Naperville Half Marathon

Q with medalAs I said in my last post from mid-summer, I was coming into this race with a long build up after a long layoff due to injury.  And as I alluded to it was going to be a busy fall.  Life very much happened this fall.  I am now the head cross country coach at a school I do not teach at, we also just bought a new house (one that needs A LOT of work), and all that with a 19th month old running wild every day.  I had pretty grand plans of really specifically training for the half marathon distance; lots of over distance runs, lots of longer tempo runs and long intervals…none of that happened.  Instead I trained with the cross country team.  If my goal race was a 3 mile race on grass I would have been extremely confident…it wasn’t, I wasn’t.

Based on what I had been doing I thought going in I could run anywhere between 1:13 and 1:16.  I wanted to make sure to go out under control.  I wasn’t sure who would be running in the race.  The gun went off and within the first half mile I was alone in the front.  I made sure to stay under control.  The plan was to go out in 5:45ish for the first few miles.  I held back and felt like I was just cruising along.  My first two miles were my slowest 5:50, 5:46.  After the first two miles I settled into a nice comfortable rhythm clicking off 5:35-:42s for the rest of the race.

A couple of in race highlights.  This was the first time in a longer race I was able to acknowledge that I was simply going through a bad patch and I could relax and press through it.  I hit a tough spot at about 7.5 and then at about 9.  Both times I had to fight it, but was able to work through it and continue to press on.

The fan support on the course was incredible, the first 9 miles were constantly lined with fans cheering the whole way, Naperville came out to support this inaugural race.  But my favorite part of the course, at roughly 9.5 I came through a gauntlet of fans, through a neighborhood lined with fans (included a lady who cheered “Go, Baby, Go” to me, it was awkward), and then I hit the DuPage river trail.  The trail was EMPTY.  I literally went from being surrounded by people to being totally alone.  And it. was. awesome.  I was able to really refocus on what I was doing.  It made it feel like a great workout, I was just cruising along on a tempo run.  I hit the 10 mile mark in 56:46 (a 10 mile PR), and then the plan was to try to bring it home strong for the last 5K.  And despite a tough mile 12, I was able to close it out in 17:28 for my last 5K.  Hitting the finish line in 1:14:14, good for a (2:52) big PR.

Overall I am extremely pleased with this race.  A big PR, probably the biggest win of my running career, and just a great experience.  The fan support, the fact that is was live-streaming online and my family could watch most of the race, and that my XC guys showed up to cheer me on (right at mile 12 when I was struggling (a great pick me up).

Thanks for all the kind words and support from friends and family.

Here are the splits:

Mile Time
1 5:50
2 5:46
3 5:39
4 5:42
5 5:35
6 5:37
7 5:37
8 5:42
9 5:33
10 5:40
11 5:36
12 5:42
13 5:32
.1 :29

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