I’m a half marathoner!!! My time was a bit longer than I was expecting, but still just under my main goal of three hours. I can’t wait until the day I can aim for sub 2-hours. I do think that day will come.
I was doing great and staying below a 13-minute pace until about mile 9 when my running just gave out and my legs said no more. So I shortened my run/walk ratio, but ended up walking about 75% of the last three miles. Ah, well. I finished! When I started I kept an 8:1 run / walk ratio and didn’t drop to 5:1 until mile 9. By 11.5 miles I was pretty much running for one minute and walking for a whole lot more. I have never been so happy to see the finish line (although WHY do they torture us with the finish line hills??).
I started the race pretty well, trying to stay slow and not go too fast. The course was crazy crowded on the loop around Lower Hutchinson Field, but opened up once we hit the lakefront path past the Shedd (ok, it usually opens up when you run back of the pack, though). I was feeling pretty good all the way to the turnaround point which was just past halfway. I literally wanted to do a Rocky dance then and there and was confident I was going to finish with a great time. I’m really glad I had been doing my long runs on the path and knew the course fairly well and when to prepare for hills and knowing how far I had run and how much mileage was left to go.
Around mile 9, though, the wheels were getting wobbly. I never ran out of water (ran with my handheld bc of the aid station mystery), was popping decent amounts of shot bloks, and not feeling weak or sore or tired. I did get hungry at mile 8, but nothing I could do. That eventually passed.
Around mile four, I passed my mom and sister who both came to spectate. They parked at 31st Street and waited for me. They even made me a sign! I was glad I had my aviators on because I did choke back some tears. I passed them again on the way back (mile 11ish) and my sister ran with me a little bit to refill my water bottle, so that was cool. There was a random group of college kids on the path at the same time. They saw the sign my mom was holding, and all of a sudden started cheering for me, too — Go Stacey! Haha, that was pretty cool.
Once I hit McCormick Place on the way back, though, I was walking. Tried walking fast, and ran in 30-60 second spurts. At this point my eyes were glued to my watch. I knew I wasn’t going to make 2:45 (really really optimistic goal), I thought I could still make 2:55, but my energy was just sapped. I knew I could still beat 3 hours, so I did. I tried to run the entire distance around the Shedd, but only did about 2/3 of it. I was passing people, but other people were passing me, too. Once I made it to the museum campus tunnel, I knew the end was so so near. Tons more spectators appeared and were cheering us slow pokes on. That was great (even though most of them look past you for their own runners). Then I saw the finish line. I always want to run across the line, so I gathered whatever energy I could and powered up (what is probably not that bad on a non-race day) that hill and crossed the finish.
My final time was 2:58:46 with an average pace of 13:39. If I hadn’t needed to walk so much, I would have at least met McMillan’s time of 2:55. C’est la vie! This was my first half, and I am really just glad that I was able to finish. While 51 runners passed me, I passed 83! That’s a nice statistic you don’t see on most official race results. And this is a time I can definitely beat in my next half (most likely next spring).
I will admit I was getting nervous about the race organization in the days leading up. Despite many many questions from participants on facebook and via emails, Team Ortho was not telling people how many or where any aid stations would be. Frankly, based on what they were posting and responding to, it seemed like they were only interested in selling merchandise and signing people up for their January races instead of focusing on Monster Dash. They finally gave the number of aid stations on Saturday — the day before the race. Team Ortho DEFINITELY needs to work on its communication skills. If you are going to have social media, then RESPOND to social media (and don’t delete posts – geez). It just seems suspicious to me when registration fees and increases are not published and the organizers are more interested in selling merchandise than answering valid participant questions.
On race day, though, I must say everything went smoothly. People actually lined up by race and pace which was nice. There probably could have been 1-2 more aid stations, but the volunteers at the water tables were great. Course markings / marshals could have been a little more prevalent on the half marathon course, but I don’t think anyone got lost. There were enough medals at the end. Food was a bit on the light side (only a bagel and packet of salted peanuts?) and finish line water / Powerade was only in cups, no bottles.
Still, the atmosphere, participants and course were all phenomenal. If you get a discount, I would say sign up for this race. And if you aren’t a runner, I still say go spectate this race because the costumes are quite the sight to see! If you want to see some of the highlights from this year, find the race’s facebook page. There were a lot of zombies and superheroes, but also Staley Bear, a dinosaur, some bacon and eggs. Just lots of good stuff.
So my first half marathon is in the books. Time to find the next one! In the next few days, I’ll write up a post about my training, slacking off and learning lessons.
Ciao for now!