Just over a week ago, I ran the Chicago Quarter Marathon.
This is the second year of the Quarter, and the race boasts to be “one of a kind.” And, at 6.5 miles, it may very well be. However, new and unique as the Chicago Quarter is, this race took me back to some familiar grounds: sweet home Chicago.
And it wasn’t just the Chicago area code that got me pumped. This race started at one of my absolute favorite spots in the city, if not the entire world: Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
The race started right outside the field on Waldron Drive and was a quick out and back on the south Lake Front Trail. This was great, too, because I was so familiar with this piece of the trail back from the MagMile Women’s Half and my brutal 18+ mile Marathon training runs. All this, the brilliant weather (just over 50 degrees with mild breezes), along with the cool swag and medal and boy was I ready!
Except that I had only run twice in the past month: March 1st for 3.1 miles in 30:49 (treadmill) and April 1st for 3.12 in 28:36 (outside). While that outside run in April gave me a boost of confidence (so fast! and I felt great!!), I knew that 6.5 miles is quite a ways from 3.1. Whew, how did I let this happen?!
As much as my lack of training disappointed me, I wasn’t going to let it get in the way of running the best race I was capable of. That said, I made sure everything else I could control went smoothly: hydration! A good breakfast (buttered toast and a clementine). Proper warm-up and stretching. More hydration!
I walked into the starting corrals nervous, telling myself to mind my pace because I had a long race in front of me. My overall goal was to go the whole distance without walking (aside from water stations), my mild time goal was 70 minutes, and my shoot-for-the-moon goal was under an hour. I set myself up at the 9 minute mile corral and waited.
I can’t tell you much about the actual race; it was a complete blur because I didn’t look at the time the whole way. I just wanted to run my race at my pace. I do remember having mild cramps the first two miles, stopping for water (i.e. walking quickly while sipping so I didn’t choke myself) three times, and really losing my steam around the 5th mile marker. I thought about pulling over for a quick stretch before the final mile and a half because my shoulders were super cramped and my feet felt so heavy. However, I have this really great playlist that I made during Marathon training and guys, it kicked in hardcore right then: Brave by Sarah Bareilles piped through my earbuds and I realized my lost steam was all mental. I could, and would, finish strong no matter what the clock read. With this new outlook, I plowed on ahead.
As I turned to face the final stretch before the finish line, I saw the official time displayed in big digital numbers just switched to 59:00.
Do you guys remember my reach-for-the-moon time goal?
That was all I needed. In a move that was sure to make Meb proud, I gave it my absolute all, completely smoked passed a guy (chicked!!), and crossed the finish line in 59:24.
The look on my face? I am still in complete shock over my time. I averaged a 9:04 minute pace and my splits, while they got slower every mile, were relatively… consistent; my slowest mile was only 30 seconds slower than my fastest.
Yes, this race completely blew me away. How I, with as little training as I had done, with it being my first race of the season, did as phenomenally as I did is just… well, I literally have no words.
Okay. I guess I have one word.
And there you have it. My first race of 2015, my first race of non-traditional mileage, but not my first and hopefully not the last time I completely shock myself.
Now, to get a solid training plan for my 10 Miler in 6 weeks… gotta add to that medal collection of mine!
Have you ever completely shocked yourself during a race or run?
Does anyone have any races on the horizon? How’s your medal collection doing??