Monday, March 25, 2013

The Chitown Half

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
At mile 6 I caught up with the gal I used to train with when I lived in the city where she brought along her nearly 7 foot tall boy and made him be my windshield for miles 6-10. Honestly, I don't think that I would have made it through this race without them. During those miles the winds started to pick up, the course was weaving like crazy, we seemed to hit nearly every incline the lakefront has, and the course somehow turned into a cross country course. My stomach began to ache and my mind officially checked out somewhere around 8-9. Thus began some of the worst mental talk that has ever existed in my head and I begun to curse out loud like a truck driver. And of course, it didn't help that people I'd passed long ago were now cutting the half short too because of janky and inadequate signage.

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. 

30 comments:

  1. Congrats! I think you did great despite the crazy course and rough weather. Here's to an awesome spring racing season...if it ever warms up.

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    1. ha! thanks, you said it girl! hope it will soon...

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  2. Congratulations! You did awesome in this crazy course and weather conditions!

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  3. Hold your head up Britt - it was a tough day no doubt. The weather was shitastic and "janky" is a polite way of describing that course. For a cold day in March, that's a good start to your season and something to build off of. Way to stick it out.

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  4. Great run on your half. (I had to laugh b/c there are so many times that the pace group pep rally drives me crazy... enough to pick it up and pass 'em - anything to get out of earshot). BOO on the event organizers for crummy directions and signs. That stinks cause basically, it's what you pay for, right?!

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  5. You are super speedy, congrats on finishing!!

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  6. Congrats on finishing!!

    All Community Events is the group that put on my first half marathon in Schaumburg. I will NEVER do a race by them again EVER. The course looped in an office street area and then on the forest preserve. There was NO signage. The volunteers didn't know the course either and their maps were confusing. It was a horrible race so it didn't surprise me by what you wrote.

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    1. the schaumburg half in the spring??? ran that last year, and i wouldn't say that it was poorly organized for me but it for sure was way too warm to be out racing that day. i hated that day, and would say that hands down that was the most challenging half i've ever ran just due to the fact that i felt like a cookie baking in the oven the entire time!

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    2. No it's the Fitness for America Sports Half Marathon in the middle of the summer. At the time they combined a couple of events, half marathon along with a bunch of inline racers to. http://www.babyweightmyfatass.com/2010/07/but-hoorah-i-finished-my-first-half.html

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  7. Fantastic time, especially for feeling off! How frustrating for those 10k runners... volunteers need to know the course. At least you had friends and good treats to celebrate with!

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  8. Woo wee! What a day! Some races are just mentally insane! And it sounds like this was one of those. Way to get through it. It's great that you had people there to keep you in the game.

    So has your Garmin pooped out on you again? I ask because I have the same model (and color!) and mine has pooped out on me. I showed it to a Garmin rep and he told me that it's pretty much hopeless. Dammit.

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    1. don't know what's up with the garmin...it dies completely then comes back to life on it's own days later. can't count on it anymore so i've kind of decided to part ways with the bastard.

      my was deemed defective by some garmin peeps about 2 months after my warranty ran out, which was unfortunate. they told me that i could buy a refurbished one, which i've decided to pass on. mine is stuck in stupid factory mode and has a mind of it's own where i've tried everything and it just never seems to be the cure for it. the forerunner 220 that should be coming out late 2013 sounds like it's pretty cool, holding out for that. good luck with that bastard!

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  9. great job despite this crazy course and those nasty winds!

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  10. Way to go! The way your race story went I didn't think your time was going to be AMAZING! Glad to hear details about this race, I know to NEVER sign up for this one, sounds annoying how they have it setup. Good job tackling this crazy Chicago weather :)

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    1. ha! seems like some other people had great experiences, but in my opinion this race just wasn't worth the $72 investment. maybe the weather conditions and the fact that my legs and head just were garbage on race day contribute to that a bit. with the tight twist and turns it's hard to get into a rhythm, which annoys me with races.

      hear it's supposed to maybe heat up later in the week, keeping my fingers crossed!

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  11. Great job and great time! You are my fastest blogger friend!

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  12. AAAAACK you are unbelievable, congrats on a speedy 13.1........

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  13. While the race was "fun" and challenging due to the conditions... I must say hanging with you and the other ladies for a spiked milkshake brunch was the highlight of my week.

    We must do that again soon. And we can forgoe the running bit next time ;)

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  14. Sounds like a tough race, but you still did a great job! So glad you found friends on the course to help you thru some of those miles! And the milkshake afterwards? Yum!

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  15. If I could zone out and curse like a sailor and STILL run a 1:30, I'd be one happy girl! You're a speed demon, my friend. And, of course, super impressive on that course. I had flashbacks to scraped knees and muddy shins from my middle school cross country days. Can't wait to see what you do later this year even if you're "not training" for anything. :D

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  16. It sounds like the before and after were the best part! AHH! Those milkshakes!

    But damn! You did a killer job running on instinct, sans clocks, cross country and in the wind?! WTG!!! :)

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  17. Great job and nice time! I also did Chi Town, the 10k event, and agree the directions were not clear and the volunteers didn't know what they were doing. I ended up having to re-start the race 1.5 miles into the course, which was super annoying!

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    1. eek. that is no fun. sorry that it was so confusing for you, did you get a refund? i know they were offering them to 10k racers.

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  18. Honestly. 6:52 pace??? That is seriously incredible. I'm proud of you. Way to go!

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  19. Way to go, speedy! I want to hear more about these boozy milkshakes that you ladies enjoyed ...

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  20. Holy cow!!! You are amazing! A 6:52 pace on a confusing course with no garmin and no mile markers?? Seriously impressive!! Wanna come to NYC and pace me in a race? =)

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    1. i would love to michele! name the day, i'll be there ;)

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