Friday, September 27, 2013

2013 Fox Valley Half Marathon

"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need"
Rolling Stones

I've been a very blessed and lucky lady in 2013.

I've got my health.
Wonderful family and friends.
An incredibly supportive husband.
The most awesome job in the world.
Two amazingly sweet furry pups.
And so much more.

To say that my life is so much more than running and racing would be the understatement of the year.
Which, sadly wasn't always the case.
But hey, that's old news at this point.

There is no pressure to perform, to hit certain benchmarks, or to pump out splits like a vapid running machine. Instead, taking the less is more approach to my running this year has been the best decision I could have ever made for myself. Miles are pressure free and I'm just moving forward with what my body is willing to give me on a day-to-day basis, which some days is more than others.

No agenda.
No behemoth goals.
No feeling like I'm miles away from where I should be.

Even so, I've had a decent summer with running. Workouts have been challenging both mentally and physically where building up to the Fox Valley Half I had 8 solid weeks of (mostly) progress. My running legs have felt like they are slowly coming back and I've been feeling pretty positive to where it'll all lead for the Naperville Marathon on 11/10. Before even toeing the line on Sunday, I knew that there was a semi-decent race in the legs if I played my cards right.

I gave myself a mini-taper (4 days of easy miles),
and didn't spend too much time thinking about how the race would play out beforehand.

Instead the only thought I let cross my mind the week before was "race not pace".

Race morning was perfect.

Temps were in the high 40's/low 50's with a light breeze and low humidities. We parked about a quarter mile from the finish when the sun was just beginning to rise and the starting area was still quiet. The atmosphere was exactly what my mind needed pre-race; peaceful, serene, and chaos-free.

After getting in my warm-up and squeezing into the corral moments before the gun went off, I tried my best to squeeze to the front before the hubby politely asked me what the heck I was doing. There were NO women up front and instead the line seemed to be crowded with quite a few of the full marathon runners, all male. So I tucked in with the pack and was about 10 seconds behind the line. Apparently according to the hubs, it's poor etiquette to push through to the front.

In the early miles of the race, I felt controlled and very comfortable. Breath was steady, legs felt solid, and my head felt on. I hung with a group of dudes that seemed to be right on my pace and stuck with them every time they tried to edge me out on the narrow path. In those first 6 miles I kept having to tell myself to slow it up and relax the pace every time my watch beeped. Splits were clipping by a bit quicker than I anticipated so eventually I just had to stop looking and keep reminding myself "race not pace" was important.

The course was beautiful and as the miles passed it didn't even dawn on me that the course would eventually split and that I had paired myself up with dudes that were running the full, not the half. Instead I was just enjoying where I was as spectators shouted out "go first female" or "running with the dudes", which I found oddly entertaining.

Racing in solitude, impossibly challenging

Just after mile 6 the full marathon and 20 mile routes split off and I found myself alone, completely alone. The course ahead was like a ghost town where I couldn't see a single runner ahead or hear any behind. It was just me, that quiet lonely path, and my thoughts. By mile 8-9 the head begun to catch up with what the body was doing and the solitude of the course started to mess with me. There were no distractions where all I could focus on was how awful my stomach felt. It was at this point I made the conscious choice to slow up to ease the odd side ache I was dealing with.

Those last 5+ were a little rough mentally

 Honestly, I don't remember much past 9 of the race. I was in some kind of running haze where the non-stop chant in my head of "steady focus" was only doing so much good. There were a few weird twist and turns, a climb up a loose gravel incline that felt like a mountain and had absolutely no traction, running into some oncoming marathon traffic, and what felt like the longest last mile of a race I had ever run. I have no idea how I was making forward progress, but it was somehow happening.

The hubby biked to various points on the course in those last few miles where I knew that I just had to keep going until I saw him again. Seeing his face and hearing his voice faintly through my headphones were the only things that kept me going. The unending support he shows me through everything I do makes me a better person. There really is nothing more special in life than having someone believe in during your most vulnerable times, even when you start to doubt yourself.

Rounding that last corner of the race was very surreal for me where the finish line seemed miles away. I knew that I had won the women's race where I ran the last nearly 7 miles entirely on my own but came in just shy of my 2 year old PR. So many feelings going on inside in those moments that are impossible to put into words.

I had just accomplished one of my major life goals, to break the finishers tape of a race...
but at the same time finished just a mere 21 seconds behind my PR

I finished in 1:28:13, as the 1st place female and 10th overall.
My second fastest half mary split ever.

The #1 male finished in 1:15:52, a whopping 13 minutes ahead of me.
Meaning, in those 13 minutes there were only 9 other people ahead of me on that course where even #9 finished a minute plus ahead of me. I was in a no-man's land, but somehow still managed to finish within 21 seconds of my best.

Receiving my fox trophy and box of gourmet chocolates post win

It's hard to really sum up my post race feelings, and I said some pretty goofy stuff to a reporter afterwords, because it almost didn't seem real. I was drunk on racing and had no idea what was coming out of my mouth until the story came out. Nothing like a lady talking about vomit, truly classy.

5 days removed from the day, it still just all seems so bittersweet.
A win, but no PR, close (21 seconds close)...but not close enough.

It's been weird to see my face on the FV Marathon and Naperville Marathons Facebook pages, receive congratulations from a whole slew of people that I never even told I was racing or that I won, and take that win title. I feel like it's just weird and that I won by an odd fluke of no other faster woman racing the half that day.

The win just hasn't sunk in yet,
even though I've eaten almost that entire box of chocolates already.

Thank you to all who have supported me in this endeavour.

Thank you Truebar for giving me the opportunity to represent you.
Thank you Mr. Chicago Runner Girl for your unending love and support.
Thank you readers & friends for believing in me.

Hold on to your hats because it's not over yet.


  1. Nice splits. Way to keep chugging along even though the race was getting lonely in no-man;s land. Again congrats on #1.

  2. Just awesome! This warms my heart, probably most of all how much "Mr. Chicago Runner Girl" supports you no matter what. Great story and as you well know, PRs come at the most unexpected times which is not necessarily when we want them most. Keep pushing & I'll see you at the Naperville event.

  3. Ahhhhh! So so so exciting! BADASS WHEELS, BRITT! :)

  4. So so happy and exciting for you! What a great accomplishment! I can't wait to see how well you do in your marathon! CONGRATULATIONS!!

  5. Congrats! It's an amazing accomplishment. I was there too. I ran the half but I am nowhere near as fast as you were. I finished it in over 2 and a half hours. ;)

  6. 11/10 is Naperville huh?? We might need to spectate!

  7. Congrats on a truly SUPER race, Britt. Nothing like being in a good place with running, and at the same time not making it "your world" ..
    Love the pics, too! I wouldn't be surprised to see a new PR out of you soon :)

  8. GREAT win lady....I'll be there at Naper spectating many of my friends. Hope to see you!

  9. Congrats on a great race! That is a pretty outstanding tune up race before the Naperville Marathon! I remember Lauren Fleshman having a post-race interview once talking about how she had balls. I don't think runners can be held responsible for what they say after an adrenaline-filled amazing race. :)

  10. You freaking rock. I hope that win has sunken in by now! Nah, you are too humble. And I love that about you! You are humble and accepting and encouraging to all runners!

    I was so excited you won and that I got to see you that day.

    And so happy your husband is so supportive. What a great guy :)

  11. Wow that is tough sledding having to run by yourself for a lot of the race - if you had some company I bet you would have PRd. Awesome on the win!

  12. I'm a bit late to the party here after a self imposed hiatus of internets- but congratulations again on the win. You are seriously one heck of an inspiration to me. I hope that big W has sunk in for you now :) you couldn't have said it better- that there's nothing more special in life than people believing in you, even when you doubt yourself. It's such a great feeling to know people have your back and genuinely want you to succeed.

  13. Congratulations!!! That's pretty bad ass :)

  14. You are amazing, congratulations on a great race! That was my first half marathon- loved the course!