2024 The Waltons: Racing & Training Thread (Read 166 times)


Waltons ThreadLord

    Upcoming Races

    05/27 dpschumacher- Brian Kraft 5k

    5k 23:48.45 (3/22); 4M 31:26 (2/22); 5M 38:55 (11/23); 10k 49:24 (10/22); 
    10M 1:29:33 (2/24); Half 1:48:32 (10/22); Marathon 4:29:58 (11/23)

    Upcoming race(s): Firecracker 4-miler, 7/4


    Half Crazy K 2.0

      My week:

      Monday upper body strength

      Tuesday 5.5 with 5x 1 almost k T + 3 stride

      Wednesday 5 easy, pm lower body strength

      Thursday rest

      Friday am 6.5 with 45 minutes "marathon" effort, pm total body strength

      Saturday 3 eassy

      Sunday 7 with 5x3min + 3x2min 5k effort


      Fred, great pictures. It almsot lookks like it is against a city backdrop as opposed to tha really being in the background.


      Steve, good to catch that the Pros aren;t the right shoe for your marathon.


      Mark, the trail races are probably fun for Miss 7--I've always heard they have better food.


      Hash, hope you had a good trip. Ditto on the pleasantness. Disagreeing about training is fine, personal attacks are not.


      Watson, nice job on the Parkrun. I have the Pros and the defintely seem narrower than my usual Wave Riders in the toe area.

        Wullie - looking forward to the trip report Smile Proper trip through Merica as I have seen on Strava.


        Fred - I always note the small things. In this case I think your wedding ring looks like it could fall off any minute. Which means you had chunkier hands when you got it fitted. Which in my world is a great achievement, always. Also, great pictures - are those the endorphins you are wearing? And lastly - the guy that started ahead of you had bose headphones that go overhead, and a hidration backpack for a 10k??? Wow, talk about being prepared. Great job on the time - 53 minutes and change is fast.

        HM: 1:47 (9/20) I FM: 3:53:11 (9/23)


        2024 Goals: run a FM & HM + stay healthy!


        Waltons ThreadLord

          Mick - Yeah, the ring looks loose on my finger, but I have a thick knuckle that keeps it from falling off.  Yes, I'm wearing Endorphin Speed 2's.  There always seem to be a few people at these 10k races with a lot of gear.  I try to be generous and assume they're using the race to test out gear they plan to use in longer events, but I suspect for some of them 10k is a new distance and they're simply over-prepared (but if it works for them, who am I to comment?).


          Kathi - Yeah, the buildings in lower Manhattan are so large you don't realize that they're across the river, almost 2 miles away.  Nice week of work.


          Watson - I've noticed with my nylon plated shoes there's a pace point where they start helping me a lot more, but even at slower paces, they're so much lighter than regular training shoes that they still have a benefit.  Nice week of running & ParkRun.


          Mark - I have to agree with you about ParkRun, fun, and the lack of egos; it's the same where I run.  I'm glad you got over the cold in time to run the 7k with your daughter.  As to emergency rain gear, I've been known to get a cheap trash bag and cut holes in it for my arms and head, and they discard it when I don't need it any longer.


          Steve - It was probably a grin.  I was having a good day.   Interesting about you and your coach not liking the Endorphin Pros after 70 minutes. I run in them and for longer periods of time, but I guess a lot has to do with foot size/shape; we're all different.  I think you're going to have a great run come race day.  You're well prepared and know what you're doing.  Go enjoy it.

          5k 23:48.45 (3/22); 4M 31:26 (2/22); 5M 38:55 (11/23); 10k 49:24 (10/22); 
          10M 1:29:33 (2/24); Half 1:48:32 (10/22); Marathon 4:29:58 (11/23)

          Upcoming race(s): Firecracker 4-miler, 7/4



          Waltons ThreadLord

            After taking several days off in the previous week to rest my hip, I spent most of last week on short, slow, easy runs, hoping I'd be OK to race a 5k on Sunday, and that's how it worked out.  The 5k went pretty well for me.  I was hoping to break 25:00, which I haven't done in almost a year, but it wasn't to be.  Still, it was a good run for me (report is below).  Another nice thing was the race started around the corner from my house and finished right next door, so I didn't have to wait in the Porta-Potty line.   22.1 miles/35.6km for the week.


            Date Workout Type Distance Duration Pace Temp
            5/13/2024   Easy  3.3 mi 36:03 10:56  57
            5/14/2024   Easy  3.3 mi 35:57 10:54  50
            5/16/2024   Easy  4.3 mi 47:24 11:08  58
            5/17/2024   Easy  5.0 mi 52:01 10:25  62
            5/18/2024   Easy  2.1 mi 23:02 10:46  60
            5/19/2024   Easy  1.0 mi 10:14 10:33  63

            Greta's Run 5k 

            Race  5.0 km 25:06   8:05  65



            Greta's Run 5k - 5/19/24


            My 4th running of this race, but only my second since the course changed a decade ago, when they started running it at noon.  Last year, they changed the start to 9:00am, which is about as early as can be done with residential noise ordinances, and I ran it last year in 24:12 in 61º.  In the few days prior to the race, it looked like conditions would be similar, but the clouds moved out sooner than expected and Sunday dawned bright an sunny, so it was a warm 65º by the time we started.


            This is a classic community 5k.  Though it's USATF-certified and the RD is very good about making sure it's the right distance, the first row of the start line was filled with kids, some of them actually standing on the starting mat.  The second row included a person with a small-wheeled double stroller (who would finish in over an hour).  As such, I had no qualms about lining up near the front.  We started a little late, after some long-ish speeches and a wobbly rendition of the national anthem.  The course only goes about 50 yards before we hit a bit of a downhill, which really helps get me up to speed.  The kids were off an running fast from the start, but more than half would fade in the first ¾ mile, when we got to the highest point of the race.


            My hope was to go sub-25 and my plan was to try running sub-8:00 most of the way.  The early hill helped me with that and though we were soon climbing, it was a long, gentle climb.  As noted, we hit the highest point of the race ¾ miles in and from there it was flat and gradually downhill.  My first mile was 7:43, a bit fast, but I was feeling fine (and also skewed by that initial downhill).  The second mile began as we turned left onto a straight part and all of a sudden, there was a headwind.  It wasn't bad, but it was noticeable.  At least it would be a tailwind most most of the last mile.  I started slowing a couple times in the second mile, but both times I was able to recover and speed back up.  Mile two was done in 8:10, which was slower than planned, but I was starting to feel tired.


            Shortly after the end of mile two, the course hits it's lowest point, then turns right and makes up all that altitude loss in one, steep, 25' climb.  I know the road well and knew there was no point in trying to run the hill at 8:00-pace, so I let myself slow down, though I kept it under 9:30, and once I got to the top, I knew it was flat running all the way to the end so I tried picking up my pace again.  I managed to stay under 8:10, though when I tried to pick people to run with, they either were pulling away too fast or stopped to walk.  I came to the end of the long straight with 0.3 miles to go and a series of turns slowed me down, especially the last one, which put me back into the headwind.  Still, even with the hill I managed an 8:21 final mile.  Approaching the finish, I saw the clock was too close to 25:00 for me to reach my goal of sub-25, but I did get a 25:06.77, which is pretty close.   I finished 83rd of 676 overall, 65th of 274 males, and 3rd of 11 in M55-59.


            Afterward, I had the pleasure of watching the kids' race, which was about 0.1 mile, starting down the street and going right past my house, where I was sitting in a sling chair with a large glass of water.  First the tiny ones who seem to bounce as much as they run, then every minute or so another wave, each older than the previous one.  It was really fun to see.

            5k 23:48.45 (3/22); 4M 31:26 (2/22); 5M 38:55 (11/23); 10k 49:24 (10/22); 
            10M 1:29:33 (2/24); Half 1:48:32 (10/22); Marathon 4:29:58 (11/23)

            Upcoming race(s): Firecracker 4-miler, 7/4



              Christchurch Marathon RR

              21 Apr 2024 (sorry for the late RR)

              Mat time 3:19:26

              Gun time 3:18:47

              I had a disappointing 2023 which included my fourth marathon, which was my slowest at 3:21.  That course Hawkes Bay was a slow course, but was definitely 200m to 400m short.  I paced poorly and slightly under hydrated and fuelled.

              I had a very consistent training block since November for this race.  Lots of moderately good weeks in the 40-50 mile (65-80km) range.

              I was minimal in long runs, one 32km and two 29km.  Plus, a good chunk of 20-25km.

              My last two marathons, if you took my best recent local Parkrun (slow course) and multiplied by 9.7, it came very close the my marathon.  In this years lead-up, my best was 20:25 which equates to a 3:18:03.

              My ‘A’ aim was 3:15.

              I had several niggles going in.  My left calf and right glute are niggly, which caused me to take three days off in a row in the third to last week.  Plus, I’d had some toe-nail bruising caused I think by my NB Rebel v3’s that I recently purchased, I think that the US size 11 is a tad smaller than my other US size 11’s.

              My race aim was 3:15. with a pace plan using the 10-10-10 method.  The only differences being I’d metricate, so 16km-16km-remainder and would use my GPS as I often miss the race km markers and I wasn’t sure how many there’d be.

              There are three races at Christchurch that all start together.  A 10.55km, half and full, being one, two and four laps respectively.

              This was doubling up with a holiday, arrive in Christchurch on Friday, race Sunday, and then off to Queenstown four nights, and then back home Friday.

              My parents were doing a two-week road trip holiday, so we’d arranged for them to be in Christchurch the same time as us.  We shared an Air BnB.

              On Friday in Christchurch, I did a 4km easy run.  This was a slow, slow run that felt hard.  I was pretty sure it was all good but knowing that I have do four times the distance, at about 30% quicker seemed a challenge.

              No run for Saturday.  Just go get the bibs from the finish area at Hagley Park.

              Christchurch had personalized drinks as an option from lap two.  So, I’d prepared four drinks of 450ml containing 45 grams carbs. 

              One to drink before the race, and the other three for laps two, three and four at the Chester St East drinks station.  I also had three 40g carb gels.  And two caffeine pills, taking one before the race and one during. 

              All the other drinks stations, being twelve, I’d look to get a small amount of water, maybe 50 ml per station.  So going well I’d get 2L of water, and 300 grams carb for the race.

              I had a terrible sleep the night before.  I had quite bad heartburn which kept my awake a lot.

              Early start Sunday morning.  We got up about 5am and had breakfast.

              I often before races get asthma and a minor gag reflex, pretty much just nerves.  I had it quite bad that morning, and before we got in the car had a small vomit onto the driveway.  That’s the first time that happened to me.  So, the trip in was about 10 minutes later than planned.

              We left about 6:15am and got dropped off (by dad) about 6:35am, maybe 800 metres walk away.

              My wife was also racing the full (aim 3:45) with our 13 year-old girl running the 10.55km (with almost no training).

              We got there maybe 6:45pm and dropped off the marathon personal drinks.

              I then stood in a long queue for the bathroom.  The queue was long enough to finish my pre-race drink and take one of my caffeine pills (100 mg).

              After the bathroom I bumped into Floor who he is one of my regions (Wellington’s) better masters runners, and also works at the same office.  She was aiming for her first sub 3, but mentioned she’d had some achilles problems in the lead up.

              I then went to the start.  I lined up about where the markers for my aim time was. 

              I sat down a few times to rest, and relaced my shoes a few times.  I was racing in the Adidas Takumi Sen 8 which are advertised as a 5-10km, but are still very, very good.  The main challenge with Adidas race shoes is it’s very hard to get the lacing right.

              The race briefing and ceremony was relatively brief.  Mark and I will remember 2019 when the city councillor went on forever, thankfully there was no repeat 2024.

              Race starts, it’s a slow walk to the actual start, I start my watch and run.

              I started slowly and had many people over-take.  I roughly wanted to be with the 1:40 half group early, but they were a bit ahead of me.

              All times are GPS times, unless stated.

              The first few hundred metres were hard, even though I was slow.  By the end of my first km I was feeling better, and was through 5:03 which is easily my slowest first km of a marathon.

              The rest of the first lap was 4:39 to 4:42 per km pace.  I managed a small amount of water at the three drinks stop and took one 40g gel.  I felt moderately good, but not great.

              I went through the first lap at 50:01, which I was comfortable with.  Theoretically I should have been 1s behind the 1:40 pace group, but they were maybe a minute ahead of me.

              Lap two was when the personal drinks became available.

              Second drink station, at Chester St East, around 13.5km was my first personal drink.  They had someone on the mic just before the drinks that called my number out, and on the last table they lady efficiently handed out my drink.  By memory, I remember manners and thanked her.

              This lap went fine, with me also taking my second 40g gel.  There were a few half-marathon walkers I overtook then, plus a small number of full runners who were starting to fade.

              Second lap done in 49:30, so total time at 1:39:31.  The 1:40 pace group had split up with the first pacer having finished around 1:38:30, with the other pace having massively dropped back to let people catch-up – I overtook him circa 20km in.

              I had managed to quicken a tad the 16km mark, which I was happy with.

              Lap three was pretty much rinse and repeat of lap two:

              • 49:14 for the lap.
              • Clearly, I would not be able to manage 3:15 for the race.
              • I overtook quite a few full runners who had gone too quick the first half.
              • The traffic on the course was quite a lot less as most quarter and half runners had finished.
              • I didn’t take a gel as my stomach was starting to be a little iffy.
              • I ran past my supporter’s club, which is mum and my two girls.
              • The first three full runners lapped me near the end of my lap.
              • I saw Floor limping, off the course, as her achilles became too much, so she was a DNF.
              • I tried to take my second caffeine pill but ended up dropping it.

              Lap four started, and the hope/plan was to being in the 4:2x per km.  I managed a 4:32 and 4:35 for kms 33 and 34 respectively.

              Lap four the sun came out (it had been cloudy most of the race) and it warmed up a tad.  But it was still very good conditions.

              My feet were getting a little sore at this point, but not much.  Except my toes were quite sore (see my Rebel v3 statement earlier).

              I also had lace bite from about the second lap which was getting worse.  A few times I thought of stopping and adjusting but I decided not to.

              And then I started to fade.  Not much, but just a very slight fade.  Around there I got my last drink.  It took me a long time to drink, maybe 25 minutes so I had it for a lot of the last lap.

              I did the 35th km in 4:42, so a bit slow.  Based on my GPS and the markers I’d seen, I was thinking it would be 42.5km GPS for me for the race.  When I got to 35.5km mark, I told myself that I had 7km to go which is often my easy day distance, so I was fine.

              40th km was 4:50 which was the second slowest of the race (my first km at 5:03 was the slowest).

              I then was able to speed up with 4:42 and 4:42 for 41km and 42km.  By then I realized that my 42.5km GPS was going to a 42.6km GPS.

              I then kept my 4:42 pace for the last lap, I must have slowed a tad as I then kicked the last 100m which off to the side of the main lap, and is on grass.  I.e. the last 100m of the final lap is different to the last 100m of the non-final laps.

              I then had a banana and several sports drinks from the finishing tables and went and sat down on one of the plastic chairs available.  I took off my shoes and talked to the guy beside me, who finished just ahead of me.  He had faded significantly.  It was his second marathon, his first being Berlin which he thoroughly recommended.

              I then walked down to get my bag and I changed my top.

              I then walked back to near the finish line, and Ange who used to live near me (and was a club mate of Hash) yelled out to me pointing out that it was the first time she’d beat me.  She told me her time (3:12 by memory), I asked whether it was a PR, which it was.  It seemed beating me was better than the PR.  She mentioned that she’d DM’d me the day before in Strava asking whether we’d run together, but I’d missed the message.

              I then talked to mum and my girls and waited for my wife to finish.  She came through 3:46 which was about what she hoped.

              Take homes:

              • My hydration and nutrition was about right. It was easily the best I’d hydrated and fuelled.
              • Nex time I’d have a caffeine gel on me for mid-way as it will be easier than my dropped caffeine pill. I’d have two beforehand rather than one, as I am a caffeine responder.
              • My local Parkrun is a slow course. Taking my best recent time and multiplying by 9.7 is a very good predictor of marathon time.
              • The Takumi Sen 8’s were good. The slightly slower stack does cause some minor foot soreness last 10km, but probably immaterial.

              PRs: 5km 18:43 (Dec 2015), 10km 39:59 (Sep 2020), half 1:26:16 (Sep 2016), full 3:09:28 (Jun 2015)


              40+ PRs: 5km 19:31 (Oct 2020), 10km 39:59 (Sep 2020), half 1:29:39 (Jun 2018), full 3:13:55 (Sep 2022)


              2023 PRs (hope to beat in 2024): 5km 20:34, 10km 41:37, half 1:32:32, full 3:21:05


              2024 PRs: 5km 20:25


                Fred - nice RR.  So you live right beside the start?  That would make logistics pretty easy!

                PRs: 5km 18:43 (Dec 2015), 10km 39:59 (Sep 2020), half 1:26:16 (Sep 2016), full 3:09:28 (Jun 2015)


                40+ PRs: 5km 19:31 (Oct 2020), 10km 39:59 (Sep 2020), half 1:29:39 (Jun 2018), full 3:13:55 (Sep 2022)


                2023 PRs (hope to beat in 2024): 5km 20:34, 10km 41:37, half 1:32:32, full 3:21:05


                2024 PRs: 5km 20:25


                Waltons ThreadLord

                  Fred - nice RR.  So you live right beside the start?  That would make logistics pretty easy!


                  Yup, the start was just around the corner from my home, so no porta-potty lines for me. 


                  Nice job on the race report.  I could really sympathize as you faded, remembering races of my own.  Being less than 4 minutes off goal in a marathon is pretty good (I'm not sure how gun time can be shorter than mat time unless you left early), so job well done.

                  5k 23:48.45 (3/22); 4M 31:26 (2/22); 5M 38:55 (11/23); 10k 49:24 (10/22); 
                  10M 1:29:33 (2/24); Half 1:48:32 (10/22); Marathon 4:29:58 (11/23)

                  Upcoming race(s): Firecracker 4-miler, 7/4



                    Fred - that kids race sounds hilarious. Nice work.   I remember at Omaha HM back in 2019, our Airbnb was about 100m from the start line.  That was super convenient!


                    Watson - that was a good result.  Solid effort by your wife also, congrats to her!

                    3,000m: 9:07.7 (Nov-21) | 5,000m: 15:39 (Dec-19) | 10,000m: 32:34 (Mar-20)  

                    10km: 33:15 (Sep-19) | HM: 1:09:41 (May-21)* | FM: 2:41:41 (Oct-20)

                    * Net downhill course

                    Last race: Runway5 / National 5k Champs, 16:22, National Masters AG Champ!

                    Up next: Still working on that...

                    "CONSISTENCY IS KING"


                    Hot Weather Complainer

                      Fred - I definitely think the RD can do better with getting people to line up appropriately at the start.  I imagine some people would be running around 15 minutes so to get stuck behind someone taking an hour is crazy.


                      Love being close to the start, I was 5 mins jog at Christchurch.  If I manage to avoid Covid and do the full next year I'll do the same again.


                      watson - Really nice race.  That's not a bad fade (by my standards anyway) and it sounds like you executed it perfectly on the day.  I remember last year feeling relieved to get to the third lap as the crowds thinned out and annoying half runners stopped drafting off me (it was much windier last year).  That late arrival of the sun was perfect.  How did your daughter go?


                      I have a bruised big toenail after my Endorphin Pro run on Saturday which is annoying.  It's quite sore if it is touched or pushed up against a shoe.  Hopefully it goes numb during the race, which usually happens if I have toe issues.  The pain is bad after the race but that doesn't worry me.  Sounds like the 1:40 pacer blew it.  A buffer is good, but 30-60 seconds at the finish line at most.  Being that far ahead so early would have hurt some people I'm sure.


                      Such a small world, I wonder if Ange will be supporting Jennie at Selwyn like she was last year.  Surely she's not going to back up and run again.  Jennie has said she's going out at sub 3:10 pace so I won't be going with her initially.

                      5km: 18:34 11/23 │ 10km: 39:10 8/23 │ HM: 1:26:48 9/23 │ M: 3:34:49 6/23


                      2024 Races:

                      Motorway Half Marathon February 25, 2024 1:29:55

                      Christchurch Half-Marathon April 21, 2024 1:27:34

                      Selwyn Marathon June 2, 2024 DNF

                      Dunedin Half Marathon September 15, 2024


                        Steve - good luck at Selwyn.  I think you've gotten a good hydration plan together?  I think, and hope that it will stop/minimize cramp problems.


                        Also, I actually negative split Chch by 15s.  The laps were 50:01, 49:30, 49:14 and 50:00

                        PRs: 5km 18:43 (Dec 2015), 10km 39:59 (Sep 2020), half 1:26:16 (Sep 2016), full 3:09:28 (Jun 2015)


                        40+ PRs: 5km 19:31 (Oct 2020), 10km 39:59 (Sep 2020), half 1:29:39 (Jun 2018), full 3:13:55 (Sep 2022)


                        2023 PRs (hope to beat in 2024): 5km 20:34, 10km 41:37, half 1:32:32, full 3:21:05


                        2024 PRs: 5km 20:25


                        Hot Weather Complainer

                          Thanks watson.  That's interesting and maybe it means it wasn't a fade at all, or maybe you picked it up just a touch early.


                          My hydration plan is slightly different - I'm using Precision 1500 with no carbs this time.  I'll get my carbs from 6-7 gels including 3-4 caffeine gels.  I posted this on the other thread so I might as well paste it here too:


                          I've done way more mileage this time, and way fewer long 20+ miles runs.  My coach hasn't completely changed everything from my failed marathons but we've looked at what may have been lacking and tried to add it in.  It remains to be seen if it works but given I had conventionally good blocks going into previous races that ended in disaster, it makes sense to change things up.  I actually thought I should write down the list of things I've changed in the last 12 months so here seems like a good place.


                          -  2 base building blocks, one of which was 4 weeks of hill repeats of increasing lengths

                          -  More "steady" long runs.  This is extended time in zone 3 slightly slower than target race pace (2 hours to 2:20)

                          -  Doubled the weekly strength training and have 1.5 solid years of it now, rather than 6 months going into the last marathon

                          -  More focus on nutrition - protein shakes are a must after longer runs or workouts.  Change to higher sodium drinks which seem to have helped (some hot days in summer, lots of fluid/salt loss but no cramp)

                          -  No steep taper - cutting back a little of course but not following the 80/60/40 rule for mileage

                          -  Probably most importantly, my best year of training in terms of mileage and quality (and results in every shorter distance)

                          -  Cramp stop - my ambulance at the bottom of the cliff spray which I used once and it seemed to fight it off


                          I'm trying not to expect the worst and just address each challenge as it comes, which is easier said than done and hopefully the mental skills coach will help me with some techniques on Friday.  I'm looking forward to the race but trying not to look forward to the finish line.  I really enjoy the process/journey so that should include every km of the race.

                          5km: 18:34 11/23 │ 10km: 39:10 8/23 │ HM: 1:26:48 9/23 │ M: 3:34:49 6/23


                          2024 Races:

                          Motorway Half Marathon February 25, 2024 1:29:55

                          Christchurch Half-Marathon April 21, 2024 1:27:34

                          Selwyn Marathon June 2, 2024 DNF

                          Dunedin Half Marathon September 15, 2024



                            watson - Congratulations to you & your wife.  How did your daughter do?


                            Last week I tapered for Sunday’s half and drove to Chicago for a national convention of investment clubs that DW is involved in.  On Friday, our son & I ditched the convention for a tour of Wrigley Field (a major league baseball stadium 100+ years old with lots of history & color but no elevators).  We stayed for a game that afternoon, which was interesting because a highly touted pitcher in just his second major league game struck out the first seven batters.  I figured all the steps and spending most of the day in the hot sun wouldn’t be good for my half two days later, but it was worth it.


                            Race report will follow sometime soon.


                            Sun - 5 miles very slow TM (36:15 AM/24 PM) + 0:40 walk breaks/6 min

                            Mon - 5 miles very slow TM (60:15 PM) + 0:40 walk breaks/6 min

                            Tues - 4.7 miles in park PM including strides, 1 @7:08, temp 81/27, TDP 148

                            Weds - off driving to Chicago

                            Thurs - 3.5 miles including strides, 3 very slow TM (37:30) + 0:40 walk breaks/6 min

                            Fri - off climbing up & down Wrigley Field stairs

                            Sat - off at investment club convention


                            Total - 18.2 miles

                            YTD - 32.3 mpw

                            Post-1987 PRs:  Half 1:30:14 (2019); 10K 39:35 (2019); 5K 19:12 (2017); Mile 5:37.3 (2020)

                            '24 Goals: consistency, age-graded PRs, half < 1:32


                            Waltons ThreadLord

                              Fred - I definitely think the RD can do better with getting people to line up appropriately at the start.  I imagine some people would be running around 15 minutes so to get stuck behind someone taking an hour is crazy.


                              Fortunately, it's a nice, wide road (I'm guessing easily 20' / 6m), so the faster people got through the crowd of kids pretty easily and quickly.  It's a community event to raise money for a charity, so they're not going to get too worked up about where people line up.


                              My wife and older son got to witness an exciting finish.  The leader looked like he was starting to coast, unaware that second place was closing quickly.  By the time the leader realized the situation, they were both in sprint-to-the finish distance.  The leader did get the win, but by a thin margin; 17:23.00 vs. 17:23.30.

                              5k 23:48.45 (3/22); 4M 31:26 (2/22); 5M 38:55 (11/23); 10k 49:24 (10/22); 
                              10M 1:29:33 (2/24); Half 1:48:32 (10/22); Marathon 4:29:58 (11/23)

                              Upcoming race(s): Firecracker 4-miler, 7/4




                                Race Report, Chicago Spring Half Marathon - Sunday, May 19


                                I ran this race while in Chicago with the family for a convention of an investment club association.  Before registering, I checked lots of Reddit threads to see what people had said in past years.  The half has 5,300 runners, and several commenters complained about the course being too crowded for the last 3+ miles after the 1,300 10K runners (who started 45 minutes later) joined the returning half runners.  Others noted that the trail wasn’t closed for the race, which meant that random runners & cyclists were occasionally obstacles, and some locals didn’t see any reason to pay a lot to race on a trail that they run regularly.  The organizers also were criticized for having shortened the course of another half a few years ago and not telling runners.  Only the last of these points gave me pause, and the course was easily my favorite of any I’ve run.  It was beautiful - mostly on the Lakefront Trail, a wide bike path that runs through parks with museums and other interesting buildings on the west and Lake Michigan on the east.  


                                Perhaps hoping to escape the convention (median age probably over 65), our son had offered to drive me the 20 miles from our hotel near the airport to the park and be my support crew since DW was busy at the convention.  He later regretted this when he realized that we would leave the hotel at 5.  After some adventures dealing with road closures, we arrived a little before 6, and I took a 150mg SIS gel. 


                                One thing that struck me on arrival was how young the competitors looked.  The results showed that nearly half the half runners were in their twenties, compared to a bit less than a quarter in our largest local half and less than that in most local 5Ks.


                                Wanting to make things less stressful in a crowded, unfamiliar setting, I had signed up for the “VIP Package,” which included a separate area with our own port-a-pottie, chairs, and gear check and a few other perks.  Not sure it was worth the cost, especially as the perks weren’t as promised on the website, but I appreciated it that day.  I had planned my warmup in order to enter the corrals shortly before the 6:45 closing time, but I was thrown for a loop when the announcer said several times that the corrals would close at 6:30.  Staff agreed with me that the official schedule said 6:45, but I hustled over from the VIP area to the start just before 6:30, and of course very few people were in the first corral.  I was able to get a close enough approximation of my normal warmup, so it wasn’t a big deal.  I took a 75mg caffeine SIS gel.  Rather than stand for 15 minutes, I sat down for most of the time. It was strange seeing only legs and brightly colored shoes, but I think it helped me relax (the first gel’s caffeine was kicking in), and getting off my feet was probably a good idea.  After announcements and an electric guitar version of the national anthem, we were off almost exactly on time.


                                Start-4 miles (~6:55, ~6:55, 7:01, 7:00)


                                The course started near Maggie Daley Park on a wide north-south street (Columbus Drive) just west of the park and headed south for almost a mile before turning left into the park.  This let the crowd thin out a bit.  In the park we turned right again to head south.  There were some shaded areas, the sun was behind clouds for the first part of the race, and the temperature was around 66/19, which I liked.  I felt a bit of wind on a couple of turns, but less than I had expected.  The path had lots of curves but no sharp turns; I was surprised at how few runners followed the tangents, though doing so did mean I had to watch for random cyclists going the other way.  The course was mostly flat, but there were several small inclines and gradual downhills.  I found myself speeding up on both, and I think the gentle ups and downs helped vary the stresses on my legs.  


                                Having run only 0, 4, 20, 37, and 18 miles in the previous five weeks, I knew I was way undertrained and that the last several miles would be difficult, but I didn’t have a good idea of what pace I could sustain or how fast I should start.  I started at what seemed like a moderate effort and mostly concentrated on getting out of the congestion and settling into a steady pace.  When it began to seem like I had been running a long time not to have seen the first mile marker & clock, I got a little concerned, but I decided I was doing OK if I could still see the 1:30 pacer a ways ahead.  Soon afterwards, I saw the first mile marker with a clock reading 12:5x.  Not too long after that, I saw the second mile marker with a clock reading 13:5x, so I was a bit under 7-minute mile pace, which was a little faster than I had expected given the effort level.  All the other markers seemed reasonable when looking at my splits.


                                I’ve mentioned before that women who start out at my speed seem to be much better pacers than young men, probably because the women are more likely to be experienced racers and the men may just be in good overall shape but without much running or racing experience (or they would be faster than me).  That was definitely true here.  For the first 9+ miles, there were almost always 5 or 10 people within about 20 yards ahead of me.  The men were always speeding up and leaving me or slowing down and falling behind, while three women stayed pretty constant.  One was in a light blue top, one was in black and gray with polka-dots, and one was in red side-by-side with (apparently) her dad also in red.  I would catch up to one or another and maybe get a little ahead, and then they would pull back ahead.  Light blue top in particular was very steady, which I appreciated.


                                Miles 5-9 (7:07, 7:11, 7:14, 7:21, 7:27)


                                I felt ok in miles 5 & 6 but was slowing some without realizing it.  When I turned around soon after the six-mile marker, I noticed a mild headwind.  That may have explained why my first few miles were faster than I had expected.  I slowed by a few seconds each mile, and holding a steady pace gradually got harder.  I passed the woman in polka-dots; she finished about a minute behind me. I also started to notice some soreness in my hernia; it came and went briefly a few times for the rest of the race but wasn’t ever bad.  I passed the woman running with her dad; they must have blown up, because they finished almost 10 minutes behind me.  Light blue top was steadily ahead of me but always visible, which I guess means she was slowing down a bit too.  She pulled away from me (or slowed less) around 8 or 9 miles and wound up beating me by a minute. 


                                9 miles-Finish (7:43, 7:39, 7:44, 7:45)


                                By now I just wanted to finish.  The headwind was stronger, 15mph/25kph according to some sites, and after about 9.5 miles the 10K people joined us, mostly going slower than me.  Weaving around them was a bother, though if I had been in better shape & arrived a couple of minutes earlier, they would’ve been fewer, faster, and much less of a concern.  I found a tall guy going faster than most and tried to draft behind him; I couldn’t tell that it helped, but there may have been a psychological benefit, and it was nice concentrating on following his shoulders.  The outside of my left quad got sore, I assume because of the camber of the path.  It was getting warmer too, and the sun was strong, especially since we were next to the lake for several miles.  We went farther north than the start/finish area and after a while turned left.  I was glad I had read comments about the race and knew what to expect, because after being outside in the bright sunshine it was a little disorienting to descend onto a street that was basically a wide dark tunnel for several hundred yards.  We came out of the tunnel, turned left to head south on Columbus Drive, and turned left onto another street to finish.  I was pleased that I more or less held my pace for the last four miles.  I guess the added effort knowing I was close to the finish balanced out my loss of strength.


                                I finished in 1:35:48, 165/5,306 and 1st M60-69.  Was wobbling around for a while after finishing, and the cold towel handed out at the finish felt really good.  The sun was shining pretty strongly by then (weather sites differ, but it might have been close to 80F/22C), and I did have to bend over & put my hands on my knees several times over the next hour, worrying my son.  We hung out in the VIP area for an hour or so, and I foam rolled, stretched, walked around a lot, rested, ate breakfast, and generally enjoyed the warm weather and the atmosphere before I picked up my rather unusual award lamp designed to resemble a flower (I’ll try to upload a picture) and had my son drive us back to the hotel.


                                Overall I very much enjoyed the race.  The course was great, the weather was fine, and I liked having lots of people to run with (until the 10Kers joined us, and if I had been in shape that wouldn’t have been a problem).  I was sorry I wasn’t in better shape, as I think I could’ve at least gotten an age-graded best for a half, but I did about as well as I could’ve on that day.

                                Post-1987 PRs:  Half 1:30:14 (2019); 10K 39:35 (2019); 5K 19:12 (2017); Mile 5:37.3 (2020)

                                '24 Goals: consistency, age-graded PRs, half < 1:32