Running isn’t easy. Anybody who tells you it is, they’re lying. Anybody CAN do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
After my last Half Marathon was changed to a “10k” (closer to 5 miles) due to fallen trees and other nasty weather conditions, I took a planned week off from running. One week turned into two. Two weeks turned into taking it easy for the next two weeks, where I would run every other day. That led to slight weight gain. (terrible diet) That led to deciding to start playing more golf, and doing some projects around the house. That led to a bum back one week before race day, and a whole week off leading up to Race #7.
Truth be told, my whole body was hurting me. I’ve heard that a person should do no more than 4 Half Marathons in a year, and if they were to do so, should only have 2 of those be “goal races” where they shoot for a specific time. I’ve just completed 5 “goal races” (under two hours). Plus, I did a “nice and easy” 25K race (15.5 miles) in temps of 80 degrees for the first time this year. All of which happened in the first 5 1/2 months of 2013. Running was going well, but had beaten me up physically and mentally.
So, when I headed up to Chicago on Friday for packet pick-up, I packed an extra suitcase full of excuses to take along.
(I’m a PE teacher)
Can we please quit calling it “swag”??
This is the view of the whole expo. Pretty expansive.
I stayed with one of my three best friends from high school and visited another one on Saturday, pulling one excuse at a time out of my magic bag of “this isn’t going to be pretty”. Sunday after the race, I had a great opportunity to use more of them as I had breakfast with another life-long friend and her boyfriend. I should have been a salesman, because they ALL bought all of my excuses.
I woke up at about 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and left Plainfield, IL at about 5:00. The 40 minute drive into the city was quiet, cool, and pretty. The temperature felt cooler than I had worried about. However, race time was still an hour and a half away. I found a parking garage within walking distance of the start line that would only end up costing me $36! I made my way to the starting line by about 6:00. Now I had half an hour to stand around and stretch out my bum back and unused leg muscles.
They interviewed some people, played the anthem, and by 6:38 I was off and running in the first ever Half Marathon that I wasn’t completely prepared for. The first two miles were good. I was huffing and puffing, but my body felt good. Better than expected. 2 miles, under 18 minutes. Right on pace. Then, I got weak, tired, and my feet started to fall asleep. How is this possible, you ask? Well, when a person is so badly out of shape that they can’t get circulation all the way down to the part that’s doing the work, the part in question starts to NOT LIKE IT. Miles 3-6 were bad. Not the worst I’ve ever run, but by far the worst I’ve run in a Half Marathon. I ran as much as I could, when the feet would fall asleep, I’d walk a while. The good news was that most of this section of the race was shaded by the tall buildings of downtown Chicago.
Mile 7 was probably my favorite part of the race. It was here that there were the best crowds and the best cheer squads. (Rock N Roll races have contests for the best cheering sections) Right at the corner of Jackson and Michigan Ave were about 50 people all wearing light blue and blaring the loudest music of the course. It was amazing. This section made my 7th mile my fastest of the whole race. Weird for a guy who’s so out of shape. But, here’s the other thing… from this point on, I was fine. I mean, I wasn’t fast, but I felt good. Feet didn’t fall asleep, back didn’t hurt, heart and lungs stayed in check. I only experienced one real problem the rest of the race. The insole of my left shoe got crooked and started to cause a blister. This came from the incredible amount of moisture that was caused by sweat (the temps still weren’t bad, probably 74-76) and the water they kept spraying on us to keep us cool. Like I said, things went well for the last 6 miles. I probably only walked about 3 times the rest of the way in, and that was at water stations where everybody was walking. Maybe a couple times between water stops. I figured it would be a good idea.
Around mile 11.5 was pretty cool, too. As we entered the tunnel under McCormick Center, a group had set up disco lights and blaring music. It was like a dance party. There was a cheer group, too. So: lights, shade, music, cheerleaders. Yeah, close 2nd for favorite part of the course.
I finished strong and ran the whole last 1.2 miles or so from the final water stop. I definitely put forth my best effort of the race here. By the line my body was begging me to quit. Finally, I crossed the line – – a finisher for the 7th time this year.
Rock N Roll Chicago medal.
By FAR not my favorite medal of the year. It’s small (but, thick!) and the ribbon absolutely SUCKS, but it’s a token of remembrance. I guess it’ll have to do.
Nice shirt. Actually, I finally got one that fits. I think this is only the 3rd shirt of the year that fits me. But, it’s worked out for my wife. She now has more shirts than I do. And, she’s not a runner…
The gear bag.
This is the aforementioned “Swag” bag. Seriously, people, let’s get off of that. It’s gonna be one of those words we look back on and can’t believe we ever used… like “Rad”. Well, I still like Rad, but… you get the point.
Will I do this race again? Most definitely, not. It was ok. But, who does a Half Marathon in July? Chicago is a great city to run in. I completely enjoy it, but DAMN, it’s expensive. I probably spent over $400 on this race, all in all, and I had a free place to stay and two free meals!
I’m glad I ran it. I’m glad I’m still on pace for my goal of 13 13’s in ’13. However, next year, RnR Chicago won’t be on my list. Sorry.
Catch up with me next time as I make a stop in Mahomet, IL for the Mahomet Half Marathon.