Monday, September 10, 2012

eating and running my way through chicago

This weekend I ran my tenth half marathon.

I also ate my weight in brunch food.

Both were pretty epic.

The boring stuff -- I was up at 4:00am on Saturday morning to catch a 7:15 flight to Chicago where Catie was able to pick me up form the airport. We made our way back to her friends David and Amanda’s house where we went on a short run and then eventually made our way to brunch and the Renegade craft fair. I had a late-ish (but amazingly delicious) dinner of whole-wheat pasta, seafood with a slightly spicy sauce, lots of bread and tons of water. When all was said and done we didn’t get to sleep until almost 11:00pm that night.   

catie hearts brunch
literally couldn't work the photo booth. good thing we're pretty

 I had set my alarm for 5:00am, which by my calculations left me with ten hours of combined sleep for the two nights prior to the race. My friends can attest that I am NOT a morning person, even after a good night’s rest. I was a raging bitch when I woke up on Saturday morning.  To give you an idea of my state of mind at that moment, my first words I uttered that morning were “I’d rather be going to the gynecologist”.  I think this picture also captures my sentiments pretty well:

loving life.

Sorry Catie. I love you.

Our plan was to do four miles before the race, which, in hindsight would be difficult to manage before a 7:00am race start. We probably would have had enough time to do the miles and then get to the start, but Catie and I decided that it would be less stressful to run after. By the time we got to the starting line we had just enough time to wait on the massive portapotty line before the gun went off. Good thing, because my stomach was also pretty displeased about the lack of sleep if ya know what I mean.

The race was perfectly executed and just wonderful. I believe there were about 20,000 runners on the course, so obviously it was pretty crowded. But I started far enough back that it wasn’t too much of a problem. The race is a short little loop and then it brings you to Lake Shore Drive for an out and back. I was amazed at the crowd support along the course. Most of my races are admittedly smaller than the Chicago half, but they generally have very few people cheering. Maybe New England spectators just aren’t impressed unless it’s something really cool like the Boston Marathon. Either way, the course was flat and the weather was beyond perfect. Despite being chilly before the start of the race, I was definitely glad that I’d chosen to wear a tank top with my crops. I won’t give you a mile-by-mile recap, because it’s not really necessary but I will say that I felt good and solid for the entire race. I wanted to stay around my target marathon pace (which is 11:00 minute miles), and I did. My pacing was pretty consistent and I didn’t have any major pains.

I crossed the finish line in 2:24:35. It’s right in the middle of my half marathon times and I was happy with it. What I was NOT happy with was the prospect of running four more miles. I knew that I still had the energy to do it, but mentally I had sort of shut down. Luckily I had Catie, with her endless energy, to get me through. It didn’t hurt that we had some beautiful scenery along the lake path. If I lived in Chicago I’d be running outside every day just to get a look at that view! When all was said and done we covered just over 17 miles in about 3:15. It was faster than last week’s training run and I didn’t have any hunger issues (which I attribute to fueling really well the night before). I’m pretty shocked at what I was able to accomplish on only ten hours of sleep.
the crew!
bad ass medal!
 Another note on the race: When they opened up the roads they pushed the slower runners/walkers to the sidewalks. By this point they’d been out there for over three hours and it was getting hot. The race officials were driving by on golf carts handing out waters and asking if people were okay. Walking by the finish line on the way to the car we saw a woman sprint the last tenth of a mile to finish in just over four hours. She cried as she crossed, and there was a man there ready to put a medal around her neck. I really loved seeing that. In so many races the back of the packers get left behind but that did not happen at the Chicago half.

I’m not usually an emotional racer. I didn’t cry when I finished my first half marathon (except when I took off my shoes to reveal a bloody toe…), and I didn’t shed a tear when I finished the Walt Disney World marathon. Heck, I didn’t even cry when I PR’d at Newport. But yesterday I found myself blinking back tears as I strode across the starting line of the Chicago Half marathon. As I began what would turn out to be a 17 mile training run I felt scared, excited, and really, really tired. I kept thinking about the races that I’ve done – in just over five years of running I have completed ten half marathons, two relays, one marathon and countless shorter distances. On November 4th, I will run my second marathon in my hometown, with my family and friends cheering me on along the course.

I can’t wait.

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