Dress Rehearsal

My bib number and finisher's medal from the rock 'n roll half marathon

The Chicago Marathon is just weeks away and I am starting to panic about it. This is a good thing. It allows me to get my crazy about the race out of the way early and not panic race day and fall flat on my face.

This morning was the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half marathon. It used to the Chicago Distance classic run by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield. For me, it was a perfect race to throw in to see where I was at in my marathon training as well as re-acquaint myself with gear check, etc. With shorter races, I tend not to use gear check. It just is a hassle for me, particularly when it is a race with a ton of people. For halves and full marathons, I use it. The last time I had to use gear check was when I was in Atlanta in 2007 for the half marathon there in March.

Despite my race today (which I will get to), I am glad I had this “dress rehearsal” to see what marathon race morning was going to potentially be like. I had a plan. I put my plan into action. The plan worked for the most part. Then crap happened.

In days leading up to long races, I try to get enough rest. I know the night before I am going to be anxious and getting a good night’s sleep will pretty much be impossible. This happened this week leading up to the RnR Chicago half. In some ways, not sleeping the night before is good for me because it ensures I will be up and ready to go when the alarm goes off for the beginning of the day. 

No matter as I felt quite rested. I did remember that the train by my house doesn’t run in the super early morning hours. To get to the race, I had to take a bus to the other train line to get there. Glad I was reminded of this as I will probably need to leave earlier for the marathon, despite the later start.

During the race, my plan was to listen to my pre-made music list. On it, I had a lot of upbeat songs and my go-to song to get me through runs. In fact, I had this song in the list to play every three or four songs. Why this song speaks to me and helps me to run, I’m not sure, but I love that it does. In any event, every time this song came on my iPod, I was able to run what seemed to be “better.” I was making pretty good time and probably could have PR’d the half today.

All was going great until the 10-mile mark. Then, I ended up getting the worst cramp in my left calf muscle. I was able to walk it out and tried to resume running again. Then, the cramp came back and a new one developed in my right calf. Because of this, I ended up walking the last 5K of the race. I was really bummed as the walking seemed to add an extra hour to my race today.

I could be thoroughly irritated and annoyed by the cramping, but given how bad my training has been this year, I’m okay with it. I’m not injured and that has been my problem in past years. Also, I know I need make sure I fix my diet to ensure the cramping doesn’t happen in October. Overall, I’m pleased with my efforts today, despite the cramping. On the next long run, I will further work on refining my music plan to get me through the race.

As an aside, I re-discovered how much music makes me run. If you are ever out and see me running and singing, don’t be alarmed. I don’t think I have ever sung along to my music, but I’ve been tempted. Especially today with the bouts of drizzle that occurred and the groovy tunes I was listening to such as Florence + The Machine and other cool stuff.

Have any suggestions for things I should try music-wise that will keep me moving in October? Let me know as I’m convinced that if I have great tunes (and thank you race directors who allow iPods at races), I can conquer any race in a reasonable time.

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