Sunday, July 22, 2012
Rock-n-Roll Chicago Half Marathon Race Report
***********************RACE REPORT*******************RACE REPORT***************** So today was the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon, and of course it was forecasted to be hot. And it was. But who cares…I mean, of course I don’t like running in the heat, but I was fairly ready for it. I left at 5am and picked up my neighbor M who was also running. We rolled on downtown, and found a parking spot in my secret “free parking” area that I tend to park at for all races. (And no, I’m still not telling anyone where this is. Space is limited! Find your own!) On the way downtown we were talking about the course and we both agreed that coming out of Grant Park heading north to Grand Ave sucks…so for once, I decided that maybe trying to fall into pace while running with the crowd, getting my music going, going under the Wacker tunnel, going over the bridge, etc…maybe it was all too much. So I decided to try something different and just absorb the race by not putting any music on. That was A-OK, it wasn’t bad at all. Didn’t turn the tunes on right at the 3 mile mark. Start to 5k So of course, that first tunnel threw Ye Olde Garmin into a tizzy that it never recovered from. Shortly after that tunnel, it told me I ran a 6 or 7-minute mile. Yeah, right. I thought maybe it’d balance itself out, but it never did, so I was only able to gauge my minutes-per-mile as a just that, and not an actual mileage covered. It remained about a half mile off the entire race. Towards the end of this “split,” I turned on my tunes. Official Race Time Split--36:15 (11:40 pace) 5k to 10k Zoom Zoom, digging the tunes. I skipped the first water station because I was going to grab a Gatorade instead. Wait, wha?! No Gatorade? Strangely, some stations only had water, or vice versa. Whatever. Kept rolling. Shortly after Mile 4 the course started heading east back into downtown and the sun was merciless, like a smackdown on my face. Next water station I came across, I downed a GU—delicious vanilla goodness! We twisted and turned through downtown. Boom. Official Race Time Split—1:12:01 (11:31 pace) 10k to 10m The sun went behind some clouds, and while it was still hot, it wasn’t beating down my face. Thank you, Mr. Golden Sun. It was about the beginning of this stage that I start looking at Ye Olde Garmin at my total run time and calculating my potential finish time. “10k at 12:00 pace is 1:14”….”9 miles is 1:48”…..and I knew I was doing well enough to beat my PR of 2:37:10, an 11:59 pace race back in September 2007. I was hitting each mile marker under that pace, and I was excited. Cautiously optimistic, hoping I wouldn’t have a meltdown. At the water station near Mile 8, I grabbed a water and for some unexplainable reason I gasped for air when taking a sip…water all down the wrong pipe, so I was sputtering along for a minute. (wth? Drink much?) At around Mile 9 I downed my second and last GU. Official Race Time Split—1:56:53 (11:52 pace) 10m to FINISH The 10-mile marker was on 31st street, shortly before we made our turn north heading back to the finish line in Grant Park. I was kinda starting to get tired here. At the water sponge stage (somewhere between 10 and 11) I grabbed the icey sponge, squeezing water down my back. It was deliciously cold! I walked about 200 feet after that. In fact, given the heat, I took the approach of walking through all of the aid stations (except for the very first one which I skipped.) Between the 11-mile and 12-mile mark, we were under the tunnel of McCormick place. The ground seemed so inky black after being in the bright sun that I thought for SURE I was going to fall. I had to force myself to look straight ahead to the light at the end of the tunnel…literally and figuratively. There were quite a bit of hills in this last part of the race…NOTE: CHICAGO version of hills, so uh…slight hills. But yeah, hills on the ramps going over Lakeshore Drive, heading into the tunnel at McCormick, heading out…you may recall from my blog that I’ve been hitting that hill on the lakefront path at 47th Street that I’ve notoriously avoided in years past, and it paid off! The hills didn’t bother me one bit. Ran ‘em all except what turned out to be the last one, and that’s because I decided to grab a bit of water from my fuel belt (and as I said, I walked when sipping water). Coming out of the tunnel and hitting the 12-mile mark at 2:22, I knew that unless there I had a complete and total breakdown, I totally had this PR in the bag. I was really feeling tired but just kept putting one foot in front of the other. At 2:31 I looked down…and I knew I was close to the finish but for some reason couldn’t see the finish line. Smiled anyway. And there it was……DONE! PR!!! Official Race Time Split--2:34:06 (11:59 pace for the split). OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 2:34:06, 3 minutes and 4 seconds faster than my (previous) best half marathon time. Race pace: 11:46 WOO HOO!