I made it!

TOTAL TIME: 2:40:02

I’m happy to report that my finish time was a little over 12 minutes faster than my 2007 Columbus half marathon finish time of 2:52:24! I ran all 13.1 miles (well, if shuffling through a couple miles counts as running), which was the most important goal I had in mind, aside from just finishing the race.

I started the day at 4:15 and proceeded to force down some oatmeal and Gatorade (oatmeal and I are NOT friends and Gatorade reminds me of the time I had stomach flu) while watching The Three Stooges and commercial after commercial on mesothelioma lawyers. That is the kind of quality programming on TV in the wee hours of the morning, in case you were wondering.

I made my way down to the start line at Grant Park shortly after 6 and was met with this sight:

It was kind of shocking to see the sea of people in the starting corrals- the only other race I had run before this was in Columbus, which only had about 3,500 runners compared to Chicago’s 20,000+.

I posed for a quick picture,

took my place in my corral, and after 15 minutes or so, we were off.

I used this plan as my race strategy and did a decent job of sticking to it.

The First Five (“Smooth and Relaxed”): I kept up a good pace for the first five miles. Running through parts of the city I don’t usually get to see kept me happy and distracted. I even spared enough energy to smile and wave at the camera!

The Next Five (“Strong and Steady”): I kept up my pace through miles 6 and 7. The crowd down Michigan Avenue was energizing and helpful, but miles 8 and 9 brought us around a part of the course with nothing interesting to look at and hardly any spectators. I lost the “strong and steady” mentality I was holding onto and downgraded to a pace that was probably slower than some people’s walking speed. I was fading fast and wondering if the race was ever going to end.

5k (“Push to the Finish”): I got my legs back around mile 10 when I turned my head to see the Chicago skyline. I looked at the Sears Tower in awe, thinking about how I had looked up at it when we ran by on mile 2. This was the push I needed- a reminder of how far I’d come and how close I was to finishing.

After a few minutes, I ran past a medical tent, thinking to myself it was fortunate that I didn’t have to stop at one for whatever reason when it hit me that I FORGOT TO FILL OUT THE MEDICAL INFORMATION ON THE OTHER SIDE OF MY BIB. *facepalm* Seriously, good thing I didn’t find myself in any medical emergencies. Fill out your medical information on your bibs, people!

Right before mile 12, the pain in my left foot I began experiencing a few days before the race came back with a vengeance. I was hurting, but I powered through it because I knew I was close to being done.

The Finish:

Running down the finish chute was amazing. You can see the finish line, you have crowds of people cheering, and you put everything you have into that last stretch. I have no photo of me actually crossing the finish line, but thanks to the fine people at brightroom, Inc., I have this sweet picture of me looking extremely confused shortly afterwards.

You’d think I’d have a smile on my face, but I guess I couldn’t hide my disbelief that I was finally done running and utter confusion on where to go, as the post-finish line scene is a massive swarm of people collecting finishers’ medals, lining up for photos, and grabbing free food (Popsicles! Bananas! Orange slices!).

I got in line for my photo, found my race photographer/super supportive boyfriend, and somehow managed to make it back to the hotel without collapsing on the way there. The rest of the day consisted of taking the train home, then stuffing my face with LaBriola and Chinese food, and falling into a 3 hour half marathon/food-induced coma. Thankfully, no photos exist of those events.

Overall, I’m happy with the way I ran the race and the end of result of the weeks of training I put into it. I’m proud of myself for finishing, for sticking to my goals, and for running this race for the reasons I did.

(photo credit: brightroom, Inc.)

I’m looking forward to training for the full marathon (I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this statement in a few months after I’ve actually started training) and working towards the next few goals I’ve set for myself. Next up: I share my half marathon playlist. Stay tuned!

Special thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, GusGus (not his real name), who woke up at the butt crack of dawn, stood around for a couple hours just to watch me run by for a few seconds, gave me some much-needed high fives, and took almost all of the pictures in this post (and more!). You da best.