Monday, April 29, 2013

Christie Clinic 2013 Illinois Marathon / Half / 10K Event

Liz and me, pre-race
Well my first big race for 2013 is in the books. I have been SO excited gearing up for this one. The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon event is my 4th 10k (and the third time I've race the 10k at this event). The 10k is the longest distance I've raced to date (though that will change next weekend) so it's a big marker for me and I was looking for a PR. The other reason this is such an important one for me is more... soft. I was EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED with last year's results at this race, and I really wanted to, forgive my language, Kick the Living Shit Out Of It this year. :-) So I’ve been training hard, with that goal in mind, and even though this kicks off a huge Month Of Consecutive Races, this is the one that is most important to me.

My race-day plan was to run 2-to-2.5 mile intervals with a strict 60-second walk break. The water stops on the 10k course are spaced a little far apart for my taste, so last year I carried a water bottle. This year I forgot about that, but I only regretted that for a few minutes at a time, so I guess it worked out alright. Here is what I remember as I went through the course:

Making our way to the starting line!
I put myself in the 11-minute pace group, for the starting chute, with my friends Liz and Julie (see picture - aren't they cute!) They are both a bit faster than I am and I hung with them for most of the first mile, but then I looked at my Garmin and realized I was running 10:15-10:35... I didn't think I could keep that up, so I forced myself to slow it down a notch and let them run ahead. Man, that was hard to do - I was feeling great! But you're not there yet... your fastest 5k was at 11:07 - you're not able to maintain a 10:30 pace over 6 miles... back it off, Chris. So Okay, I backed off. Someday...

Anyway, from there on out I was on my own, and I was still feeling great. I was able to feel really good about slowing up, too. I knew it was the right thing to do. I'm never going to get a PR by going out too fast! So yes, I stuck with my plan: I took a 60 second walk at mile 2, (I did walk the water stop around mile 3 but that was mere seconds. I simply have not mastered the art of drinking while running. I did pour some of the water on my head though - I was hot!) and mile 4.

My mojo took a little hit before mile 3.5 - I found I was going a bit slower and doubting myself.  Maybe it was just my legs saying – “hey, aren’t we usually done with the race by now??  5k was done 4 minutes ago!”  I wonder…  But don’t you just LOVE when that happens, and your iPod swoops in to save the day???  Elton John – “I’m Still Standing” – came on just when I was faltering, and got me going again.  Got my mind right and I just kept on running, like Forrest Gump. 

I remember Miles 4-5 from the last two years.  This is where I mentally hit a wall in years past.  I got slow and my legs turned to lead.  This year I had a plan to counteract:  during the mile 4 walk-break I also took one Shot Blok. (Side note, I thought about having one when I had that faltering moment earlier, but decided I’d be better off taking it on schedule.  I didn’t want to “give myself permission” to break from plan – I might “have to” walk in order to dig out the package and I just didn’t want to go there.) I considered taking two but I didn’t have any water to drink with them, so kept it to just the one.  Besides, it’s not a marathon – it’s just 6.2 miles.  All I really needed was a little sugar and some electrolytes to counteract that mental block I anticipated during the next 15-20 minutes of my race.

Miles 4-5 are just mentally tough for me, I think.  I remember a lot about them.  There’s a long, slow incline at one point, and I saw it coming and tried to remember my mantras – I’ve sort of been using two:  one for general use (“Be Strong, Finish Strong”) and one for hills (maybe more of a Tips and Tricks than a Mantra, but “Push Off, Don’t Dig In”).  My iPod was really earning its keep here, too.  During miles 4-5 I had some great songs to run to, and made mental notes of a few, just because they really made me feel happy and created that space where I could really enjoy my run and feel awesome in that moment…  Dan Bern, “Never Fall in Love”; The Replacements, “Bastards of Young”; Jet, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”.  If you don’t have these, you should definitely go get them!

I planned a shorter walk interval at mile 5.5 – just enough to make me feel like I had TONS of energy for a strong finish – but the water stop at 5.0 pretty much replaced that.  I tried to reserve a little gas in the tank during that last mile, without slowing down too much.  I kept checking my Garmin for pace and tried to keep it between 12:00 and 11:00. 

During the last half-mile or so, you go across a main road in Champaign and under a bridge / overpass, and that’s where I saw Mitch – owner of our local running shoe / apparel store Often Running – sitting and cheering runners on!  I believe Often Running sponsors a team of runners in the marathon and half marathon, and of course they are fast.  I yelled out his name and waved.  It made me feel so good to see someone I know along the course! 

Somewhere around this point, I happened to look at my watch and see that it had JUST turned to the 60:00 minute mark. My time goal - and I knew it was quite a stretch! - was to finish in 1:10:00 or less. I had a little less than a mile to go and ten minutes to get there.
Can you run 0.8 miles in under ten minutes?
Hell, I don't know, but let's find out!
I think I may have mixed up my subtraction at this point, doing the simplest math in my head, while running, is more difficult than it should be, considering my job, but there it is. I think I had a full mile left to go, not just 0.8. 

Then, another of those iPod Saves The Day moments:  it’s like the thing knew I was nearing the end and it was time to bring out the Big Guns to keep me moving strong and fast.  Songs that came to save the day at the very end: The Strokes, “Last Night” and The White Stripes, “Rag and Bone”; followed by the Ramones’ “Beat on the Brat”. As I turned onto the final stretch, basically a big driveway that leads to the stadium entrance, I heard Hole start up but I wanted all my concentration on speed now, so I yanked out my headphones and focused on a point just a few feet in front of me, (to make sure I didn’t trip over anything!), and dug in. 

My field of vision narrowed and I could no longer see the people lining the side of the walkway, the wonderful crazy encouraging signs they held.  I heard nothing.  I tuned it all out and just … well, I ran!  I didn’t concern myself with the cameras, including video, which I knew were there, or wonder if my friends had already finished and were on the sidelines looking for me, it was just me and that field and that finish line. 

I have GOT to give a huge shout-out to all the people who organized this race and to ALL the spectators and volunteers!!  The number of spectators at this event is really humbling and so many people are out on their lawns or in their driveways, holding up all kinds of signs and wearing costumes, with their kids, just an enormous level of community support for this race (which by the way, shuts down portions of the University of Illinois campus and much of downtown Champaign / Urbana and holds up traffic ALL over the place for 6-8 hours on a Saturday!)!! My favorite was probably the family with the “candy station” (rather than a water station) – handing out jelly beans and Smartees! – and the family group with a large sign that said “Way to Go Random Stranger!” “You’re awesome Random Stranger!” – so funny and really cute. 

10k Finisher Medal, #4 done!


My official time was 1:11:29!!  That's a full 4 minutes faster than the We Care 10k (note the shirt I'm wearing in today's pics) back in September and I can hardly believe it but it's actually a FULL 7 (SEVEN!) MINUTES faster than one year ago at this same race. Last April my time was 1:18:25.

Random Race stats:

Overall I placed 1,338 of 2,350 participants
Women's division overall: 798 of 1,605 - in the top 50%!
Age Group Results: 111 out of 212 - close to top 50% but not quite!
Sweet, I forgot to upload some of my Garmin stats:  I hadn't even looked at them yet, in fact!
Mile 3 was, indeed, my slowest (partly due to the 60 second walk at the beginning of that mile)
Miles 4-5 were a bit slower, but all-in-all, right on pace for what I was expecting!
And LOOK at that Mile 6 - the last full mile, my FASTEST one!
Stats - CHECK OUT MILE 6!  Fastest one!!  Full stats here


Post-race, the plantar fasciitis on my left foot was bothering me and my right hip was absolutely on fire. I was walking with a pretty significant limp by mid-afternoon, even after taking a nap.  My attitude was:  “That's not going to keep me from celebrating tonight!”  And it did not.  I took a shower and some Advil, threw on a dress and some heels and hit the town with my man.  And shockingly, even though I was really scared to get out of bed Sunday morning, it was fine by then.  There’s a little “ghost” of a thing there, but it’s what’s always there.  I’m calling it my Hi There, You’re Almost Forty! hip-pain.


The most interesting part of the race may be the fact that I almost didn't make it there in the first place. I had all my race gear laid out on the couch in the living room so that I didn't have to (a) get dressed in the dark, or (b) wake up anyone in the process.  I had a little "overnight" bag with a change of clothes, more deodorant, food, etc., and my little "belly-bag" with ShotBloks, Garmin, gum and gloves, ID and music.  I got up on time (4:30am!) got the coffee going, ate my yogurt while I waited for the coffee, and headed out the door.  I got about 20 miles away before I realized I had forgotten the ONLY thing I REALLY needed.

I did not have my race bib.

Oh my god, I do not have my race bib!  No race bib, no race.  No timing chip, no results, it's likely someone would kick me off the course at some point.  No race bib, NO race. 

I was "on time" at this point, but did not have 40 minutes or so to spare, to drive all the way back home, get the thing and head back out!  (I was nearly in tears, I cannot overstate how very distressing this was!!)  Thank goodness, The Teenager works graveyard shift, but had had that night off work, so I knew he was wide awake and playing video games when I left at 5:15.  I called his cell - hooray, he answered!! - and he agreed to grab my bib and meet me at a movie theater on the edge of town, roughly half-way between where I was, and the house.  The meeting-place couldn't have been more perfect.  I think I was there about 90 seconds before he drove up.  He tossed me the bib, and sent me on my way! 

With all that, I still got to the race in time to navigate the traffic and closed roads and find a place to park. I missed the start of the full and half-marathon, but was close enough to hear the National Anthem and the band playing when they started.  So I didn't get to cheer for my friends who were running the longer races, but I did locate Liz and Julie, utilize the porta-potties, and make it to my start on time.

Lesson of the day (besides, the obvious, PACK YOUR BIB, STUPID!):  Teenagers.  They're not ALL bad.  Every now and then they really have your back! 

PS I made cookies for The Teenager on Sunday night.  I'm calling them "Thank You For Saving My Ass Yesterday" cookies.  They came in Semi-sweet Chocolate and Oatmeal Scotchie flavors.

1 comment:

  1. You make me the cookie name! great race :)


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