WHEN: SATURDAY, 7/21/2018 – 7:30am
WHERE: HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL
DISTANCE: HALF MARATHON – 13.1 MILES
RESULTS: 1:38:53 – 53rd OVERALL, 7th in Age Group M 50-54
I signed up for this race last week in hopes of improving my corral seeding at the 2018 Chicago Marathon (CM) this coming fall. Otherwise, I avoid summer half marathons like the plague! Too hot, muggy and miserable! But I was on a mission.
Although I have legacy status for the CM which guarantees my entry, I ended up getting into the race based on a qualifying time from the 2016 CM race. At the CM, they seed you into corrals, which are now separated into three waves. Being in the first wave is pretty awesome, as you are with the faster runners who finish under 3 hours and 45 minutes, and generally with those that will be running the same pace as you. In 2016 I was seeded in the B corral, which was like being an elite for me. When the word got out that we had been assigned corrals for this years race, I found that I had been moved to the E corral. Talk about a blow to my ego! Still in the first wave though, which is really the goal. Being in the first wave is preferred because there will be less people, less congestion, and no fear of the supplies of water, or Gatorade, or gels, or whatever running out. But even so, my qualifying time of 3:25:08 should have put me in the D corral to begin with by their own time standards.
I sent an email requesting to be moved to the D corral, and it was approved. But I thought I would give it a shot at trying to get into the C corral, which would require me to run either a <3:20:01 marathon, or a <1:35:01 half marathon. Since there’s no way I’m attempting to run a marathon in July, I found this local half marathon race in relatively nearby Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
Amita Health/Fit America Half Marathon Race Recap
Of course it was raining. Since running the in pouring rain at the Boston Marathon in April, it seems like every race I sign up for is going to have rain. I even skipped a triathlon in June because of the storms that morning. But today it wasn’t too bad, just misty, and that only lasted for about 30 minutes.
I took my spot in the start corral area and found my pacer. This guy and everyone around him all looked young, tall and thin and more than capable of being sub 1:35. I tapped his shoulder and asked him what the 6.55 mile (halfway) split would be, just to see if he did his homework. He did the math right there and I was satisfied. He also had a pace chart on his wrist. He did ask me if that was what I was intending to run, with sort of doubt in his expression, which always makes me chuckle when people doubt me. I may look old, fat and slow, but there is nothing more pleasing than surprising them with my effort. I said I was shooting for the stars today, hoping I would be able to hang until at least halfway.
Someone with a mic started a countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3… and on 3 the guy with the airhorn started blaring the thing. We all laughed and off we went.
(Note: I’m a newer user of Strava and I find the data and info from it interesting. I added screenshots of each mile split for reference and to help me recall things that happened during the race.)
MILE 1 – (7:13 Split) – I was afraid that 7:15 per mile was going to feel like 5K race pace to me, because I don’t normally train at that pace (usually I’m running 8:40 or so in training!), but our pack settled in behind our pacer. I actually felt pretty good.
MILE 2 – (7:12 Split) – By this mile my heart rate was in Z4 and I started to feel the intensity of the pace. But still I felt good, hanging with the group and feeling and looking like I belonged.
MILE 3 – (7:09 Split) – This split time is a little surprising, because Mr. Pacer was pretty spot on with his pace. There was only a handful of times when the group slowed going uphill, but we all picked it back up to 7:15 pretty easily. There were warnings of puddles to avoid, and I mentioned to the girl running next to me that Boston was all puddles, and she said she had run it too! Conversations were happening in the group and I sensed the group was feeling good.
MILE 4 – (7:16 Split) – This is where it all fell apart for me. I hit a wall and I hit it hard! Who hits the proverbial wall 4 miles into a half marathon?! Me, that’s who. I think the problem was I grabbed an energy gel at 30 minutes and started ingesting it. Between that and a water stop, my heart rate soared and I could feel myself starting to struggle. We were also starting to hit more of the hillier sections of the first half, and that was adding to my issue. The group wasn’t too far ahead, but I didn’t think I could keep pace any longer. I figured that the halfway point might be where I would falter. I was a little surprised that it was hitting me now.
MILE 5 – (7:22 Split) – Okay, a little relief from the energy gel. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes to get absorbed and it was starting to give me a boost. I worked on trying to pull myself back up to the group. We hit a turn around at this point and Mr. Pacer offered a thumbs up. But the hills were starting to take their toll on me.
MILE 6 – (7:33 Split) – Running alone again. Every race, every time. This middle mile of the race is like all middle miles of most any race. It’s the point where I find myself running alone. Although it was becoming splintered a little, the 7:15 pace group was a good football field or two ahead of me now, and there was no sign of anyone behind me. This happens all the time to me. The official timer had a split mat at 10K and I hit it at 45:51, which was still looking pretty good for me, but I had another half of the race to go.
MILE 7 – (7:44 Split) – I don’t remember much about this mile other than it was the straightest of the miles. Just doing the work at my new, more comfortable pace.
MILE 8 – (7:47 Split) – This is the mile I had originally planned to start a finishing push. You can see by the slower split time that it didn’t happen. Interesting mile though. I started eating my last energy gel, just kind of taking a small amount each time. I wanted to make sure it lasted a little longer.
MILE 9 – (7:37 Split) – I was starting to feel energized again. A young college kid passed me wearing a UW Stevens Point shirt and he had the look of a classic cross country runner. Tall, thin and running easily. I figured he must be just pacing through a training day and not racing at all, because there was no way I should have been leading that kid through 8 miles. But I was wrong. I saw him and his mother at the finish and I asked him if he was just taking it easy, and he claimed it was his first half marathon and he didn’t run at UWSP. Shame. He definitely looked like he should have been in the top 10 today. Looks can be deceiving.
MILE 10 – (7:59 Split) – As I passed the 9 mile mark I noticed the ball of my foot was getting sore, and I guessed that I was starting to get a blister. That was a little surprising, because I had lubed up my feet pretty good with Body Glide. My feet were soaked however. This was my slowest split and I’m not sure why. There was a turn around, but I didn’t mess around there. With only 5K to go at the 10 mile mark, I started to push again. I was slowly starting to catch people. I think I overtook 3 other runners in this mile.
MILE 11 – (7:43 Split) – I wanted to keep pushing but the path started getting hilly and curvy again. Hoping to push a little more but save enough for a strong last mile kick. Definitely could feel that blister forming on my right foot.
MILE 12 – (7:41 Split) – Just after passing the 11 mile marker you come to a turn where there is a water station, but I almost made a wrong turn there. That’s the fear for me when I get stuck in no-man’s land. Fortunately I chose correctly, grabbed some water and kept going.
MILE 13 and End – (7:29 Split) – I finally got out of the forest preserve and back on the road heading back to the finish. I had been looking over my shoulder and could see a guy in a blue singlet pulling me in. I’m pretty sure he was in the early 7:15 pace group with me. He caught me with a little less than a half mile to go. I latched on and we paced together until we were handed American flags about 200 meters from the finish. I was with him at that point and encouraged him to push. He did and was able to beat me to the line. I crossed the line waving that flag, relieved to be under 1:40 and to be done. He congratulated me on a good finish, and I him.
Overall I was pretty happy with my sub 1:40 time of 1:38:53. I was hoping for that sub 1:35, and I was optimistic about it for the most part, but I really would have needed a perfect day and course to get that. Corral D, here I come!
hoffmanestates_ffasf_halfmap – PDF of course map
The course was more challenging than I expected. It had about 650 feet of elevation gain which is notable. Rolling hills, but nothing too terrible. The course is all paved, some on road but most on bike trail. There were five switchbacks and a lot of turns. I would rate it challenging, but still capable of producing a good finish time. The race organization was outstanding. The volunteers were plentiful and were awesome. The medal seemed a little cheaper than other races I have been at that this race organization hosts, but I still liked it. I signed up late and paid about $70. I highly recommend this race and most races hosted by All Community Events.
RACE RESULTS LINK
All Community Events 13.1 Race Results – Overall Results
Fit America – My Results