Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon Race Recap

Here it is! My last race of the season and my first official half marathon!

In a fit of delusion just before the marathon I decided to sign up for this half to round out the season. I posted about it on Facebook and my friend Katie and her sister decided they would run the 5k - Katie's first! So I was able to start the day out cheering them on...but you'll read about all of that as we go!

To get this out of the way: This race had a half and a 5k option. Packet pick up was available Wednesday, Friday, and day of the race (not Thursday because it was Thanksgiving). The race benefits the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.It was held at Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village (a familiar stomping ground for my summer training) and was point-to-point, meaning you start in a different spot than you end. No big deal, I guess, but I was definitely glad Anthony was there to meet me at the finish instead of having to walk or bus back to my car! I'd classify the course as easy rolling hills and flats with little crowd support (there is some at various parking lots close to the course). There were a combined 2,738 participants for the 5k (1,254) and half (1,484). For it's size it was well staffed, and there were plenty of amenities (food, port-a-potties, etc) for the runners BUT I found out that they ran out of medals at the end. Not cool at all!

On top of that: I have to admit that I was totally confused by the actual course for this race, and the physical start arch-area-thing just confused me even more.

Back in June I did the Volition America 5k, which included a 5k and half marathon option - this even was also held at Busse Woods and both races started and finished in the same area. The 5k was an out-and-back, and the half was a loop. I honestly expected this course to be the same. I'm guessing they did not use the same course so that they could use the parking lot at the end for the post-race set up rather than on the grass where the Volition would have ended in the case of inclement weather. That said, there are still plenty of parking lots near where the race started, so I don't understand why they weren't utilized for a loop course instead.

The weirdest thing to me was the forced bottleneck at the start (you can see it in the picture of Katie and Annie below). The area we all had to cross to start was the width of a double wide stroller (which I know because a woman with one barely scraped through). I truly don't understand why they didn't just get a wider timing mat!

I guess I just feel like the course itself could have been better...and the start definitely could have.

Also note: TONNNS of goose poop on the grass at Busse Woods at this time of year.

Anyways...on to the recap!

Friday - The Day Before
I took it easy on Friday. Anthony and I woke up really late - 10:30!! Thanksgiving had been a long, long day (up at 5:30 for me) and ended with us babysitting his nieces so his sister and BIL could make it to his family's. Around 12:30am the youngest started crying so Anthony brought her into bed with us where she proceeded to toss around for well over an hour. After some back and forth between beds I finally got her to fall asleep in her own bed, and spent the next few hours not sleeping great...but I figured that would mean an early night and some good rest before the half!

We went out shopping on Friday, and also made a stop at Dick Pond, where I'd done packet pick up on Wednesday.

The pickup itself had been very smooth. I had told Katie that the store was literally right on my way home from work so I could pick up for all of us so I stopped on my way home from work on Wednesday to do just that. I had all of our signed waivers, and in less than 5 minutes walked out with all three packets. However...I got home, pulled out the fleece in my pack and was sorely disappointed to see that it had the wrong race on it! The fleece I'd gotten was for the Long Grove Turkey Trot, not the Schaumburg! So I called the store to see if I could return it, and they said to stop by on Friday (which I obviously did).

When I exchanged the fleece I also bought a 5k magnet for Katie, since it was her first one! After that we went to Dick's so I could look for some Black Friday deals on cold weather gear, and I bought the tights and zip-up that I wore for the race (both Reebok with style and stitching that match gear I already own).

After that we headed back to Anthony's and hung out the rest of the night, which of course included ordering thin crust sausage and onion pizza for dinner!

By 9pm we were in bed, and I slept like a rock!

Saturday - Race Day
I woke up on race day with only one thought in my mind: Whyyyy??????

After the marathon I was ready to be done with the season. About two weeks ago I realized I wanted to be lifting more and not so concerned with running - maybe have a long run max of five miles a week, plus a couple other runs mid week. I was not excited about running thirteen (point one!) miles on Saturday...but I was excited that I would finally be tackling a sponsored 13.1 mile distance: My very first official half marathon!

I stretched and foam rolled in Anthony's living room, I made (and drank) some coffee and then suited up and gathered all my race essentials before we headed out. The half start was at 9:15, but the 5k started at 8:30 and I wanted to see Katie and Annie before they went off.

After parking (super super far away) and walking to the start point, we found Katie and Annie and chit chatted while they waited to start. When they were ready to line up we grabbed a picture (and sneaky Anthony took one of himself when I thought he was taking a goofy picture of me!):
Doesn't he look thrilled to be up early trekking around through goose poop and taking pictures??

Look at Kates in the middle, all excited for her first official race!!!

Also, I told Anthony not to get my feet since I didn't want to take the sweatpants all the way off...and he ignored me haha.
When the 5k started, I snagged a picture of my girls...
...and then Anthony and I wandered around, periodically cleaning mounds of goose poop off our shoes and taking selfies (and I also ate a Clif bar):
A few minutes before lining up I told Anthony I needed to take care of some runner's biz in the port-a-potty, and after doing so we walked over to the start. I pulled off my warm clothes (Anthony's sweatpants and sweatshirt) put on my FlipBelt (with two gels and some salt sticks) and kissed my man for good luck before lining up near the 10:40/mile pacer.

Note: I had no intention of running a 10:40 pace, I just did not want to move further back.

The final countdown counted, and we were off!

The Race
As with all races, I started just a tad too fast, clocking my first mile at 10:52. My intention was to run an 11:30 pace, on target for a 2:30 half (as well as a PR for the distance...I'd achieved a 2:33 time during my 18 mile training run in September).

Right after hitting the 1 Mile mark I ran into a guy named Fred, who I know from the Wellness Committee at work. He told me he'd run hard for a 10k on Thanksgiving and was planning to take this race easy. His easy pace happens to be slightly faster than my comfortable pace, but I decided to try running with him anyways (and he was determined to stick with me!).

The miles passed and I knew I was moving a bit too fast and I'd be feeling it by mile 9 or so, but I kept going anyways, striding over the familiar bridges and through the trees and fields of Busse Woods. Home turf, for sure:
  • Mile 2 - 10:50
  • Mile 3 - 10:41
  • Mile 4 - 11:05
  • Mile 5 - 10:32
  • Mile 6 - 10:42
At Mile 6 there was an aid station and I could feel that I needed a gel. Normally I would have taken it at Mile 5, but I'd forgotten my hand held water bottle and needed water with the gel. As soon as I slurped it down I felt better and had more energy. My 10k split was 1:07:03.2, a distance PR.

Miles 7-10 got progressively harder:
  • Mile 7 - 10:36
  • Mile 8 - 11:01
  • Mile 9 - 11:14
  • Mile 10 - 11:09
...and by 11 I was cached and ready to be done. I could feel myself slowing down, but as we passed the race start I somehow found some extra gas and managed to negative split the eleventh mile by almost 14 seconds:
  • Mile 11 - 10:55
The next mile slowed me down, and as we came to the end of it we walked an aid station and then started climbing the bridge over Higgins Road. Fred was slightly further ahead of me than I'd let him get the whole race, and as we crested the bridge he slowed down for me to catch up and said, "Now it's downhill. We have one more mile and we finish strong!"
  • Mile 12 - 11:20
It was mostly downhill too...except for that last little hill at the end, that I've had for every race this season! I didn't hit a wall all season, but between the Chicago Triathlon 10k and this race I came very close. Going up that last incline we sighted the finish line, which barely seemed to inch forward with every step. But finally we were there, mile 13, then 13.1:
  • Mile 13 - 10:50
  • Mile 13.1 - 1:32
I crossed the finish line in 2:23:16 - a ten minute personal record on my half marathon distance. 

I grabbed my medal and immediately found Anthony and gave him a huge hug and kiss, then bent over to relieve some of the pressure on my knees, haha.
Me and my support crew/sherpa!! 

I thanked Fred and snagged a picture with him too - going into the race I was pretty sure I would PR, but I never would have crushed the goal if he hadn't been (unknowingly) pacing me the whole time. And mentally the race would have been way tougher if I hadn't had the distraction of someone to talk to the whole time!

I grabbed some water and Anthony and I headed out...and when we got to the car he surprised me with flowers AND chocolate cake. Best sherpa ever!

Post-Race thoughts

Mentally this race was tough - doubting if I could hold a (very) sub-long run pace (10:56 vs 11:30) for the majority of the race, forgetting water, wondering if I'd hit a wall...there was a lot of room for doubt.

But I realized during this race that I have been selling myself short with running. A lot. My average pace for the 13 miles of this race was 10:56. Before Saturday I would have told you that was my "comfortable fast" pace that I'd only be able to sustain "comfortably" for a few miles...not a long run pace. Well, it was slightly uncomfortable, but I held that pace for over13 miles, and it showed me that I'm capable of way more than I think I am.

Next season will definitely be different that this season. So far, I've only got a few for-sure races lined up (and I'll be posting more about all that later). It's been an amazing year for me though...I have tackled more than I ever thought I'd be able to, and I was very, very happy that I was able to end on such a great note! A 10 minute PR?? I'll take that!

Until next time, friends!


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