What: Chitown Half Marathon
Where: Downtown Chicago, IL (northside)
When: March 24th, 2013
Weather: Upper-20s, cloudy, wind from the East
Finish Time: 1:28:20 (23rd out of 1,063)
I have to start off this post by thanking my wife Leslie. After the race finished yesterday the first person I saw was her and giving her a hug and sharing in that moment of triumph with her was super awesome. Our soon-to-be daughter was also there for that hug as well, still just a 'bun in the oven' but she was there too. It was a special family moment. Thank you Leslie for listening to me drivel on endlessly about running - for encouraging me and for celebrating with me. I am such a lucky man.
Can you tell the race went great? Oh man - it went EXACTLY how I hoped it would. I managed to sleep pretty well the night before and it wasn't that early of a morning (6:20am) which was nice. I had my typical race morning breakfast of a banana, a cup of coffee and a couple of granola bars (and 1/2 a CLIF bar in the car on the way). I was definitely nervous. Leslie talked me down in the car on the way there. When we got there Leslie dropped me off and I meandered my way over to the start area. After scoping things out I went on a short warm-up run and that little run actually made me question myself a little bit because it was a slow pace and yet I felt like I was struggling a bit. After dropping my stuff off at the gear check I made my way to the starting line. In retrospect I probably should have waited a few more minutes before dropping my stuff off because I ended up waiting, in the cold and wind, at the starting line for a good 15 minutes. Oops.
This race, like many other half marathons, had a few pace groups and luckily for me, they had a pace group for my goal pace (1:30:00, 6:52/mile). After the gun went off I settled in with that pace group. I figured I would see how it went at that pace for a little while knowing that if I couldn't keep up, I would have to re-think my goal. I settled into a nice rhythm and in retrospect, the decision to stick in that group probably saved me some energy because I was able to draft behind some of the runners in that group instead of facing the winds along the lake on my own. The first few miles clicked off and I was feeling really good.
Eventually I decided to go out ahead of the group -- not too long after that I came up on fellow DailyMiler Britt K and we chatted for a bit. It's always so cool to meet someone from DM, especially during a race (great job Britt!). After that meeting - the crowd really started to thin out and I just kinda dropped into a zone. I don't really even remember much of a scenery - I was just focused on holding a consistent pace and not getting ahead of myself. That's pretty much how the entire middle section of the race went for me. There were a few windier sections on the course that were difficult, but I knew they wouldn't last long and they didn't.
By the time I got to mile 10 I was over a minute ahead of "schedule". I had been holding back the pace for a little bit and knowing I only had a 5K left, I decided to go for it. The last few miles, while difficult, really went by fast. I saw another fellow DMer Erin with her daughter cheering us on and that gave me a boost of energy. A few times during the last 5K I thought to myself, "eh, you've got this, why not coast a little bit?" but then I would think about how much training I put into this race or the fact that this was going to be my last race for awhile and then push the pace faster.
After I crossed the finish line (and before I saw Leslie) I let out what was pretty much a scream. There might have been some colorful language involved :) I was so pumped - I thought going into the race that I could run sub-1:30 but to run 1:28:20 - that was beyond what I thought I was capable of right now. The rest of the day was great - we spent some time at Leslie's brother's house eating and hanging out and I received a lot of encouragement through DailyMile which is always awesome.
I'm really excited for what lies ahead - both in running and in life. On the running side, I feel like I've turned a corner of sorts which is really exciting. On the life side, we have the birth of our first child coming up very soon and Leslie and I can't wait to meet her. Running might have to take a back-seat for awhile, but I've got a nice PR to bask in for awhile and I'll be back soon!