Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Chicago Spring Half Marathon

One of the benefits of being part of a running team is the occasional free race entry. I'm scared to even ballpark a dollar amount to what I've spent on race entries over the years (but hey, it's better than spending the money on fast food, right?). The Chicago Spring Half happened to be one of them.

Kim S. turned me on to this race a few years ago. The race's start and finish is extremely convenient to her place, which has been the home of some fun post-race parties over the years. But this year, Kim was out of the country and Jen and I were taking on the race.

We decided we'd meet each other down at the start line. This race has a small field for a half marathon. As I got off the bus at Michigan and Randolph at 5:45am, the bus driver asked me what race I was doing. I told her of the race and she said she wished me luck on winning it. (right!)

After checking my bag at the Universal Sole tent, I headed to the start line and found Jen. The weather was overcast but warm. A few announcements were made as the field faced south. The weather didn't look good in that direction. A dark, heavy cloud was hanging that way. It looked like rain. The announcer ensured us the race was keeping tabs on the weather and we may get drizzled on at the southern most part of the course, but after that, we should be in the clear. As we stood there waiting for the delayed start, the temperature started to drop and the wind picked up.

The race finally starts and Jen and I spend the first few miles catching up. Around mile 5, she picks up the pace and I maintain mine. All was good until about mile 6. Rain. Then came mile 6.5, our turn around. Now wind.

At the halfway point, I checked my watch. I had a good pace going in relation to my half marathon PR time at about three minutes faster than anticipated. But could I maintain in the rain and wind. Then I remembered the 2008 Chicago Half Marathon - my standing half PR race. Conditions were anything but ideal then.

From 6.5 to the end, it was a tough, windy race. The rain pelted our bodies from the air and reflected off the ground onto us. The path was covered in puddles. Our shoes were soaked. The wind made our shirts into sails. Out on the the lake shore we had no cover. I'd set a good pace to start with. Now that it was nasty out, I figured it best to try to maintain and get out of the elements.

In the last mile, the rain slowed to a drizzle. I checked my watch as we came into the River East neighborhood. This race would be a PR. And by six minutes.

Maybe the key to PR success (besides drinking three the night before) is rain.

Jen and I met right after the race and headed to a brunch spot to change our clothes, have a hot cup of coffee and celebrate with oreo smores pancakes.

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