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First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon

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First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon Empty First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon

Post  Penelope on Wed May 09, 2012 1:19 pm

This race was special for me because it was the first race back for me after a 3-year-long period in Atlanta where I didn't race. I did some occasional / sporadic running but certainly nothing in terms of real training. In terms of running, those 3 years were really disappointing and a time where I mostly was spinning my wheels.

3 years later, I moved to Chicago July 2011. I got back into running and found myself much slower than I was and grossly out of shape. And about 15-20 lbs heavier than I was when I last raced in 2008. With my new work schedule, I struggled to run consistently, but at least did better than I did in Atlanta. Over the winter, work made some changes to try to help reduce everyone's hours. Then I had surgery on my ear and wasn't allowed to run, and kept getting ear infections that kicked my butt anyway. Finally, in early February, I was able to start running more consistently thanks to the changes in our work structure, and came up with my own plan for a half marathon tailored to my work schedule.

The goal for this race was twofold: first, to finish, since my last finished half marathon was in 2008. And second, to figure out what I can do. I did my long runs between 10:30-11:00/mile, no speedwork, and really wasn't sure how this race would go. I couldn't tell if I was doing my long runs too fast or not. I probably should have done a 5 or 10K race or time trial to establish what my new, slower ability is, but I didn't want to know.

The race was well-organized. No complaints from me. I think we must have been near midway airport, because before we started the actual race, I saw a bunch of Southwest planes flying low. It was this past Sunday, and it was about 60 degrees and sunny. Unfortunately, I was overdressed in long sleeve shirt and capri pants that went to my knee. I dressed the way I would for 60 degrees running along the lake with the winds, but the race was in a suburb nowhere near the lake, and it was much warmer. I roasted. That was mistake 1. Mistake 2 was doing a 12 mile training run the Monday immediately before the race. I went faster than usual on that and was sore for 3 days after. The mental boost I got from doing 12 miles instead of 11 as my longest run made it worth it, but the plan was to do it about 10 days prior, which didn't work out. So I wasn't particularly rested. Oh well, this race has no time goals for me.

We started, and the only thing I noticed was that despite this being a straight course with only I think 3 turns total, the mile markers were 0.1 off. So every mile marker came late according to my Garmin. Oh well. The course was, for my standards, flat, but did have some slight gradients and occasional tiny slopes. Certainly not hilly, but not as flat as the lake where I trained. I drank water at every water station, at least 3 big gulps, and thought I did a good job hydrating ahead of time and during the race. I took cliff blocks at around 5 and 10 miles. I started out slow enough and felt like I could hold a 9:45 pace for the whole race. That would have been fine, but mistake #3 emerged--PRIDE. I had a few decent miles where I ran faster than I'd ever run in any of my training cycles, which knocked the average pace number down, made me wonder if I was just having a fantastic day, and made me want to push it. My average pace got all the way down to 9:33, and I was hoping I'd not only negatively split the race, but that I could get it down to 9:25 or even 9:20. So I pushed it comfortably hard, but you can imagine how that ended. At 9 miles, I made some stupid math error. I don't know what the hell I was thinking, but somehow managed to get that 13-9=3, instead of 4. I kept thinking only 3 more miles when there were 4, and when I realized my mistake, I felt like mentally, things started to go. Around 10.5 miles, I started to fall apart physically. I think 80% of it was me going too fast in the middle miles. Other issues I had were being overdressed and really hot, and being really thirsty. I thought I took enough water in because I didn't miss any water stations, and also took some gatorade at times, but I was still really thirsty toward the end of the race. Later when I peed, it was dark / concentrated, so I guess I need more water next time. The gentle undulations that the course had in terms of slopes / not being 100% flat didn't bother me until the end, and then it seemed much less flat than before. We sloped up on an overpass during the beginning of the last mile, and I just gave in and walked. I didn't have a time goal, so I indulged myself and let myself walk much farther than I should have. Physically, I probably could have pulled myself together to walk less and run more, but mentally, I lacked the self-discipline necessary to do that. In the middle, I passed tons of people and hardly got passed myself, but in the final few miles, streams of people blew by. In the final half mile, according to my GPS, I estimated I could finish in 2:10 and change if I pulled myself together, so I did that.

Splits were: 9:41, 9:43, 9:56, 9:47, 9:22, 9:15, 9:33, 9:13, 9:25, 9:35, 10:18, 10:01, 12:28, and 8:48 for the final stretch. So kind of all over the place.

According to the race, I ran 13.1 miles in 2:10:38, an average pace of 9:59/mi. According to my Garmin, I ran 13.27 miles in 2:10:41, an average pace of 9:50/mile.

Things I'm going to do differently next time: 1) Dress better / be cold at the start rather than comfortable 2) Drink more fluids the day before the race, the morning of, and during the race 3) Try to run more consistent splits

Overall, it's a learning experience and gives me a gauge of where I am so that I can plan for future races. I know now that a 4 hour marathon is not within reach this year, so no point aiming for it. My goal will probably be just to finish, but we'll see. I'm doing the Soldier Field 10 mile, and based on my first 10 splits in this race, I think 9:30 average pace is doable, which gives me a time goal of 1:35. I'm doing another half this weekend just for the experience. Also I'm doing it because I work literally every other weekend except this past 4 weeks where I did 14 days in a row and have 14 days off, so in terms of practice races, take what I can get when not working. Hopefully as I continue to run, I'll get faster, and this extra weight will come off, too. I'm nowhere near what I used to be able to do (my half PR was about 1:52--the course was short 1/2 mile so it's extrapolated), but that was then, this is now, and this is my new starting point for improvement.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed May 09, 2012 2:00 pm

So glad to see you back at it and racing! I know that it has been very busy for you over the last few years and this is a great start to get your fitness back. Little improvements are all you should expect and you know that and are doing the right thing. Congrats on a job well done and on your new goals! Good luck with the work too, I'm guessing that you like Chicago and are happy about the decision to settle there.
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Post  carleenp on Wed May 09, 2012 2:24 pm

Sounds like a generally good run and good overall learning experience for you in terms of seeing where you are and how you can race. I bet you will have a good 10 miler. I have always wanted to run that half because the group I sometimes run with (Yankee Runners in Oak Forest) is very active with it, but I have not managed to fit it in.
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Post  fostever on Fri May 11, 2012 10:57 am

Good to see you are racing again. Pretty good run after a long absence, Penelope. Now you know where you are fitness wise. I ran this last year and found it to be a nice out and back course, I ran it injured and hobbled at the end so bad memories for me. I think they put on a well run race and give out lots of $ prizes. It is a ways from midway, but yeah probably in the starting approach path for one of the runways.
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Post  Schuey on Fri May 11, 2012 11:13 am

Sweet nice to see you back at it! Great job, hope to run into on the lakefront path this summer.
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Post  jon c on Fri May 11, 2012 11:16 am

Congrats on your return to racing, Kathy! Overall, it wasn't perfect, as you said, however you got through it and got your feet wet again. All part of the process. It also gives you an idea of where you're at so now you have something to shoot for.

Hopefully, you will now be able to plan well for future races and training. Best of luck!
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Post  Julie on Fri May 11, 2012 11:43 am

Congrats on racing again Kathy! It's OK to not be as fast as you were a few years ago, you can still get it back. I don't know how you even managed time to train for this half marathon with your work schedule. I hope this inspires you for whatever you pick out next.
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Post  ounce on Fri May 11, 2012 3:32 pm

Yup, you're back in the saddle. It wasn't pretty, but you got in the saddle.

Your pace difference of 9 seconds per mile might be something to work on, as well. I call it the Garmin tax. I had a 5 second tax per mile on a 5K and a marathon, so I need to work on trying to run the course closer to it being measured. I don't know what an acceptable 'tax' is.

At least you know where you need to change and/or improve. Good luck with the execution.
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Post  Chris M on Fri May 11, 2012 4:52 pm

Pretty good sign that you were able to speed up so much in miles 6-8. Keep up the training and that same pace you showed there will be your HMP or even MP. Its significant that those paces were not your first 2 miles but middle ones. That means you have a good base of fitness in there and sticking with it will improve it even more. 1:35 seems like a good round number to shoot for at SF10. Good luck!
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Post  Bob on Fri May 11, 2012 11:57 pm

I've run this race a couple times, Kathy, and I agree that it's not what I would consider "flat". I remember running this race a few years ago, and at about mile 9 made a comment to a stranger about the "hills". He said something about how it really wasn't hilly, and I told him that compared to the path I run on, it was indeed hilly.

Nice job getting back at it.
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Post  Dave-O on Wed May 16, 2012 3:31 pm

Great to see you back racing! I was wondering what you've been up, since I hadn't seen you post in awhile. It sounds like you're getting back to your former paces.

Good luck at Soldier Field next weekend!
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