Thursday, September 4, 2014

Magnificent Mile Women's Half Marathon

I am a slacker beyond all belief when it comes to blogging. I can write like crazy about running on my Mom on the Run Facebook Page but can't manage to hash out any blog posts about my training.  So incase you're interested in my months of marathon training and all that goes along with it, stop by my Facebook page or follow @momonthe_run on Instagram. To see my daily and weekly mileage you can stop by my RunKeeper tab. {Lots of ways to keep up with my running insanity}

This past weekend me and the family headed up to Chicago for the Magnificent Mile Women's Half Marathon. I saw the race info on Instagram back in July, thanks to a fellow Oiselle flock member and couldn't wait to tell the hubby about it. I joked to him that it could be my anniversary gift, 10 years baby!, and that Lauren Fleshman would be there and I'd love to meet her.  He instantly said yes and to my surprise I was signing up for the race that very evening.

So fast forward to August 30th, we arrived in Chicago and settled into our hotel. After a quick bite to eat we walked to the packet pick-up where I nervously awaited meeting Lauren Fleshman. She was super nice and talkative but I was too nervous to think of anything important to ask.  She asked me what my race goals were and my long term running goals so I told her about my hopes to break my 1:39:45 (training run) PR for the half marathon and that my ultimate goal was to BQ in October.  She told me she believed in me and then signed my race bib: "Jessy, Go Fast, Take Chances! -Lauren Fleshman".  A quick picture and then I was off to meet up with my family outside.  I was so excited that I had to take a picture of my race bib immediately.

Onto the race report. Sunday morning I woke up around 5am, ate my granola bar and fruit snacks and got ready for the race. I had a fever a few days prior and still had the lingering symptoms of a cold, including immense head pressure and the feeling of fluid build up behind my eardrums.  This should have been clue #1 that I needed to rethink my race plan. But I went along, thinking I would be fine, still planning to put the hammer down and try to crank out a shiny new PR.  I woke Jordan up around 6 and he headed to the starting line with me. 
I met up with @blonde_bun_runner, my fellow flockmate and the one who I found out the race info from, and @mahaney2 a soon to be flockmate and awesome running inspiration of mine who planned to pace me to that shiny new PR.  Sarah (@mahaney2) is racing a marathon in less than two weeks so she had no intentions of racing and said she would hang back with me and help to keep me going. Thank goodness for that, I may have quit without her!
At the starting line we were greeted by Lauren Fleshman again as well as Coach Jenny and they gave us some words of wisdom to train and race by. We listened as the National Anthem was sung and then Corral A and the elite women were off.  My plan was to try to PR and my crazy brother told me to break 1:35...not a super realistic goal but I've been known to surprise myself so I wasn't ruling it out. 
It was warm at the start, in the 70's with 100% humidity so I should have gauged my pace based on that, not on my projected finish time.  But, foolishly I did not. You live and learn. We started out at a moderate pace and I felt great running up the Magnificent Mile. Sarah and I passed the 1 mile mark around 7:30 and I thought, "Good, keep it there for now." But I'm terrible at gauging pace and usually when I think it's getting hard because I'm tired it's really because I've drastically sped up.  Mile 2 was in 6:54 and Sarah asked how I felt.  "Terrible, we've gotta slow it down."  And we did. Barely.  Mile 3 was in 7:10. I told myself I wasn't going to look at my Garmin splits and I was going to race based on how I felt, so I tried not to let myself get scared when we crossed the 3 mile mark close to 22 minutes {5K PR is 21:30's!}.  We crossed the 4 mile mark under 30 minutes and I was starting to really feel fatigued but maintained my calm for the time being.  I was trying to convince myself I could keep pushing, but with 9 miles to go and my head starting to hurt I felt like I was running out of gas already.  We ran the next few miles around 7:45 pace and by mile 7 I was feeling totally dead.  I started feeling chilly, like I was overheating, when the wind would blow and knew I had to be careful.  I wanted to finish but I didn't want to risk my future training because this half marathon was not my goal race. I still had to make it through September before my marathon!  I told Sarah I thought 8 minute miles were about all I could manage and she kept encouraging me and telling me I was doing a good job.  She ran ahead of me but would slow and wait or turn around and run back to catch me, always reminding me that I was sick and I was strong for pushing through. I felt like I was failing her and myself and started feeling really sorry for myself around the 8 mile mark.  Jenn (@blonde_bun_runner) passed me somewhere after the 8 mile mark looking really strong.  I tried to hang on to her as she passed by but it was short lived and I had to let her go or risk not finishing.  Between mile 8 and 9 we turned around and I was so relieved knowing that I was heading towards the finish line finally.  Fleshman was pacing the 1:45 group (8 minute/mile pace) and she was still behind me.  I was hoping to stay in front of her group and stay under 8 minute pace.  After the turn around I saw her running towards me, not having reach the turn around herself yet, so I stuck out my hand and she smiled really big and stuck her hand out, slapping mine as she passed.  THAT was AWESOME!  I sped up with some renewed energy and ran mile 9 under 8 minutes.  I was still running low 8 minute miles after that, but by mile 11 I was feeling dizzy, had the chills and was running with my eyes closed part of the time.  The sun was beating down on us as we ran along the Lake Front path; it would have been a beautiful run if I hadn't been feeling so miserable.  Sarah reminded me that I only had two miles left and so I tried to push forward and get my legs moving.  Mile 12 was my slowest mile in 8:21 but as soon as we passed the 12th mile mark I knew I had 1.1 miles to go and I pushed as much as I could.  As we rounded the last turn Sarah yelled at me to RUN and pointed to the finisher's clock telling me to get in under 1:44.  I ran in agony and sprinted to the finish line, coming in at 1:43:48.  I wasn't thrilled with my time or my performance.  Sarah reminded me again over and over that I had pushed through and hung on even while feeling so shitty.  I ran my last half marathon race in September 2013, finishing in 1:48:10 so I beat my time by almost 5 minutes, something to still be proud of. 
Things I learned from this race: 1. DO NOT START OUT SO FAST!  2. Listen to my body and respect the weather/other factors that I cannot control. 3. I am tough and I can hang on to those low 8 minute miles even when I feel terrible.  I will have to remind myself of this pain and how I pushed through and hung on if I start feeling bad during my marathon next month. 
Ahh!  I have a marathon to run in a month!  :) 

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