Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon RECAP

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So many of you are asking for it, so here it is… my race recap! It’s going to be long and I may or may not ramble. I’m an emotional recapper.

Let’s start on Saturday. SOB and I headed down to McCormick Place for the Health and Fitness Expo. I have mixed feelings about these things. For the most part, I love getting free things (the Qdoba nachos and cheese were divine), but I am usually overloaded with coupons and race pamphlets that get thrown out anyways. So not green. 

But, I did walk away with lots of larabar samples, a Star Trek messenger bag (which went to SOB for putting up with the expo), an awesome Sweaty Band (more on that later), and a 13.1 car magnet. I also bravely changed my estimated end time from a very slow pace to a less, but still horribly slow pace so that I could move up in starting corals. And, I got an XS tshirt. Yes, an XS.

After a pretty sleepless night, my alarm rang at 4am and I hopped in the shower, got in my running gear (Target top, Brooks running shorts, Mizunno Wave 6 shoes, and my sweaty band). After many check and re-checks of my gear, I was out the door at 5am:

A vision of blue...

Clouds were starting to become more and more ominous as we walked from the L stop to the starting line. Weathermen predicted sun, but the weather was more of dark blue, scary shit. It all died down after my porta-potty-pit-stop and some stretching.

Getting nervousssss.

The corals started going just around 6:30 and my coral, #27, moved slowly to the start. My hand started shaking as they called each coral number, and I inched closer to the line. When #26 went, a race organizer started yelling for everyone to go, so I said screw it and began to run.

My garmin (a gps based watch that tells you your time/pace/distance/and more) started fuzzing out as soon as we started the downtown and through the first of many overpasses. Throughout the race, my distance would be about .2 miles ahead of the race markers*. My watch read a pretty fast time for me, so I just thought it was off. I felt that I was going slow and conservative, which was good for maintaining.

*Edit/Addition: There’s been a ton of twitter buzz on this issue with GPS watches saying the course was about .5 miles longer than 13.1. I sincerely felt like the 1 mile marker was off because of the underpass, but I trusted that it was just my GPS. Now, after plugging the map course in on some map applications, I’m still getting 13.4 miles… which would be awesome considering my PRs.*

The race itself was pretty entertaining. Not a ton of chatter between runners, but so many people out and watching. One of my favorites was a random guy (alone) at mile 3 and 4 dressed up like Will Ferrell and banging on a cowbell. The poor guy didn’t even have rhythm… he was just out there banging on a cowbell… in costume.

Of course, this got everyone screaming "More Cowbell"

At every 2 miles, there was a local cover band playing Nirvana, Styx, and Journey.  There were also cheerleaders dressed as KISS members… many who ended up looking like ICP members.

The aid/water/refueling stations were every one and a half miles, which felt pretty good. Even though there wasn’t much cytomax (a gatoraid like drink that is pretty necessary after running over an hour), I felt fueled up and less dehydrated than usual. The wet sponges near the end were also a nice touch, but became a hazard when you were at the back of the path and had to run on piles of them.

The race itself went very quickly. As I said, I felt very conservative until I passed the 5K mark. It was a personal record by about 30 seconds. The hills and bridges helped slow me down near the middle, but when I hit the 10K mark and saw my time, I was floored. It beat my old record by 3 minutes! I started to panic that I was going way too fast and that I would fizzle out. But, doing a body check, everything felt wonderful.

At mile 7, I spotted B in the crowds. I cant describe to you how I felt when I saw him wave at me. Because it was during a walk interval, I stopped, hugged him, and talked about the race for a couple seconds. Spotting him and getting some time to go re-focus certainly helped me pull through the next half.

Miles 8 and 9 flew by. I cant even tell you where we ran. Oh wait, yes I can… here’s a map. All I remember was that the blueberry gu they were passing out tasted pretty darn good (added to my shopping list). The rest of the time, I was in da. zone. My intervals were slamming. My legs felt wonderful. And my heart rate was in the cardio, but not near death, zone. It felt perfect.

Mile 10 was in the dark. Like, literally. Running through McCormick Place’s underpass tunnel was pretty scary. I couldn’t see a thing and I kept imagining tunnel rats or that subway scene from Cloverfield.

... And then she gets eaten or bit or something terrible

At mile 11, it began to rain. There I was, with less than 2 miles left of my first half marathon and it was f-ing raining. I finally removed my sunglasses and picked it up a bit. At one point, while suffering in the rain, I knew that I could walk the last two miles and still finish in the time I wanted, but that wasn’t me. I had the last two miles. I had trained in the rain, and a little drizzle and wind was certainly not going to stop me.

…And that’s when the reality of it all hit me. One year ago, my only form of exercise was occasionally taking the stairs. In October, 2010, I started running again. And now, 10 months later, I was RUNNING A HALF MARATHON AND FEELING DAMN GOOD. This wasn’t my goal race, the Disney Princess Half was, but I settled on it. I built it up in my head. And now, with two miles left to go, I was going to finish it. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming.

A man holding a very large “You Got This”sign brought me to tears as the 12 mile marker passed. 12.5 miles was the furthest I had run up until that point and I was about to go even further. I took my last cup of water and made it to the finish line- all while Mika’s “We are Golden” played on my headphones.

I crossed the line, hands raised in victory, and gladly picked up my medal, a water, a popsicle, a bottle of cytomax, and a waiting SOB. We celebrated with brunch at Tweet, a short nap, and some popcorn.

As for injuries- I felt great after the race. Really, felt wonderful. All I can report are 2 blisters (where I usually get them) and some chaffed arms. This morning, I woke up feeling very stiff and achy. My original plan was to buy myself a professional massage, but I cant afford it right now.

Here are my official results, btw: And yes, I’m slow. Please be nice.

Pace 5 Km 10 Km 10 Mile ChipTime ClockTime
13:04 38:56 1:18:54 2:09:15 02:51:18 03:08:26
OvrPl SexPl DivPl Bib First Name Last Name City State Chip Time
13312 7952 1273 28*** Michelle Ar***** Chicago IL 02:51:18
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2 responses »

  1. Congratulations on finishing! I ran this last year when it was much warmer, so when I woke up yesterday to a cool day, I was instantly jealous of everyone running. Keep it up!

    • Thanks! The weather was perfect. I believe it was around 62 at the start and 65 at the finish. Compared to my last race, a 10K on the hottest Sunday in July, this was amazing.

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