Summer Sunday Stats #6A: Lessons From My 14+ Mile Half Marathon.

The final Sunday of summer deserves special treatment, so today’s post will be divided into two parts.

Miles run:  13.1 in just a few seconds over my goal time of 1:45:00 for today’s Chicago Half Marathon, plus well over a mile from where I parked my car to the starting line.  First lesson for the day:  don’t leave late for races.  Especially when it’s raining.  Especially when the race starts in a neighborhood with absolutely no decent parking. The gun was scheduled to go off at 7:30am; I parked my car at 7:25am at University Avenue and 61st Street (and the only reason the space was open was because it was zoned parking; I want to thank the Chicago PD for not being aggressive about ticketing during the race).  According to Google Maps, that’s a mile and a half from the starting line.

The northern edge of what’s left of Hurricane Ike reached Chicago today, although it’s impossible to tell the difference between yesterday’s unending rain (not from Ike) and today’s unending rain (all about Ike).  The Chicago Half Marathon website made it clear that the race would be on rain or shine, although they would almost certainly have canceled it if there were a lightning storm.  I went down to the race Expo yesterday and picked up my race packet; it wasn’t a big Expo as these things go — I didn’t see any of the local running stores represented, which was odd — so I didn’t stay long. I threw the running clothes I wanted to wear for the race into the laundry before bed, and didn’t give it much more thought than that.

I got up at 5:30, but dawdled over breakfast and didn’t get out of the house until 6:45.  Still raining.  I did two things right:  I grabbed towels to put on the seat of my car after the race, to keep it from getting soaked (and smelly), and I grabbed a sweatshirt to put on after the race so I wouldn’t freeze.  I didn’t forget anything I would bring to an ordinary race — watch, Cliff Shots, hat — but I didn’t make any other preparations for the weather.

Here are all of the things I did wrong, in the order that they mattered:

  1. I left half an hour too late (6:45 departure for a 7:30 start).  The race start is around 17 miles from my house, and parking in Hyde Park on the morning of the race is very, very, very difficult.
  2. I took I-55 from the Kennedy Expressway to Lake Shore Drive, since that’s the most direct route to Hyde Park.  If I had thought it through, I would have remembered that in previous years, the traffic was pretty bad on LSD going into Hyde Park, but I didn’t.  Luckily, I realized in time that it was all of the southbound Drive, not just the ramp, that was backed up, and was able to get off and take the Drive the other way and get back onto the Kennedy, to the Ryan, and then took 55th Street into Hyde Park.
  3. I ran to the lakefront and realized that the starting line had moved; after years of starting by the Museum of Science and Industry at 57th Street, the race started this year at 63rd Street.  Had I read the materials I received at the Expo, or checked the course map on the website, or read the big “New Start Location” paragraph on the “Half-Marathon Information” page, I would have realized it.  Lucky for me, the confusion caused by the rain and the new start affected a lot of people and the race gun went off around 12 minutes late.  Even so, I didn’t have time to wait in line for the port-o-potty; I had to insult a bush.
  4. Because I was so late, I joined the pack approaching the starting line towards the back.  It took more than four miles for the pack to thin out, and it slowed me down considerably.
  5. I forgot to pack dry shoes and socks, so the drive home was kind of unpleasant.

But eventually, it did open up, and I came within a few seconds of my goal time.  I’m pretty happy with that, considering I was soaking wet before the race ever started, and my shoes were completely waterlogged.  The only real problem was one that those of you who are male and who run for long distances have undoubtedly faced.  Just a moment:

NOTE TO FEMALE READERS:  You can skip the rest of this entry.  Really.  You’re not missing anything.

Okay, so here it is: bloody nipples.

Normally, this isn’t a problem for me on runs of less than 15 or 16 miles, but it starts much faster in the rain when my shirt gets wet; if I’d been thinking, I would have put on band-aids before the run, so that I wouldn’t need to be wearing them now.  Which I am.

The rest of this week’s Summer Sunday Stats later.

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4 responses to “Summer Sunday Stats #6A: Lessons From My 14+ Mile Half Marathon.

  1. Yow! That was close. Sounds like the kind of planning I usually do.

    Yes, the weather was not pretty for running. You had a great time on your race even with all that extra stuff. Great job!

  2. You hit your goal even with all of the pre-race stress. Great job!

  3. Thanks, Mike & Jenn. It’s all about managing my expectations. Last year I came in around 30 seconds ahead of this year’s time, but felt crummy for the whole race and had thought I would do better even though my training hadn’t been what I wanted. This year, I had a realistic idea of what my conditioning was like and knew what I could & couldn’t do.

  4. Pingback: Race Report: 2009 Chicago Half Marathon « The Unfocused Life

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