Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rock n Roll Chicago 2012 Edition

3 Words to sum it up:  Sticky, Blah, Disappointment

Time for half marathon # 19:
1:49:40 not a PR by over 3 minutes. Not the worst by a long shot either. About 1 minute slower than last years Rock n Roll Chicago (which had much better, cooler conditions)

1331 of 14881 OA 8.9%
67 of 1723 AG   3.8%
348 of 8998 Women  3.8%

Rock n Roll:
I really enjoy the Rock n Roll events. Sure they may be a bit pricer than other races, but for the almost 10 RnR halfs i've done around the country, I always know what im getting for my money. Saturday we went to the expo to get our bib and swag bag. It had a good variety of vendors and the expected lines for free samples of {fill in the blank} which people seem to go crazy for. We, on the other hand steered clear of the food samples.
Race Review:
 As I mentioned above, I have no complaints with the way the Rock n Roll events are handled. The wave corral start enabled the streets to not be so congested as opposed to a mass start. There were plenty of aid stations with ice and other necessities. The volunteers seemed really into the event and helping the runners. The course is one of the few in Chicago that actually is run in downtown as opposed to the Lakefront trail which I run on for free every day that I care to.  There were loads of spectators out there cheering. Its a great event. Even in the middle of summer, I'd probably not hesitate to sign up for this race next year to make it a 3-peat.  My main complaint about the course is the McCormick Place tunnel. Its tough after 11+ miles in the sun to suddenly be thrown into the dark half mile long tunnel under McCormick Place. With pot holes galore and other uneven footing, the low light and muggy sticky conditions make this my absolute least favorite part of the course.
Ive had these lululemon socks for 2 weeks, worn them once before and never noticed that stitched inside of them read "run fast" until this morning.
The Race:
I'll just preface this part by saying this recap is not my "average" race recap. It is entirely too dark for the celebration of finishing another half marathon. I need to get these negative thoughts out, and this is the best outlet for me.


The weather at 5:30 am, just before leaving our apartment read 76 degrees, 76% humidity. By the time the race started at 6:30am, I was already "glistening." Never a good sign.  I dont know what the temp was by the time I finished, but I doubt it was too much over 80 and a bit less humidity. I do all of my "easy" and long runs outside, and for this season so far, has meant many of them have been run in much hotter (some 100 degrees) days. Going into this race, I knew it would be warm. I wasn't too concerned because of my training. I also knew this would probably mean a reduced pace than what I would be capable of on a much cooler drier day.

I wore my garmin, but due to the buildings I knew it would be inaccurate so I used the "manual" lap function. All well and good, unless you never see mile 2 or 3. So my splits are off. Running through a 1/4 mile tunnel in the first mile of the course and a nearly half mile long tunnel at the end do not contribute to accuracy either. I remember feeling good and ready to run before the race started. This race was not a goal race, but my Coach had given me the blessing to "race" it and run my heart out (but not get too taken away with it to cause disruption for marathon training).  The first few miles felt good, as good and comfortable as they can in high humidity conditions. Im sure I was drenched in sweat before mile 2 when I saw Britt cheering, which gave me a nice boost of energy.

As the miles ticked by I was thinking of trying to surge, but my body was having none of it. Usually I'm a "pro" at negative splits. Nearly every run on the lakefront whether I like it or not, becomes negative split. My legs need some time to warm up usually. I was averaging around 8:20 a mile and was feeling neither great nor terrible. I just felt Blah. I tried kicking it up a little, but my body would rebel, so 8:20ish it was.  I saw Britt again around mile 7 and when I looked to my right, I saw the 1:45 pace group passing me. SH*T. I had a several minute lead on them at the start due to the corrals. Damn. I tried to hang with them, but they left me in the dust after less than a quarter mile. I kept them in my sights for a while and made plans at mile 8 or 9 to try to catch them. Spoiler Alert- It never happened.

I just kept running and dumping water on my head from the aid stations since it was cooler than the water in my water bottle. The McCormick tunnel came up and I had to take my sunglasses off so I could see the potholes and uneven areas of the pavement. I have a problem of not picking up my feet enough during runs, consequently causing me to trip. Soon I was out of that hot muggy mess and onto the final stretch for the finish. I tried to press the pace a little which was a huge struggle. I believe my last 5K might have been slightly faster than my first 5K of the race. Pushing the pace was hard, as my body was determined to hold onto 8:20 pace. Im now interested to see the photos from this race as I might have some real "gems" from being silly the last mile. Just before mile 13, I saw Britt again and gave her a big double thumbs down as I ran by with a smile on my face. This race didnt go according to plan and I had to just make it to the finish.
I took this photo post finish about 6 times, because I looked so unhappy in each one of them. This is the "happiest" I could get at the time.
As soon as I finished, I felt a huge wave of Disappointment come over me. I sat down on the pavement outside of the finish area and nearly broke down into tears. With having very loose goals going into this race because it wasn't my goal race and also because of the less than ideal  conditions, I wasn't taking this race too seriously and was taken by surprise by the disappointment. I needed this race to be a good harder effort because it would be my "long run" for this week of marathon training, but after 18 weeks of solid training including 6 full weeks of "official"marathon training, I was looking for something a bit more from myself in this race.I'm a competitive person and merely finishing a half marathon is no longer a huge accomplishment since I run longer than 13.1 each week during marathon training season. I love seeing results of my time and effort that I have put into training. 

Perhaps in the back of my mind, a 1:45 would have been the magic happy number I was looking for since that would have been slightly faster than my goal marathon pace, in *hopefully* much crappier conditions than what September 16 will have for me. If I could run my marathon pace in these muggy conditions, imagine how easy it would be in *ideal* conditions.

Im crazy to be down about this race considering the heat and humidity. I ran it so smart that no more than 15 minutes after crossing the finish, I felt like I could run another 13.1 Which made me feel even more disappointed.

Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush of yesterday's events that made me feel less than stellar today. Hearing all the firetrucks in Chicago pull up outside of your apartment building is never a good thing, especially not knowing if there was an actual fire in the building, thankfully there wasn't. But when the fire hydrant was turned on, the water main outside of our place ruptured. Thank God we didnt lose our water, but this was certainly an unnecessary stress I could have done without.

Perhaps it was the poor sleep I got Friday- Sunday morning worrying if L would make it back to Chicagoland. My L was supposed to return from an out of country business trip very late friday night. But flight delays and missed connections brought him back early Saturday. It absolutely wasn't an ideal situation for him to run a race on such little sleep, after his 5 airports, 3 countries in 24hours not so amazing race.
I am so proud of him for running a very smart race and finishing despite the situation.
Post race thoughts/ House keeping:

Head to toe Lululemon. Top, Shorts, Socks all Lulu
Shoes: Green Nike Lunar Racers

Power bar 1.5 hours pre-race
Gatorade Prime + Salt Stix 15 minutes pre race
Gu (jet blackberry/ Espresso) at miles 4 and 8
Mango "Enlyten" Salt strips around mile 9
Carried my own water until mile 10.

Im much happier 8 hours later than I was post finish. Expecting something from yourself and failing, even because it simply wasn't your day is very frustrating, but not worth dwelling too much on.

And dont get me wrong, any and every day that you can lace up your shoes and run 13.1 miles (or any distance) pain free and without incident is a damn good day.

In 55 days I'll be toeing the line at the Fox Valley marathon. An additional fire is now lit under my bum to achieve my crazy BQ goal for that race. 


  1. I agree with you that the McCormick Place tunnel is the worst part of the course. I had to take off my sunglasses because I could not see if my feet were about to land in a pothole. Nothing like twisting an ankle during a half marathon! However, overall I'd give the course a high rating. I like the fact that this is one of the few city races that is not on the Lakefront trail. I'd rather pay a few extra bucks to race on city streets than on the trail.

    1. Amen! Those tunnels need to go! I totally visualize myself tripping and injuring myself and getting trampled in those muggy death traps. I love this race because of the course.

    2. Maybe if the race gets big enough, they can close down Lake Shore Drive for the last two miles, avoiding the "death tunnel". I won't hold my breath, however, as they don't even close down LSD for the Chicago Marathon any longer.

  2. I do hate the McCormick tunnel, too. It's very disorienting for a runner, in my opinion.

    You ran such a smart race, and I think this only means that you are going to get your BQ and rock that marathon! You are such a hard worker and inspiration to me!

  3. Sounded like a very tough race. Tough conditions with the humidity it seemed like. Your % finish numbers are still very high, so that is a great sign that you had a good race. So I wouldn't worry about the actual finishing time. That tunnel sounds rough. And I like seeing your race nutrition info, gives me ideas for future races!

    1. I was surprised by the finish percentages. Perhaps the heat got everyone, or the faster runners stayed home. I'll have to compare it to last years race.

      The tunnels are awful.

      I look back today and wonder why I was so bummed. I ran well and didn't trash my legs. So it was a good day. :)

  4. I'm with you, while expensive, I think the RnR races are very well run, minus the fact that no one else can pick up your bib. That seems a bit harsh. Plus I love the downtown course. I just wish it wasn't in the dead heat of summer!

    1. I don't like the bib pickup either. My L almost didn't make it back and he would have had to find the solutions tent the morning of the race to get his bib. They wouldn't let me get it. Ugh.

      I love the course. I really have enjoyed all of the other RnR events I've done over the years.

  5. It's hard not to be disappointed when you run that distance all the time and know you can do better! And run longer. But you didn't have the best day before. And the weather and that damn tunnel. Ugh. Every report I have read of this race is saying how bad it was. Think we can convince them to move it to Nov? And convince Chicago races to stay out of the tunnels?!

    I love that your socks say that!

    1. Yes. We need a nice Chicago half in November. I'm all for it :)

      The race was brutal. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting from this race. My long runs have been 30-40 seconds a mile slower than this in the same conditions and it hasnt really ever felt great. I'm happy with this race after all. :)

  6. don't be disappointed, you ran a great race in crappy conditions! Besides, i think if we PR'ed every race, we would never learn the humility that makes us stronger and smarter. It sucks, but you will be better off on marathon day because of it.

  7. 1:49 is a great time, especially since you were pretty much recovered 15 minutes later! I didn't know you were in the VIP area too! I would have said hi.

  8. You ran an AMAZING race in very unideal conditions. Be very proud of yourself for getting out there and doing it, no matter the outcome. I am so inspired by all that you do, and I can only wish that someday I would be able to be even half as strong of a runner as you are!!!

    You are going to CRUSH the Fox Valley Marathon!!!