Sunday, September 29, 2013

Alpine Races Half Marathon race report

New day, new state. Drove to Lake Zurich, Illinois last night so I could run the Alpine Races Half Marathon.

Having run relatively fast yesterday, I wasn't sure how today would go. My main goal was to finish, ideally in under three hours. But considering how sore I was when I woke up this morning, well, that felt like a big challenge.

I stayed across the street from the start at Paulus Park, which meant I could saunter across the street 20 minutes before the start, pick up my packet, check a bag, and get ready to run.

Lake Zurich, Illinois

It was stormy overnight, but the day was bright and cool. And isn't Lake Zurich pretty?

There were lots and lots of runners milling about. I spent some time trying to loosen up my legs -- apparently it didn't occur to me to stretch out my quads yesterday. Sheesh. Anyway, soon it was time to start, and the runners lined up on the path behind the line. One sad thing -- the race wasn't chip timed, so I was 30 seconds behind from the get go. (Ha ha.)

But we ran out and I tried to settle in to a rhythm. I decided to be disciplined and run/walk 5:1 intervals from the very start. Or at least as long as I could. After about a mile I felt a bit looser, but the field was small enough that I was soon running with only a few people.

The course ran through neighborhoods as well as along the lake. Pretty, but unremarkable. It was also surprisingly hilly. Not hilly like Seattle, of course, but lots of rollers. But pleasant enough. There were also lots of water stops, which meant I got to take extra breaks. Yay for extra breaks.

I got to mile 5 feeling pretty good, which made me think of the 5 miles + 5 miles + 5 kilometers breakdown. I also got to mile 5 just after being passed by the front runners on their way back. Yeah, they were more than 3 miles ahead of me at that point.

Miles 5-8 were around a loop through some more big houses (potentially a golf club?). I was bored and tired -- but that's more my fault than anything else. I just kept running and walking and moving along.
As I got close to mile 8, I saw a woman walking the wrong way on the course. She was wearing a half marathon bib, which confused me, because I didn't think I'd been there before. But then I saw that the sign -- about a block away -- had been blown over. When I got to the guy standing at the mile 8 marker I said, "A woman missed a turn on the course -- she's going the wrong way." He looked up the street -- she was barely visible -- but didn't say anything. I said, "She just missed the turn -- because the sign is blown down and there's no volunteer there." He just shrugged and said something like, "Well, she wasn't going to win anyway."

Now, I assume this guy has a radio -- or could have asked someone else to go after the woman. But he didn't. I hope the woman didn't get lost, or that someone pointed her in the right direction. I feel bad that *I* didn't go back to help.

I've been that person at the back of the pack, feeling tired and lost. I just hope she didn't get too lost, and that she was able to finish the race. Hopefully there was some sort of course sweeper that made sure she got back to the finish line.

Anyway... I made my way back to the finish line, taking shorter runs and longer walks, but moving. I was really happy to get back to the lake!

The last two miles passed slowly. I was in a little clump of runners all slowly getting to the finish, swapping "leads" and, somehow, encouraging each other. I can't tell you how happy I was to see the big purple arch.

At some point I was trying to calculate my estimated time. I decided that I couldn't possibly beat yesterday's time, so I should just take it easy. And then I decided that, even if I walked, I would be able to finish under 2:30. But, somehow, as I approached the finish, I saw that it was just over 2:23. I guess if I had pushed it a little bit, I would have beaten yesterday's time. Oops.

I crossed the line in 2:23:43 (gun) / 2:23:29 ("chip"), feeling much the worse for wear. I picked up my "breakfast bag" (well stocked with yogurt, bagel, cream cheese, orange juice, trail mix, a granola bar, and an apple), my checked bag, and then just slowly trudged back to the hotel for a hot bath.

Not my finest performance -- even if the time was pretty good. Most important, of course, is picking up state #22 -- Illinois!!!

Oh, and I can't forget to share this pic of the race shirt... a day-glo hoody!

well, it will be a colorful addition to the next race quilt...

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