CHICAGO ROCK AND ROLL HALF MARATHON- 8/14/11

I went into the Chicago R and R Half to gauge my fitness and to see where I am in my preparation to qualify for the Olympic Trials.  I can say, I am pleased with the outcome.  I came in 5th overall.  I would have liked to win, but there were some extremely talented runners who showed up.  I finished in 1:11:12, which is 58 seconds slower than my PR, but my Garmin said the course was 13.73 miles.  That is over 6/10’s too long which equates to around 3 minutes.  By that calculation I would have PR’d by over 2 minutes.  I know that’s a long explanation, so I’ll just say, I am on track.

I had a good taper week last week.  I got home from Mammoth on Sunday and left for Chicago Thursday.  I did enough to stay sharp, but not too much.  I came into this race feeling fairly fresh. The altitude training had me in outstanding aerobic strength and all of the hill training in Mammoth has my run strength better than ever.  I knew Chicago was going to be a flat course which would be challenging because there would be no downhills to get my foot turnover going.  I would have to drive my knees the entire way and “work” the course.

It was nice to be at my parents house in the few days leading up to the race.  Home cooked meals, a comfortable bed, no need to travel around to find places to eat, etc.  I could physically and mentally prep for the stress that was to come on Sunday.  Race morning was beautiful.  On Saturday it had poured rain, so I was a little wary of how it was going to be on Sunday.  It was perfect.  I warmed up, talked to a few old friends from Chicago, and mentally prepared for the next hour of pain.  I’ll be honest, I wanted to run sub 1:05.  I though I could do it.  Joanna and I had spoken and agreed that I would go out conservative and close hard in the end.  I always start fast, so this would be a challenge.

The gun sounded and we were off.  I was off of the front pretty quick, but with all of the buildings Downtown Chicago, my Garmin was not getting a good read on my pacing.  I went through the first mile sub-5 which was way too fast.  I mentally backed off.  Two runners came by me and I let them go.  I knew that their pace was too quick for me this early on.  It was really flat.  Like I had anticipated, I had to conscientiously drive my knees to keep my turnover up.  I was hanging on in 3rd place through mile 6 when another runner shot past me.  Once again, I let him go.  I had 7 miles to run and I already felt as if I went out too hard.  I needed to save my kick for the last 3 miles.  I hit mile 10 in fourth ready to turn up the heat.  I made a left onto Lake Shore Drive and hit a nasty head wind.  This hurt.  I was saving some energy for these miles, and instead of upping my pace I was struggling to keep it around 5:40/mi.  One more runner past me here, but it took everything I had to keep driving hard to the finish.

The race was not marked every mile, so I had to go off of my Garmin splits.  I think the problem was that the start line had to be moved a bit because of a problem with the area of the original start line.  This caused the race mileage to be off.  I am happy with my splits, and it may have been a good thing that I went out a little harder at the start because of the nasty “Windy City” that hammered us at the end.

Today my hips are extremely sore.  I think this is because of the consistent knee drive with no huge undulation in the course.  Just the same muscles firing over and over.  I’ll be in Chicago though Wednesday, in L.A. through the 22nd, and then off to Boulder, CO to train at altitude for a while.  Thanks for all of the support.  I put my race splits below.  RACE HARD!

1. 4:55                    8. 5:08

2. 4:34                    9. 5:27

3. 4:47                  10. 5:23

4. 4:28                  11. 5:29

5.  5:21                  12.  5:45

6.  5:20                 13.  5:50

7.  4:48                 13.72.  3:54

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