The weather didn’t cooperate with my PR plans. Temperatures during the race exceeded 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity was more than 70 percent. At 5:30 a.m., the air already was thick and sticky. Despite the conditions, I tried to remain positive about the race ahead as I walked down Michigan Avenue to the start corrals in Grant Park.
When I arrived, approximately a half-hour before the race start, I checked my bag, jumped in the corral and started to stretch—already warm from my mile walk.
I get antsy in the corral. I try to keep calm and not waste energy, but I’m ready to run. Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 Boston Marathon champion, was leading a pace group. The race organizers gave him the microphone shortly before the start so he could wish the group of runners well. I wish I could have been part of the 90-minute group he paced. Running with Meb would be an amazing experience.
Finally, it was time to go. The first 5k went well—I was passing the mile markers close to my selected 9:09 pace, and I was feeling pretty good. Then halfway through mile 4, I started to feel kind of funny. I immediately knew the warm temperature and high humidity were beginning to take a toll. I told myself to slow down or I’d be in trouble.
I’ve never made a conscious decision to back off my goal. Instead, if I can’t hold my planned pace, a foot or knee starts hurting, or I just don’t feel right, I fight it, get frustrated and expend more energy in anger than in actual running.
However, on that particular day, I let it go. I truly didn’t care about the time. I ran because its fun. I trained for this race, and I wanted to finish it. I like the course and listening to the music on the streets of Chicago.
I ran because I’d be able to give my husband and daughter high fives at miles 7 and 12.5. I ran for the icy sponge between miles 10 and 11 and for the cold chocolate milk and Popsicles at the end. I didn’t come close to a PR, but it was a great day nevertheless.
Breaking two hours in the half marathon is within my reach. July 19th wasn’t my day, but some day in the future will be. For now, I have a new goal. I want to run a fast 5k. I don’t think I’ll get down to the 19 minutes and change that I ran in high school, but I’d be ecstatic with something sub-24 minutes.
I’m going to train for that goal and run the Carrera de los Muertos/Race of the Dead on Halloween. For prep, I’ll get to do a lot of fast, fun interval and tempo work and still head out for a long run on the weekend.
Do you have a race mantra? What’s your strategy for remaining positive when conditions are less than ideal?