Sunday, January 13, 2013

Polar Dash Half Marathon

Goal for the race was to try to attempt to run it at 1:46-1:47. I knew I wasn't going to hit 1:45 right off the bat so anything under 1:48 would make me happy.

The only reason why I was doing this race was because the training plan called for a half marathon this weekend, and this one happened to be on Saturday (woohoo!). To my surprise, the weather was suppose to be in the 50s. The only thing I didn't anticipate was that I was running it alone (JV had work that morning). So I invited a friend from the UIC Run Club to run it with me . We both had the same goal, run a half marathon at 1:45 in 2013. We also ran at about the same pace so it was perfect that she was able to do it. We went ahead and registered the week of the race. 

Morning of
I was beyond nervous. I didn't know why, but I just couldn't sleep the night before and in the morning, I just wanted the race to be over with. I ate half a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter. I find it better not to carb-load the night before and just eat something small in the morning.

The race started near Grant Park, and the course was on the lakefront path. Many races in 2012 were on the same course, so it felt very familiar and I already knew this course well. I knew where there was small uphills and downhills as well as where to watch my step. This course also brought back memories of PRs and my first half, so it comforted me a little.

After checking in our bags (long lineeee, longer than the port-o-potty lines), we headed over to line up at the start line. The weather felt awesome. I chose to run in my running tights even though it wasn't that cold because I knew it was suppose to get colder and it's usually windy-er (?)  by the lake. So I stuck to wearing tights, t-shirt and arm warmers. Took a Shot Blok 5 mins before the start.

Off we went!

During the Race
Mile 1: Weaving in and out of people. Tried not to speed off to fast and kept M. in my sight. (7:57)
Mile 2: Started behind the 1:50 group, so I sped up and caught up to the 1:45 group before they got any further away. (7:44)
Mile 3: Feeling good. Still see M. a few feet in front of me. (7:54)
Mile 4: Wooh! Still feeling good and sub 8 pace (7:54)
Mile 5: Tried to keep my sub 8 min splits (7:59)
Mile 6: Almost half way! And my split have all been at sub-8! It hit me that maybe I could try for my 1:45 today. Just Maybe. But I wasn't sure what pace I needed since I was just trying to hit 1:47, damn. (7:57)
Mile 7: Still with the 1:45 group. At the turn around I see M. and cheered her on! She's def going to hit a sub 1:45! There's a water stop ahead, so I take a Shot Blok and I decide to take a small walk break during the water stop. I can afford a few seconds and also decided to walk because I know I'm going to start slowing down and need my legs to stay fresh (8:04)
Mile 8: Still feel good. Although my splits are no longer in the 7mins, I know I'm def going to PR today (8:01)
Mile 9: 4 MORE MILES! Another Shot Blok and stopped for more water and Gatorade.  (8:13)
Mile 10:  Ok.. Now I'm starting to feel a little tired. Up ahead, I see M. on the side of the path, uh oh. I slowed down, gave her one of my Shot Bloks and told her we only have 3 miles to go. Keeping myself from speeding up since I still had 3 miles to cover. (8:25)
Mile 11: At this point I switched my watch to overall pace instead of lap pace. I noticed my overall pace was 8:02! I knew that if I kept up this pace, it was def going to be a 1:45!! I couldn't believe it! Water Stop --> Mistake, I start feeling really bloated. I probably drank too much water and gatorade today, oops (8:16)
Mile 12: Looking down at my watch boosted my confidence more and more. I noticed a girl in front of me around my age and tried speeding past her. Every time I tried, she would run harder, small segments of mini-sprints. Gosh I wish I had the energy to do that right now. (8:10)
Mile 13: Wooh! That was a negative split! I was still a few inches behind the girl. I look down at my watch at the 13 mile mark! My watch says 1:45! I can do this!!!! (8:15)
Last 0.1:  I keep running and keep looking down at my watch. I need to cross the finish line before 1:46

Finish Time: 1:45.48

9th out of 53 Females 20-24
41 out of 481 Females
(3 min PR, and my 2013 goal achieved)

After I crossed... I stood there. In shock. How did I do that? How did I accomplish something I had yearned for, for so long. I didn't know how to feel. I looked down at my Garmin and stared.
Wow. I did it. I really really did it. I walked over and got my medal and waited for M. to finish. We had just finished an amazing race.

I'm still trying to digest the fact that my legs held up pretty well throughout the race. I slowed down when I needed to and stopped to walk whenever I felt like I could afford to lose a few seconds. I took the first 7 miles at a medium effort, and tried setting myself on "cruise-control" not slowing myself down, but not pushing to speed up. That also worked for my during miles 10-12. I didn't panic if my split was bad, because I knew it was going to be a good time regardless.

After collecting our medals and our goodie bags (banana, bagel and chocolate) the Accelerate tent was up ahead and there was hardly anyone waiting. I felt no pain, but my legs could use a little stretch. We were also able to exchange our fleece! (During registration, the only fleece they had available was XL) They offered to exchange our fleece and if our size wasn't available the day of the race, we had the option to receive a $20 voucher in exchange for the fleece (woop woop!) The fleece is very comfortable, with pockets, and is thicker than most of the fleeces given during races (a plus).
There was nothing really going on after, so we warmed up with some Chai Tea Lattes at the nearest Starbucks.

-Course: Lakefront path, meh. Not interesting, flat, but I knew it well and it worked in my favor.
-Goodies: After the race, we were handed water and a clear small plastic bag with our banana, bagel and chocolate already in it. Saved us the time to be going around with food in our arms, but I wouldn't mind a granola/chewy bar or small gatorade bottle.
-Fleece: Comfortable, durable, and with pockets. Plus it's cute. We also got a penguin warm hat, for those freezing runs.
-Price: Got the registration on sale (20.13% off) the week of the race! Def good deal for a half marathon and ~$59.
-Medal: Awesome
-Weather: Perfect

Will I do this again next year?
If I could get the registration for a lower price, definitely.

My plan for f^3 in 2 weeks?
Well.. I have 8 weeks of marathon training to go. I don't want to risk getting injured.. I am also signed up for the Midwinter Cruise 5k and have 17 miler next weekend. Depending on how I feel, I might go after a 8:00min half marathon pace (or maybe even 7:59 if everything works in my favor like today). It felt like everything just clicked today. I also felt like last weeks 15 miler helped me get use to running distance and endure running with fatigue legs (I can probably thank the marathon training plan for that). I'm so happy for this time and I can't wait for the 5k next weekend. I might be able to shave those 6 seconds off and finally get my 22:xx min 5k. But before I get all excited, I'm going to take it easy and not expect everything to work in my favor.

Because it feels amazing when you accomplish something when you least expect it :)


  1. Damn! Awesome new PR! You make it sound so easy ;) You rock!

    1. :) thanks Kim! I'm def sore today haha

  2. Great job on the PR. I find that the hard, consistent training, especially in the winter pays huge dividends in more mild race conditions!

    1. Thank you Pete! I'm hoping this training pays off (especially during the Summer when the extreme heat hits us again). I think I actually have a shot at a sub-4 marathon :)