That was certainly interesting. I thought the marathon that I ran back in November was tough, but this race may have beat it out. Not only was it cold, but it was also windy. Not only was it windy, but the varying course conditions (snow, ice, slush, mud, pavement, puddles) made for some kind of run. Though I suppose that when you sign up for a Half Marathon in January, what can one expect? I can say that last year’s Polar Dash was quite different since it was about 50 degrees that January day.
My wife, bless her soul, decided to make the trek down to the lakefront with me. I don’t know why she did given what the weather was calling for, but hey, I am glad she supports me in these crazy endeavors. We arrived about 9:00, and found parking relatively close to the Start/Finish area. I decided to get out of the car at about 9:40. This would give me time to start getting acclimated to the weather (and it was cold) as well as make my way to the Start/Finish line.
I didn’t need to do any kind of gear check since my wife was with me. I was able to leave everything with her as well as keep my warm winter coat, gloves, hat, and pants on until just before the race.
The first mile was a pretty slow one. Started the first half mile or so at probably 10:00 or 10:30 pace. It was crowded, icy, and heading north – into the wind. It picked up a bit the second half and I managed a 9:00 first mile. The next couple of miles, I was able to up the pace and get to 8:00, 7:57, and 7:59. I felt pretty good, but I did seem to be working pretty hard for those miles though. Miles 5 & 6 I started to slow down with an 8:29 and an 8:45. I still felt pretty good, but I did seem to be working hard through these miles.
At about mile 6.5, we turned around on the lakefront path, and then the bottom just fell out. It didn’t seem like I had anything left in the tank at all at this point, and the rest of the race just proved it – 9:29, 10:08, 9:45, 10:36, 8:49, 10:13, and 8:31. I felt awful and ran awful. It was a struggle from that turnaround point to the finish, and I honestly didn’t enjoy it that much.
I wasn’t really keying on this for obvious reasons – a few weeks into an April Marathon Training Program, running along Chicago’s Lakefront in January, and then with the way the weather played out on race day. Though, I really thought that I would have been able to do better than I did.
To be honest, unless I can find a warm-weather destination for something longer than a 5K in December, January, February, I don’t think I will be doing any more half marathons in Chicago in the winter. It was fun doing it the past two years, but I think the novelty has worn off now that I have run in 50 degrees (2013) and 0 degrees (2014).
I also am not sure how excited I am about running any additional races on the lakefront path. I am glad it is there (even though I didn’t take advantage of it when I lived in Chicago – since I wasn’t running) and I am glad it can be used for stuff like this. I guess I would prefer running on “closed” streets where it isn’t so crowded.
Overall the experience was great though. It was an easy packet pickup at Dick Ponds in Lisle. Plenty of porta-potties before the race. There was also plenty of aid stations along the course.