#rnrchi half marathon recap

My alarm went off at 4:45 AM on Sunday morning.  I woke up surprisingly well rested and ready to run.  I felt prepared to tackle 13.1 through my training and for some reason, 13.1 miles of running just didn’t seem so long.  I would eat those words a little later that morning.

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After pumping, eating a protein bar, and grabbing a cup of coffee in the hotel lobby, Matt + I walked to the start of the race.  Thankfully, it was much easier to find than the 5K start, even though we went a round about way of getting there, thanks to following a group of people who didn’t know where they were going.

I found the lines for the port-a-potties, did my business, and headed to the starting corals.  I was seeded in Coral 2, thanks to putting my PR time down instead of my actual anticipated finish time.  I stood with Matt for a little while outside of the coral, but headed in about 20 minutes before the start of the race.

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Even starting an hour earlier than the 5K, it was still hot at the 6:30 AM start.  I thankfully wasn’t sweating waiting at the start, but it certainly was not the cool temperatures I was hoping for in Chicago.  Apparently, I bring the hot weather with me since it was similar weather as it was when I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2010.

The Elite runners were the first to start, followed by Coral 1 about a minute later, and then it was our turn to start.  My goal was to find a comfortable pace and stay with it, and grab water and/or Gatorade at every other water station until an hour in, then take one at every station.

I quickly found a comfortable pace, finishing the first mile at a 7:45/mile pace.  After the first mile though my RunKeeper couldn’t find a good signal due to the large buildings, so I don’t have any of my splits.  I felt comfortable at that pace, but tried to ease up a little bit because I wanted to have some gas in the tank the last few miles of the race.

The first half of the race was run entirely through the city.  I LOVED this part of the race, first of all, because it was shaded, and second, because I knew where I was, thanks to all the walking we did on Saturday in the city.  I was wishing the race went more up toward Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville, but it was fun running through the streets, tunnels, and under the train tracks.

One of the things I was really disappointed in were the bands.  On the course map, it looks like there is a band at every mile.  That definitely didn’t seem to be the case though.  The first band I really heard was probably closer to mile 6.  Now, I may have missed some or something, but on a miserably hot day like it was, I really needed something to pump me up.  So, that was really disappointing.

Right around the half way point is where you make a turn and stay on that part of Michigan Avenue for the next 2 miles.  It was also when I started to feel pretty miserable.  I was hot.  My legs felt good, but my body was just not handling the heat well.  And on this part of the race, there wasn’t nearly as much shade as there was running through the city.  I decided to start taking water and Gatorade at every water station, and dumping some on my head as much as possible.  I just wanted to stay cool and not push myself too hard.

This work for a little while, but about mile 9, I was done.  I started walking through each water station because I knew that running would feel better after walking.  Thankfully, I was right, but each water station just seemed so far away from each other.  Mile 10 was a little bit easier since we went through the loading dock at McCormick Place and it was a mile of music.  It definitely helped pump me up a little bit, but I was still feeling miserable.

Thanks to Humana, the mile 10/11 water stop not only had water and Gatorade, but a sprinkler to go through as well!  And soon, I rounded a corner and saw the HumanaVitality Cheer Squad!  Thanks Mom for the message, even though I was too busy taking the picture to read it.

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At that point also, I got a text message from Matt asking me if I was OK.  My RunKeeper somehow got stopped and notified him that I had just completed my run 11.75 miles in.  I quickly texted him back, saying I was fine and that I was only a mile from the finish.

My goal after the last water stop was just to run the whole way without stopping.  But, unfortunately, my left calf tightened up like it did on my 12-mile training run, and I ended up having to walk a little bit.  A guy passed me and said, “Come on, we’re almost finished.”  So, I explained to him that my calf was tight and I was trying to avoid making it worse, but I ended up starting to run again, albeit really slow.  The finish line was in sight, the crowd was cheering, and I just wanted to finish.  About a quarter mile from the finish line, that same guy was hunched over puking.

I kept looking for Matt in the crowd but didn’t see him.  Thankfully, he saw me and grabbed a few shots of me finishing.  I look MUCH better than I was actually feeling.  But, I finished right around the time I was expecting, and I couldn’t have been happier to be DONE.

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Official Time = 1:47:03
Average Pace = 8:10/mile

I’m happy with my time, and thankful for the training and experience.  It was another reminder of what my body is capable of, and what my  body is really suited for.  I certainly am not a long distance runner – both mentally and physically.  I would much rather run a shorter distance and fast than run for a long time.  Although I recovered just fine (thanks to compression socks and LOTS of water), I feel so much better after a shorter distance race.  But, the experience – and the BLING – was worth it!

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Thanks to Rock ‘n’ Blog and Humana for an awesome weekend of running!  I am looking forward to another fun RnR race in St. Louis in October!

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Humana.