March Madness Half Marathon: new prep strategy, new PR, same love of Hills.

Last weekend was a great one. Nearly everything I did was related to running. Saturday morning I ran to Soldier Field (which is just shy of  8mi from my apartment). 8 of my running buddies ran the Get Lucky Half Marathon and 1 ran the 7k version.

I have to say I was totally grateful I wasn’t running, the conditions were definitely less than ideal, with  steady and strong headwind for the entire second half (it was an out and back course). But neither wind nor hail can stop a Bootleg Runner on a mission and we posted several PR’s!

Get Lucky Runners

And Shelly can cross half-marathon number 2 of 13 off her list for the year! (and now so can I!)

2 down 11 to go

I said I was swearing off alcohol until after I cross the finish line in Boston next month. As it happens, I lied. Because I now am on a mission to replicate the happy results of drinking whiskey the night before a race. Which surely means I must now drink it the night before long runs, and maybe even before a morning strength run.

Anyone want to meet me up for a nightcap the night before Boston?


I was at the bar post-race on Saturday for about 9 hours. Yes, nine. I had two square meals and didn’t have a drink until about hour 4.5. I attempted a Whiskey-sour, and hated it, it just made me pine for beer even more. So I ordered a whiskey-on-the-rocks, which I love. We had two rounds of shots, and I ordered a second drink.

Then on Sunday, I took 4 minutes off my half-marathon PR.

So, I have been wondering all week. Would Jameson be interested in sponsoring this runner? Nuun, Oiselle, and many others have already turned me away. And anyway, let’s be real, my temperament is far better suited for a liquor company.

I’m totally serious. Anyone have a marketing in?

On to the March Madness Half Marathon:

This event is wildly popular and this year sold out in 18 minute! As near as I can figure from the results there were just under 1,100 runners. I felt extremely lucky to get in. I was boarding a flight home from San Antonio when registration opened. My father volunteered to get out of bed before dawn on New Years Eve to register me. He’s my biggest fan (I assume so anyway).

The course has 6 “significant” hills and a bunch of rolling ones throughout. I love it. I love hills. They have a start and a finish and you can focus on them and really feel like your making progress, flat courses are far more daunting to me. All of my PR’s, except for the marathon (which I hope will change in a few weeks!), were achieved on courses with significant hills. I also usually rank overall better on hilly courses, because most people don’t share my affection for them.

The steady distribution of the 6 big hills makes this race especially popular with runners who are Boston bound. Another thing that makes me a fan of this course is the distribution of the turns. They all seem to land right about where you need them, which is right about when you’re getting bored, or overwhelmed with how far is left to go. Usually there are some spectators gathered at turns too, which always gives you a boost in spirits for at least a quarter-mile.

Hillstriders course

It felt unreasonably cold when we arrived at the race location, and it was hilarious how weather-and-clothing-centric most conversations were. It took me until my final trip to the bathroom to finally pull the trigger on what layers to wear. You’d think after running in cold weather nearly everyday for the past 4 months we’d all have a handle on this. But you’d be wrong.

I did only a 1 mile warm up (had planned to do 2, but spent too long in the potty lines), and from that point on didn’t feel cold at all. Win.

I went into this event having no idea how I was going to feel, but ready to consider running anything slower than a 7:15 average pace, unacceptable. This would translate to a PR, but also I haven’t been feeling super confident or comfortable at my marathon goal pace lately so I felt like a strong run was absolutely crucial in terms of what it added to my Boston training.

None of that is in any way scientific. totally all emotional.

The first mile was like the first mile of every race, jockeying stupidly for a position to settle into, accelerating and hitting the brakes every couple hundred meters….and so on.

By mile 5 I felt sure I could get close to a 1:30 finish. And I really wanted to speed up and see if I could BREAK 1:30. But it was so early, I was afraid that if I got greedy, instead of a happy PR, I end up with a miserable shuffle for the last couple of miles and perhaps end up with a new worst time.

Wait Up

Ayuh, yet another fairly ridiculous race outfit…I need help.

So I told myself, “Self, stay as relaxed as you can, enjoy the scenery, hug some hills, hold 7’s, and if you are in a happy place at mile 10, then you can kick it up.”

Here I am, probably discussing the options with myself. That expression is referred to as "The Shirley Lip Press" in my family. We all do it.

Here I am, probably discussing the options with myself. That expression is referred to as “The Shirley Lip Press” in my family. We all do it.

So that’s what I did. The last 5k was actually a pretty joyous experience, which sounds annoying, I’m sure.

Here I am so relaxed I decided to do the Macarena...or something.

Here I am so relaxed I decided to do the Macarena…or something.

Well, not the entire last 5k. The last 800 meters hurt. But it hurt in a totally worth it even in real-time sort of way.

I am extremely satisfied with the entire experience.

I ran a negative split, only by almost exactly one minute, but even that is a margin I’ve never achieved. Not ever. I’m not sure negative splits are as indicative of a strong performance in a half marathon as in a marathon, but I’m choosing to feel awesome about it. (seriously though, if you know something about this topic please share!)

As I shared before, my run buddy/carpool to the race buddy and I both finished in the top ten.

Hello snuggly green hoodie...I love when races venture away from the t-shirt model.

Hello snuggly green hoodie…I love when races venture away from the t-shirt model.

I love adding new items to my running memorabilia collection that Jorge won’t allow in operation-redesign-the-bedroom:


And with that, I must get to bed, I’m running the last 20-miler before Boston tomorrow morning!


5 responses to “March Madness Half Marathon: new prep strategy, new PR, same love of Hills.

  1. I’ve wanted to run this half for years now but a.) it always seems like I have another race on this weekend (sometimes the Shamrock Shuffle) and b.) the years where I don’t, I forget to sign up during that 18-minute window. Alas.

    Congrats on the PR! I will be aiming for 1:30 or better this weekend (though I’ll be happy with 1:33~1:35). We’ll see how that goes.

  2. Nice, congratulations!! I keep hearing good things about this race! It’s a bit of a hike for me, but someday I’ll get around to doing it 🙂

  3. Pingback: Take your head out of your arse and put it back in the clouds. | Fluency's Folly

  4. Pingback: 2013 Training and Racing Plan | Fluency's Folly


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