Truth be told, I didn't know much about this race when I signed up. I was looking for a half that would fit into my training plan 4 weeks before the marathon. This one not only fit that requirement, but it was 10 minutes from my home. My friend Sara was running it too, and that was more incentive for me to sign up.
|Pre-race optimism! And we were freezing!|
This is a small race field, maybe 450 runners, and I crossed the start line shortly after the gun went off. For the first couple of miles, the course meanders through the neighborhoods that border Lake Zurich. I had heard that the course had rolling hills, and that's what I encountered in those first few miles of the race. There were a few big downhills, and I reminded myself that I'd be running up those on the way back. I fought with a side stitch for about a mile or so. I don't know why I keep getting them, but I was glad it went away.
|Sara kept saying this to me after the race. Yeah, I'll give you opportunity...|
I stopped at mile 8 to refill my Tailwind bottle. The Tailwind took its sweet time to come out of the package, and I probably was at the aid station for over a minute or two. That's something I need to figure out for the marathon.
About mile 9, after all those hills, my hamstrings really started to talk to me. I continued to power through the pain, but I started to feel kind of weird. Not really nauseous, but just a little unhinged. I tried focusing on my music. I smiled at the volunteers along this very well supported race course. I counted down the songs to the finish. I continued to power up the hills. And thought to myself, isn't Illinois supposed to be flat?
|This is what I SHOULD have told myself. Rolling hills, my ass.|
A woman who had been pacing with me for the last couple of miles talked me into running again, and I stayed with her. I told myself how close I was to the finish. I thought about my son, who went back into his rugby game the day before in spite of taking a knee to the abdomen and vomiting on the field. I couldn't face him, knowing that I quit. So I kept running. Until the next hill, where I stopped to walk briefly again. I hated to do it, but I also hated how I was feeling. When I started to run again, I caught back up with my new friend, and ran with her to the finish line.
I was so glad to be finished. I caught my breath, and a volunteer put my medal over my head. I wandered around the finish area, looking for Sara. I looked for food, and didn't see much of anything. There was a 5k earlier, and I assumed that maybe the 5k runners took all the post run snacks. I grabbed a cup of water, and found the woman who ran me in. I thanked her.
Sara was watching her kids run the kids' race, and I stopped briefly to congratulate her on her AG finish. Isn't it funny how one runner can have an amazing run and another not so much?
But later when I reviewed the splits on my Garmin, I saw that I was pretty darned consistent, even when I stopped to walk. That was really encouraging to me. I placed 5th in my age group, and the 3rd and 4th place women and I were less than a minute apart. If only I hadn't wasted all that time at the aid station refilling my bottle...if only I hadn't stopped to walk...if only...
This race was a training run, and there was a lot to be learned from this run. As much as it sucked, I think I needed a run like this. When I first finished, I felt like my confidence had been zapped. But when I looked at my mile splits, and how I powered through all those hills at marathon pace--well, come to think of it, there were a lot of good things happening at this race. I just let those hills get into my head, and that's something I need to continue to work on. I reminded myself that these were great splits for such a hilly course--imagine how I would have done had the course been flat, like the Chicago marathon course! Of course, I am glad that the weather was so cooperative. If we had had the conditions from the previous Sunday, where it was 90+ degrees...I don't even want to think about how things would have gone.
I did realize that I'm pretty good at beating myself up.
Oh, and guess what song was playing when I crossed the finish line? None other than Don't Stop Believin'. Coincidence? I think not.
Onward and upward.
Have you ever had a race where you wanted to quit? What did you do to keep yourself on track? Hills? Yay or nay?
I'm linking up with The Silvah Lining and her Race Recap linkup! Check it out!