As you know I was given the opportunity to run the ZOOMA Chicago half marathon as a race ambassador. I was totally game because the race fit in pretty well with my marathon training plan. As always Coach Amanda gave me a plan for this race. I was suppose to run at a 8:45 min/mile pace. She kept reminding me that this race was not my goal race and I needed to stay near an 85% effort. I had not run a half marathon in two years , so I was pretty confident that I could PR even at less than 100% effort.
I woke up at 4:30am did all my pre race prep and headed to the city. I arrived about 5:30am, which was early enough that there were no parking attendants stopping me from parking in the park’s lot. So score for super cheap meter parking at the race site and first in line for the potties. Being this early also allowed me to get stretched out while I watched the sun rise over the lake.
I meet up with another race ambassador, Tiffany from The Chi-Athlete . We chatted race strategy and waited in line to use the potties one last time. We were using the facilities while the national anthem was being sung so you know we were pushing it to the very last second. Tiffany and I jogged over the the start and squeezed on to the path after the other runners were already making their way across the start.
I started out faster then was prescribed, but I felt good and my breathing was okay. The race started on the lake front path just north of 39th Street Beach. This was my first run ever on the lake front path; embarrassing I know. We headed north and I got to take in the beautiful surroundings as I ran until Solider Field was in my sight. Then we turned around and headed back where we came from (10K finish). It was nice to see see many of the other smiling race ambassadors on my way back. At the 10K I was still felling pretty awesome. I was keeping an 8:18 min/mile average and in the back of my head I thought that I better slow down or I’d be in trouble with Coach Amanda.
At about the half way point I decided to slow up a little. I knew that I was definitely going to PR at this point so it would be no big deal if I held back a bit. At 7 miles I tried to ignore that I had 6 more miles to go, which to my sweaty sun baked body seemed like too much left to run. I was hot with the sun beating down and no cloud cover or shade in my near future. It seemed to help when I told myself that I was on the 3rd leg out of the 4 that the race was divided into. The last half was also an out and back. There was not enough water stops on this side of the course and man was I thirsty. That’s when I decided to stop and down 2 cups of water at the next water stop. The stop slowed me down, but I didn’t know when I’d see water again.
I pushed on past the second turn around at 10 miles. I enjoyed the smiles and waves from the other ambassadors again. I was now on the last leg of the course. I knew I still had a pretty good 5K in me, but I’d have to push to the end. I sped up and forced myself as fast as I could muster to the finish. I even made myself sprint the last 200 meters.
I finished in 1:51:44, which smashed my former PR by 7 minutes and 12 seconds! After most of my races I always am in awe and wonder where the heck my speed came from. How did I maintain an 8:32 min/mile average for 13.1 miles? How??!! It’s successful races like these that make me think I may actually have a chance at a sub 4 hour marathon.