Sunday, May 3, 2015

Race Recap: Great Western Half Marathon

The awesome medal lights up! Really nice bling. The AG award was pretty sweet too.

If you've been following me lately, you know that my runs of late have been tough. Heavy legs, heavy breathing, just overall feeling burned out...I wasn't exactly looking forward to this last spring race. 

This picture is from his F/S match today. Another stellar performance. More inspiration.
And then this. My youngest son, who played up to JV at rugby yesterday, and had an amazing game. He played the entire game, and was named "man of the match". I was stunned, awed, and proud of his play. When we drove home, he told me that he wanted to tell the coach to pull him, he was that tired, but that he kept going. And there was my inspiration for this race. If my 15 year old could push himself that hard, well, so could his mother.

Karen, me, and my lucky sweatshirt
With that on my mind, I headed to St Charles for my race. I parked my car at the high school and boarded one of the "shuttle busses" aka school bus for the 10 minute ride to the starting line. I needed to pick up my race packet. As soon as I got there, I saw my friend Karen, who was one of the volunteers at the race. It was so great to see her, and any anxiety I was feeling about the race slipped away. I wore my lucky "throwaway" sweatshirt, and as it warmed up, put the sweatshirt in my gear bag and checked it.

Michelle and me!

Michelle from Movin' it With Michelle found me, and we spent the hour prior to the race chit-chatting. She knew a lot of people there, and introduced me to so many of them! While we waited, I sipped on my first bottle of Tailwind. We lined up with the 8-ish minute milers, and after the national anthem was sung, we were off! 
Michelle and me...clearly orange was the color of the day for race gear!
Michelle and I ran together for about a half mile, and then I moved ahead. My legs--again--felt heavy. My breath was heavy. The first mile marker was a little early! I had my Garmin on, and at the first mile, I looked at my split: 8:45. I knew then that this race was going to be a battle. We moved onto the limestone path the comprises the Great Western Trail. The trail is comprised of 14 miles of an abandoned railway in Kane County, Illinois. For today's race, we would be running about 6 miles of an out and back on this trail. Most of the trail is tree covered, which was a good thing, because the temperature rose rapidly during the race.

I struggled with pacing and breathing until about mile 3, just like I did at my 10 miler a few weeks ago. Reminding myself of this and of my promise to my son to be inspired by his performance, I sipped on my Tailwind, shuffled along, and tried to get into a groove. After mile 3, I started to relax and enjoy the race a little bit, but it wasn't until the turn around at mile 6.5, that I really started feel loose. I'm sure it was psychological. Knowing that I was halfway home was a huge boost for me. My legs began to feel lighter. I saw Michelle and greeted her with a side five.

At mile 7, I stopped at the water station to refill my bottle. I poured my Tailwind into the bottle, and the teenager who had been helping me said, "oh, you have your own potion?" I replied "yes, best stuff ever", and he said, "Hey, as long as it doesn't make you poop!" I busted out laughing, and told him that's the reason I use it. I headed over to the one portapotty, and as soon as I got there, a Race Guard hurried in ahead of me. I waited for a minute or so, and she didn't come out. I asked her partner if they were timed for this race, and she shrugged her shoulders. Maybe I was a jerk, but I made a comment that they should let the racers go first. I was wearing my race face, and I wanted to get moving again. She just started at me, and I said "f--- it" and headed back to the trail. I kicked myself for even stopping, and realized I lost about 2 minutes between filling my bottle and my futile portapotty stop.


Interestingly, my legs continued to feel light, and I moved along the path. I caught back up to the people I had been running with prior to my stop. How did that happen? I began to pass most of them too. It was really hot, but I kept sipping, and I felt good, so I kept on moving forward. There was one guy who would not let me pass him. When I did, he sped up to get ahead of me. I was smiling when he did that, and at mile 11, a woman told me I looked so "strong"! She couldn't believe I was smiling. If she only knew why...

Mile 12 and I knew it was going to be bad. Since this was an out and back, when we started, this was mile one. A nice long downhill, I knew on the return trip that it would be painful running back up. And it was. Most of the runners I passed weren't running up the hill, they were walking. I passed my guy as few times on the hill, but once we got to the top, he passed me again. Of course. I picked up the pace about 500 yards before the finish time, but so did he. Ok fine, dude.

Best volunteer, evah! <3 And a really awesome friend!
When I crossed the finish line, there was Karen, waiting for me! She put the medal over my head and gave me a huge hug. It was so great to see her there! She walked with me to the area where they were printing out our finish times, and we found out I finished 2d in my age group! I didn't expect that--last year's results would have put me in about 6th place. Where were all the speedy old ladies? There was an age group medal too, and I had double bling. Nice.



We waited for Michelle to come in, and while she PR'd, she was disappointed that she didn't sub-2. On a day like this, a PR was pretty awesome.  I was happy with my finish time, in spite of the conditions, but still mad that I wasted all that time at the portapotty. Funny thing, at this point, I didn't have to go anymore. I didn't feel very good, and sipped on the bottle of water Karen found for me. Teri came in about that point, and she too was disappointed with her finish time. It was so tough with the heat. Since it has been so cold this spring, there was no way to prepare for this. Karen told us that several runners were taken away by ambulance.

Teri, me, Michelle, and Karen
Speaking of take away, here's what I took away from today's race:

  • I did a great job fueling and hydrating for this race. I drank 24 ounces of Tailwind prior to the race, and 24 ounces each hour, for a total of 3 bottles.
  • I paced myself well. Those first 3 miles were hard, and they were at a slower pace than I have been training at.
  • I wasted precious time at that portapotty, and I should have just sucked it up and kept going. 
  • I dug deep when the going was hard, and shut down those thoughts of quitting. Second race in a row where I had to do that, and I'm really proud of myself for doing that. I thought of my son, and how disappointed he would be (altho he'd never say anything) if I quit. Don't even get me started on how I would have felt telling my oldest that I quit. Nope. 
  • You can never have too much chafing cream. TMI, but I was scared to take a shower when I got home. I didn't scream but it was pretty painful. 
  • These smaller races are the best. Besides the AG finish, which turned out to be first place when all was said and done, there was no weaving, no issues with getting stuck behind people. Yes, more portapotties would have been great. But that's my only complaint.
  • Running friends are the best friends!!! Races are so much more fun with friends to celebrate and commiserate with.
The Great Western Half is a great race. The course is scenic, the limestone path is a dream to run on, and it is extremely well organized. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks to the Fox Valley Trail Runners for such a great race!

What's next? For now, two weeks of active rest. No running this week. I'll be doing some yoga and cycling. Next week, I'll ease back into running with a few short runs. More yoga and cycling. Believe it or not, I'm looking forward to it!

Final stats:
Official finish time: 1:55:37
223/858 overall
2/43 in AG


I'm linking this post with Tara at RunningNReading for the Weekend Update!












Also linking with The Silver lining and Destination Awesome for race recap link up!

The Silvah Lining

95 comments :

  1. Congratulations on a race well done. And bravo for keeping that runner on his toes! Love that you made him push it to keep up with you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so competitive and it kills me! But at that point, I was like, really, guy? Haha.

      Delete
  2. Awesome racing!
    Awesome recap!
    Awesome woman!
    Way to go, Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome job fighting through a tough one and congrats on the hardware - so exciting!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't expect the AG with that finish time, so yes, it was quite a thrill!

      Delete
  4. Well done! Delighted for you.
    I love the photo of your son playing rugby - well done to him too!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice work! I am cracking up about the water station kid - your own "potion" - like you're at Hogwarts or something. I think we learn so much about ourselves when we push through those days thus just aren't feeling good for whatever reason. Enjoy that active rest - you've earned it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so nice to be on "voluntary" rest as opposed to time off for injury. My life feels a little empty right now, but its all good.

      Delete
  6. Way to stay strong in the heat Wendy! Congrats again! I love that your son inspired you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another battle I've been fighting--conquered! Hopefully, I've got that heat thing under my belt.

      Delete
  7. WTG Wendy! I'm so inspired by your running year!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congrats on a great race!! So many things that could have mentally taken you out of the game, but you didn't let them. I admire that so much. And nice double bling!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This really showed me how far I've come, mentally, in the race game. All that hard work is definitely paying off!

      Delete
  9. Way to go!!!!!! You keep me inspired with all of your grit-it-out races :-) Congrats on the AG award!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't be happier with my spring races! :)

      Delete
  10. Sounds like you've earned a little rest week. You have been crushing it out there lately friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It feels good to take time off voluntarily! I've never done this before. My body has always forced it, with injury.

      Delete
  11. Way to go - to both you and your son! The heat this weekend was a problem for lots of folks in races, but you killed it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congrats my friend!!!! Thanks for sharing part of the day with me, and it was so awesome to run with you even for just a half mile. My goal is to get a bit faster so I can share some more miles and smiles with you!! Congrats on an amazing race!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was great to spend the morning with you! We definitely have to do it again. And congrats on your PR!

      Delete
    2. I agree-lets plan something together this year!!! Even if we don't run together, it would be fun to go to a race together!

      Delete
  13. Congratulations on a great finish in the heat and your placement! I LOVE, LOVE the locomotive medal.

    I want to try Tailwind this summer. I assume there are no artificial sweeteners? I can't do that.

    You should be such a proud Mom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The medal lights up too...you'd love it! And yes, no artificial sweeteners in Tailwind. My GI tract would rebel. I've been really happy with it and the results I'm getting from fueling with it.

      Delete
  14. CONGRATULATIONS!!! And AWESOME on placing!! I have been loving the pics from this race. So cool that you got to hang out with Michelle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was a really fun race! I'm thrilled with the outcome, and I was lucky to have some fun friends there!

      Delete
  15. Congrats on the AG award and you are very speedy!!! I've never tried tailwind...maybe I should.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Love your race recap. People who hog the portopotties make me INSANE! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh! I'm still kicking myself over even stopping. What was I thinking?

      Delete
  17. What a great race! The porta potty thing would have pissed me off too- geez! I wrote down Tailwind, I must look for this magic potion? Where do I find it? I am sure your son is proud of his mom and wow look at those arms in your picture, you are making the 5's look good! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can go to Tailwind's website. It's a fuel for ultramarathoners. I tried it last year for my Chicago marathon and it worked great for me.

      Delete
  18. Awesome finishing time! Congrats on the AG pace!!
    Those first few full on sun and heat runs are always a tough shock on the system.
    BTW, your legs look so strong! Love your race pictures ;)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Banner weekend for your family--congrats! I love watching my kids in sports, especially if they are having a good day like your son did. Then you drove it home at the half! Very nice. Enjoy the rest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great weekend! I couldn't not do well, in light of my son's achievements. So much good juju there!

      Delete
  20. Congrats! This is great, you look so strong.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Congrats to you and your son! 2nd in your age group is amazing, especially with a portapotty stop (can't believe they didn't let you in first!).

    ReplyDelete
  22. Congrats on the AG medal! Woo hoo! Too bad there weren't any bushes near the porta-potties! :) Anyway, it is amazing that we both were hurting in our halfs this weekend, but our legs somehow took over and got the job done. It's probably due to the many miles we've put in the past several months. They run on auto-pilot if our minds will let them! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm right there with you--tired legs mean it's time for a little break. Just a little one!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, it won't be easy taking a break because I love to run and also don't want to lose fitness. But if I don't take a break now, I probably won't get one until October! :)

      Delete
    3. Exactly! I'm not racing until the fall--I'm running Chicago again, and I'll do a half sometime in there. I'm looking at one in Lake Zurich for September. Keeping it low key.

      Delete
  23. What a great race overall for you!
    I ran 4 halfs in 4 weekends in the fall and I was drained by the last one.
    I keep hearing about Tailwind! I think I should pick some up and give it a try :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Drained is the perfect word for how I feel! Hopefully after a week or 2 off, I'll feel more energetic again.

      Delete
  24. Great performance ! That guy would have really irked me (seriously dude ? not the one in the potty, but the race), but sometimes it helps to have someone like that to push you just a little harder...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had this happen at my last half too! Clearly some men don't like being passed by an old lady...lol!

      Delete
  25. CONGRATULATIONS, Wendy! What a great finish in a tough race! Woo hoo! Oh, my gosh...can't they just make some kind of BodyGlide-type substance in liquid form that we could just bathe in pre-run? I think that would be a genius invention. I'm glad you had so much support at the race; it's always nice to have friends around to help out and keep us moving after a tough effort. Way to go!! Thanks so much for linking up with the blog and I hope you get some much-deserved rest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tara, you should invent that Body Glide! I thought I applied enough but nooooooo...anyways, I'm healing up today!

      Delete
  26. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS, Wendy!!! Way to push through! LOL at the "your own potion" comment but annoyed at the portapotty incident and that guy. I agree with Tara - they should invent some kind of BodyGlide substance that we can just bathe in. That would make life so much easier for all of us!

    Enjoy your two-week hiatus from running!!! You're going to feel SO GOOD afterwards. The legs will be light as a feather!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping for that featherlight leg thing! Better than the cement shoes I've been wearing...!

      Delete
  27. Way to go on getting second place in your age group! What an awesome achievement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was pretty shocked, myself! This should have been a tougher field. I think the heat brought a lot of people down.

      Delete
  28. LOVE your race recap! Amazing time.... and a trail race too!! Wahoo!! I didn't catch if you indeed did smoke that guy that kept trying to "beat" you! :) he he. Great work!! You're fast!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I didn't smoke him, but I gave it my best! LOL!

      Delete
  29. Congrats on the great race! How awesome that the trail was shaded! Yesterday was not the best day to be out pushing the pace (well, for me, anyway, lol)!

    I feel your pain on the porta pottie. I had someone cut in front of me (another runner though) at my Dec marathon last year and thought it was so incredibly rude.

    Congrats on the AG placement, that rocks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yep, that whole portapotty thing...I need to let it go. My only goal for this race in the heat was sub-2. The AG was a bonus!

      Delete
  30. Oh wow that's awesome! Good for you! The port potty thing would have irritated me!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Whew! :] It's tough to run at your best when it's so hot, but you did a great job! (+ Darn that portapotty!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thrilled with this one. Heat has always been my nemesis. I didn't let it win!

      Delete
  32. Excellent job on your race--I love that your son inspired you so well. Congrats on your AG award!

    How cool that you met up with Michelle for the race. That picture of you guys is super cute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that I get to meet bloggers at my races! That was the whole point of starting this thing!

      Delete
  33. Awesome Wendy! Congrats on a tough race! And so cool that Karen gave you your medal!!

    ReplyDelete
  34. YAY!!! Congrats! But what was with the port-a-potty situation? That women could have waited for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't believe I even stopped for that. Grrrr.....

      Delete
  35. 1) congrats on the age group win and great race! 2) that's awesome you got double the bling :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Congratulations on your race and your second place finish in your age group! Last race I ran in (a 5 Km) an 11 year old caught up to me during the last km! I tried to keep pace with her, but alas, I had to give up, she had too much energy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. That's always tough! I ran alongside a young boy at a 10 miler a few years ago. I ended up passing him eventually but it was a little unnerving running with him for a while!

      Delete
  37. Way to kick some!!! The first race in the heat is the worst. Faced the same thing at Pittsburg :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Especially since we have had NO warm weather to train in. Whew! Tough one.

      Delete
  38. You rocked the socks off this race!! great job - I'm so impressed with your determination and ability to fight when it gets tough - so many people quit!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Congrats! PS, great race/action shots! Personal photographer? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No personal photographer, just friends with connections, I guess!

      Delete
  40. Congrats on a great race and the AG award!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I love that you found inspiration from your son! You really pushed hard to finish the race strong. Glad you found your mojo and had such a strong finish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really did use his performance on Saturday to keep going. It was a tough race, but I just couldn't quit.

      Delete
  42. Congrats on the race and AG performance. Loved the pic of the three of you in orange :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Awesome job on the race! I love reading your race recaps cuz they inspire me to want to get out there and run. I haven't yet LOL but it's only a matter of time I'm sure :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think race recaps are my favorite blog posts to write, and to read! Reading about other peoples' races really inspires me!

      Delete
  44. Congrats! 2nd in your age group is wonderful! I run on parts of the Great Western Trail almost everyday! I'll had to keep this race in mind for next year. St Charles is a gorgeous area too, so I bet that helped pass the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you, getting to run there! What a beautiful place to run!

      Delete
  45. Congratulations on your race!! Felt like I was running it with you! And congrats to your son and his rugby awesomeness!

    ReplyDelete
  46. amazing time and lots learnt! I'm hoping to break the 2 hour barrier one day! Maybe make it a goal for 2016!

    ReplyDelete