Illinois 1/2 Marathon race recap- I lost sight of things...

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Pam and I about an hour post race. Pam smoked her 10K!

I had to let this one sit for a couple of days. Not because it was a horrible race. I may have felt that way right after, and said as much, but stepping away and talking to Dave, Pam and Coach Jen helped put it in perspective. In actuality, it was a fun weekend and I’m glad I went.

Race day, the weather wasn’t bad. Partly sunny, cool yet windy. We got up at 4:30am, and I was antsy as usual. This time though, it didn’t subside. I choked down breakfast, which ended up coming back up when we got to Assembly Hall to park.

Then, magically something switched. I felt good. I scarfed down a bagel
and some water, hoping it’d be enough. I warmed up and waited with Pam
in line for the bathrooms before the 10K. The lines were crazy, I read
on the Illinois Marathon website that they were going to rethink
port-o-let locations…yeah, that’d be a good idea.

They had the
10K start at 7:22 and the half marathon was to start 8:00 later so we
had to line up right away and I didn’t get to send Pam off. Once we got
in line I felt focused and excited.

The goal was to pace at about
12:00 for the first mile…nice and easy, and build into this race.
Which I haven’t done yet in my short running career. I always start too
fast.

We finally got going and I kept an eye on my pace. Mile 1
was a nice straight shot, no turns and flat. I hit mile 1 at 11:43. OK,
not bad. The wind at this point wasn’t bad. They called for 25mph winds
which didn’t sound fun. Mile 2, through campus was 11:41. Nice, I felt
good. The nerves were good. Miles 3-5 I wanted to go at about 11:30 or
so.

I followed the in-race nutrition “plan”…drink every 10:00,
2 Clif Shot Blox every 30:00 and a salt tab every 30:00. As we made our
into Urbana I felt alright, but by mile 4 I knew I’d have to make a pit
stop. But I felt fine. My uneasiness with nutrition was fading.

Mile
4 I paced at 11:34 and thought maybe I could pick up the pace a bit. I
wanted to be at 5.25 miles at the 1:00:00 mark. Figuring if I pulled at
least that in hour 2, I’d have a damn good shot at a PR. So mile 5 I
pulled an 11:00 pace. I still felt alright despite the wind. Holy hell
was it strong, especially the latter part of mile 4 and 5…we were
pretty much out in the open out there, with nothing to stop the wind.

I
hit the half way point, by the first relay exchange point where I
started running the course last year. I saw 4 unoccupied port-o-lets
behind the water station so I went for it. With the quick pit stop I
still managed a 11:53 mile 6.

I hit Meadowbrook Park and started
thinking numbers in my head. I knew if I hit mile 8 by 1:30:00 or so
that’d mean I could slow to a 12:00 pace from there and still have a
shot at a PR. I had let myself off the hook, I just didn’t know it yet. I
paced mile 8 at 11:33 despite the pain in my back I felt. Mid back,
just below the shoulder blades. After thinking about it, I was probably
tense, fighting the wind.

Just before the mile 9 marker, I got
dizzy. My vision was blurry and I stumbled a little a I felt a little
weak. I was due to “eat” and have a salt tab so I did. I wasn’t super
worried, as I had a cushion. If I could pull a 12:00 mile or so I could
recover and pick it up again, I reasoned. I tried to push through miles 9
and 10, heading up Race in Urbana.

I was struggling and
panicking. Then I got frustrated with the in-race nutrition and dwelled
on all of that. I turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue and was with in a
block of mile 11, and 2 blocks to the aid station. And I walked.
Physically I shouldn’t have had to. I had quit mentally and decided to
walk to the aid station to try and clear my head.

It didn’t help.
For what I think is the first time over this past year and a half I
wanted to quit the race. I was waiving the white flag in my head and it
pissed me off. I prided myself on

I tried to tell myself the tank was empty, but I don’t know. I didn’t try to test that theory.

After
walking the aid station, the rational side of my brain kicked in and I
started to run again. My legs felt heavy but not too bad, my back was
killing me but I was moving. I came close to texting Pam and asking her
to come find me and push me. And that made me a little mad.

Last year I ran the majority of my races with Dave;
he pushed, pulled, paced, cheered and yelled when needed. I knew this
year would be different, I’d be running on my own and learning how to
push, pull, cheer and yell for myself. So I didn’t text Pam, I kept
moving. I knew I wasn’t going to PR but I was damn sure going to finish
on my own.

I made the turn to circle Memorial Stadium and I was
ecstatic to see the stadium. I had less than a mile to go. I got passed
by a woman who was pushing herself, shouting, “You’re strong! You’re
strong!” And she was gone.

I hit First street and knew I had 2
turns left! I made the first of those two and ran into many of my old
coworkers and friends…the boost helped, a lot. I hit the stadium and
instead of being happy, I got emotional…sad…disappointed.

Sure
the goal was to PR, but my bigger goal is to enjoy these races. I
didn’t enjoy this one fully, and looking back now, a couple of days
later, that’s why I was upset. I had forgotten my mantra. I run because a short while ago I couldn’t and wouldn’t. I run because I can. I run, because I can.

I projected my disappointment on to my time, 2:37:42. And I was mad. Hell, Pam didn’t know what to say or do so she let me lay on the sideline. Coach Jen and I texted back and forth…I vented, she listened.

After
a half an hour I felt OK. I was anxious to see Myriah and Charlie
finish their first half! Pam and I chatted about her first 10K…she
smoked it, 1:08:03! Myriah finished in 3:31:02 and Charlie came in 3:57:34! I’m proud of all three of them!

Looking back now, after some time to think, sure I was bummed I didn’t
PR, but that’s not the only reason I run. I can’t PR everytime, I know
that. I know I’m not fast, I won’t be fast. But I can be the fastest me
there is and enjoy running at the same time. I lost sight of why I run
and who I run for.

This was my second fastest 1/2 marathon to date and my fastest run
alone! To get to mile 9 on pace, and on my plan with a shot to PR,
that’s awesome! I didn’t go out too fast, I’m happy with that. Looking at the results…last year, same race I ran 6.5 miles in 1:25:11. My 10K split this year was 14:05 faster!

I
learned some about racing on my own. I have that determination to
finish, it might not have been pretty or ideal, but I pushed through. Coach Jen
said we’ll work on the mental stuff. We might add a few more races, to
work on it. After our 30+ minute talk yesterday, I’m confident.

And as far as in-race nutrition…something has to give. I’ve got to get
that figured out, ASAP! Hopefully we can get the kinks worked out and I
can feel confident about that too.

I hit Dave up last night on FB (of course) and thanked him for the pep
talk. Even though I’m not running with him, I know he’s there. It’s
because he’s awesome.

I need to thank everyone who commented, tweeted or chatted after the race. Thank
you all. Your support helped get me out of the pity party. You’re all
awesome and I’m happy to consider you all friends…I’m one lucky dude!

So, with that…13.1 Chicago, you’re next!

More later!

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