Sunday, January 25, 2015

F^3 Lake Half Marathon 2015 Race Recap

This was the second time I've signed up to run the F^3 Lake Half Marathon yet only the first time I've actually run it.  Two years ago, I had paid my money and then made a last minute decision to not run. This year I was injury free, well for the most part.


Goal: Since three out of the four half marathons I ran last year were sub 1:30s, and since I have put in some major miles the last five weeks - I thought that a sub 1:29 was well within reach. However, on Monday night I pinched a nerve between my ribs and then the next morning, I went to the track (for the first time in over a year) for some fast intervals. By Tuesday night, I was finding inhaling deeply to be difficult, but I thought it was due to pinched "rib nerve". Then on Wednesday, I went swimming to loosen the legs, but in the process that exacerbated things with my lungs. Little did I know that I probably was dealing with a little exercise induced asthma. According to the Mayo Clinic exercise induced asthma triggers include:


  • Cold air
  • Dry air
  • Air pollution
  • Chlorine in swimming pools
  • Activities with extended periods of deep breathing, such as long-distance running, swimming 
My lungs were exposed to all of those things in the last few days leading up to the race. But I still thought that my issue was the nerve and that it would feel better by Saturday. So, my lungs were about a 4 out of 10 heading into the race on Saturday. If I had realized this, a couple of puffs off my inhaler would have made them a 6 or better. The inhaler, however, stayed unused. My gut told me that the race would either end up being a disaster or it would be awesome. I did not even consider that there was perhaps a "happy medium" result as well.

Getting To the Race: On Saturday morning, my neighbor Stacey (who later PR'd) and I drove to Soldier Field garage and sat in a long line of cars to get in the garage. Some drivers were driving around the line and then cutting in near the front. Nice. I guess they were more important than us.

Pre-Race:  After getting out of the car, we walked up the stairs and found ourselves in the United Club at Soldier Field. I used the indoor facilities with indoor plumbing. Then I stood around for awhile and spotted Emily and said "hi". As we were being called down to the start line, I had to decide what to wear (the temps were in the mid 30s and creeping upwards) and decided to leave my running pants and jacket in my backpack, but take my big warm mittens and not my running gloves (this turned out to be a mistake).
Pre Race in the United Club at Soldier Field
Then I checked my bag and headed to the starting line. On my way down the stairs I bumped into Lynton (who else?) . I have seen him at every race I've run in Chicago since at least April!

Miles 1 through 3: Temps were much warmer than expected for this time of year, I was wearing shorts, but I had three layers of shirts on plus a hat and warm mittens. I soon realized that I had over-dressed. After a one mile loop around Soldier Field, we headed by McCormick Place. I passed Xaarlin who took some pics of me getting ready to high-five. 
About to hi-five Xaarlin at mile 2 (notice big mittens)
My breathing was okay, but I was pushing the pace too much as I usually try to cover the first 3 miles of most half marathons in 7:00/mile pace. I was, unfortunately running much faster.  6:46/mile.

Miles 4 through 6: The course heads straight down along the relatively desolate portion of Lakefront Trail. I was starting to overheat, so I removed my mittens and from that point forward, I had to carry them with my bare hands the rest of the race. There seemed to be a slight headwind, which made me hopeful that at the turnaround at mile seven we would have a slight tailwind. My breathing was getting a bit harder at this point and I probably should have backed off my pace, but I rolled the dice in order to see if I couldn't hold a sub 6:50 for the rest of the race. 6:46/mile.

Miles 7 through 9:  At the hairpin turn at mile seven I was greeted with a stronger headwind as we headed north and I knew right then it was going to be a positive split for me.  I chatted with a guy from Switzerland and told him I wasn't feeling it. He soon dropped behind me, which made me think that I wasn't the only one having issues. However, he must have just had to take a slight break because a few minutes later he zoomed past me. By mile nine, my lungs were prematurely starting to beg for mercy and I got passed by about a dozen runners. I can't tell you how much I'd rather be the one doing the passing at this stage. I realized that it wasn't my day lung-wise and I would try and slow even further until my breathing would get more comfortable. I saw Kelly, Emily, Erica, Lauren and Lynton coming the other direction. 7:00/mile.

Miles 10 through 12: The course was quiet and I only got passed by a handful of runners as I slowed down to help my lungs "reset". I even stopped to walk at an aid station while I got some Gatorade. I was still clutching my mittens which I wanted to ditch somewhere in the lake. Anyway, the walk did me some good and helped me breathe a little easier. 7:28/mile.

Miles 13 and 13.22: I was actually staging a mini-comeback! I passed a couple of the runners that had passed me over the last few miles. It wasn't much, but I was able to at least salvage what could have been a disaster into something somewhat respectable. 6:57/mile.

I crossed the finish line and got my medal about 2 feet later!

Analysis:

Total Finishing Time: 1:32:08 
Pace: 7:02/mile
Overall: 76/1,866
Age Group: 7/132

Well, I can either dwell on what could have been if I had had decent lungs for the race, but I'd rather dwell on the fact that I was able to retake control of the race over the final two miles. Some races all the pieces don't fall into place, so you have to look at the few positive things that happened. Pacing was an issue, and I probably could have broken 1:30, but it would have only happened with perfect pacing. The final outcome was neither a complete disaster nor completely awesome. I'm calling it a "happy medium"!

Post Race:
I picked up my gear, had the free Goose Island can and chatted briefly with Lynton, Kelly, Erica and Emily.

Conclusion:
Hopefully I can take care of lung-related issues prior to my next race. Since this is an isolated race in the middle of the winter, I can use it as a learning experience for my next race, whichever one that is!

Next Up: Not sure. TBD.

25 comments:

  1. Uh that's still an amazing time for a winter race, despite the lung issues. Congrats!

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  2. I agree with MO. Well done Pete! I think you lucked out with the weather too.

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    1. Thanks, yup weather was almost ideal. :)

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  3. So sorry you had a rough race! It's hard when your legs are ready for a good run but the rest of your body isn't. Congrats on your happy medium! I hope you get your lung stuff worked out soon!

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    1. Thanks Beth! Yes, I think I just need to get a couple of days of complete rest and my lungs should get back to normal. :)

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  4. Impressive comeback at the end. Plus 1:32 is nothing to sneeze at with a pulled muscle. You looked damn good when I saw you headed back north! I also started fast and got a but punished by the headwind on the way back. I am not sure why I struggle with that course but this summer and in previous years, I always have!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I need to realize I was in better shape than the results show, it just wasn't my day. Yes, that headwind didn't help things on the return. I was "defeated" by that stretch of the LFT in the 13.1 last summer. Maybe we should both practice running that part of the LFT so it won't defeat us come race time! :)

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  5. Saturday was gorgeous! I'm trying not to "run all the races" this year so I didn't do this one. I can see how you might be overdressed! I ran with my run group on Sunday and it was much cooler with some rain and I was still overdressed! I think you did a great job! Great effort! Hope your lungs get better!

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    1. Yes, based on the weather in the first half of January, this race could have been one to miss. But as January progressed it was apparent that it might be ideal January race conditions. I think I have a fear in out and back courses in the cold that I might be forced to walk for whatever reason and I want to be prepared with extra clothing. Oh well, lesson learned. Thanks!

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  6. Pete - I will admit, sheepishly, that I was one of the people in the other line. Because of the turns, I had thought it just wasn't backed up quite as far. I felt like a complete ass when I realized it wasn't.

    Congrats on being able to pull out a good race despite breathing issues.

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    1. So, you're one of them! :) Oh well, maybe the cars cutting in line issue was more due to the fact that drivers at the back were not informed (by the traffic cops) that they had to use the single file line. Oh well! Thanks!

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  7. If my off days were as fast as yours I would be extremely happy. Nice job holding it together all things considered.

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  8. Way to regroup at the end! I hope your lungs are feeling better now and will be good to go for the next race!

    I love your comment about people cutting to the front of the parking line. Who the heck do they think they are? GAH! It's one of my big pet peeves in life. :)

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    1. Thanks! I think they are starting to feel better. Yes, what's up with those people? I hate sitting in line for 10 minutes and then having cars who have waited zero minutes cut in front! Ugh!!

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  9. Congrats on an amazing race despite that cold air/wind!!!

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  10. Nice rally at the end! I hope this lung thing goes away, asap. How crazy that it was warm enough to run without something covering your hands! Much different than other years!

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    1. Thanks. Me too! Yes, it was crazy weather and I overdressed for it. I think I had a fear of getting hypothermia if I was forced to walk a few miles after I was sweaty. In retrospect, I probably could have found a cab or at least gone into a restaurant! :)

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  11. For it being winter conditions, you had an amazing race! Congrats to kicking off 2015 with a speedy half!

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  12. I bet that race was crazy cold.

    Join us this spring at the Stop the Clot Chicago 5K on May 10, 2015 at 9am at Montrose Beach. The run is dedicated to my best friend Manu Williams who passed away from a blood clot on September 28, 2014.

    Sign up today at www.stoptheclotchicago.com - hope to see you there!

    Christina Martin
    Race Director - Stop the Clot

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  13. I bet that race was crazy cold.

    Join us this spring at the Stop the Clot Chicago 5K on May 10, 2015 at 9am at Montrose Beach. The run is dedicated to my best friend Manu Williams who passed away from a blood clot on September 28, 2014.

    Sign up today at www.stoptheclotchicago.com - hope to see you there!

    Christina Martin
    Race Director - Stop the Clot

    ReplyDelete