Plagued with insomnia for the last few weeks, I was up at 2:30am and tried getting a million things done. I had no idea my ride, filled with other half marathon participants, was sitting out front for about 10 minutes before I received a text asking when the heck was I coming out? Sorry, guys!
The Cary Half Marathon prides itself on being held in brutal weather. The thing about March in Chicago is just like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, “You never know what you’re gonna get.” Thankfully, the rain stopped before we arrived, but the wind was bone chilling. After running in Disney this year, I was ready for anything, but so very, very thankful of being able to wait inside the school until about 10 minutes before the start.
Spending the time inside, I was able to catch up with a few friends I haven’t seen in a while. I remember when I first started running and triathlon, I used to go to races alone and see everyone talking to their friends and I wished I knew some people. It has come completely full circle as I didn’t go more than 5 minutes before the start of this race without running into a familiar face!
The race wasn’t chip timed and I was treating this as more of a training run than anything else, so there was no need to push to the front. The race has about 1000 runners, so it’s a good sized group and most are pretty competitive! The gun sounded and off we went! Though I’ve run the race several times, I don’t remember it being quite so bottlenecked for the first mile or two. We seemed to be zig zagging a bit, but the pace was still a little quicker than I expected.
Within the first two miles, I shed my long-sleeved throwaway shirt. This year, they gave the hills nicknames. I remember the first one being called “Shoe Tree Hill” and I thought it was funny. We jockeyed with this guy wearing those vibram shoes. He looked like he was running pretty gingerly along the road, so I decided to starttalking to him and ask him how he liked those shoes. He said he did, but I think he said he got them after the Chicago Marathon (October) and only had about 70 miles on them – indoor. I can’t imagine those shoes feel good to run in outide, but I’ve never tried them. And since my toes were numb from cold being all together in my sock, I know my toes would fall off in this weather if I attempted to try those things.
About mile 4, I decide to ditch my handwarmers. NO, people, I was not the one who dropped theirs in the road, I waited until an aid station before I pitched them. And yes, I still had 2 pairs of gloves on at this point. On we go, and I don’t think I’m taking in enough fluid, but I don’t want to take off my gloves to get the water yet I don’t want the water to spill on my gloves to get them wet, so I’m skipping more aid stations than I should. By mile 6, my hands are cold and I wish I hadn’t trashed those handwarmers! (you can buy a box of these at Costco for a very reasonable price!).
The hills keep coming and I remember one of them being called “10 mile hill”. It was just before mile 10. Very original. The pace is now slowing a little, but overall still faster than I anticipated this run to go. I am tiring up the hills a little, but the downhills are my friend. I pass many people going downhill…the same ones that pass me going uphill. Flats seemed kinda equal, but not much passing being done this late in the race.
I remember one of the garages being painted in hot pink and brown – I don’t know why it reminded me of the Brady Bunch, but the garage door is now painted all brown. I couldn’t help but start singing the Brady Bunch song, “Here’s a story, about a man named Brady…” Thought it would get some laughs, but I think these people were pretty tired. It was quiet on that course.
On toward the end, I give it a little sprint. Not much. If you’ve ever seen me sprint, you know what I mean. It was time for the race to be done. We didn’t hang out more than a few minutes before heading inside to change out of the wet clothes. It became apparent just how cold it was when you were standing around after the race.
A good, solid effort to kick off the racing season!