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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Race Report: CDC 8-10-08


Chicago Distance Classic
Date: 8-10-08
Start: 6:30 a.m.
Location: Chicago lakefront
Miles: 13.1
Official time: 2:01:54

Ok, here we go. Grab a cup of coffee....

Wow. What a great race. Although my official chip time isn't under my goal of a sub 2:00 hours (close though!), I'm still very happy with it considering I've never done anything like this in my life. I had an incredible time, and it was some kind of an experience.

Overall, everything went perfect. I got there on time, stretched, and my legs felt fresh the whole way through. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the crowds were great.

Pre-race: I got freakin' nervous. I was fine about 30 minutes before the race, but once I got in line, I had no idea what to expect. The feeling is WAY different that doing a small 5K race. You have to respect the 13.1 mile distance. If you don't, and start out too fast, it's over.

The start: Due to the sheer number of registered runners, the race organizers decided to do a wave start. The best way I can describe a wave start is like waiting in line for a roller coaster. You can see the trains go ahead of you, and you wait in anticipation for your car to be next. Once it starts to roll, you get all shaky and feel the adrenaline rush. Off I go around 6:40 a.m. in the 3rd wave.

Miles 1-3: I spend some time trying to find my groove averaging about a 9:15 mile. There are a lot of obstacles on the route- pylons, curbs, grass medians, and trees! At one point, the route took us inside of McCromick Place. I think it was some sort of pedestrian concourse. It was dark and I had to remove my sunglasses for fear of falling into a pothole and face-planting it.

Miles 3-5: The field is still really crowded, but the road is wider and I find a good rhythm at a 9:00 mile pace. The legs are feeling great and I spend the time listening to a couple of runners talking about how great their boyfriends are.

Miles 6-7: Coming up on some crazy hairpin turns. The route gets really narrow- only 3 people wide at times. Runners get really bunched up and are nearly shoulder to shoulder. I'm still feeling really good and I start to take it one mile at a time. Seeing the mile signs at this point is a bit intimidating considering I'm only half way done.

Miles 8-10: I've only stopped by the fluid stations to pour water on my head. The sun is really making it warm, but after making the turn back north, the cool wind off the lake was invigorating. The route brought us really close to the crashing waves along the shoreline, and the mist was a welcome relief. The view of the Chicago skyline from here was simply breathtaking. Still feeling surprisingly good, and I bring the mile splits to 8:45 a minute.

It still surprises me how runners can keep up a conversation this deep into the race just as I'm huffing and puffing to stay on pace. Conversations between runners ranged from how to bake a chocolate cake, to a couple who were arguing on the course because her boyfriend ran ahead and left her behind!

Miles 11-12
: I'm starting to pass a lot of the runners that passed me in the early miles, which made me feel great! I feel good enough to bring my mile splits close to 8 minutes now, and still feeling amazing. The route is familiar now, as it's the same route I've trained on for many weeks taking me through the museum campus. Mile 12 is the furthest I've run in training, and I can hear the finish line crowd just around the corner. This made me fire up the after burners and I think I was averaging a 7 minute mile at this point. I can feel the pain now, but the end is near and I'm too zoned on finishing strong to care.

The finish: I let loose and just ran as fast as I could! The pain I'm feeling is numbed by the adrenaline and the cheering crowds at the finish. It was so incredible, and I take it all in. I struggle to find my legs which I left back at mile 11, I think, and grab my medal.

It's hard to describe what I'm feeling at this point. I've trained so hard, and I never would of imagined I could accomplish something like this even a year ago. It's almost like I wish I would of kept going, but my legs weren't having it! The feeling was bliss- incredible.

So that's it! The training only gets more intense from here on in as I prepare for the Chicago Marathon in October. As always, I've learned a few lessons that I can apply to my training to get even faster. The good thing is is that I'm loving every minute of it, and can't wait for 26.2.

Thanks to those of you offered me some great advice on this race, my family and friends for coming to see me finish, and you for reading!

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