With that said, I really wish that the race itself had gone better for both of us. It wasn't our worst race by a long shot, but it definitely wasn't our best! If we had only driven to Chicago for the race we might have felt a bit more disappointed with the trip than we do right now.
Technically this is from Friday night, but we stayed in a suburb
We got into downtown Chicago on Saturday around 1pm. After dealing with overnight parking, checking into the hotel and briefly sightseeing, we took a taxi to McCormick Place for the Expo.
Our first Rock 'n' Roll race!
Luckily, the expo wasn't as crowded as I thought it was going to be! We got all of our gear for the race extremely quickly and then spent the rest of the time walking around.
Mike got two comments on this shirt and he's not even from Maine!
Frank Shorter is on the right
After we saw everything that we wanted to, we headed back to do some more sightseeing. Don't worry I will post about the rest of our trip tomorrow! We finished off the night with some deep-dish pizza and ice cream.
We went to Pizzeria Ora
Race morning our alarm went off at 5am, definitely not the earliest we have woken up for a race but pretty close! I had my typical pre-race meal of toast with peanut butter (although no toast, just the bread since there was no toaster).
Mike and I were staying right across from the start of the race so we had plenty of time to get there, warm-up, stretch and hit the porta-potties.
The view from our hotel room
Before I knew it, it was 6:25 and we went to our respective corrals to wait for the start of the race.
I was in corral 8, so it took a few minutes before we were at the start line waiting for the cue to go. As soon as we were off, I crossed the start line and realized that my watch wasn't on the training screen! It must have been too long and it went back to the time/date screen without me realizing. I quickly got it going again and tried to get through the masses.
I felt like I was running really slowly in the beginning, and I probably was, because there were too many people and no way around them. Almost immediately we ran through one of the tunnels on the race course. My watch didn't like that and lost satellite signal and my pace and distance were extremely off. (It said that I did 13.65 miles even though I started my watch after the start line!)
The first three miles I had no idea how fast I was going because of the issue with the tunnels and my Garmin. I should have realized this was going to happen, oh well! To make matters worse, the time wasn't even right because of the issue I had at the start line!
I had planned to take my first energy gel at mile 4, right before one of the water stops, and I actually did this time. My stomach wasn't feeling horrible at this point but I could tell that if I waited any longer that I wasn't going to take any fuel in during the race.
Miles 4-11 were a blur. I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and trying to mentally calculate my overall pace whenever I saw a time clock for the race (while trying to figure out how long it had taken me to cross the start line). I remember seeing signs that said, "Katniss could do it", "pain now, beer later" and "this is the worst parade ever".
We ran by Soldier Field sometime in the last few miles
I knew almost immediately that I wasn't going to run a sub-2 hour half marathon and honestly I went into the race knowing this wasn't going to happen. The point of this race was to fulfill the half marathon race on our training schedule for our marathon in the fall and nothing more. If anything else happened then that was just icing on the cake.
Running through the city definitely took my mind off of how much pain I was in, my stomach was bothering me and my right ankle started to hurt toward the end of the race. The bands along the course and the crowd support helped lift my spirits as well!
I had to keep telling myself not to walk, I really wanted to a few times, and when I got to mile 11 I knew that I was going to make it. Unfortunately, there was one time that I walked briefly. There was a sponge station toward the end of the race and since everyone was stopping and walking, I couldn't avoid walking for about 10 seconds. Once I could get around people I started running again.
My least favorite part of the race was when we ran through the tunnel at McCormick Place. It was so dark in there that I was having a hard time seeing and the music was SO loud! However, I knew that I only had a little way to go so I pushed through.
Finally, I could see our hotel in the distance and I knew that I didn't have much more to go. The crowd kept telling us that we had about a mile left and I tried to pick up the pace. You could see the finish line for what felt like forever and I had to give myself visual markers to get to just to keep my mind off of how badly I wanted the race to be over.
After 2:11:15, I crossed the finish at my fourth half marathon in less than a year! I grabbed some water, my medal and some delicious Chobani and made my way to try to find Mike at the family reunion area.
I had no idea where the family reunion area was but I just kept walking toward the post-race party and saw Mike sitting on the grass. Unfortunately, the race took its toll on him even more so than me. He finished in 2:09:06 and I am extremely proud of him for pushing through! If you want to read his perspective on the race, go here, and while you're at it friend him on DailyMile.
We didn't even go to the post-race party because we were slightly miserable. After we got back to the hotel, we took showers and headed back out on the road for the rest of our trip.
All in all it was still a great experience and I really want to run another race in Chicago sometime, but it might just have to be the Chicago Marathon when it is a little bit cooler. I also want to run some more Rock 'n' Roll races because we had a great time and the race atmosphere was amazing! Even though the race didn't go as well as we had hoped it was still a great time.