Saturday, January 23, 2016

F^3 Lake Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

I first ran the F^3 Lake Half Marathon last year, and that race was #1 on my race lowlights list of 2015. At that race, my lungs had difficulty handling the unseasonably warm temps and I actually ended up walking parts of the last two miles. This year I was looking for some redemption. It was going to be a little colder which would be a good thing.

Goal: Since I had not raced since the Schaumburg Half in November, and I was running lower mileage - I did not have a definite goal for this race. So my strategy would take the first miles at 1:30:00 (6:52/mile) pace and then see how I felt. Then I would adjust my pace accordingly.

Getting To the Race: My neighbor Stacey and I drove to Soldier Field garage and sat in a long line of cars to get in the garage. As with last year, some drivers were driving around the line and then cutting in near the front. Nice.

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 met up with Mo and Xaarlin for a photo.  I checked my bag and headed to the starting line and got stuck a huge human traffic jam. Apparently there was only one doorway open at the bottom of the stairs which became a huge bottleneck. I looked at my watch and could see the minutes ticking down to 10am (race start). Luckily I made it to the corral with about 5 minutes remaining. The national anthem was sung and we were off!

The Race:
Miles 1 through 3: Temps were right around 30 degrees with partly sunny skies. In other words it was perfect running for mid to late January. As we looped around Soldier Field, I noticed my breathing was steady, yet I purposely held back and let the heavy-breathing-headphone-wearing set bolt out ahead. First mile of the set was 6:51, which felt good so I slowly dropped the paces for mile two (6:37) and mile three (6:32) We headed south on the Lakefront Trail with a slight tailwind.  6:40/mile.

Miles 4 through 6: The course headed down a relatively desolate portion of Lakefront Trail. I was on the heels of the second place woman and a tall guy that we were both using to draft off. After a mile or so, I started hop scotching ahead to draft off other runners ahead. 6:28/mile.

Miles 7 through 9: At the hairpin turn at mile seven, I was greeted with a 5 mph headwind as I made my way north. It was a manageable wind, as I have run in a lot worse this winter. I saw Eric and Mo, and high-fived Xaarlin. 6:26/mile.

Miles 10 through 12: After three miles into the wind and 10 miles of fast running, I started to feel pretty fatigued. I knew the end was coming up, so I completely focused on maintaining a 6:30 pace. Annabelle yelled my name and snapped some pics around mile 12. 6:32/mile.
Mile 12 (src)
I would end up passing the three guys in front of me here (src)
Miles 13 and 13.10: For the entire race, I had been saving a little bit of energy in reserve for a crazed "puppy" sprint at the finish. I call it a puppy sprint, because after I get home from long training runs, my dog and I go back outside and we sprint up and down the block. So, I had actually been kind of training for a fast finish long run all winter long. So around McCormick Place with about a quarter mile left, I was ready to run fast. I began to turn my legs over more quickly and was soon in a dead sprint. One by one I flew past the guys I'd been trailing. I ran under the finish line and I was done! 6:17/mile.


Total Finishing Time: 1:25:13 
Pace: 6:31/mile
Overall: 29/1,856
Age Group: 1/132

I had been worried that the lower mileage I'd been doing would cause me to lose hold of my pace near the end, but I had just enough in the tank to finish 13.1. I actually ran pretty much the same pace I did in Schaumburg back in November. If there had been less wind on the return trip, who knows how fast I could have run? First age group is pretty nice and I bested the second place guy in my age group by over a minute.

Post Race:
I went inside Soldier Field to pick up my gear at the United Club and Daniel who reads my blog, introduced himself. After collecting my things, I made my way back to the finish area where I met Eric, Xaarlin and Mo.
Eric and Xaarlin
We hiked back up to the United Club where they collected their stuff. Mo and Eric headed to Reggie's for the after party and Xaarlin left at the same time. I waited for the awards ceremony, where I mistakenly accepted the 2nd place ribbon instead of the 1st place ribbon.
On the podium with the F^3 polar bear
I also won a Road Runner Sports gift card. Since the race was allegedly out of race shirts at the venue, I will visit Road Runner this week to get my shirt and spend the gift card while I'm there. Stacey decided she wanted to grab a beer at Reggie's so we drove over there and got a spot in front of the bar. We met up with Eric and Mo and enjoyed some Goose Island before parting ways.

I'm in a good spot now fitness-wise, but feel I could use some rest. So this week will be a low mileage week once again. Still need to decide on my next race....

Next Up: Not sure. TBD.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

F^3 Dreaming

This Saturday, I will be running the F^3 Half Marathon for the second time. I don't really have a goal and/or a strategy yet. Basically, I'll see what the conditions are by the lakefront and plan accordingly. I may also be wearing extra layers, so I'll have to account for that as well.

Running with my F^3 hat along Belmont Harbor today
I haven't been running too many miles so far this month, I am consciously trying to slow down a little and enjoy the "off-season" before I ramp up the miles for a potential spring marathon. I'm not too worried that I'm averaging 20 to 30 miles per week instead of my typical 40 to 50.  I'm still running outside everyday, just more slowly and less miles than during the "regular" season.  I actually had to take a few days off at the beginning of the month after I got back from Florida. While playing golf down there, I must have torqued my ankle a little too much during my back-swing. It caused some Achilles pain in my left ankle, which is typically my good ankle. Anyway, after taking a few days off it felt better.
Lake Michigan Winter Waves
My legs have also been unusually stiff lately. It's probably because I have been sprinting like a madman down the block, at least twice a day every day. My puppy loves to run fast and who am I to deny her? She would be happier if we could do crazy puppy sprints every hour. Ah, to be 11 months old again!

Most of the time, stiff legs aren't a problem come race day as the adrenaline from racing makes them feel a lot better. At least that's what I'm hoping for.

Anyone else running the F^3 on Saturday?