Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chicago Half Marathon Recap and Lessons Learned

Chicago Half Marathon 

I did it! I actually did it! Part of me is still trying to settle with the fact that I completed a half-marathon. Crazy. As expected, my official finish time was 2:38:15, which equates to just about a 12 min-mile.  The day started with getting up at 4:45am, getting ready, and boarding the shuttle to the race at 5:30am. It waited until almost 6am before it left, and with the traffic due to the street closures for the race, we didnt arrive until 6:45am, 15 min before the race. Due to their port-a-potty shortage and my need to use the facilities before I run, the gun actually went off as I was still standing in line for the bathroom. In fact, I didnt join the slow march to the start line until 7:10ish, crossing the start line a little more than 15 minutes after.

It was a beautiful day, 60 degrees, low humidity. We really couldnt have asked for better conditions. I started out really well, taking the first 2 miles easy to warm up. After that, I picked it up a little bit, and was really trying to achieve negative splits, at least for the next couple miles. Made it to mile 5 without a water break.  Was good until about mile 7, and thats where I started to struggle. Got through mile 8 and 9, slowly, then went into a stretch where I was alternating walking and running in 1 or 2 min intervals. Got to the mile 12 marker, and told myself to finish strong. Started running, but could barely make it another quarter mile, before having to walk again. Got to the 'half-mile to go' marker, and sucked it up, and ran to the end. What an experience. All the months of training, all for this one moment. The thrill of crossing that finish line and saying, "I did it".

Lessons Learned
As I look back at my training and all, theres a few things that I really do regret or wish I did, to which I'm certain would have allowed me to have a better finishing time.
  1.  Lack of training structure- Since I had signed up for the race so far in advance, somewhere in the back of my head, I kept telling myself that I had plenty of time to train.  This caused me to never get into any kind of flow or structure in my training runs. I would just head out for a run, and say to myself, "oh, I think I'll run this amount today".  
  2.  Focusing all my effort in mileage-  I concerned myself too much with just increasing mileage.  Little did I cross-train, nor increase the intensity of my runs. This is what caused me to go from a 10:30 pace in April, to a mid 11 pace later on, even though I had been steadily running about 15 miles per week up to that point. 
  3. Lack of intensity- This kind of goes with the previous point, but not being diligent with tempo, interval and hill training really, really hurt me. I did it once in a while, but nowhere near as regularly as I should have.
What's to come
So, there you have it.  I've completed my first Half-marathon. It was a great experience, and was going to decide, based on this experience, if I'm going to do it again. Verdict? HECK to the YES! fact, I've placed my name into the lottery for the NYC Half in March! Here's to hoping I get selected! And now that I've purchased a bike, I'm giving the DC Triathlon (sprint distance) in June some heavy consideration.

So here's the plan for the coming weeks: taking the rest of the week off to recover, do 2 training runs before the Cow Harbor 10k on the 25th, take another 2 week break (light training/biking, if I do anything at all), then shooting for Oct 11 for the start of: Round 3, P90X. Yeah, baby. 'Til next time....

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