Monday, January 27, 2014

F^3 Half Marathon Race Report

F^3 Half Marathon
aka:  hardest half i have ever done
aka:  that half I did during the Polar Vortex of Chi-beria
aka:  the time i quoted Macca in my head 5million times... EMBRACE THE SUCK

Signed up for the F^3 Half Marathon in the fall as they had a $26.20 discount.  My friend Denise sent an email to a bunch of us and said.. "lets do this".  i ignored the first email but then caved after the second and signed up.  I knew it would be cold but had no idea how cold it would actually be.  Leading up to the race, i knew it wasn't going to be pretty and for at least the week leading up to the race, i was convinced I wasn't going to finish by choice and go to Bongo Room after a few miles. The demons in my head were at full force.  Had packet pickup at RRS in Wilmette and watched the weather like a hawk leading up to the race.

Race day came and I even texted with Tia that a 10K sounded just fine and we would grab food and feel content with 6.2Miles in the sub zero temps.  Parking was free and easy and got to the start with only 5 minutes to the gun. I bundled up in a long sleeve swirlgear top, lined lululemon stride jacket with a hood, under armour tights and my trusty headsweats visor.  Stopped at the portos really quick with no line and then met up with Tia and we were off....
Bundled up and completely unaware how much this is going to suck
They had two waves to decrease congestion which was a good idea but didn't eliminate it completely in the first mile.  I was in the second wave and lined up kindof in the back.  This caused for Mile1 to be my slowest mile (~14:00ish minutes).  I walked 2-3 times for a 100 meters or so b/c of the congestion and people figuring out how they would run on the course with the slippery footing and some ice underneath the slush.  Since i knew I wasn't worried about time with this race, the delay didn't bother me but if you think you want to go for time, line up in the front of the second wave (unless you are a "front of the first wave" type person and then in that case, i didn't need to tell you that)

Difficult to say how the course conditions would have been if i was in the front as I was hitting the course after 2500+ people already went through.  Course was kindof shaped like a figure 8 with a full 8 and then another loop on the top part of the 8 if that makes any sense.

After the first mile, i spent the next mile with Tia and we did a run/walk through mile 2 and then went on my own after that. Around mile 4, i saw some of the leaders on their way back... it was humbling to see the lead pack before i even hit a third of the way.  The leaders looked in pain .... and now after the fact, i could only imagine how much they were hurting!!!

For the first 6 miles I was feeling ok considering it was so cold.  I made my way through the 10K at 1:14 and considering my first mile was 14 min. and second was 13:30min, i was happy with 11:30ish miles for the next 4. Around the 10K mark was when we made our way south and i could feel the FREEZING cold wind to my back but figured i should take advantage and kept trying to push forward.  I only knew it was the 10K b/c of my garmin.  They didn't have ANY mile marker signs which was a bummer. Shortly after the 10k mark, saw some girls cheering with this awesome sign.  I had to take a picture and remember that my fingers were feeling ok for the pic so they weren't frozen at that point.
True Dat Ladies... F ^ this

I wanted to quit a few times and still couldn't believe i was doing this. However, i knew once I started I was going to finish as I couldn't bear a voluntary DNF and I have never had a DNS.  My breathing was never painful due to the cold but my face felt wind burned at times.  a few times, I was feeling a bit "warm" and pulled off my hood but quickly put it back on as the wind whipped on the back of my neck which was killer. The second half of the race was brutal.  Although the view was beautiful, it was the most mentally challenging race.  I seriously wanted to quit every other step.  The path ranged from snowy, icy and one part was muddy.

So Pretty.. yet sooo cold

Close to the turnaround.... but so far away from the finish

making our way back north... example of the path.  A little slushy, required some effort 

The last miles were ugly, i will consolidate the last half of the race with the thoughts I had:

  • this sucks, why do i sign up for things like this... my husband is right, i don't need to pay to put myself through this. 
  • Wow, it is getting cold, i feel like my fleece gloves are not doing the trick
  • Texted my husband at mile 11 the following "  vvvv mil11   ddyiiiing"  for those that need the non-frozen finger conversion, it read "mile 11, dying"
  • Watched a mother/daughter team struggle along around the same pace as me (run/walking).  The daughter was definitely hurting but the mom was fairly positive and they stayed a few feet ahead of me and then pulled away the last half mile
  • embrace the suck
  • i wish i would have stopped at 10k, that would have been a lot easier
  • Pancakes sound really good right now
  • I want a coke, like a big ol mcdonalds coke
  • After i hit up the last aid station, they had little cliff bars and gu.  I couldn't open my cliff bar and a kind volunteer opened it for me.  I asked if he would chew it up and feed it to me like a bird b/c it was frozen.. he laughed but didn't do it.  
  • keep embracing the suck
  • I made the last turn at foster to head back south and my entire body started jarring up along with the thought that I might lose my pinkies b/c they were completely numb and I couldn't feel them. 
  • I proceeded to think about life without my pinkies for the last mile
  • Then the last 400 meters, i saw the finish and kicked it and per my garmin, ran the 13-13.27 at a 8:30 pace.  Happy i dogged it for the last 7 miles to kick it at the end. 
But, i finished!! Was medaled and then proceeded to "lose" my car and walked another mile looking for the dumb thing.  Some nice lady ended up driving me it and i basically walked within 200 meters of it twice but gave up and turned around.  Thankfully, I didn't melt down but I got really close.  
Made my way home with a pit stop to dunkin donuts.  Rest of the day, I was pretty sore.  All and all, it was the hardest half I have done to date... which means I can eat what I want for a week, right??!!

Thanks F^3 for a crazy hard race. Well executed and you know how to make me hurt.  It was a sufferfest but happy to have finished and earned my medal.

Post Script:
This post elicits the question from non-runners... why the heck wouldn't you just drop out and/or not show up. And to that, i would answer:  "good question and a very logical one.. however, once I personally commit to something, i am not going to drop out just b/c i am having a bad day.   I have had one DNF (b/c of health/fainting issues) but dropping out b/c i am cold isn't really a good enough excuse for me. I want to finish for me and the sense of accomplishment it provides.  It isn't for everyone but 2 days later, i find myself already ready for my next race :)"


  1. I give you credit for being out there... I probably would have DNS'ed. I definitely get more hungry from the cold winter workouts. Congrats & stay warm!

  2. Great effort! I hope you recovered OK. Terrific work on toughing it out and seeing it through to the end. And that lady who helped you find your car, awesome!

    1. that lady seriously was a life saver. it is amazing how jarred up i got at the end.

  3. Girl, this sounds brutal. Probably you should have gotten 2 medals. Congrats on finishing. BTW, I love that... Embrace the suck. I will have to remember that when I start training for my first full marathon this summer. I already know it's going to suck, lol. p.s. How are your pinkies?

    1. my second medal was my coke :) and still have my pinkies!

  4. Nice report! I'm the volunteer coordinator for F^3 and I've never actually run this race. It was fun to see the race from your perspective. Congrats on your finish! Now go eat a million pancakes, you've earned it! - Sara

    1. thanks sara.. you guys were awesome. thanks for being out there on such a cold day!

  5. Lol - I am glad you still have your pinkies! What WOULD life be like without them?!