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Chicago Half Marathon & 5k

September 14, 2010

That smile is for a mission accomplished. No matter how nervous, how many butterflies, how tired, or how sleepy I felt, in the end it was all worth it. Finally completed a race and I can’t wait to participate in more.  But back to the beginning. The day before the race, I attended the expo to pick up my packet (including bib number and t-shirt). Imagine my surprise when I realized I was number 22,957! That meant there were THAT many people running either the Half Marathon or 5k.

My friend had agreed to run the 5k with me only a week before, and this meant we’d both be running our first races. We agreed to run the whole thing without stopping and to maintain something close to a 10 minute pace. We awoke at 5:30 am and headed out just after 6:30am. We caught a bus going in that direction, then realized the city had shut the streets down, so we promptly hopped off on 55th street and proceeded to walk down to 63rd where the start line was. During the whole time, we were super excited about completing the race. Both of us were athletes in high school, and this race brought back so many memories. It was a great feeling being around like minded people who were passionate about living healthy, setting goals, and accomplishing things that most might find difficult. We kept repeating: “This is sooo great!” The race was hands down so great because I had a friend to run and experience everything with me. It felt good to be anxious yet relaxed.

We made it just in time to watch the Half Marathon start at 7am, and we had about 45 minutes to wait around until our 5k began. We stretched, checked our gear bag, used the portapotty (gross), and took in the whole experience. At approximately 7:40 we headed to the start line and waited. The race started a little after 7:45, and after that we were on.

To line up there was no corral system, we just got in where we could. We were pretty far back from the start line, and didn’t cross until a mintue after the gun went off. Thank goodness we were chip timed.

The course:

The 3.1 miles just took one big loop. While running it was very nice to see familiar buildings. I ran past my old dorm, down the midway where we used to lounge, and across a small river. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was absolutely perfect. A nice crisp 70 degrees.

Mile One: Always the easiest on my body, I felt great! My legs were warming up, and I had so much excitement inside, and I couldn’t believe I was actually running a race. We loved the energy of the race, took pictures of ourselves running, and even stopped to tie our shoes. There was one drawback. Since we started in the back of the pack, we spent the most part of this mile dogging and trying to pass people to be settled in our pace which sucked. Then, after the first 5 minutes I began to get really really thirsty! I didn’t have my water bottle with me and began to dream about taking sips of water.

Mile Two: Immediately after the course’s first turn I saw the Mile One sign and thought “That’s it! I’ve only ran A MILE?” I’m pretty sure I died at that moment. It felt like I’ve been running for much much longer. But thanks to God right after we finished the first mile there were water stations. I snatched cups of water and tried my best to drink while running. No one told me that is nearly impossible as most of the water from my cup ended on my shirt instead of in my mouth. Mile 2 dragged and dragged on and all I could think of was finishing so I could drink something. Towards the end of mile 2, my pace significantly dropped. I stopped listening to my music and focused on being strong. I listened to shoes hitting the concrete and thought how blessed I was to even be able to run. I had a functioning heart, two strong legs, and endurance. Although I wanted to walk in the shade, I kept repeating: “You are much stronger than you think!”. I knew it was true. My legs felt fine, my breathing was normal. I was just thirsty and wanted to be done.

Mile Three: I missed the mile three marker, but assumed it was somewhere near the 2nd and final water station. I had the same troubles this time and actually held my mouth open to pour the whole cup in rather than try to sip. This worked a little better. At this point I felt a second wind knowing I was one mile from being done.  I picked up my pace a little to make up for when it dropped and kept pushing. We ran up a slight ramp, then I saw the 1/4 to go sign and all the fans. My feet were dragging but I decided to all out sprint. I ran as fast as I could, racing a girl I saw in front of me. The crowd was great and I could hear them cheering through my headphones! Once I crossed the finish line, I almost tackled a volunteer for some water. Graceful, I know.

Race stats:

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Chip time: 32 mins. 15 secs. (First ever PR!)
  • Clock time: 33 mins. 26 secs
  • Pace: 10:23 mins
  • Placed 55th out of 128 women in my age group
  • Placed 303 out of 962 overall women in the race
  • Placed 563 overall out of 1395 people in the race

Lessons Learned & Reflections:

Bring your own water bottle on race day! I honestly thought I’d be fine, but I was dying. I usually take water with me on runs, so it only makes sense to do so on race day too! I also feel like we should have been a little more ahead of the crowd. We spent a lot of time passing people, even during mile two. The runners were so close together because the size of the race, so next time we’d probably be closer to the front.

The Chicago Half Marathon Staff did an excellent job planning and organizing the event. It was probably the most structured and easy to navigate! Thank you to the Half + 5k race coordinators and volunteers for putting together such a fantastic race!

That evening, we decided to take advantage of a free yoga class on the beach. We completed our sun salutations watching the sun set and I couldn’t have asked for a better, more active day.


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