Last year, in the midst of running high mileage, while training to qualify for the olympic marathon trials, I ran the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. The race was August 14, 2011 and we were very lucky to get a beautiful morning with ideal race conditions.
Earlier in the week, I had debated about going to Wisconsin and doing a much smaller half marathon. I wanted to run a descent half, but I also didn’t want to feel the pressure to “perform,” which sometimes happens at bigger races. The reason being was I had put in two weeks of 100 plus miles and the week leading up to the Rock N Roll Half, I was already over 80 miles.
I was feeling pretty trashed and figured I wouldn’t be able to run as well as I knew I could under different circumstances. However, after talking to one of my training partners, I was convinced that on August 14th, I would just “suck it up,” ignore the pressure, put on my game face, get in the zone, and run.
I drove to the race by myself and I didn’t have any expectations. I warmed up a couple of miles, did some strides, and took my place on the starting line. I figured that once I started the race I would know, within the first few miles, if I was capable of racing or if this was going to end up being a good, effort training run.
I started off feeling great and thought I’m just going to keep running this pace until I’m forced to back off. I didn’t look at my watch. I didn’t pay attention to my splits. I just ran. I was in the zone. In fact, so in the zone, I was almost worried the effortless pace was going to come back and bite me.
Races like this don’t come around too often. There’s nothing more exhilarting then feeling like you could keep going forever. There’s nothing better than running hard, yet feeling like you aren’t putting forth any effort whatsoever. And, there’s nothing like watching the miles fly by wondering how your body just keeps going.
On August 14th, 2011, this is just what happened. I will admit around mile 10, my quads started to ache with the pain of 100 mile weeks creeping up on me, and the head wind going into the last two miles wasn’t as comfortable as the first 11. But, I knew at that point I could still over-power my body with my mind and finish strong. I was surprised when the finish clock came into view and I realized I was going to run a sub 1:20!
It was a great feeling to come to a race with tired legs and without any expectations, and end up running a 1:19:51, a new half-marathon PR. Not, only that, but during the race I ran a faster 10k and 10 mile time than I had ever done before! The 3rd place finish, in a race that big, and a nice cash prize made it even better. ( :
In 2012, I hope to run better than a 1:19:51 and set a new 1/2 marathon PR.