Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chicago Spring Half Marathon


Ok, I'm not running all the races. I didn't even sign up for all the races. But when opportunity knocked for the last two half marathons, I ran them.  The first unplanned half was earlier this month with the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon.  But since I did a half in March and April, I'm pretty much "half" trained. I'm not "fast half" trained but I can still cover the distance and not die so that's a plus.

The second half that was unplanned was this past weekend with the Chicago Spring Half Marathon. A lot of my friends got into this one when they had a free discount code but I didn't sign up because I was originally planning on being in Seattle this weekend and didn't want to take the free entry from someone else.  Anyway, I was able to get a bib on Friday (not telling you how to protect the innocent).  So I decided to go ahead and run it. Although the idea of sleeping in was appealing...... I decided that getting up at 4:40 a.m. was more fun.
True picture of me in the morning
The race started in a location that isn't typical, north of Millennium Park near Wacker along the lakefront.  They had indoor bathrooms (although only 3 stalls) so that was nice.  The corrals were very crowded to start and I had no idea how many people were signed up to do this race.
(Photo credit: Carol M. from the FNRC)

Derek, Me, Julie, Lynn (L-R): In the starting corral
The course itself was down the lakefront path going south all the way until about 47th street. It was an out-and-back course. I generally dislike out-and-back courses but I'm beginning to like them. Say Wha!?!  It's because there is so much to look at! You get to see the leaders and all the fast runners coming back when you are still only on mile 3.5!  Then you get to see some or all of your friends either before or after you turn around (if you are lucky). I missed most of them this time. The path was just too crowded with people and part of the turn around, you were a bit separated.  But it's not so bad lately. 

The day before the race, I thought about trying to "race" it even though I knew I wouldn't PR.  I got a 2:09 on the half two weeks before.  But the morning of the race, I knew I would change that plan. My knees were bothering me a bit all week.  When I started running, I felt the knees and they were telling me to not do this to them.  I decided that I would just run easy and enjoy the run. 

Part of my problem in the past several months is that I'm not enjoying my long runs. Negative thoughts creep into my head, which is why I do better when running with others.  I'm not always running with others and needed to figure out how to get my positivity back while doing long runs. Otherwise, I make myself miserable, I stop to walk, I basically hate about half of the run.  I wasn't always like this and wanted to get back to loving running.  I have been trying to practice keeping negative thoughts out of my head but haven't been 100% successful, although I'm getting a bit better.

This time around, I decided to enjoy everything around me. I slapped some hands of children on the sidelines, I stopped at mile 3.5 to use the bathroom before I peed my pants (TMI?), I focused on how GORGEOUS the weather was that day for the run. I admired the beautiful skyline of the city that I live in. Honestly, Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities! I love running on the lakefront on days that have clear skies and gorgeous weather!  I was going to take a few photos and thought about it but just didn't want to mess with my phone. Luckily for me, Amanda from Too Tall Fritz did!  Thanks Amanda for letting me "borrow" your photos!

I pretty much just repeated over and over how wonderful the city is, how beautiful the day was, how lucky I am to be able to run when others can't.  I didn't have to force it, it just came. And even though my legs were tired (I did just do 3 half marathons in 1 month, and 4 within 2 months), I felt good.  I kept my walking to a minimum. I walked once at mile 9 and once at mile 12.  In all honesty, I thought about stopping a bit more during that last half but I kept playing the "get to mile ___ and then you can walk." And I'd get to the next mile and figure that I'd see if I could go a bit longer. Then I'd play the "mile marker" game again. lol. 

And just to be fair, I kept repeating to myself "I want to find my run-happy pace. I want to find my 'Melanie' pace!"  What is a "Melanie" pace, you ask?  Well, it's my friend Melanie from See Mommy Race. And while Melanie trained for her spring marathon and ultra marathon, she trained for a good majority of the long runs alone. She found a comfortable pace for her and just did the training. She was running happy.  I wanted to be able to do that like Melanie! I wanted to find my run-happy pace (aka my Melanie pace)!  So that's what I tried to do on this half. Since I'm not going to be PR'ing these half marathons right now, I'm working on other things and positivity is one of them.  It can be your best friend during a long run or race! So thanks for teaching me about running happy Melanie!
The medal (photo credit: Nicole F.)

Not getting away without a picture of me and my love!

Susan, Me, Nicole

The group I went with L-R back: Marty, Ryan
L-R Front: Lynn, Julie, Melanie (!!), Me, Derek
I finished with a time of 2:16:17.  Not my best, not my recent best, not my worst.  It's about right where my half marathons have been lately when I'm not racing.  So I'm happy with my time. I'm happy with my effort, I'm happy I kept my walking to a minimum (although I'd rather not walk at steps), I'm happy with finding my Melanie pace!

Now I can rest... for 3 weeks.  Where I have a half marathon (Michelob Ultra 13.1) followed by a triathlon (Esprit De She) back-to-back in one weekend.  Although I have been training for this. Like doing a bike/run brick the day after this half I just did to prepare.  I can do it! 

Run Happy!


  1. Congrats on the finish and you were smart to take it a little easier and not push the pace considering your knee issue. Also, I'm running the 13.1 so maybe I'll see you there! :)

  2. Awesome! Glad you found your happy pace! Sorry to hear you too have the Emo Knees.

    1. I've always had emo knees. I just know what's my "normal" pain and what's not, or what's too much "normal" pain. Hope you heal up soon.

  3. aww thanks Amanda! Glad I could help you run happy!! I think Kevin G said it best, "we aren't training for the olympics are we" so who cares about pace, just have fun!

    1. Gotta give credit where credit it due! And yes, I totally agree with Kevin. Sometimes you want to do as best you can but sometimes you need to relax and enjoy life!

  4. Great job!! I've read several recaps of this race, and it definitely sounds like one I want to do next year. I do the same thing, I'll tell myself I can walk at a certain point, then I realize I can actually go further. It really works!!