This weekend was the Rock-n-Roll Chicago Half Marathon race and I have been looking forward to this since I ran their 5K Tune-up race last summer. It was a fun race, mostly because of all the runners I got to meet, the bands that played throughout the course, and cool medal of course.
The main challenge was the weather which was 75F at the start and 83F or higher at the end. And the humidity was high. I do not do well in high humidity and this race was no exception. For 2013, I might institute a new rule: no distance races between May and September. I like running in the cooler temps.
The other challenge with this race was my physical readiness. I have been trying to get over some pain/tenderness in the medial meniscus of my left knee for over a month now. Add to that some hip abductor stiffness and a hot spot on my right foot below the pinky toe, and you have a lot of nagging physical stuff going on.
To try to let these things heal (and not to aggravate things to the point where my Chicago Marathon would be placed in jeopardy), I reduced my mileage these last two weeks. Instead of running about 50-60 miles in the last two weeks, I only ran half that much. In fact, I didn't even run at all last week.
Well the rest paid off. Everything felt much better on Sunday morning, maybe 90% healthy, and certainly good enough to run the Half. By the end of the race, I was pleased that nothing had become aggravated, and a little ice on the knee afterwards was all I needed.
But first things first, we hit the Expo on Saturday. I was not expecting it to be as large as it was. But it was held in McCormick Place which is pretty large so I should have known.
There were all kinds of vendors there. I got my race packet and tech shirt, and then proceeded to go down each aisle, checking out all the vendors' wares. I was very disciplined and did not buy very much. I won two free tech shirts -- one was an 'in training' shirt for the Chicago Half in September. I never win anything! Imagine that!
Then I got lots of sample fuel foods which I will test out during my training runs. I did buy a new SPIbelt to hold my fuel (and it came with bib holders). This was something I had been looking for because I knew with the Marathon, I would need something to hold more fuel. Now I am all set!
John "The Penguin" Bingham is a big part of the Rock-n-Roll race series and is often the announcer. I have met him several times, and since he was going to be a speaker on stage, I made sure to sit and listen to his presentation. He was very funny, sharing lots of stories about the race series and his own running experiences.
Afterwards, we had a chance to talk and he was excited that Mike and I were racing in the event. I also had a chance to meet 'in real life' the speedy Eddie McCoy, who is a big Disney fan like me. He is on the DisBoards.com web site for Disney fans and runners, and he is also a listener to The Marathon Show (a podcast I love that is all about running by Joe Taricani). It was great meeting Eddie and his wife Anna, after being online friends for the past several months.
Eddie has an awesome story about how he got into running. Like me, he wanted to lose some weight and get more fit. So he started running. Since then, he has lost over 100 pounds, and now runs endurance races at an average speedy pace of 7:30/mm. He is fast! He is also a great guy. It was a pleasure meeting him.
All in all, I think I spent three hours at the Expo. I could have spent more time there, but my family was waiting for me at the Museum of Science and Industry and I had to get over there because we were scheduled to see the MythBusters Exhibition!
My day started with a pre-race breakfast of toast and peanut butter, a banana, and a glass of milk. Then Mike, Liz, and I headed to downtown Chicago. It was already 75 degrees outside so we knew the race was going to be a warm one. Combine that with 80% humidity and I knew I was going to be challenged because humidity and I do NOT get along.
On the walk from the parking lot to the park, I ran into a church friend named Violette, who was running the race to raise money for the American Cancer Society. She was running for her Mom. Such a nice surprise to see her there!
We stopped at the porta-potties first thing (when they are clean), and then headed off to find the Gear Check (which was across the street from where we were, of course). Then we went to our corrals and waited for the wave start. I was in Corral 14 with Mike.
I met my first of many Half Fanatics in my Corral. She was very nice and was a newer member to the group. She and I had a similar goal: just to finish the race.
The race started and I went out at a 10:00/mm pace for the first couple of miles. I was testing my knee to see how it was holding up. So far so good! At Mile 3, I met up with Laura Q., another Half Fanatic, who is on her way towards completing a 30-state Half Challenge this year. This was her 19th race in 2013!
She and I ran and walked for probably four miles together. I was not wearing any HF gear but she was. So other HFers were gathering around us and I got to meet them all, including Dave Mari who is very well known in the Half Fanatic and Marathon Maniac communities. He lives in Chicagoland but this was the first time I got to run with him. What a blast!
Of course, we had to get a photo of us, and then a photo of the group. We found a Half Fanatic who looked to be around 12 years old so we got him to be in the photo with us. I hope I can get those photos from Dave sometime (he will likely post them on FaceBook).
I also met Jen Leugers, who is the leading Half Fanatic in terms of races run this year. I think she is going for another 52 Half Marathons in a year (she is already a Level 10 member). She was very nice and I ran into her again after the race at Gear Check.
At Mile 8, I was pleasantly surprised to run into a fellow Road Runners club member from Crystal Lake. She and I are doing the Marathon Training Program with the group. I knew she was running the Half but I did not expect to run into her. Well, she found me! So we ran for about two miles together. Very cool!
The race took us through quite a bit of the city which was pretty interesting. At one point, we were very close to the Lake Meadows housing development, where I was raised until I was 10 years old. It was pretty cool running so close to 'home'.
At Mile 10, it was time to turn back up Lake Shore Drive and begin the final run towards the finish. By now it was definitely hot but clouds had come out and turned the sky overcast which was quite welcome. I ran and walked that final 5K, definitely running the last half mile to the Finish Line. I heard someone yell "Yay WISH!" and looked over to see Eddie and Anna McCoy standing along the spectator line. That was very cool. Thanks Eddie!
As I approached the Finish, John Bingham yelled out over the microphone "And there's Richard Peete! Way to finish!" Well that really made my day! LOL I ran across the timing mats feeling relieved, happy, and just a bit tired. I picked up some water, chocolate milk, banana, a marathon bar, and my medal!
My finish time was 2:58:56 (an average 13:39/mm pace). Not the speediest of times, compared with my PR of 2:18 back in April, but given the circumstances, I was okay with my time and my performance. I would have preferred to have walked less, but then again, the social time spent talking with the Half Fanatics (I did a lot of walking with Laura) was worth it! For the first time, I felt like I was really a part of the group.
After the race, I went looking for Eddie, Courtney (a fellow WISH racer), and Tim Fenell but couldn't find them. With about 15,000 Half runners, I did not think I would be successful. But I did want to at least congratulate them and maybe get a photo together. I was also looking for the Half Fanatics because usually they take a picture together. I didn't find them but later found out that the location for the photo had been posted on their web site. Note to self: always check the website/FB page before race day!
The good news for me was that after the race, my knee felt pretty good, as did my feet. I was feeling the beginnings of cramping in my calves towards the last few miles of the race (the first time I ever had that happen) but thankfully, the cramps never materialized. So I will have to do some foam rolling tonight for sure.
So the race was fun, particularly because of running into so many friends and hanging with the Half Fanatics for the majority of the race. I think in the future, I will have to start wearing my HF gear although I love wearing my WISH shirt. In fact, as always I got lots of compliments on the WISH shirt and our motto printed on the back. I had one woman at Gear Check say she just followed my shirt for the whole race as our motto was her motivation. (I swear I have seen her at other races)
So now, it is time to focus on my marathon training. Next weekend, I am supposed to run 14 miles. I will be at a youth leadership conference this weekend so I will have to figure out how to get the miles in. The facility said they don't have running paths but they do have treadmills. Hmmmm.... 14 miles on a Treadmill? Not my first choice but we will just have to see.