I knew going into this race that it was going to be a great opportunity to put it all out there and planned for that throughout my winter/spring training. I really planned the weekend around a trip to see Corey and my good friend from college, Jenny. Kenosha, Wisconsin is a little over an hour outside of Chicago and Corey was so kind to drive me to and from the race.
She picked me up from the airport, we stopped and had lunch with Jenny and then drove to Kenosha.Packet pickup was quick, and then we were off to Racine. I had a free night from Marriott, so we stayed 20 minutes away from the race.We thought that Racine would be a better place for a shakeout run and dinner. The run sucked- we were attacked by bugs (see pic below and imagine times 100). Corey literally had to pick them out of my eyes multiple times. Our dinner was hilarious and amazing all at the same time. We ate at some restaurant with every blue hair in town but had so much delicious food all for under $20 (soup, salad, grilled chicken, baked potato and rice. I was slightly worried over what I ate, but left an entire chicken breast and all the rice).
Back to the hotel for race strategy talk and bed. Final plan was to just go for it. I would do a warmup mile and then try and lock it in at 7:37 pace to get a sub 1:40 and if I felt good at 10 put it all out there. We figured out the course was easy to spectate and I would see Corey at Mile 1, 4-5, 11 and 12.5 and she would have my Nuun for me. Corey also went over my wind plan. After living in Chicago for year, she told me not to fight the headwind too much or freak out if my pace dropped, I would pick it up on the tail wind and you can easily burn out like you would on a hill fighting headwinds (wind race day was 16-18mph).
I was up around 5:30, had breakfast, nuun, and we were out the door a few minutes before 6. Corey dropped me off as close to the start as she could and I was able to do my 1 mile warmup and stretches. It was chilly at the start, so I wore my arm sleeves with the plan to throw them at Corey once I was warmed up and the sun was out.
It scared me a bit to line up in the 7:00-8:00 pace group, but I was there. And like that, we were off.
For the first time in a race in a while, I was able to easily settle into a pace without tripping over people. Mile 1 was a bit fast (7:24) and it usually is for me, so I tried to pull back a bit. That didn’t really work. I still clocked a 7:30, 7:33, 7:33 the next few miles. I listened to Corey in my head, run by feel, not by what you “should” be doing pace-wise. I felt good! Amazing, actually.
The course was gorgeous. We ran through neighborhoods the first few miles and parts of downtown. I couldn’t really take it in like I normally would, but I was okay with that. I was focused on my new playlist. I LOVED it. It seemed like the right songs were coming on at the right time and the beat was perfect for my pace. I know there were several times that I was smiling ear to ear running and each song seemed to hit what my heart was feeling.
I saw Corey, grabbed my nuun, got rid of my arm sleeves, and enjoyed the crowds. The course went back through downtown before heading back out on the lake and I knew that would be my longest stretch alone with the out and back.
I took my Huma Gel around mile 5 or 6 just as we hit the lake (7:29, 7:33). The view was gorgeous, but the path itself was pretty rough and reminded me of New Orleans. I had to look down for a lot of it to watch my footwork. There were a few (very small) rolling hills, but they felt good on my legs to change it up.
I just kept plugging along and attempted to keep my eyes on a few people in front me as pacers/trackers. The turnaround was around mile 8, and it was time to head back (7:33, 7:33, 7:32).
It hit me around mile 9 that this was happening. I was for sure going to get a PR. My legs felt REALLY good. I felt strong. It really didn’t feel like work, a little hard, but not terrible. It was all pretty surreal…I knew I didn’t really need to drop my pace any lower and mile 10 involved more of a climb and wind. I headed back to the downtown area looking for Corey (7:32, 7:30).
The downtown area was full of cheers and ended up seeing Corey closer to mile 11.5. She asked how I felt and I said good (or great, I can’t remember). She yelled it me I shouldn’t feel good, I needed to make it hurt and to hit that turn around and put my pain face on. So I did. The last 1.5 miles was the out and back (7:32, 7:07, 7:10).
I started thinking about what Meb said about Boston and just started trying to pick people off. I was worried I started too soon and wouldn’t have enough gas left. But, once I saw Corey again headed to the finish and she yelled to make it hurt, I yelled back “It F-ING hurts.” I knew I was almost done.
I chased one girl for the last mile and we played the back and forth game but in the end she had more kick. I hit the finish line with an ugly cry face. ABSOLUTE shock.
This was over a 5 minute PR for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so emotional at the end of a race. I CANNOT believe where I finished and I’m super proud of my placement.
5/210 females 30-34Garmin Results
I made my family phone calls and walked around till Corey made it to the finish. We sampled Wisconsin cheeses, Wisconsin beer (I usually skip this post race but couldn’t turn down the celebration. It was also hazelnut flavor and delicious!), and brats. I was cold and we had to get back for the Cubs game.
The rest of the weekend was spent with booze, baseball, video games, and brunch. We also did a shakeout run Sunday morning in Chicago (will all be in weekly recap).
- Having a good friend and sherpa
- Course (flat with barely any hills-really just very small rollers) and Scenery
- Perfect weather
- Volunteers/organized aid station
- Great post-race food
- Combined trip with weekend in Chicago
Not so Much:
- Shirt is awful
The medal is awesome. Stained glass running cheese and a bottle opener. Lanyard is detailed, too. As mentioned above, the shirt is terrible. It is an awful shade of purple with an orange/yellow stripe.
I loved this race. It has a great small town feel, plenty of course support (cheering and from the volunteers), and gorgeous views. It’s a great place to PR and a great place to have loved ones cheer you on. I think it will actually go in my top 5 list.
For me, personally, it will forever be another turning point in my running. I did a lot of reflecting (on my own and with Corey) about how much has changed for me in the past year. I think I’ve finally come to realize I have the capabilities I’ve always dreamed of having; Boston actually seems achievable. It really does go to show if you work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible.
What’s your biggest PR? Ever had a race sherpa on the course for you?