Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oak Brook 1/2 Race Recap

As promised, after some reflection time here is the race recap:

Going into Monday's race I felt pretty at ease. In the week leading up to the race I had 78 miles in my legs where a few of those days I was feeling less then prepared and rested for a race. Humid temps that decided to linger around the Midwest for three painfully excruciating days left me feeling tired, slow, drained, and with an excessively tight left calf muscle. Saturday nearly killed me and didn't exactly leave me feeling exceptionally prepared and rested.

But regardless of how I was feeling physically, I was mentally prepared to take on the course and give it all that I had on race morning. Before race morning I took some time to study the course because I couldn't quite remember it from the year prior when I went into it blindly and was awkwardly surprised by the inclines. The Oak Brook Half is a "trail race" that winds through suburban forest preserves and has quite a few turns and inclines.

Course Map


I realize that for most runners that these little bitty inclines may not be much, but for me they are kind of intense. I don't do hill training, I live in Chicago...WE DON'T HAVE HILLS!!! My city is as flat as a pancake, and I tend to like it that way. So I went into the race with no hill training whatsoever, but I do incorporate a crap ton of squats and lunges with heavy loads to strengthen my legs in my resistance routine (which is why the legs are so monstrous in comparison to the rest of my body).

  • Run sub 1:30 and not have a recreation of my last half
  • Get in as many 6:50 miles as possible
  • Place in the top 3 women
  • BELIEVE in myself and not give in to that negative nelly that usually eats at me until I wave the white flag and surrender to the pain
  • Not be heart broken if I don't smash my PR because I am in the bulk of my marathon training right now
I did about a 3 mile warm up with some strides away from the starting line and the crowd of runners and spectators. This was probably the best decision I made all morning because it gave me time with my thoughts to assess my body and get a grasp on what I was about to take on in a peaceful setting. Here is where I was able to notice that I felt rested and strong and knew that the coolness of the morning was going to work in my benefit. By the time I swung back around the starting line, there were a lot of runners doing some seriously strange warm ups. Honestly couldn't help but stare at them wondering what the heck they were doing and if the unnatural movements actually helped. Runners are weird and I love them, always good entertainment.

When it comes to lining up at the starting line, I always feel a bit uncertain. I know that I usually finish with the top women, but I also HATE to start out fast and be fooled by the eager pace of others. So I started behind quite a few of the women knowing that I had 13 miles to pass them feeling strong as they were dying out. 

Mile 1 6:42
Mile 2 6:35
Mile 3 6:36

Felt AMAZING for the first 5k and I think I crossed around 20:50. Hit the first true incline right before the 5k and told myself to power up it and flew over it with ease. I was having a great time and realized that a 6:50 pace would be too conservative for me today and my mind-set instantly switched to "push past your expectations for yourself". I passed maybe 4 women by the 5k that went out strong and begun to fade away and was thankful that I went out at my own pace and was running my own race.

Mile 4 6:46 
Mile 5 6:38
Mile 6 6:32

The course continued to have rolling hills where mile 6 was easy and down hill. Doug rushed over to mile 6 where I didn't really expect to see him, it made my heart flutter a bit. As soon as I saw his face I got butterflies in my stomach that made me feel really special and fortunate to have a man in my life that is willing to get up early in the morning on his extra day off of work to support me in my sport. His desire to see me succeed and push me to always do better with my running makes me fall in love with him all over again.

Blowing my man a kiss

Mile 7 6:34
Mile 8 6:57

These miles were through a very winding path in a forest preserve. Mile 8 was rough because it had 2 sharp inclines rather close together. All of the other inclines were rather spaced out which was nice because it gave my legs and lungs a chance to recover, but these two in mile 8 nearly did me in.

Mile 9 6:48
Mile 10 6:49

Tried to take some gu here to get some energy back into my legs but my breathing still hadn't recovered from mile 8 and it was impossible to choke it down with heavy breathing. I had to back off the pace to get my breathing under wraps here and started to regret that I am lazy and choose to avoid hills at all cost. The stomach begun to feel a bit uneasy and was messing with my head. But then I reminded myself of something I read on a blog a few days prior that most likely you won't vomit on yourself or crap your pants during a race, but if you do...thats hardcore. So I told my stomach to shut-up and finish this thing strong.

Mile 11 6:50

Thank you random stranger 

The paths that this course was on were tiny and tight at the aid stations, maybe enough for people to run two-by-two. There was a water station somewhere between 10 to 11 and the man that was a few strides ahead of me grabbed some gatorade and came to a DEAD stop in the middle of the darn path. I didn't have enough time to stop or room to go around with taking out a few hydration volunteers, so I smacked right into his back. So thanks dude who has no common sense of how to hydrate during a race in crowded areas, seriously think you cost me quite a few seconds here and made me P.O.ed for the next mile. But I beat you, so it's all good.

Mile 12 6:44
Mile 13 6:38

Just after 11, I begun to catch sight of the gal ahead of me. With my rough estimation skills I thought that I could possibly catch her if I could squeak out sub 6:30 miles from here on out, but my legs felt otherwise. Here I was passed by a few men that literally BLEW by me, couldn't help to think what jerks they were for picking people off left and right in the last few miles. They prompted the thought that there was not going to be a finishing kick in these legs today, but I would try as best I could.

last .1 I think was 38 seconds???

As I rounded the last turn I could see D and had a wee little second wind with a strong finishing kick. Crossed the line a felt exhausted and AMAZED that I clocked in under 1:30. When D saw me he ran over to me put his arms around me and swept me off my feet, making that the best embrace I ever had in my entire life. I honestly wanted to cry here because I surpassed my expectations for the day and felt EMPOWERED and LIMITLESS doing so.

The results have my finishing time listed as 1:27:53, my garmin states 1:27:43. So I realize that this really isn't a big deal, but I don't understand where the extra 10 seconds came from especially based on what the clock said as I crossed and the fact that I started at least 2-3 seconds behind the starting line.

Not going to lose sleep over this because I still had a 4 minute 42 second PR!


  • Official finishing time of 1:27:53 puts me well under my 1:30 goal 
  • Only had 1 mile that was above 6:50
  • I was the 4th female finisher, which tied my placing from last year. This is exactly why I DO NOT like to make goals based on placing because it can leave you frustrated that you ran a great race but didn't place where you wanted to. I cannot control how others feel and race on race morning, so this may be the last time that make a place based goal.
  • Nelly was well hushed on this course. There were still a few moments where the thought passed my mind that if I walked for a few steps I would be able to catch my breath, but then I quickly put that thought to rest because I knew that would be the beginning of the end. My head was together and I had a great time running this course, I think it also helped that I wore my iPod and rocked out to some great tunes.
  • No tears, no broken heart...only happy feelings of progress and that I am well on track to PUMP IT OUT in October.
Hands down this was a great race, and I am glad that my legs were strong enough to push out this effort. I'm not going to lie, I feel pretty confident that I am going to finish the marathon sub 3:10...not bragging here, just feeling prepared and well trained (hopefully that doesn't jinx it).


  1. Can I just say that this was one of my most favorite race recaps EVER so inspirational and you did amazing! I loved this "I read on a blog a few days prior that most likely you won't vomit on yourself or crap your pants during a race, but if you do...thats hardcore. So I told my stomach to shut-up and finish this thing strong." I will have to remember that when I am feeling like I have to puke like I always seem to during a race at some point. Great job on a truly spectacular PR! I am so happy for you.

  2. Hey dude! first off, you ROCK! me being the totally anal numbers girl...I just keep thinking.... flat course sub 1:26...seriously! that was ALOT OF hills Britt! I hate hills too...but they are a necessary evil. Good thing you did all those squats and lunges huh? I love ho supportive your husband was/is, what a great man. Your splits were AWESOME and you were totally strong to the very end! incredible! I sort of want to see what you would do in a 5K and 10K right now....don't you?;)....
    well I can't WAIT for your marathon...it's going to be a pretty stinkin' great day!
    Love ya! xx

  3. Such an inspiring recap!! Can't help but smile while reading it.. You are having an amazing year.. Great kick off for fall :) love when posts make me just want to go run and work and get better.

  4. Wow. Just wow.

    You are a rock star!!!!

  5. I am so loving your blog! It has been very inspirational as I am training for my FIRST full in November! :) I linked to you in my last post...

    Keep em coming!

  6. Great race, good even splits. I understand your thoughts on the runners who hold back the first half and pass even pacers like they are standing still the second half or the last couple miles. It feels good to pass and is motivation in itself at some instinctual predator level. That said it is also discouraging for those being passed, good work not letting it get in your head. I actually plan using it as my race strategy coming up, happy to be that jerk.

  7. My wife ran this and really enjoyed herself. It seemed like a well-organized race and a beautiful course. Just walking around to see her at different spots made me realize how hilly it was. Amazing you PR'ed!

  8. SUPER CONGRATS! So happy for you! WOW - that was FAST! Great recap and congrats again!

  9. You are absolutely incredible! I love your blog and girl you have the sub 3:10 in October!! I totally agree with not setting goals on placing, I do the same thing!

  10. Great pictures!!! Loved reading your recap!

  11. Congrats! I'm so proud of you. You totally rocked that race! CONGRATS!!! :)

  12. Um best.post.ever. I got goosebumps and teary eyed. I don't know if that's creepy. I am so so so so so HAPPY for you. This is amazing and proves that all of your hard work and dedication, all of the decisions you have made recently, and all of your goal-setting has PAID OFF. You are a rockstar and I LOVE YOU.

  13. Hi Britt,
    I am a new reader (week old!) but I love your blog. I am an amateur runner in Chicago and am training for my second marathon and I love reading your posts to keep me motivated and push myself more! If I ever get to meet you, I will be asking for an autograph:)


  14. Simply...AMAZING!! Great job! Way 2 push yourself and good job at keeping yourself motivated!

    Our "non running husbands/partners" are soo awesome!

    Looking forward to hearing about Chicago! 3:10 for sure!! Go get 'em!! :)


  15. Congrats on your amazing HM! Look at how all of our hard training is paying off! I am so impressed. And with those hills, damn!!!

    So happy Doug was there and that you had a cool day. I can't wait to see how Chicago goes! :)

  16. Okay so wow, you are so freakin fast! I couldn't imagine maintaining mile splits at that speed, you are inspiring lady :)
    Congrats on the time too! You are so going to rock Chicago

  17. Man Britt you are super fast! Once again, good job girl!

  18. Oh. My. Gosh. Amazing. Congratulations on your new PR! Perfect goals and awesome pace! What a perfect race! And with those hills!

  19. You did fantastic! I ran that inaugural and I felt the same way about the hills. Totally unexpected for this flatlander. Congrats on running so strong!