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.

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.


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!

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


  1. Yep, all you can do is move on. Remember, this is not your “big show” so this race served it’s purpose – a lesson in what not to do. We’ve all had bad race days. I wish my bad race was a 1:23 half!!! Sounds like your head is already in the right place:-)

  2. Faith

    I don’t think I’ve commented on your blog before, but I had to say something on this post. I ran the half this weekend as well, and it sounds like we had EXACTLY the same race (minus the pace – ha – you’re a speedster!) Went out too fast, got slaughtered by that wind, bonked pretty spectacularly at mile 5/6, cried and cringed my way through miles 6 – 13…

    At this point, it’s sucky, but behind us. There’s redemption not too far away! Good luck with the next race (and I can’t wait to keep reading along for inspiration!)

    1. Awesome! Thanks for checking out the blog! Sorry about the bad race for you! It seems to be a theme for the race. There was a lot of suffering going on. Are you running Chicago in Oct? Good luck with your running and thanks again for reading!

    2. Faith

      Sounds like it was! That’s reassuring, at least. Onwards and upwards!

      I actually live in Florida. Chicago was a vacation race – you guys have such better running weather up north 🙂

  3. Dew point in the 70’s means forget about it. Honestly if you reexamine your splints in those conditions you did really well. You are set for Chicago, keeping my fingers crossed you have good weather on race day.

    1. Thanks Kris! You know what was front in my mind as I blew up and ran stupid? Your blog post from R&R VB…that was smart running mine not so much.

      Oh and don’t worry Dathan R. tweeted out an extended 45 day forecast the other day so I can check that now…looking good so far! Thanks for the supportive note!

  4. Having read a few of your race reports before, you are not one to make the same mistake twice. So, now you’re ready to slay the dragon in October. Had you tapered and had good weather you’re probably in at least 1:16 shape. The hard thing is to let it go, so if you’ve done that congratulations!

    1. Thanks Mike! Hope so…looking forward to Chicago. How is your running going? You’ve had a foot thing, right?

  5. I can understand this. I also raced in the heat last weekend and it was one of the most awful experiences of my life. Hopefully you are able to put this race behind you (forever) and move towards a kickbutt race in Chi.

    I have been feeling a bit under motivated lately. I’m trying to just keep on keeping on and look at the final goal (NYC for me). It’s a struggle though.

    1. Thanks Hollie! I’m looking forward to Chicago. Keep focused on NYC…your training has been great thus far…but don’t be afraid to take a couple of days off as training for a marathon is hard…especially the first one. Don’t let the self pressure or the perceived pressure of the internet (its a real thing) get to you. You’ll do great!

    1. That is a great idea Belle! Bad races happen. They don’t reflect on us a whole though! Keep up all the great work.

  6. Emma,10 In regards to Oscar, I think that most tleoddrs are picky at some point. I think all parents of tleoddrs would say that some days they eat quite a bit, and then the next day they eat nothing. Feeding a toddler can be frustrating. It sounds like you are trying really hard and doing a great job Emma. Even if he is stuck on certain things, just keep adding healthy things to his plate that he doesn’t like and don’t stress about if he eats it or not, and someday he will! Even if Betty is picky about textures, I bet that if you experiment enough, you will find really healthy things that she will eat, even if she doesn’t like a lot of foods still. OH, and if she is weird about textures, you may try mixing her veggies into her smoothie with the fruits to h elp with getting used to the taste. Gabe definitely has a pickier personality, but I don’t stress too much over it, because there are a lot of healthy foods he will eat. OKay, now I am rambling, but all you can do is your best in the situation, and you are great!Wendy,I’ve always been impressed with how you feed your kids! I love the idea of the veggie/cheese/bread/nut tray. That would be such an easy thing to do for summer. Throw on some almonds, blueberries, hummus, veggies, and bread. I am so doing that, and I bet if the kids help put it together, they would love that too!!

  7. Both of my kids will try most things and like Sophia, they preefr raw veggies compared to cooked. I’ve taken advantage of this fact and their love of drama by serving appetizers every night before dinner. I put the veggies I want them to eat that night on their plates while I’m finishing up dinner and announce Appetizers are ready! in a dramatic way. It could be a full salad, or just some cut up carrots and broccoli. When we first started this we always had a sauce (hummus, ranch, ketchup,etc.), but now they just eat them plain. I do sneak stuff into sauces. Whenever I serve/cook veggies I cut them into small pieces, even baby carrots. Neither one would eat zucchini (and I wasn’t thrilled with it either) until I started cutting it into matchsticks magically it is now all of our favorite veggie to add to anything! We still struggle some days and new items can always be rejected, but every success is recorded in my brain so I can have a positive reference!

  8. So I don’t mind being hairy maybe it is the European in me. I do shave for skirts and shotrs and swimming, but in the winter I use my hairiness as an insulation layer. I have used cream hair removal and I want you to know it can be painful. If left on too long it can burn your pores and cause you to bleed from them. That happened to me once in high school when I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. I shave my legs and pits now and that is it. I’m married, my husband doesn’t notice if I pluck my eyebrows, so I don’t bother unless we are taking family pictures.Now, the wrinkles that are appearing under my eyes, I take a lot of care (and spend a lot of money) to try and minimize those.

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