I’ll be honest. I wasn’t really looking forward to this race. (Don’t worry; I had a great time.)

I’ve always liked the idea of the F^3 Lake Half Marathon (that would be f’ing freezing frozen). The race had a good reputation, plus … a half marathon on Chicago’s lakefront in January? I had to do it just once, just for the hardcore factor. So I signed up.

Today’s weather forecast called for temps around 20 (“feels like” temps in the low 10s), but luckily it was going to be sunny. I was really stressing over what to wear. I’ve had a hard time staying warm during runs this winter. I’ll warm up after a mile, but then after a couple more miles, I’ll get cold. Not fun, especially if I’m running 13 miles – which is why I was sort of starting to dread this race. (I don’t know if last night’s plea on Facebook for tips on how to dress prompted this, but Britt’s post today is very timely and I will definitely start investing in better winter running clothes. Thanks, Britt!) I think I was more concerned about my “don’t overheat but don’t get chilled” goal that I didn’t really care too much about a time goal today. But a sub-2 finish is always nice.

Anyway, I drove up with Kelly, Amanda and Nicole. We got there around 8:30 (racetime was 10am) and easily found parking near the start. We made a pitstop and then went back to stay warm in the car.

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Before the race we met up with some bloggers and some other F’N Runners.

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Amanda, Kelly, Erin, Maureen, me

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Zach and some F’N Runners

I ended up starting the race with Nicole, even though I know she is usually faster than me, even when she wants to “take it easy.” We were together through the first water stop, and once we separated I wasn’t that motivated to catch up, plus my heart rate was in a good place. Zach ended up catching up to me, so we ran together for a bit before he went on ahead.

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Nicole in the Monster hat, me in the green hat and pigtails

Somewhere around Addison, I ran past the awesome Chicago Running Bloggers spectators. Thank you Kelsey, Sierra, Emily, Lindsey and Katie! I didn’t really get a chance to read their sign, but I hear it said something about a crazy cat lady? Funny, I don’t remember Kim being at this race … ?

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Nicole snapped this pic of me near the turn around

The race lived up to it’s name – it was f’ing freezing and the lake was indeed frozen in some parts. I was worried I might overheat, but then around mile 8 the course did a hairpin turn and we headed north, and the wind was in our faces. I was glad for my layers.

I saw the blogger spectators again on my way back up – I can’t believe they were still out there! They must have been cold, but it was really awesome to see them again about a mile from the end! Definitely the pick-me-up that I needed.

During the race, my Garmin’s Auto Lap was on, but I always manually lap myself if it isn’t right on the mile markers. However, I’m pretty sure the mile marker signs were a bit off in some places. That or my pace was really inconsistent. So my splits were all over the place and I wasn’t really sure what my pace actually was. But a sub-2 finish is always nice, so I was hoping for that. I finished in 1:57:27. Not a PR, but my second-best time, and my average pace was 8:58. And I was only 37 minutes behind Tera Moody.

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Cruising into the finish (thanks for the pic, Nicole!)

The finish area had bagels, gatorade and water in cups (no water bottles! big pet peeve of mine – we just ran 13 miles – we’re thirsty), mini clif bars and some coconut water (which made me quickly forget about the lack of water bottles, but I know a lot of people don’t like coconut water). We hung out for a bit but were getting cold fast so we didn’t stay very long post-race.

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The finisher medals were cowbells.

The race’s after party was thankfully indoors at the Cubby Bear. We ran into the other F’N Runners and enjoyed our complimentary 312 beers.

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I’m happy I hit my goals today – don’t faceplant (luckily it wasn’t icy), don’t overheat or get chilled, and if all goes well, push my heart rate a little bit more than usual to practice better “racing” of the half marathon distance, and get a sub-2. This race started off as an unofficial grassroots fun run a few years ago, grew in popularity and became “official,” and while it still has a laid-back feel, it was definitely a very professionally done race. Thanks, F^3 Events!

Right now the next race on my schedule is the First Midwest Half Marathon (aka the Palos Half) on May 5. If I don’t sign up for anything else, that will be my longest stretch of not racing since … early 2011. I’m eyeing a couple local races (one in March and one in April), so I doubt I’ll go that long without a race.