Yesterday was one of those typical Chicago days where you're holding out for great weather and instead you get the exact opposite.
Cold. Blustery. Grey.
Perfect conditions for a race with an already quite caddywhompus course.
At this point in my life, races have become nothing new to me and are almost a dime a dozen. The days of over thinking the pre-race routine, splits, pace, and the like are well behind me where now all I worry about is oversleeping and keeping my breakfast down...both of which seem to be more difficult for me at this point in my life than they should be.
Having been out of the racing scene for sometime, I kept expectations for this race pretty low. It's only been about 8 weeks since I've been able to slowly start dipping my toes into the speedwork pool again. While progress has been fairly steady, it's also been slow and my body still gets confused from time to time when I push it to move quick.
2013 has thus far been the year where I'm going back to the start of it; mechanics, not exceeding the demands my body can handle, resting appropriately, slow progressions, and everything in between.
So the goal was that there was no goal other than to just run.
And of course, hang out with some very cool ladies.
|Xaarlin, Jenny, and myself freezing our tushies off pre-race|
Photo theived from Xaarlin
Before the race, Xaarlin, Jenny, Hillary and I all meet up and tried to ignore the fact that it was freezing out and the winds were slowly becoming a bit more steady. We were all bundled up, which felt so wrong. I hate racing in the cold and usually don't do races this early in the year because of that, but my longing for the lakefront trumped whatever the weather God's would have in store for us on race day.
My "plan" going into the race was nothing more than race not pace. I didn't wear a watch and figured that would be best for me at this point in time since I had no idea where my current fitness was putting me. Trying to hit a certain split would have been nothing short of nutty and frivolous, two characteristics I'm trying to stay away from these days. Having never run this half but already having 8 half marathons and 50+ other races under my belt, I figured that this course would have clocks along the route just like every other race does and I'd be able to do some quick math along the way if necessary.
Once the race got off to a start, I was having a difficult time settling in. The legs didn't feel as rested as I hoped they would and I found annoyance with the 1:30 pace group that was just ahead. There was a guy with a heavy European accent that sounded cartoon-like being annoyingly encouraging to all those around and I just felt irritated by it. Pulled ahead of the pace group around the 3 mile marker and ran into Adam where we chatted it up for a few before he whizzed off ahead of me and I saw nothing but his back for the rest of the race as he sailed his way to a mighty tasty PR.
|Coming into the finishing chute with my eyes closed. Typical.|
Photo courtesy of Xaar
The course then became confusing where there were some gals complaining about how they wanted their money back and I saw Xaarlin heading into the finishing chute for her 10k when I just barely passed the 5 mile marker. I had a difficult time remembering the route of the race as the map online had quite a few curly-q's and hairpin turns for the lakefront, but it seemed off that she was already finishing. Turns out that quite of few of the 10k runners were directed to go the wrong way several times by volunteers and ended up with a race that was just over 5 miles, which doesn't surprise me because the signage for this race was mighty confusing.
|Ummmm...still don't quite understand the course|
I could feel my pace slipping away and my stomach felt so wrong. I was never able to take in any fuels and I begun to realize that I may have been a bit ahead of myself when I thought a 13.1 mile race would be a good fitness check instead of going with something a bit shorter. Most of those latter miles of the race are a bit fuzzy in my mind now, but I do remember around 11-12 telling my girl Bronwen that I wasn't going to finish the race where she then tried to snap me out of it the best she could. It was useless for her because at that point I'd already mentally shut down and wanted nothing more than to not be running this terrible course in the wind any longer.
I still managed to get in a somewhat decent clip and squeaked in just under the 1:30 mark, which is a good start for me at this point. Racing without a watch on this confusing course which didn't have a single clock after the 6 mile marker (and only clocks at 2, 4, and 6) was quite challenging for me at this point in the year. Having put in only 2 tempo runs and maybe 6 other speed workouts building up to this race, I'd say this is a very fair finish time for me.
Post race the crew drowned our sorrows, disappointments, and the few joys we had about this silly, poorly executed course and the atrocious weather conditions with milkshakes of course.
Because who doesn't refuel on cold days with spiked milkshakes?
|Team Oreo...I be grammin'|
It was here where it was decided that ALL races should conclude with a giant boozey milkshake.
|Hillary, Me, Xaarlin, Jenny, Chanthana|
photo swiped from Jenny
At this point, I'm pretty pleased with the fact that I was able to muster out another sub 1:30 finish on a day when I felt off and just couldn't get my head and body in the game. The fact that I made a few new friends made the day worth the headache.
BUT, I will NEVER do this race again. Something about making a course more confusing than it needs to be and the lack of signage, check-points, fueling stations, and clocks makes a race a big N.O. for me to revisit. Not worth the $72 investment.