Ah man. Just so you know, I was in the middle of finger typing an entire race report on my Google phone when suddenly, POOF! The whole thing disappeared. Oh the horror. It was, without a doubt, the best blog post ever. Probably.
So where were we? Yes. The inaugural Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on August 2, 2009. I spent Saturday night preparing for the race--setting out my clothes, filling up water bottles, etc.--or so I thought. Sunday morning it occurred to me that I had forgotten critical items, like oh... for example… my race bib and the timing chip. Preparation became hectic and in my haste to get out the door, I forgot the water bottles for my fuel belt.
Regardless, I felt great. This is probably one of the first races where I did not wait for the starting gun with an overwhelming sense of dread. So, you know… progress, or something.
And we were off. I started the race with running buddies Meg and Lindy. We were clipping along at a solid 11:30 to 11:45 pace. My legs were fresh; I had no stomach issues or random pain. I was good to go. That is until mile 3 when I started to get hungry. Not like, "sure I could eat" hungry, but “pit in my stomach, running on fumes.” hungry, and yes, I ate breakfast. Now this would not be a huge deal or at all out of the ordinary if I had been at… oh say… mile 9. I bring food with me on runs longer than 10 miles now just because I don't like the feeling of being hungry. At mile 3, I ate half of the energy bar that I had brought.
I forged ahead, still feeling pretty good and easily maintaining an 11:30 pace. But within a few more miles, the growling in my stomach forced me to finish my energy bar. Luckily I did bring some sport beans and had those left for later in for the race. By mile 9, those were gone too. However, still feeling good, I knew if I pushed it I would be on track (just barely) for a PR and, maybe, my first sub 2:30:00 half marathon.
I became married to the idea of a PR. I attached all kinds of meaning to it. Think of the awesome blog post I could write: the first race of my 30s; my last race before I change my name. How cool would that be? Three miles from the finish, a mere 5k, I kicked it into high gear. A mile later, two miles from the last aid station and not another one in sight, my dry throat and aching legs forced me to give up. Well, not give up entirely, but I gave in, I started walking. Today would not be a PR.
I fumed for a bit. But then I reasoned, eh… this is my fourth year running the race, and even though it won’t be my best ever, think how far I’ve come. Somehow I’ve managed to wrap weave running through my entire life. Races have become life markers for me, and four years ago, at the Chicago Distance Classic (which was bought this year by the Rock ‘n’ Roll franchise), I was in the process of breaking up with a guy who I lived with; I was struggling to find my place in this city; and I could not have imagined the an impact running would have on the direction of my life.
I started running again. If I hurried, I’d still finish 10 minutes faster than that first Chicago Distance Classic. PRs are fun, but with or without it, a lot has changed in the last four years. And a lot is going to change in the next four, but this will be a constant. I crossed the finish line at 2:39:29. Nice medal too.