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Great Western Half Marathon - RunHalf Marathon

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St. Charles, Illinois
United States
48F / 9C
Total Time = 1h 43m 15s
Overall Rank = 135/662
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 22/66
Pre-race routine:

Baby cried out one time at 2:30am. I could not fall back asleep. I was too wired. I got more sleep than before Pleasant Prairie but still - I wish I had gotten more than 4.5 hrs. Got up, began drinking water and diet pop to get things moving. Ahem. Went to get a breakfast treat for the family when they woke up. Dropped that off at home. Jen and I had discussed it and with the week we've had I didn't want them all to have to get up early to drive all the way down to St. Charles to be at the race. She said she felt very guilty about not coming out and I told her I'd feel guilty if she did.

I arrived early which was a good thing. I had to hit the bathroom 5 times and managed to lock my keys in the car. Fortunately Jeeps are easy to break into so I MacGyvered my way in after a visit to the trailer that brought in the finish line towers.

After all of that fun and excitement I met Lena (lyoshka) the only other BT'er that I knew of at the race. We chatted for a few minutes. It's always great to meet people in person, and to know someone at a race. Lena - good luck in July! winka winka!
Event warmup:

Started at the finish line and jogged back about 3/4 mile. Stopped stretched and talked to an older guy doing this race for the umpteenth time. He's also a triathlete and has been racing for years and years. It was fun talking to him too. Reminds you that this is something we can do for life. Jogged back to the race area. I'm glad I did this because this part of the run was kind of twisty through the forest preserve and it gave you an idea what to expect as you finished. I think I'll make sure to do this at every race from now on. By the way, at this point the sun was out and so there was some deceptive warmth going on. After the race started the clouds came and it cooled off.
  • 1h 43m 15s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 07m 53s  min/mile

From the notes in my lap/HR data you can already tell what happened. Here's the full detail.

Usually I'm pretty open minded about people doing their own thing. Hey, it's not like we're pros, right? But when they set up markers saying 6min pace, 7 min pace, 8 min pace, etc. I think that means you are supposed to try to stand in the appropriate area for the start. I'm thinking they might even have a good reason for asking us to line up like that. Like maybe they've run a race before, and this order makes sense for some reason. Like maybe the 200 people running at 9-10 min miles that lined up in the 6 min mile area could have paid a little more attention! So the run starts and I start moving. I'm having trouble weaving in and out of the 200 people mentioned above. I keep hearing this bizarre sound. EEEEEEEEEE pause EEEEEEEEEEEE. WTF? I figure somebody's watch is going wonky on them. After a few more seconds I hear the same noise again. It begins to dawn on me that I'm doing so much weaving that for the noise to be coming from someone else they'd have to be on my back. I look at my Garmin and realize what happened. I had set the max HR alarm for Zone 1 earlier in the week when I was practicing with it. I never set off the alarm so I didn't know what it sounded like. Man, is THAT annoying. Anyway, I forgot to reprogram it for the race. Duh! At this point we're not even at the half mile mark and I've made 3-4 dumb decisions depending on if you count locking the keys in the car. So I slow down, become one of the slower people up front that I was just 2 seconds earlier thinking nasty thoughts about and work on turning off the alarm. By the time I get that done I feel like I've slowed a lot and lost time. My initial goal was to go out with two 8:00 miles to start. I began running again. We got to the 1 mile mark just at about the same time we went from a regular road down to a bike path. TIGHT squeeze. Nobody fell, but lots of us running in the grass, trying to find a spot to run. I kept feeling like I had to push ahead to get a clear spot. Move up move up move up, clear the crowd. It seemed to be all I could think about. Now a nice sloping downhill section. Downhill? This course is supposed to be flat. Oh well, I love downhill! So I roll it out a little and am really moving now. Things level out and so does my pace. Feeling good. The calamity, crowd and rush of the start is finally beginning to wear off and I slowly get my wits about me. I'm already coming up the 2 mi. mark. and there's a clock. Cool. Goal was 16:00, where am I? 14:39. WHAT???? Oh, crap. I morey'd. Sonofabitch. I look at my HR and it's over 170. LTHR is 168. I'm focked! But I don't feel that bad. In face, I feel pretty good. I feel great. I feel like I could run like this all day. I keep telling myself to slow down and not chase. I let people get ahead of me. Yet, every mile when the watch beeps I look and my splits are under 7:30. What is going on? Maybe I can actually do this? If I can run like this now, maybe I can pull this off. Maybe my LTHR is wrong.

There is a spot between mile 5 and 6 where you turn to the side to cross a road, just for a few strides. It is at this point that my doom is revealed to me. The wind blasts me in the side of the face. We were somewhat protected from the wind at the start, and we were in such a tight pack that I didn't notice it the first mile. Then once we began running with it I didn't feel it. I felt it there, just for that short distance. I realize at this point two things. 1. I do not feel good running 7:26 miles because I can run that fast - it is the wind at my back and 2. It's a gonna hurt when I turn back into this SOB. Oh well, probably too late now to change anything considering I've been above LTHR for over 40 minutes now. Might as well just keep plugging along and see what happens.

At about the 5.5 mi mark I see the leaders coming back the other way. There are 3 younger guys who look like they are working together into the wind. Behind them is one older guy. He deserves a mention here. Running by himself into the wind with the biggest smile I've ever seen on anyone in a race. It was so cool to see him and man, was he cruising! I started a thread in Tri Talk about him but here's his finish info.

1 AG Sam Cortes 56 yrs old 1:19:46.92 5th overall.

Awesome. Only 2 minutes behind the winner. I wonder if he had been able to draft with them into the wind how he would have done.

Back to me. I made the turn and it was like hitting a wall. You had to slow down to turn anyway and then you couldn't feel like you could get going again! Aaarrrgghhhh. Seeing all the people behind me helped motivate me to get back up to speed. My next thought is I wonder if I'll make 8 miles in 1 hour. That was one of my goals last fall. I did it in the Crystal Lake half mary but it turned out that the course mile markers were off a little so it seemed likely that I was a little short of making it. I didn't push any harder to make this goal here but I did try to just keep the overall doom-bringing pace going and ended up clicking 8 mi. on the Garmin at 59:59. Whoopee. That would be great if I was doing an 8 mi race! I'm a jackass. So from miles 8-11 I traded spots and paced with a few people around me. This one girl in particular was about 5 feet tall. She would come up behind me and she had this weird breathing technique. Sounded like here teeth were chattering as she breathed, almost hissing like a snake. She would pass me up, get to a water station and walk/drink so I'd pass her (I was wearing my bottle). Then she'd catch up to me again. We did this for a few miles. I tried drafting off of here (not much help) and other guys if they didn't pass me too fast. I began thinking if I could get to 10 mi at 1:16 then I had 24 minutes left to PR and run a 5K. I can run a 5K in 24 minutes, right? Sure. I almost made the 10 mile mark at that time but it didn't matter anyway. The wind was blowing so hard that it was whipping up dust devils in my face. Between miles 11 and 12.5 was the lowest I think I've ever been in a race. I damn near walked. I really did. I was hurting so bad and I thought what's the point. Then I thought about Daremo. He talked openly about how he had developed a bad habit of quitting in races if they weren't going well for him and had a hard time getting over that habit. I thought maybe this is how that habit starts. Right here, right now I'm going to end it. I staggered up the next bridge. Remember that hill that I cruised down so fast during mile 2. It was awful coming back. If I saw that "hill" again I'd probably laugh at the thought that it was hard. It's nothing compared to the hills I run around here but it looked like Mt. Olympus yesterday at about 9:30 am. I humped up and turned north toward the finish. There was a minor reprieve from the wind here as about half of the last mile was not into the wind. Of course, the last .2 was. Gritted my teeth and tried to pick it up for the finish but there was nothing there.
What would you do differently?:

Be smarter at the beginning. I'm so afraid that being stronger in the end won't be enough to make up for giving up time in the beginning. Hopefully the agony of this race will make me get over that for the next race. Also, bring my smaller water bottle. I still like wearing it but I didn't need this much. I only drank half of what I brought.
Post race
Warm down:

I had to make a very strong effort not to collapse onto the ground. It was hard. I stumbled my way to the car, which was only about 30 feet away. Stood until my HR got down a little and then sat in my chair that I brought. Drank 3 bottles of water. Called my wife, texted Schmize that his PR was safe. Strolled over to the food and grabbed a cup of peanuts and a couple bananas. Just as I sat down I saw a buddy of mine from high school who lives in St. Charles and came out to see me. We bs'd for a half hour. Great talking to old friends. Went the finish line to cheer in Lena. Didn't see her and I had to get going so I headed to my car and we ran into her there. Not sure how we missed her but we said congrats to each other and we all headed home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Even if I didn't go out too fast and ran a smart race, I don't know if I'll ever be much faster than this. Given my training time it might just be that I'm in the ballpark of how fast I can be. That's fine with me. I don't have to be any faster. As long as I do the best that I can in races I'll be happy.

Event comments:

This race was really well organized. Lots of people having lots of fun. Although if they are going to use people on horseback to direct traffic and parking they should plan to pick up the land mines. If I could do about 6-8 events per year I would love to do this one again and see what a better approach and less wind would get me.

Last updated: 2007-03-23 12:00 AM
01:43:15 | 13.1 miles | 07m 53s  min/mile
Age Group: 22/66
Overall: 135/662
Performance: Average
1 7:24 164 171 Didn't notice the wind because stuck in a huge pack. 2 7:15 172 175 Ditto. 3 7:26 172 176 Beginning to wonder how I'm running so fast. 4 7:28 173 178 Pea brain realizes we are running directly w/wind. 5 7:28 175 178 Begin to realize this will mean run BACK into wind. 6 7:44 177 180 Wondering how in the hell I got into Mensa? 7 7:28 179 180 Realizing how hard this is going to be into the wind. 8 7:42 179 181 8 mile right at 1 hr. which for some rsn I like. 9 7:38 181 184 Beginning to hurt and figure I still have a shot at PR. 10 7:48 184 186 Math escapes me. I hurt hurt hurt. 11 8:14 183 186 Leaning into the wind. Dust devils in my face. 12 8:31 181 182 This was the closest I've ever been to quitting. 13 9:10 181 186 About a .5 mi brk as we turn north. Hands are numb? .1 1:31 177 181 Final turn back into the wind for the hobble to the finish.
Course: Advertised as very flat. It was not. At least, with this wind (more later on that) it was not flat. I wouldn't call it hilly. I think it was on a par with Crystal Lake last fall which some thought was flat with rollers or slightly hilly. This was almost completely straight west for 6.5, turn around and then straight east for 6.5.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Bad
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2007-05-07 1:32 PM

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Crystal Lake, IL
Subject: Great Western Half Marathon

2007-05-07 2:00 PM
in reply to: #791667

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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Great Western Half Marathon
Good job!  On a good day, with a point-to-point DOWNHILL course and the wind at my back, I would probably overcome those kinds of mistakes to snag a 1:59:xx half. 
2007-05-07 3:17 PM
in reply to: #791667

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Mukwonago, WI
Subject: RE: Great Western Half Marathon
Hey great job - great race!  Im my running world that time is smokin' fast and a pace that I will never hope to have over a half mary.  Great report too.  You always give lots of great details!
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