Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 13.1 Chicago

Spoiler alert: this race was by no means a PR attempt
so if you are stopping here to read some heroic tale about how an over trained athlete somehow magically overcame burn-out and triumphed through to the finish, this is not your story because that rarely happens

Feeling as ragged as I've been feeling for the last 3 weeks or so, waking up at the ugly hour of 4 am on a Saturday morning to run a half marathon in 80 degree weather on a mostly unshaded path logically didn't make sense in my mind as the right time to go for that sub 1:25 finish I've been lusting after for all of 2012. It wasn't in my legs, and it would have been rather unrealistic to think that my over trained body was prepared to tackle this aggressive goal.

Instead I decided to go into the race with the only expectation being to finish alive and uninjured while having a great time. 

Photo courtesy of MagMileRunner
Amanda, Kayla, Zach, Sara, Maggie, Deanna
Amanda, Cary
Charlyn, Kim, moi
pre race Chi-town (and 1 Miami visitor) blogger meet up
Mission accomplished.

The 13.1 Chicago started at the South Shore Cultural Center, which I had never been to, and wove along the lakefront. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you've more then likely picked up on the fact that the I am a sucker for the lakefront and try to spend as much time possible soaking up the city via sand and water.

The course was honestly breathtaking as we passed rustically worn boathouses and tucked in closely to the shoreline that was laden with sailboats. Having never visited this part of the city, I found myself truly captivated by how beautiful my surroundings where and decided that I'm going to make the 15+ mile trek down the lakefront on my bike in the coming weeks and check this area out a bit more. If you live in Chicago and enjoy the nautical side of the city but haven't yet checked out the SSCC, I would highly recommend it.

In the early miles of the race I made the conscious decision to linger just under 7 minute mile pace on the way out, conserving the limited energy stores I had, where on the way back if my body was willing to cooperate I would pick up the pace and try to negative split. This meant a lot of dudes were flying by me left and right, which I was more then okay with.

Photo courtesy of Erin
The negative splits never happened for me, instead I rocked a pretty awesome positive split. After the turn-around, there was little to no shade and the temps begun to rise quite a bit. The warning systems flags changed cautioning runners to slow their pace, and my body begun to really feel the heat. Fueling became difficult as the heat made my stomach uneasy, and I walked through aid stations at 7, 10.5, and the 1 mile to go mark. After all the races I've ran, I still can't seem to master the fueling while in motion.

Even with the heat seeming to cook my body, my stomach in knots, and my feet feeling like they were on fire, I still had a really great time in those last few challenging miles. Made quite a bit of small talk with the other runners around me encouraging them to keep pressing on and checking in to make sure they were doing okay. The overall consensus from the peanut gallery of my running peers in the last 5 miles seemed to be that a finish would be sufficient for today.

the auto-lap function on my garmin always tends to be quite a bit off
For some reason I decided to high light the miles I walked.

And finish I did.

I crossed the 1 mile to go mark in 1:25, and I couldn't help but chuckle. Instead of wallowing and pouting, I instead grabbed a cup of gatorade from the last fueling station and gave myself a little toast. 

My legs were spent.
I could feel blisters forming all over my feet.
I wanted to vomit up the Chocolate Cherry Turbo Clif Gu I forced myself to choke down in the earlier miles.
My right armpit what burning from some mad-style chafe action going on.
Humor of the less-than-desirable racing conditions I've been experiencing this year begun to set in.
The finishing chute was misleading and seemed to have gone on forever.
And it just all made my heart very grateful in spite of the mayhem surrounding me.

Photo courtesy of  Charlyn
Rocking the truffle shuffle into the chute with my customary over striding heel strike

After crossing the finish line I hung around with Charlyn for a bit to watch her receive her award for 2nd place female finish in the 5k and chatted it up with quite a few of local Chicago runners. I met some of the nicest men at the post race party that I've seen plugging away on the lakefront and it's nice to finally put a name with these already familiar faces. 

So no, I did not come anywhere NEAR a sub 1:25 finish this spring, and that is more then okay because I've learned more about what works and doesn't work for me with my training. My short comings in the past few months don't mean that this sub 1:25 isn't in my legs, it just means that I need to push harder and train smarter next time around trying some new things. Knowing that on a bad day with over trained legs that are tired as all heck when temps are as spicy as ever I can still clock a 1:34 is a pretty good feeling. So I'll take it. Gladly.

Besides, me and the half aren't finished quite yet...we are only just beginning.


  1. WOW! an amazing time considering how you were feeling and the hot conditions! I couldn't run that with a permanent tailwind in 50* weather! I love reading your internal thoughts during a race!!

  2. Inspirational blog!alittle time relaxed and you will hopefully recover and come back fresher,like you say theres so much more to racing than times but times come with racing and for sure you will PB soon enough,you have done the training its in the legs you just need the right race and conditions.

  3. I agree with Jess! That's so impressive, and those conditions are no joke. You are one speedy lady, I know that 1:25 will be yours eventually! :)

  4. I have to say that the picture of you finishing is amazing!! Running in the heat (especially trying to run FAST in the heat) is HARD. You will run your 1:25 when the time is right, I'm sure!

  5. Great recap and great job accepting the crappy conditions. Your time is still really awesome!

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  7. Great race! That is definitely the attitude I had too, and I enjoyed it (despite all the sun at the end). But was oh so happy to be out of that finishers shoot at the end! :)

    How did that Turbo GU go for you?

    That is so cool that Charlyn came in 2nd in her AG!!!

  8. great job on enjoying the day! i really did adore the course. It was great to meet the whole chi town running gang!

    Every race is another lesson learned I always figure, so good luck to us both in future PR sessions!

  9. I am proud of you! You know it is hard to improve at this point by leaps and bounds. You are being smar about recovering and you have lots of PRs in your future :).

  10. Your worst races make my jaw are fast and beautiful! Congratulations

  11. Girl, I WISH I'd run a 1:34 half marathon!! That's an amazing time, can't believe you did that with a ton of walking and in that heat/crappy weather!!

    No question you are a 1:25 half marathoner, these temps have just been ridiculous this spring...can't wait for the fall with some cooler temps!

    You continue to be such an inspiration to me.

    Can't wait to run w/you and Charlyn out in Chicago!!

  12. What a day! It was awesome to see you fly across the finish line looking so strong even if you werent feeling so. (You fooled me!) I must echo Ms Neon Runner above and say you are also an inspiration to me as well. You have a 1:25 in those legs I just know it!

  13. Way to go lady! This was a PR for me, but at a MUCH longer time...2:11! What an amazing course!

  14. Without a doubt you have that sub 1:25 in you. So glad you were able to set out with the intention of having a fun and enjoyable race. You made it. With a respectable time and you didn't MELT. Gosh, running in the heat is NO NO Good. Sucks the speed right out of us. You're awesome as always Britt!

  15. This fall, sub 1:25 is yours! You had a really great attitude with this one and still pulled off a really speedy time (in my book) even though it was far off where you wanted to be. Go give those legs some deserved rest now!

  16. You had the right mental attitude the entire time to really enjoy the race and set the right expectation for yourself. Sometimes as a runner that is the hardest thing to accompish.

    1:25 is in you - you got it!!

  17. It was so nice to meet you Saturday! Glad you didn't let the heat ruin your day - We are all young and fabulous, and have many years of PR-smashing ahead of us! :)

  18. You are such an inspiration! I'm glad to know that even though I can't run under a 7 min mile (or a 7 min mile for that matter) that the heat bothers you too. In the summer time in Georgia we have to suffer through it.

  19. Way to go Britt! My favorite races are the ones where I'm not trying for a PR and I just go to have a good time. You are amazing!

  20. You are AMAZING! A 1:34 half? And not even to mention in that heat? I would definitely be a VERY happy girl!

    Congrats on an awesome race!!

  21. Girl, that heat was unbearable and you continued to rock it! Congrats!

  22. Great run, Britt! Agreed, the weather and unshaded course were less than desirable, but it was still a nice atmosphere and fun race. Sorry I missed all of you at the meet up!

  23. Nicely done Britt! It is such a beautiful area....wish it weren't so far for me to get to. It was hot when I did that race a couple of years ago but not as hot as this year. One of these days I'll make a Chi runner meet up!

  24. that's still an incredible half mari time, especially in those conditions. well done! maybe this fall it will cool down and you can destroy that 1:25!

  25. yea, i totally stopped reading after the spoiler alert. ;) JK!!! hey, u guys over there running in that kind of he## have my awe!! i woulda wound up stuck to the pavement!!! hey, u can't always gauge the success of a season off of just times, in my book u rocked. :)

  26. I love your goals for this race...they sound pretty perfect to me!