Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicago Spring Half Marathon - New PR and 3rd Overall!


I would say this was a B race for me, I really felt I could do better then I did in the Cary Half-Marathon earlier this year and I wanted to “prove” my vDot in a half-marathon before fully shifting my focus to Ironman training. I built up for this a little more then Cary, but I was still not focused on it or really training for it.

My plan was to average exactly what my vDot based on a recent 5k predicted (5:58) and either get a new PR or blow up trying.

I ended up feeling great the entire race, even during mile 12 and 13, and went 1:17:34 for any average of 5:55 min/miles. This got me 3rd overall out of close to 1500 finishers.

For all of the long boring details, look below the pictures....

Matt Sullivan and I getting our awards... two more podiums for Endurance Nation.

Top 3 finishers picture for the race website


I did build up more for this then Cary in March, however I was still doing a very bike focused training plan with 4 quality rides a week, and then fitting in runs around those and typically having 2 quality runs a week. Those two runs were one semi-long run 90 minutes or less and one set of tempo intervals. I was pretty nervous going into this race because I was having trouble holding my target training paces during the semi-long runs and I was pretty worn out from all the hard work on the bike. Not to mention, running sub 6:00 min/miles for a half marathon just sounded crazy and was not something I ever thought I would do.

The taper (or lack of a taper)

The week leading into the race I did all of my bike workouts and swims as planned, plus I continue to run almost everyday. I did make two changes, I did not do my planned long run and instead did a second tempo run with 3 x 1 mi at my goal half marathon pace. Also, I did my long ride on Saturday before the race, but I cut it short. I still got all the hard work in and ftp intervals, but I called it a day after that and road for only 2 hours but got 45 miles in.

The Plan

I used CoachP’s 3-7-3 half marathon pacing guidance to create my plan. Run the first 3 miles at 10 seconds per mile slower then my goal pace (6:08), miles 4-10 at goal pace (5:58), and then give it all I had for the last 3 (5:48 or better) to hopefully average my goal pace overall and have a nice negative split.

Race Morning

I was oddly calm and nervous at the same time on race morning. The weather was perfect at about 40 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and mild winds. I was calm because I had run so many half marathons, and already set a PR 2 months ago. However I was nervous, because I was really second guessing myself. Prior to races I usually do at least 1 or 2 predictor or race rehearsal type workouts that give me a really good idea if my paces are achievable. This time around I tried that twice and both times in training I missed my goal paces. Therefore I really thought I would make it to about mile 10 or 11 and then just blow up.

Anyway, did the normal bagel for breakfast before leaving the house. Had a gel about 30 minutes before the start, then went for an easy jog with MattSull to warmup, and finally a few strides about 5 minutes before the start.

The Race

I ended up starting further back then I have in a while, because I lined up a little late but it was good as it forced me to slow down for the first quarter mile and just let the leaders take of. This is the first race in a while where I lost sight of the leaders so soon.

I really had to keep watching my watch to slow myself down for the first 3 miles, but I got close with a 6:03, 6:06, 6:03.

Mile marker 3 was right before the first turn around (it was a double out and back), and I could see the leaders coming back in. I counted and I was around number 19 or 20 at that time. Once I passed mile 3, this is when the race started. I dropped my pace down to 5:58 and tried to just hold it as close as I could with out going to hard to pass people.

Miles 3 to 7 were pretty uneventful, just kind of slowly passed one person at a time.

At mile 7 I was feeling really strong and still breathing really easy. I think I was in about 5th or 6th at this time so I decided to take a risk and run at little harder to try and catch up to the next person in front of me. I did and caught up in about 3 minutes, looked at my watch and I had average 5:30 for the last half mile, opps. So when I got next to him I slowed down and talked with him for a minute to keep myself under control. After a few sentences back and forth, my breathing was under control again and my pace was back around 5:58 so I slowly pulled away from him.

That seemed to work well, so I repeated it when I saw the next guy up the road. Worked again, so I tried it again. The last time was going into the final turn around at mile ten. I was still kind of nervous that I was pushing to hard as I was 5-10 seconds per mile fast, but I felt strong and in control, so I gave a final push to catch 3rd place. I got next to him and slowed down again.

I don’t think he heard me coming because he was kind of caught by surprise and I said nice job and a few other normal comments and all he said was… thanks, where the hell did you come from? I responded that I just started really easy and a little back at the start and have just been slowly speeding up each mile. He looked at me like I was crazy. We shared a few more comments back and forth and then I just said have a great rest of the race and stay strong, I’m either going to blow up really soon or set a PR.

The last 2 miles were pretty boring as the 1st and 2nd were not even in sight. I asked some race officials how far back I was and one guy said 100 yards, and then other said really far. Since I was pretty sure it wasn’t 100 yards, I just kind of settled into my pace and finished strong and comfortable.

The Results

I ended up with an official time of 1:17:34 which was about 40 seconds or close to 3 seconds per mile faster then my goal. This was good enough to get 3rd place overall out of about 1500 finishers. 1st and 2nd were also in my age group so I can’t claim an age group win.

The Data

Entire workout (184 bpm):
Duration: 1:17:58
Work: n/a
rTSS: 156.3 (1.04)
NGP: 5:41 (283.6 m/min)
VI: n/a
Pw:HR: n/a
Pa:HR: -0.4%
Distance: 13.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 529 ft
Elevation Loss: 544 ft
Grade: -0.0 % (-15 ft)
Min Max Avg
Heart Rate: 106 191 184 bpm
Speed: 0 78 10.1 mph
Pace 0:46 0:00 5:55 min/mi
Altitude: 575 604 585 ft

Actual Splits:
5:45 (average pace for the last .1 since I didn't stop my watch for a while)


  1. nice report! I guess you can't underestimate a little race day adrenaline

  2. Great stats and nice run! From your split list did you get faster or slower as the race went on? An average below 6 min miles is legit! Congrats on placing in the top 3.

  3. @Chris Barber, I planned to negative split and therefore speed up as the race went on. I ended up negative spliting by a little over a minute, with my slowest mile as mile 2 and my fastest as mile 12 and 13.