Yesterday, I ran the Schaumburg Half Marathon. The day before the race, I got an e-mail that the course had to be rerouted due to road construction. It would actually be the third different course layout in the three times I've run it.
Goal: Since I had just run a fast Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 10k less than six days before, I was hoping for a convergence of my new found speed and my residual marathon endurance. I ran low mileage all week in order to help my legs and lungs recover. I was actually feeling good the night before the race and even enjoyed a little brandy. I also spent some time analyzing my splits from previous half marathons and combining that knowledge with how I currently felt, I came up with a target race pace of 6:30/mile. I would start out slow for the first two miles then try and lock in the 6:30/mile pace for the rest of the race. My goal was to run a smart race with a slight negative split and see if I could flirt just under 1:26:00.
Getting To the Race: I drove on an almost empty Kennedy expressway and made it from my house to the parking lot in Rolling Meadows in 30 minutes.
Pre-Race: After getting out of my car, I headed over to the yellow school buses (aka "shuttle buses") which would take us to the starting line. This was a point-to-point course so our checked bags would have to be shuttled back to the finish line. Someone on the bus said "hi Pete" and it was Kim P.
The shuttle bus was caught in a huge traffic jam of cars blocking the entrance to turn into the drop off area. Apparently, each driver had to be told individually that the drop off area was full. Then each car would stop in the middle of the road to let runners out. Each car was blocking the entrance for a minute a piece. I saw a woman jump out of her car in the middle of the road to run to the start line, she dropped her watch without knowing it, and a minute later I saw it was run over by a car and shattered into pieces. Ouch. Anyway, the two mile shuttle bus ride from my car to the start line felt like it took about the same amount of time it took me to drive from Chicago to the parking lot in Rolling Meadows.
With about five minutes left, I went to check my bag, but the bag check line was super long. Luckily the line of people crossed in front of the starting line, so I knew the race could not start until all of the bags had been checked - which meant I would be okay. With about a minute to spare I checked my bag, then crawled between the corral barrier into the 7:00/mile area. The horn sounded and we were off!
Miles 1 through 3: The first mile of the race was a loop around a parking lot. I had started pretty far back, so I spent a little bit of energy passing people. I was still carrying my water bottle, so I decided to run the first six miles with my own water, then throw it out at an aid station. As we turned around and headed back the other direction I waved to Wendy. Eventually, I made my way up to the 1:30:00 group and ran with them for a little bit. Some kids in the 1:30:00 group were goofing around and shoving each other. One of the kids got shoved into me, and almost knocked me over. I was ticked off, so I surged a bit by running on the grass and got around them. 6:34/mile.
Race temps were forecasted for 32 degrees, so I decided to run in shorts and a long sleeve wicking shirt. I got my packet and made my way over to the bag check area. Wendy spotted me, we said hi, chatted and got a pre-race picture. After only knowing her through her blog and tweets over the past couple of years, it was nice to finally meet her IRL.
|Pre-race with Wendy (src)|
Miles 4 through 6: After getting past most of the crowds, I started running through the quiet woods. It was quite nice running in the great outdoors and hearing only the peaceful sounds of breathing and footfalls. Since there weren't many distractions, it was a good opportunity to evaluate how hard I was breathing and gauge how I was holding up. I determined I felt fantastic! After cresting then descending on a bridge over a road, a small but enthusiastic crowd cheered us on. 6:26/mile.
Miles 7 through 9: At about the halfway mark, the course made a u-turn and headed back towards the start. Erica cheered me on, and I ran across a grassy area back to the bridge. I passed a few more runners, but my pace slowed as we were running into the wind. I was passed by a guy who I think had been pacing someone behind me, but for some reason, he had left him and sped ahead of me. 6:28/mile.
Miles 10 through 12: I was pretty much running alone for this stretch. Once again in the stillness it was really nice to do a check of how my breathing and legs were holding up. I glanced at my Garmin and was pleased that my pace was still quick and I still did not feel overly strained. However, since I was by myself, I was afraid of making a wrong turn as there were various trails and parking lots in which to veer. Luckily through the trees ahead, I could occasionally see the (at that point) third place woman ahead as she was wearing a bright pink jacket so I could relax a little. 6:19/mile.
Miles 13 and 13.08: The woman in pink passed another woman who was losing speed. I passed her as well and we crested a small hill which led down to the finish line. The woman in pink was just ahead and I made attempt to pass her on the final uphill stretch to the finish line, but the finish line came up and we were done! 6:20/mile.
I crossed the finish line and got my medal about two feet later!
Age Group: 1st of 86
Overall: 16th of 1415
Overall: 16th of 1415
I picked up my gear and headed back to the finish line. I spotted Kim finishing - then Wendy flew on by. I took a few pictures of her finishing strong. I walked over to the finisher chute where Wendy and I chatted as I waited for my AG medal. Before we left for our cars, we got this pic:
Great racing weather, good friends and a fun time had by all.
Next Up: An easy week with lots of rest. After that I'll probably start training for the "It's S-NO-W Fun Run" and the "F3 Half" in January.