Yesterday was THE ideal day for a race. The sky was clear, the weather was cool, I had all of my race day necessities packed and ready to go the night before, and I went to sleep on the early side in preparation for the 5am wakeup call. Somehow, none of these factors worked in my favor. The Chicago Half Marathon was one of the toughest races I’ve ever completed. Most of the time, I’m the runner who is pinning on her bib seconds before the gun goes off. I was feeling more organized than usual and got everything I needed together in advance.
I got fancy and added headphones
I woke up right on time the morning of the race, ate cereal, and drove down to the south side. I saw that there was a shuttle for runners, but it seemed way less convenient and nearly the same price as parking. If I do the Chicago Half again next year, I might take the Metra from Millennium Park. I just learned that this was an option yesterday, but didn’t feel like changing my original plan to drive at the last minute.
Despite leaving a ton of time to get ready and drive to the race, I made it with only a half hour to spare and about a mile to walk from my parking spot (I got oh-so-many Fitbit steps yesterday from walking around two miles and running 13.1 of them!), check my gear, and use the bathroom one last time. I did all three of these things and had around 2 minutes to rush to my corral.
I felt pretty good when we started running. I believe my first mile was completed in 8:30 – so fast for me! I calculated this based on the clock, though, so this is only a rough estimate. At around mile 4.5, the 2:00 pacers caught up with me. My original goal was to run a sub-2 half, so I stuck with the 2:00 pacers until around mile 6. This was when I crashed and burned. I told myself that it was OK to take it easy for a few miles and then pick up the pace again towards the end. Spoiler Alert: my pace only got slower and slower for the rest of the race.
I tried to stick with the dude carrying the American flag in the above photo after I ate the 2:00 pacers’ dust. That did not happen.
At the 15k marker, the 2:10 pacers passed me and I couldn’t catch them (is there a theme to this race recap? HA). My legs felt incredibly heavy and, to be honest, my heart was never fully in this race. I have so much going on in my life right now that running is simply not at the forefront of my mind. Still, it was shocking to me that I couldn’t keep up with the 2:10 pace group yesterday when I ran my last half marathon only 3 months ago in 2:03 on even less training. My finish time (2:19:42) was even slower than my previous “slowest time” by one minute. To be honest, I don’t even feel bad about that time/my lack of motivation/etc; again, running is just not a priority right now and that is OK with me. I guess my mind and body were in agreement that I was simply not feeling it.
Because I ran this race last year, I knew that there was some Lou Malnati’s pizza at the finish line. This is literally the only thing that kept me going at the end of the race (not joking). After limping my way across the finish, I stood in the gear check line for literally a half hour.
I finally got my pizza and beer and sat on the ground for what felt like forever.
While I sat, I overheard so many runners discussing their excitement over finishing their first half marathons. I miss those days. Racing is no longer a novelty to me, which makes it way less exciting. I envy those new runners who are accomplishing new distances all the time! This was my 11th half, and it certainly felt like it (I mean this in a bad way, haha)! I love the Chicago Half, which is why I ran it a second time. I just was not feeling it yesterday, but my medal was definitely well-deserved 🙂 How do you encourage yourself during a tough race?