Monday, January 28, 2013

F^3 Lake Half Marathon Race Recap

Saturday I had the F^3 Lake Half Marathon in Chicago.  I had signed up for this race a couple months ago when it was on a discounted price.  I also remembered when people were doing it last year and it seemed like a good time but I wasn't in half marathon shape so I didn't sign up.  Therefore, I was excited to do it this year. 

Maggie was generous enough to get my packet for me.  The plan for race day was to meet at my house and carpool with Nicole, Kelly and Maggie.  I love that I know other runners now.  I used to do all of this stuff by myself but it's so much more fun to do it with friends!  The race start was at Montrose Harbor which is north of the city.  I was excited to start someplace other than the normal location near Grant Park where most Chicago races start.

The thing that I was unsure about the most was what to wear.  The week before the race, the temps in Chicago were the coldest we've had all season with lows 0 to negative 2 degrees and highs about 10 degrees.  Temps for race day were predicted to be about 24 degrees but at race time, it was supposed to be a high of 19 with a feel like temp of 9 degrees.  I decided to switch my gear from 2 layers (a thin layer and a thick layer) to 3 thin layers.  That way, if I had to take a layer off, I was still good with 2 layers.  After getting dressed, I realized I had 15 pieces of stuff on (clothes, socks, gloves, garmin, race belt, etc).  With my bib, it made it 16 pieces!  That's a lot of things!

We got there about 1.5 hours before race was going to begin and luckily found a great parking location right near the start.  We were able to keep warm most of the time in the car.  When we finally decided to get out, we met up with some fellow F'N Runners and some Chicago Running Bloggers.
Carpool group (Kelly, Maggie, Nicole and me)

Chicago Running Bloggers

F"N Runners
I also decided to wear my "bad ass" socks that I received as a gift in December to today's run.  I mean, running a half in "feel like" temps of 9 degrees with some snow...I think it's a little bad ass.  I also received many compliments on my socks in the first half of the race.  It was fun.

I don't particularly like my ass...but I wanted to show you my socks "bad ass"
My goal for this half marathon:  I wasn't going to try to PR.  During my half in December, I started to fast and completely fell apart at mile 8.  I PR'd that race but was a little disappointed in how I felt while running. So my goal was to start more conservatively and try to pick it up a bit the second half, basically I wanted to finish strong.

Waiting for the race to start, I was pretty cold.  My toes were numb and I just wanted to get going!  Finally, the race started but it was awkward to run with numb toes.  It was pretty crowded in the beginning too, which was fine by me as I figured it would help pace me slower for the first mile.  It worked and my first mile was a 9:41, which is just about exactly where I wanted to be (9:40-9:45).  I wanted to stay there for mile 2.  For about the entire mile 2, we ran in a snow covered path.  I didn't like that we had to do that at mile 2 as I figured we would use a lot of leg muscle running on snow!

When mile 3 hit and I looked down at my pace for that mile, I was running fast!  Too fast from what I wanted.  I wanted to stay near 9:30 for the first half.  Mile 3 was 9:15!  Since I ran that mile too fast, I kept trying to bring mile 4 back to 9:30.  I got it to 9:25 but before I knew it, mile 4 was over and it was a 9:19!  Ugh!  Yes, I was mad at myself for running too fast!  Haha!

I also was getting really warm for mile 3-4.  It was a sunny day, which I loved, but I was running straight into the sun and after mile 4 hit, I decided to strip off my jacket.  I had pinned my bib to it so I tried to do this all while running.  Pinning the bib back on was difficult so I stopped to walk for a brief second just to get it back on, and kept running.  This stop (and waiting for water at a water stop) brought this mile back for me to a 9:35, which I was happy about (even though I only stopped for very specific reasons).

Also during this race, I tried to master the "drinking out of a paper cup and running" skill.  First time, fail!  It mostly went up my nose and down my face.  Second time, fail!  See what happened the first time.  Now, I know you are supposed to pinch the cup a certain way and you should be good. I was trying and it wasn't working.  However, the 3rd time I got water...SUCCESS!  (The 4th time, see time #1 & #2...Fail).  That's ok, practice makes perfect, right?

After the turn around, it got cold again right away.  There seemed to be a bit of a breeze and we were right next to the lake.  I left my jacket off but put my gloves back on and my face mask up for a bit.  It was colder than the way out but I wasn't too bothered by it.  I think I dressed pretty appropriately.

The whole time, I kept trying to bring my miles back to 9:30.  Sometimes I was succeeding and sometimes I ran fast.  I was trying to figure out if this was the right thing to do.  I want to give the run all I have but if I give too much, I'll crash.  I just continued to keep doing what I was doing since I was feeling good even by mile 7 and still running good miles.  By mile 9, I decided to stop focusing so much on my watch and just finish out the race.  It was mile 9 so if I was going to push myself a little more, I could probably start now.  I checked my average pace which was about a 9:26 at that point and my PR time was a 9:35 pace.  Even though my goal wasn't to PR, it was fairly late in the race and I thought that if I could get a PR, I might as well try.  I still just wanted to finish strong but a PR was definitely in sight and if I kept a good pace, I was there. There were only 4 miles left and thought to myself, "It's just a normal Thursday night run with my group!"  I like to play those mental games while running races to help keep my mind grounded and focused.  I could do 4 miles at a decent pace.

After the mile 10 marker, I decided to push myself a little more.  I only had a 5k left and I was still feeling pretty good.  My mile 11 time was 9:09!  Mile 12 was a little harder and I brought it back slightly around the half way point.  Plus all the little hills they threw in and running on sand for a few minutes was a nice touch (sarcasm).  But I still wanted to finish strong and even though my legs were a little tired, I wasn't feeling too bad and I heard Maggie and Kelly in my brain telling me "It's ok to be a little uncomfortable!"  My last mile brought a 9:11 (for me for a half...that's fantastic as I'm usually closer to 10 mins at that point).  I decided to sprint to the finish (who is this person!?!).  Nicole told me after I finished that it looked like I was running fast...and I was.  Glad it looked like it because sometimes I think I'm sprinting and they have a video and I'm essentially walking!  Haha!

And I got a PR.  Finish time was 2:03:06.  My last PR from December was 2:05:15.  Now, the December race came up on my garmin a little short, but the race officials said it was a certified course, and so I just went with it.  It was a 4 minute PR and so even if it was a little longer, it still would have been a PR.  This race, the mile markers were all over the place.  In the end, my garmin registered 13.07 so pretty close to 13.1.  So I am going with this as an official PR for me.  I was thrilled!!  I wasn't trying to PR. I kept trying to slow my pace.  I stopped to walk to change my bib.  And most importantly, I felt pretty good the whole time!  Even though I still had trouble pacing myself, I accomplished my goal of finishing strong and the PR was icing on the cake!

My sub-2 hour half seems more within reaching distance now (possible goal race for that is the Indy 500 Half Marathon in May, which Jodi has offered to pace me at).  If she still wants to, I've been putting in the work to try to accomplish it!

The post race party was at the Cubby Bear near Wrigley Field (I'm a cubs fan so that was nice).
F'N Runners at Cubby Bear (Back L-R: Me, Maggie, Diane, Kelly, Becky..Front: Susan, Nicole)
Overall, I was very pleased with this race.  It was fun, well organized and the volunteers did an awesome job!  There were a few minor things that could have used changing...(hello 2 very tiny warming tents!), but the main parts of the race were covered!  I would definitely do this race again...although maybe a destination half in a warmer climate for January would be a better idea!  I'm also very pleased with my performance.  This was my first half under 50 degrees but I dressed appropriately and ran a smart race for me.  My next race is my "birthday race" which is the day before my birthday.  The race is February 10th in Channahon (Frosty 5-miler).  I'm just going to have fun at this one and celebrate my birthday!.  I've never done this one before but other friends have and they really liked it.

9:41, 9:37, 9:15, 9:18, 9:35, 9:20, 9:29,
9:24, 9:35, 9:25, 9:09, 9:26, 9:11

Splits are much more consistent that my last half and I'm very pleased with that.

(By the way, we got snow the day before the race, the most snow we have had in Chicago this year...about 1 inch.  And it's all gone now with temps today at upper 40's and tomorrow near 60!  The warmth is short lived though and it will be back to about 15 by Thursday.  I'm just amazed at the lack of snow we have had this year so far.  I'm afraid of what snow February might bring though!)


  1. Congrats on the PR! It was a great day for racing as I have heard that a few people got PRs that day. I really wanted to run this. I am going to go for attempt #2 next year.

    1. Thanks Pete! Yeah many of my friends PR'd as well. Sorry you couldn't run but there is always a "next time"!

  2. Congratulations! You ran a very smart race! Yes, I am still willing and able to pace you in May if you want me to! :)

    1. Thanks Jodi! Sounds like a plan!

  3. Congratulations on your PR!! Glad I could help motivate you at the end :)

  4. Congrats on your PR! It was so nice to meet you before the race. And I LOVE those socks!

  5. CONGRATS! Look - you had 10 miles of splits below your PR pace... that's awesome! And think of how fast you'll be when the weather is more moderate (or you're not too cold!).

    Also, mad props on trying out the water cup pinching on a cold race!

  6. Holy shizz, you were a speed demon! Great PR - just think when the weather is nicer, you'll get that sub 2 hour half!


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