is mile 8 or so…maybe a little sooner maybe a little later. it is kind of blurry. I was not having fun. I was hurting way too bad at this point. Mile 8 passes 6:18. Jeremy goes up the road a bit and is running with the 2nd place girl. I just try and stay with them. By this point, we are headed south down LSD and I was hoping for some tailwind but it wasn’t really happening. It was more of an awesome annoying cross wind. Mile 9 6:20. Things are really starting to hurt by this point. It is real foggy. A couple of runners are starting to walk at this point that had been about 30-45 seconds up the road.

The wheels come off somewhere in mile 10. It is getting bad. I have a cramp. I dump water on my head. It doesn’t help. Mile 10 6:30. I want to stop. This is awful. That is all I can think. This is not how I wanted this race to go. Can I stop and walk it in? I keep running. More cross wind. I am exchanging struggle bus passes with a couple of guys and a couple of guys that ran smart are cruising by me. Mile 11 6:37. Get this over with. Jeremy keeps slipping away a little. I still see him. More trading and being passed. Mile 12 6:48. I creep toward 7…WTF!?!?!!?! I am getting close. The last mile is taking FOREVER!  I get passed some more. Whatever. A couple of girls catch me. 3,4, and 5 I think. I can see the finish. I push a little just to get it over with. Mile 13 6:37.

Finish. Its over. Stop the watch. 1:23:58. Thank god that is over. I walk around a bit and compose myself. Chat a bit with some guys…really just share complaining about how awful that was…the shared opinion was that was one of the worst races ever. I keep walking. Feeling better. I run into Jeremy, who finished about 20 seconds or so in front of me and talk a bit. Mainly about Triathlon and seeing how quickly we can forget about this race. I am pretty sure he made the same racing mistake I did. Chasing smoke on a day that you needed to be smart. Hopefully, I can find him at Chicago…and if not then rumor has it I might see him in Madison Sept 2014…but more about that later.

I walk back to the car and Dad and I head back to Crown Point. Glad thats over.

Post Race Thoughts

I am moving on. I really am. I’m over it. I am happy with my training for Chicago. The thing that bothers me is my lack of discipline in the race. I knew the deal going in and ran stupid the first 4/5 miles and paid dearly for it. I mean my bonk was spectacular. I have not bonked like that in a long time. It was truly amazing. That is what bothers me. I have been running long enough to know better. Heck, we coach people and tell our athletes until we are blue in the face don’t do this…and what did I do?!!? The exact opposite. Time to move on. I have two weeks of grinding left. I am feeling good about the race. I am putting this race behind me and will not forget it. I will not make the same mistake…if I type it out I will make it happen, right? Moving on. I have training to do. Chicago 2013 here I come!

Questions:
Have a bad race? What do you do to move on? Have a good race? How did you stay focused? Running Chicago?

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