Wednesday, January 27, 2016

F^3 Half Marathon

So this picture pretty much sums up the F^3 half marathon for me. Fun. Fantastic. Fabulous. Not quite what F^3 stands for but close enough...

photo by Chad Marek

The night before I laid out my flat Xaar and made sure I had all my running shit together. It's been a while since my last race (July 2015!), and since consistency makes replication possible, I have to put effort into this ritual.  I wore my new Mikkeller Running Club singlet, nike hyperwarm shirt, old navy tights,  and my trusty Newton Distances.  Not pictured, the back of the shirt showing Mikkel (the brewer of Mikkeller) he's "#1." Surprisingly I got a lot of compliments on that *aspect* of the shirt. I was a little worried about it...

Since i've been barely breaking 20 running miles a week, my only real goal was to take the 1st half easy, and the 2nd half as a negative split. No time goals, only effort. But had you asked me about a time goal, I would have said 1:47-1:52. I didn't feel particularly springy or fresh, nor did I have an army of stellar running workouts to point to a specific fitness level. The best I had was a 10 mile run a few weeks prior where I had 4 miles around 7:50- which felt more labored than they should have. Leading up to the F^3, I hadn't had a beer in 3 weeks, eaten very healthy and lost around 4lbs (still about 2.5 over my normal "happy" weight).
Pre race I met up with Mo, Pete and some of my fellow MRC members for a photo. I was pretty chill about the whole "race" because I was treating it as a training run- I needed a long run, and the weather was agreeable for me to run outside. It was absolutely a treat to stay inside the heated United Club of Soldier Field until 10 minutes before the start. LOVE THIS SO MUCH.
The first 6 or so miles of the race Mo and I ran together. The miles went by seemingly fast and when we saw a photographer, we showed how much fun we were having. Airplane FTW.
photo by Chad Marek
I mean seriously, If you aren't having fun in these events, why the hell bother? Yeah, sure, times get tough and it's time to put game face on, but a little cheezing for the camera never hurt anyone. It takes more muscles to be totes serious than to airplane. #Fact
photo by Chad Marek
After the turnaround I continued to pick up the pace. My legs just wanted to go, and I didn't want to be the one holding them back. Annabelle took this photo probably around mile 9-10. I was in the freaking zone at this point. After doing some quick math- yay accounting degree, yay- I realized if I kept on pace I would probably PR. WUT?!?
By the time I saw this photographer (B. Berman), I was 11+ miles into this event and on cloud 9 at how amazing I felt. But... I had to keep pushing the pace. My legs wanted to fly and my heart and mind finally got on board and were all HELL YEAH LETS F*CKING GO!
I must have passed 200+ people in the last 6 miles of this race. It just felt waaaaaaay too good to be running 7:30's.. I'm still wondering how the hell I was banging out these splits and feeling so good. Probably all of the cycling and swimming, duh.

Pete finished 1st in his AG in a blazing fast time and was so kind to stick around the finish and snap photos of us. There were some tears shed at the 1:44:23 I just clocked because of all the shit i've been through the past 2 years with the peroneal tendonosis and life stress. So happy that my underwhelming/under achieving half PR of 1:46:05 from 2.5+ years ago finally bit the dust.  *Underwhelming because it was a ridiculously hot day for that PR and I knew I could run faster in better conditions... 

A funny or interesting side note is in Fox Valley Marathon 2013, I ran my fastest "timed" half marathon- the first half of the race in..... 1:44:23. I should totally play the lottery or something now.
We met up for a quick photo post race and were all smiles at our efforts.
Mo and I sporting our amazing Koala and Owl head hats.
I never ever intended in my wildest dreams (I love that Tay Tay song BTW) to achieve negative splits like this. I doubt if I set my goal to "negative split each mile" that I would have pulled it off successfully. DAMN YOU MILE 8!  I just felt good and went with it. All of the cycling intervallllz and half assed swimming must be having a much bigger impact on my fitness than I would have thought. According to Sporttracks, my fitness is pretty much at an all time high right now- as compared to since I started logging my workouts in 2012. Not a surprise my fitness level is improving while working out 5-8 quality hours a week currently. 
I'm really happy at the effort I gave and executed in this training "race." It now gives me hope, a lot of hope actually, that I will be able to finally run a BQ at my next marathon in Carmel in April. That's what I'll be training for anyways. But also keeping in mind my "A" goal of Ironman Wisconsin and not doing anything to jeopardize that.
Post race, L and I went to Flo and Santos to celebrate. We not only celebrated my new PR, but Saturday was also our 5th anniversary of being in Chicago. At Flo and Santos, I had my first beers in 3 weeks- some Bourbon County 2015 Coffee and 2013 Bourbon County stout. YUMMMMMO.


  • Prerace- ate a crumpet with raspberry jam 2.5 hours before the race
  • Took a Salted watermelon gu 10 min before the start
  • Took a caramel macchiato gu around mile 6 - thought I'd blow my load taking it so early, but not the case. Since i generally dont take nutrition on training runs, so it makes sense i felt good.
  • Took water at nearly every aid station- something I never do because I usually bring a bottle of Osmo with me- but decided it was only 13 miles and that the bottle would freeze, so not worth the trouble.
  • Ran 7 miles the day before because I'm loosely following the Hanson marathon plan. Incorporated with my triathlon training too...
  • Calves were very tight for a few days likely due to the lack of wearing the Newtons/lack of running. The blister from 2 weeks ago did not reappear thank god.
Saturday was super fun and It was nice to be around so many great friends. I would absolutely do this event again as long as the weather was decent (hello Reynauds). F^3 was extremely well organized and the medal/shirt/beanie were all really nice. The volunteers were also full of smiles on a cold barely above freezing day.

I'm excited for all the training and celebratory races ahead!


  1. Congrats on a shiny new PR and a race well run! You rocked it!

  2. Woman! This just rules. Well done. This had to feel SO good.

    1. Thank you! It's an amazing feeling when everything clicks and comes together perfectly. Just need to bottle that up & use it in future races now!

  3. I shed tears (of joy) looking at your splits just now. They are such a work of art, I am going to print them out and frame them! :) You even did your awesome negative split with a tailwind for the first half and a headwind for the last half. Nice!! Congrats on crushing the race and looking forward to your BQ in April! By the way, that beer and pizza look incredible!

    1. Hehehe I should print those splits out and frame them! I didn't even notice the headwind.. That's how focused I was. Hahaha or just how much I was having fun :) totally hoping to keep up the momentum and turn out a solid BQ in April :) You should definitely check out Flo and Santos- delicious polish and Italian foods (and beer) there.

  4. Congrats !! I'd love to join you for one of those icy races, but right knee says no way.....impressive splits !

  5. Yay yay yay! I was SO excited when you text me on Saturday! This is just fantastic and shows you are totally on the right track with all your training. Congrats!!!

    What were you worried about with taking the GU? That it would bother your stomach? LOL.

    Those splits are dreamy!!!

  6. Congrats on the PR and awesome race!

  7. Congrats on an amazing race. Your splits are CRAZY!!! xo

    1. Hehe thanks :) couldn't have executed those splits had I made that my plan!

  8. HUGE congratulations, Xaar! (I read this post when you first published it but am just now commenting. =) ) WAY TO ROCK IT!!! I love all of those pictures because you can just FEEL the awesomeness that you are and were feeling while you were running. You look like you are solidly locked into the zone! I'm right there with Pete on saying you need to print out and frame those beautiful, precious splits. WOO HOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thanks lady! If I'm not having fun it's like- why would I do these things?? So taking a moment when I see photographers to pose ala Emmers, makes me extra happy and makes me run a little faster too :) it was just a great day and I hope to be able to replicate in races later this year.