March 15 my friend Karen and I completed the Cary Half Marathon. Many in the Chicago area runners circles look at this race as the kick off to the running season. For me, it was smack dab in the middle because I really enjoy training in the winter. Well, I guess I wouldn’t say that I really relished those 0-14 degree F days…but I’d say my optimal running temperature is 35-50 degrees F. And that’s what we got for race day!
This race course is notoriously hilly and having trained primarily in the streets of Oak Park, I did not get much hill exposure. However, some of the days my training partner Karen and I would run over the Circle Ave. bridge in Forest Park about 5-6 times in order to get some climbing in. Two weeks prior to the race, we went out to Oak Brook where there is a road we know well as cyclists–Spring Road. It is hilly, and is surrounded by hilly side streets. That day was good preparation for us–as it was about 20 degrees F, windy, snowy, and hilly! We completed our last long run of 11 miles that day and boy did we feel it afterwards (see picture).
Race day both of us were feeling great. I had some aches and pains in my upper neck/back that was radiating down my arms (primarily due to continual use of the computer and head-forward posture). I had received Prolotherapy for this injury a few weeks prior to the race, so I was feeling fine about that situation. It was 27 degrees at the start of the race, so both of us were wearing two shirts, hat, and gloves. However, as the start of the race approached (8:35AM start time) the sun was peeking out and the temperatures were beginning to rise. Needless to say, I stripped off that second shirt before mile number three and ditched the hat and gloves. We were clipping along at 10:40 pace which is great for me. My goal was to finish in 2:30 or under preferably, so we were on course to do that. By mile 8, I was getting a bit fatigued, overheated, and my right hamstring was really hurting me, in addition to my upper back. But it was all tolerable. The last half of the course is loaded with hills, so unfortunately the pace slowed down a bit for me (and Karen). I finally realized I was just too hot (hard to believe) so I doused my head with some water and felt much better. But at this point I only had about 2 miles to go.
But, I finished my second half marathon in 4 months. Same time – 2:30…but hey, at least I finished! I really enjoyed the training, probably more than the actual race. Karen and I stuck w/ a three or four day per week training schedule and that included many mornings getting out on the road at 5:20AM in the dark, frigid temperatures. When it would get just too frigid, we’d meet at the gym and do our workouts on the treadmill – talk about torture! But all-in-all it was a great bonding experience. We next plan on doing a triathlon in June (Karen) and I will probably do the duathlon (we’ll see). The big ride we are going to train for will be the Dairy Land Dare in the Madison, WI area in August. LOTS more hills there too…see you on the road…