Thursday, December 11, 2014

Baby, It Was Hot Outside (2014 Chicago Women's Half Marathon - Aug. 31)

Clearly this is long overdue. I haven't seen hot weather in a while! I've been finding it useful to me to go back and read reports of past races when preparing for new ones. Since I had taken notes on this race right after the event and just never managed to post them (perhaps because I was, oh, moving), I thought I'd go ahead and finally throw these out there. Perhaps they will be useful to you too.

Here's the link to when I was preparing for it. In it I mentioned planning to run with a pace group and figuring out my hydration/nutrition, along with my goals and in general hoping for an fun experience. In reviewing my notes I see that I addressed all of these concerns, so...

I lost my pace group almost immediately. I had been thinking to try for a 10:30 minute/mile pace (for a final time of 2:20) but then by mistake I locked in with the 2:30 group. By the time I realized this I couldn't catch up. It felt better to run on my own anyways, it always does.

I felt I got my fuel/hydration down pretty well:
  • 2.5 hours before I had tea and my Emergen-C;
  • 2 hours before I had oatmeal, a banana, and coffee (all this in transit);
  • 1 hour before I had half a Clif Bloks package and sips of water;
  • In the last half hour before the start I chewed some gum for a dry mouth but didn't take in any water;
  • I had two 10 oz. bottles of Tailwind in the chest pockets of my racing vest.
This plan worked well since I didn't have to make any pit stops on the course. I had some tummy tenderness during the last half of it (probably from the heat as much as anything else) but nothing unmanageable.

I knew with the heat and humidity I was going to have to take walk breaks every mile (rather than every other mile as I usually do at this distance), to give myself moments to cool down and so I could get more fluids in. I drank Tailwind at those breaks so had a steady intake of carbs during the race. As it turned out I didn't like having the bottles on my chest (I had even written about this with a previous race but didn't remember). When I run to work the chest bottles are balanced out by the stuff I'm carrying in the back pouch so I don't really notice them, but during a race I really notice the extra weight in front. I don't like using a hydration bladder (I just feel stupid sipping through a tube), so I'm going back to experimenting with gels for races, since I should always be able to access water on the course.

This race was billed as the first opportunity to run "The Magnificent Mile". Meh. I see these streets every day so it wasn't the thrill for me that it might have been. It felt the same as running downtown during the marathon. I didn't really like the activities structured around the race this year (a fashion show and black dress gala). It no longer feels about women's empowerment - we're all getting healthy together! - and more about women as consumers. I have very much loved this event in the past but since the new time (end of August) is also not a great time for me in the year (things get busy at work and school is about to start for the boys) I think I will sadly give this one a pass in the future.

I started the race with music but it jut didn't feel right so I turned it off until mile 7. Then over the last six miles I repeatedly tried to pick up my pace - and kept not being able to do it. I tried again with four miles to go... then again with two miles left... and then over the last mile I had to walk up the hills and resume running going down or on the straights. It was so frustrating - I can almost always push at the end and this time I just could not do it. Not even on the last stretch coming in to the finish line. Then I hit the finish line, stopped, and immediately felt chilled and sick. So it must have been the heat.

Official results: 2:17:48 total. 10:31 pace.

The first mile was 11:00 and then I was pretty much between 10:20-10:25 for miles two through eleven - I must have slowed down more than I thought in those last two miles. I was only 1:07 away from a PR - could I have found that on the course? The heat and humidity were out of my control. My training leading up to it, however, was more in my control, and it was not the best - I had missed a few long runs and endurance runs. I don't think that could have been avoided given what the rest of my summer was like, but I can't fall short on the training and then still hope for a PR

Could I have found another 30 seconds out there, just enough to lower my pace to 10:29? It doesn't really matter... but that I can even think that way shows me the power a number can have. Silly, but true for most serious runners I've found.

So, going back to my goals for this race, yes, I think I ran a strong and smart race given the weather conditions and my training. And yes, this race is well enough organized and I like the course enough that the actual experience of it is worth doing. But did I have fun? Was it exciting? Would I do it again? Not at the moment, no.

But never say never when it comes to races.

Non, je ne regrette rien -

1 comment:

  1. Especially with more frequent walk breaks, that is one killer time. Congrats on an awesome race!!