Get comfy, because this may turn out to be a long one . . .or maybe not, I'm pretty tired.
Night Before Race
Mike went to a concert downtown but because I lost my house key at some point during the day, I had his key, meaning he would have to call me so I could let him in the house. By the time I got the kids to bed, got all my stuff together and watched Michael Phelps' race, it was 10:30, meaning at best I had 5 hours of sleep. I kept waking up knowing Mike would call, and then would have a hard time falling asleep, so only slept continuously from about 1:15 - 3:30 a.m.
Lesson Learned #1: Get more sleep.
Alarm goes off at 3:30 a.m. and I curse myself for signing myself for this effin' running nonsense. (I don't know about you, but I am generally cranky when I have to get up at 3:30 a.m., so yes, it was in my state of mind, effin' nonense.)
Shower, get dressed, double check that I have the disposable timing chip and go. In the car, I drink sugar-free Red Bull, G2 and eat peanut butter on 2 slices of toast and a Special K protein bar. Leave around 4:20 a.m.
Traffic is a breeze and driving into the city, I see the Chicago skyline at night for the first time in a long while. Ah, pretty.
Park and head over to the Race site to meet my cousin Kim, or as she is now known, Chipper Kim. At 5:15 a.m., my sister Jeanine, who is training for the Marathon with us but not signed up for the Half, calls. Amazed when I see the caller ID, I ask why she is up already. "Already? I haven't gone to sleep yet." (She's not a party girl, worked all night on a presentation she will be giving at a conference next week.) She wishes me good luck. Overall, I am feeling pretty good physically and mentally, despite the lack of sleep.
Visit the Porta Potty; tummy a little upset, I think it is just a bit of nerves. Meet up with Chipper Kim, despite it still being dark out and leaving my glasses in the car. Check in at American Cancer Society tent, and Kim and I get organized with headphones, headband, water bottles, Shot Bloks, etc. and head toward the Start. It's really starting to fill up with people (I think I heard there were 14,000 runners) by now, and before I realized it, the sun is up.
Start of Race
The Chicago Distance Classic employs a wave start, which the novice runner in me wasn't quite sure what that meant. It worked out well though and what I liked about it was that there were several "starts" . . . a start for each wave. So even though I was with the last wave (I started between the 11.5 minute/mile and the 12.5 minute/mile pacers) we still were up front for the "Runners Take Your Marks" and the horn. Kinda cool because as a back-of-the-pack runner I don't usually hear the start.
Miles 1 - 3
I'm feeling pretty good as we start but know that I'm going too fast (for me) and try to slow it down. As much as I hate to admit enjoying another one of my husband's bands, I start out with Spock's Beard's "Devil's Got My Throat" on the iPod. (For the life of me I cannot find a video or audio clip to link to, so if you want to hear it, it's on my playlist down on the left. It is a good song for running.)
As we come up to the first aid station, I kindasortamaybe feel like I might have to go to the bathroom but feel like it's just nerves and I'll be ok so I run past it. A mile later I'm wishing I didn't pass it up because I really need a porta potty.
Miles 4 - 7
Basically, I run these miles (and walk some too because my tummy hurts) as simply miles between porta potties. The lines are long but the volunteers are so nice because they are bringing water and Gatorade to us as we wait in line. I realize I am eating up A LOT of time waiting in lines for the porta potties and using the porta potties. Great, I think, my entire race report is going to be about porta potties.
While we're talking about porta potties, can I just say how very odd and strange it is to be um, sitting in a porta potty on Lake Shore Drive? You see, Lake Shore Drive (LSD) is a very, very, very busy street/expressway in Chicago. Karin and Kai know what I mean. Runners had the two right lanes of Lake Shore Drive but the left lane was open to traffic. So I'm in a porta potty basically two lanes away from traffic. Hearing the close roar of traffic and feeling the porta potty shake slightly was a little disconcerting.
Lesson Learned #2 - Figure out what upsets tummy and avoid it before race.
Miles 7 - 9
I am so glad to be at the halfway point (which we find out later was slightly more than halfway due to a course certification error) and calculating the time, I realize I am moving a lot slower than planned. I'm running/walking a lot because of my tummy issues (and of course, visiting the porta potties) I'm also repeating the Spock's Beard song and Carolina Liar's "I'm Not Over" (a recommendation from Flo) a lot because I'm finding it hard to focus. Is it because of tummy issues or is it because I'm getting flustered because even the really slow runners are passing me up? Not sure.
Lesson Learned #3 - Learn to forget about the other runners. I'm not trying to beat them, just trying to finish.
Miles 9 - 13.1
My feet hurt. Really hurt. I find myself looking on the ground hoping to come across a machete on the ground so I can chop my feet off at my ankles. While I know this violent image wasn't the time of visualization technique Terri had in mind, it (in a creepy way) still works.
Still running/walking. Still visiting porta potties.
On my way to the finish with (imagined) painless stumps instead OMGithurts feet, I do take time to admire the Chicago skyline and the lakefront because it is a beautiful day for a run.
So I finish (an embarrassingly slow time but I take solace that there were still 400 or so people behind me) and meet up with Chipper Kim, who was waiting around for 45 minutes, maybe longer.
Lesson Learned #4 - Having family and friends on the course really helps me mentally and breaks up the miles. (Family, friends, don't worry about getting me a birthday gift in October, just come down to the Marathon. It will help me A LOT!)
Speaking of embarrassed, I haven't run since the Half. A whole week. Not sure what my problem is really. It started off with a couple days rest and turned into a whole week. I just haven't looked forward to running (not good with the Marathon is less than two months away.) I was more "in the grove" and motivated last year . . .you'd think I'd be more motivated now after getting a taste of the Marathon last year. Not sure if this will make any sense but I think that because I do have a better sense of what's in front of me with the Marathon, I'm more terrified than last year and in a way, overwhelmed I guess. So instead of training like a madwoman I'm avoiding it? Not sure if that's what Freud would say. In any case, I'm going to try to change that tonight and get back on the treadmill.
I also signed up for the other Chicago Half Marathon (in September.) I really need to practice focusing while there are other runners around.