My third half marathon of the year - and my fourth ever - is in the books.
And that is the nicest thing I can say about it.
The Chicago Rock and Roll half marathon was great. And awful. The race officially started at 6:30 a.m. Early enough to not be in the heat of the day, but apparently not early enough to keep me from overheating. Or so the story goes ...
My race began at 7:02 a.m. I started out great; my 5K split was 43:49 - slower than my fastest 5K, saving a little somethin' for later in the race. My 10K split came in at 1:30:08 - just under a 15 minute mile. If I could maintain a similar pace, I would cruise through at my goal of three hours and 15 minutes. I was at nearly the halfway point ... and all hell broke loose.
Right around the seven-mile mark, my knee started giving me problems. (This is my fault; while I felt prepared emotionally for the race, I was not as dedicated to the plan as I needed to be.) So I stopped for medical help. They wrapped my knee, and I took off running again. I lost about five minutes here.
I hit the 10-mile mark at 2:35:15 - still not far off my desired pace. But it was starting to really heat up, and by this time there was no water or Gatorade available on course. My heart rate spiked and I started to feel the effects of the heat, so I stopped for medical help again ... and here's where I lost a lot of time. Eventually I cooled off and could continue, but it was too late to redeem myself. My final time was 3:32:12, with an average pace of 16:12.
I've run four half marathons, and this one was my slowest. Still, I am damn proud of myself for continuing on and finishing what I started. And to tell the truth, I had a lovely day. Our friend Barb rode in with us (it was my turn to drive, so we were Jeepin' it) and Linda's niece Alexis was along, too, for her first half marathon. The music on course was really exceptional, and it made the whole event really fun. I would run it again, except - seriously - no water? I don't trust the organizers to plan well enough to keep runners safe.
But as usual, I learned some things about myself out there. I learned that I'm not afraid to pull back when I'm hurting, even if it means letting go of my goal. I learned that the slowest among us (me) and the fastest among us (Barb) can share the same race and celebrate each others' victories. I learned that taping your knee too tightly will pinch a nerve and cause your leg to go numb. And I learned that if I keep the right attitude, even a tough race can be a lot of fun.
I also learned that there is very little some ice won't cure. But when ice doesn't cut it, a trip to Heaven on Seven for a mint julep + shrimp and grits does the trick quite well.
I'm giving myself the week to recover. Yoga, bike rides, swimming and maybe a short run are the extent of my working out. And that's okay! That's part of the fun of running. Then, next week, training for the Wine & Dine half begins in earnest.
Here we go ... again!