Saturday, June 7, 2014

Michelob Ultra 13.1 Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Last year's version of the 13.1 Marathon was one of my favorite races of 2013. The weather was picture perfect, I won a free entry and set a course record of 1:34:54. How would the 2014 version unfold?
2013 13.1 Marathon
Credit Xaarlin
I did indeed, win another free entry this year, but let's start things off with the condition of my legs this morning.

My Legs:
My legs have never been so trashed the morning of a race. Two days ago, I played softball for an entire afternoon and when I woke up yesterday, I could barely walk. Hips, quads, and hamstrings were all shredded.  Yes, it is hard to believe that playing a couple of softball games was my pre-race kryptonite, but it's true. I learned my lesson, however: Never ever play any other sports during a race week, no matter how "easy" that sport may seem. Anyway, despite feeling as stiff as a board, I was still going to run, walk or crawl this race.

Pre Race:
At 4:45 am, my alarm went off.  I was hungry when I woke up so I ate half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana and coffee. I walked my dog, then jumped in the car and headed down to the Museum of Science and Industry to catch a shuttle to the starting line. I found a free street spot only two blocks from shuttle bus pickup area, and got right on a bus and 10 minutes later, was at the South Shore Cultural Center.
View from the front seat of the shuttle bus

Sitting on the bus

I bumped into Emily who I need to thank for the free entry. Thanks Emily! She was holding court with several friends by the general bag check at around 6:30am. While we were chatting, I popped an aspirin for good measure, hoping it would ease my leg soreness. Anyway, we got a picture on Emily's camera:
Me, Zenaida, Adele, Amy and Emily hanging before the race (source)
Next, I checked my backpack. Well, rather, I had to dump the contents of the backpack into a clear bag and then stuff my backpack into the clear bag. How this helps with security, I don't really know. I saw Lynton, a fellow Bootlegger as he was making his way to the "A" corral. I got in the "B" corral and saw Erica and her friend. We chatted awhile about things including the always fascinating "I Beat You Guy". The national anthem was sung and 2.5 minutes after the "A" corral left, we were off!

Race Strategy:
Last month, after running a 1:29 in Indy, I had bold plans for a 1:28 at today's 13.1. However, given my ripped up legs and hips that wasn't gonna happen. I decided to start slowly and see how my legs felt. If they did not give out on me early, I would gradually up the pace. A course record (sub 1:34:54) would be all I could hope for.

The Race:
Miles 1 to 3:
I asked Erica if I could hang with her for the first couple of miles, since both she and I were targeting about a 7:25/mile pace for the first couple of miles. We ran along the road in front of the South Shore Cultural center, then through a nice shady stretch of Jackson park. After mile 2, I said my goodbyes to Erica and soon I ran by this big, golden statue in Jackson Park:

Statue of the Republic
My legs were still not feeling it, but I felt like I would be okay as long as I did not push myself. I decided to flip my Garmin's screen over to heart rate for the rest of the race. That way, I would be running by effort, not by the speed I wish my legs could handle if I hadn't played softball like an 18 year old. 7:11/mile.

Miles 4 to 6:
Finally it was out to the Lakefront Trail. I usually don't like races that use the trail, but I hardly ever make it down this far south, and it is a beautiful stretch with the lakefront so close to the trail. There must have been less prize money this year, because I did not see the Kenyans heading back like I did last year during these miles. We circled around Promontory Point, where George Lucas got married a year ago this month. 7:10/mile.

Miles 7 to 9:
We had a tailwind as we ran north, which was good for speed, as I upped my pace a little more, but the tailwaind was also helping to make things a little too warm. Just after mile 6, Xaarlin and I spotted each other and she (as she did last year) took some awesome photos, as well as cheered me on:
Credit: Xaarlin
Since it is an out and back course on the Lakefront Trail, this was essentially the same path for the return trip. Just before I reached the hairpin turnaround, I spotted Lynton coming towards me and gave him a side-five. After the turnaround, I once again spotted Xaarlin who snapped my picture and high-fived me. She got this cool looking shot of me and the skyline (and some drummers).

Credit: Xaarlin
It was about this point that I kind of "locked in" with a group of three other runners that I would run with for the remainder of the race. 6:57/mile.

Miles 10 to 12:
The nice tailwind that we had going north was now a headwind. It was slightly refreshing to have the wind in my face, but it also helped to slow me down. A group of students from France was handing out water near the mile 10 aid station and I gave them an enthusiastic "Merci" and they said "De rien" in response!. I passed the other three runners in the pack, but when we hit the giant hill on the return trip, I slowed considerably and they passed me. I figured that I could pass them again later, so not to worry. I said "hi" again to Lynton who was nursing an injury, but giving it his all in the race. 7:10/mile.

Miles 13 and 13.25
A slight uphill around the bend in the lake and it was a straight shot back to the street in front of the South Shore Cultural Center. I knew from last year's race that it was about a half a mile from the entrance to the center to the finish line (near the beach). So I was not going to kick too early and flame-out before I could see the finish line. I was still running neck and neck with the trio of dudes, but wanted to beat them at the finish. I could feel a cramp in my leg, but ignored it. I waited until just before the 13 mile sign to make my move and turn on the after-burners. Once I spotted the sign up ahead, I started to sprint, and got ahead of the guys once and for all, as they did not respond to my surge. Just then, I spotted Jenny who shouted my name and took this pic:
Putting away my "competition" with a surge at the end of the race! Source

At the very end I heard "Go Pete!" being yelled by Jennifer and then I crossed the finish line. Pace: 6:55/mile 

My Results:
Total time: 1:34:02 (7:11/mile) Course PR!
Age Group: 9 out of 128
Overall: 93 out of 2,870


Analysis: I captured a course PR - it was the best I could hope for with the condition my legs were in. Especially since I could barely walk yesterday! I probably could have run even greater negative splits, but with the wind in our face on the return trip it was difficult. I'm looking forward to getting my legs back to "normal" and running a decent 5k next weekend!

Post Race:
I changed clothes on the beach, well really in a porta-potty overlooking the beach and made my way over to the beer garden. I grabbed a beer and met up with Lynton who had an ice bag taped to his leg:

Lynton and me enjoying a cold one in the beer garden
Then we made our way over to chat with Jenny and her crew:
More tired runners drinking beer!
Then it was back to the shuttle bus back to the Museum of Science and Industry.

What an awesome fun-filled morning.  I not only survived, but I met up with some awesome friends, and as a bonus - my legs don't feel much worse than when the day started. I consider this a major win!

Next up: Run for the Stars 5k on Saturday!

22 comments:

  1. awesome race there today! and what a good surprise that your legs were in significantly better shape than you were expecting. who would have thought that softball could throw things off... anyway. great pics, too! excited to hear about your 5k in a week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Erin! My legs still were luckily still able to move forward, albeit not as fast as I had hoped. I guess I will know better next time. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. Great run! Fantastic that you got a course PR when you weren't feeling fresh. Congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Yes, I think my PR is partially due to running halfs smarter now. I am really, really focusing in on negative splits. :)

      Delete
  3. You looked pretty strong to me on that finish so I never would have guessed your legs were trashed from softball... Awesome job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, they were sore and never really got loose during the race except for maybe the last quarter mile when I sprinted in. I think that is all the "looseness" they had in them for the day. Thanks! :)

      Delete
  4. Ha! Was "I Beat You Guy" there? This story still fascinates me!

    Great job on the course PR! I am happy your legs held through! I am surprised softball bugged you so much! I only ever feel sore from throwing... but I only play for an hour here and there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't think that the "I Beat You Guy" was there. Erica told me for some reason he only runs 5ks! :) Thanks. Yes, the legs held up, but it kind of started to feel like I was running the last half of a marathon, rather than the first half. Yes, it is odd that softball bugged my legs so much, but maybe I am getting old and can't just jump into a different sport "cold" anymore and not expect to be sore the next day. :)

      Delete
    2. Correction, the "I Beat You Guy" was at the event. He was just running the 5k! See Erica's comment below.

      Delete
  5. Duuuuude congrats on the course PR even with dead legs :) seriously impressive seeing you fly by out there. I'm surprised softball would trash your legs like that, but I guess these other sports work your muscles differently.

    So wonderful seeing you out there again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I think the other lesson I learned that day is that even with sore legs, I can still "race" - but I have to adjust my expectations and my pace accordingly. If this was a goal race, I might have tried to push the pace early then had to walk the last 3 miles. Instead, I took it easy and was able to run pretty even splits throughout. Yes, it was great to be out there again. Hopefully, you'll be out there soon!

      Delete
  6. You are awesome. My legs were also trashed. I felt fine the first half and even squeaked in an OK 10 miles. The last 5K was not good. I think I was a wee bit dehydrated. Oh well. Almost four minutes slower than last year, but you win some and lose some. Still a beautiful day and a beautiful course. And fun to see you and lots of friends, of course! (Side note: The "I beat you guy" was 5th in the 5K but his time was slowish. I would have had him. LOL!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I think I had a little dehydration at the finish as well. I felt a little off for about 10 minutes after the race, but felt better after downing lots of water. I was reading a "Bib Rave" review of 13.1 and the author mentioned that it is the first long distance race of the year with summer-like temps - at a time when most Chicagoans have been training in spring-like temps. So, although it was not hot hot, it was kind of a shock to my system. So the "I beat you guy" was there! I guess I should have figured that he would be at the same event as you! And yes, you would have had him! :)

      Delete
  7. Dang, if you can PR the course on stiff legs, I think more pre-race softball is in order. COngrats!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I think the course PR was actually partially due to my stiff legs. That is, a forced slow start helped me keep an even pace where typically I might have started too fast and flamed out by the end. I might consider playing a single softball game pre-race, but not sure about multiple games again! :)

      Delete
  8. Congrats on the new course PR!! Awesome job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It was nice seeing you out on the course!

      Delete
  9. It was great to see you pre-race! I still can't believe that you ran when your legs were so trashed from softball. You are a TROOPER - way to push through! Congratulations again on the new course PR. =D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, great seeing you too! Thanks!

      Delete
  10. You are lucky you didn't hurt yourself, Pete! Please be careful when you're feeling like this, I don't want you injured! Congrat on the PR! Now rest up and get focused for your next race. XOXO - Coach Sara ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the advice coach! You are so right. It was mainly my secondary muscles that were sore, so I decided it was safe to run. But you never know how deficiencies in secondary muscles might make you overcompensate by over-using primary muscles. I will rest up, only two more days til my 5k! :)

      Delete
  11. Congrats on such an awesome race! And with tired legs, to boot!

    ReplyDelete