Saturday, June 18, 2016

Jess Goes Running: 2015 Chicago Half Marathon

On the race day, the alarm went off but I was already awake--I had been staring at the ceiling and listening to the steady sounds of my husband still asleep next to me.  The day had arrived--the Chicago Half Marathon.  As I lay there, allowing myself to hit the snooze button, I mentally went over my preparation for the day.

I would never forget the pain of my first half marathon and the huge sense of accomplishment and pride that accompanied the finish.  Even as I had the medal around my neck, I still couldn't believe that I had finished a half marathon, that I had conquered 13.1 miles.  A while ago, Nike came out with an ad about running and persevering and it makes me cry every time I see it because in 2014, I was there.  I was not a half marathon runner, but then I was and it was the greatest feeling in the world.  Even though I had struggled so very much during the race, I had finished--and I wanted to do it again.

So signing up for the half marathon again was a no brainer, and I registered early enough that I received a wind vest in addition to the t-shirt.  I felt as though my training had gone well over the summer, and that my mileage was sufficient. As per usual, I found myself wishing I had run a bit more in the time leading up to the race; this is something I will have to work on for my next long race.

T. and I got in the Honda and headed to Jackson Park via Lake Shore Drive. When we got down there, we made our customary pre-race breakfast stop before making our way to the Museum of Science of Industry, where we would be parking. Of course, the line at the exit for MSI was long and I was admittedly a little anxious that we may not be able to get a spot.  Thankfully, my worrying was for naught--we found one easily.  I was definitely feeling that nervous, buzzing sort of energy as I gathered all of my belongings and made sure I had everything.  I knew I was prepared enough to get through it, but I also knew (and know!) that every race is different.  I could only hope that the outcome would be positive.

We headed to Jackson Park and the start of the race (after a quick stop at the restroom at MSI... much nicer to use real facilities, haha).  About halfway there, I realized that there was something wrong with my Koss Sportapro headphones--I was missing one of the soft earphone covers.  Immediately, I felt a rush of anxiety.  This was not going to work.  I like to run with music on low as a way to help in keeping a steady rhythm.  I explained my predicament to T. who, kindly, offered to let me use his headphones instead.  These headphones were different from what I was used to and by accepting them, I was breaking the cardinal rule of "don't do anything new on race day."  It was a little bit of an emergency situation, though, so I thanked him gratefully and got them paired up with my phone.

And then, all too quickly, we were at the start corrals, and I had just enough time to do a little bit of stretching and say goodbye to T. before the start.  I felt a little rushed and unsettled but took a few deep breaths to work my way through it.  The energy of my fellow runners and the crowds alongside the start were enough to get me focused and in the zone.  I had done this before, and I could certainly do it again.  No big deal.

Our corral started moving closer to the start line before I had time to freak out any further.  Deep breaths as shook out my arms and queued up my music.  I was familiar with the course, having run it before, and knew I would be able to use that knowledge to my advantage during the race.  I started out strong over the line and settled easily into a rhythm.

The weather was just fine--overcast, a little cool with an edge of humidity, a slight breeze.  We wound around for a few miles before settling into the out and back on Lake Shore Drive.  Even though it was the second time I was doing the race, I still enjoyed the fact that I was running on the drive.  It's a pretty run for sure and a uniquely Chicago experience.  Just like the year before, I found T. on the median in the middle of LSD near mile 4, and I gave him a smile and blew him a kiss.  Seeing him energized me and gave me a boost as I headed north towards the Loop.

(photos from the husband.)

Miles 4-7 were probably the most "incident filled" and by that I mean, I got in the wrong line for the facilities so I had to wait longer and then, a few miles later, I had issues with my sock rubbing weird against my foot.  Besides those minor mishaps, I felt strong and kept a consistent pace.  When I made it to the turnaround in the middle of mile 8, where you go up the ramp, over the Drive, and back down to head South towards Jackson Park again, I could hardly believe I was there--mostly because the year previously, I was in a much worse place mentally and emotionally.  Here, I was just surprised!  It felt good and put a smile on my face.

I was definitely getting tired near the end, when I ended up seeing T. again during mile 12.  Still, I was so close to the end, and I prevailed.  In 2014 when I crossed the finish line, I remember being overcome with emotion and tears at the fact that I had finished.  In 2015, I was just excited, proud, relieved that I had made it and that it was over.  I was very proud with my results and proud of the race that I had run.  Later, I was amazed to look at my splits and see that, for the most part, they were pretty much consistent.  It made me feel confident in my abilities as a runner and my future adventures.

I found T. after getting my medal and we made our way over to the beer garden so I could enjoy a celebratory beer or two and some pizza (of course these were my priorities after running 13.1 miles).  I also had to pause and take a few photos with the medal that was as big as my head.  I reflected on the race as I rested and felt happy and content with it.  My second Chicago Half Marathon was complete!

Post-half marathon, my plans included doing a nighttime 5K through a cemetery near our apartment on an October night and then get a good momentum to run through the winter.  Unfortunately, the very morning of that 5K, I pulled something in my knee and was out of commission for weeks.  Though I was upset by this, I tried to not let it get me down.  I really tried to listen to my body and my knee and not push it so that I could properly heal up.

By the end of October/beginning of November, I had started going for walks and trying to go to the gym more often.  I ran on the treadmill a few times, but nothing extensive by any means; most of my gym time was spent on the elliptical or on the bike, though I did go swimming a small handful of times (and would like to incorporate that more for marathon training).  By the time late February rolled around, I was running 3-5 times a week again--and here we are now, June, training for a marathon in October.  Amazing how quickly time flies!  I'm planning on doing the Chicago Half Marathon this year as part of my training for the full.  It's a great course and a very well organized race.  I would highly recommend it!

No comments:

Post a Comment