Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Chicago Half 'Cap
Alright then! So here are some thoughts I took from the Chicago Half Marathon! Neg stuff outta the way first.
Did you know that 20,500 people registered for this race and only 13,500 finished? So apparently I wasn't the only one unprepared. But I DID finish! While my time was a mere three minutes slower than my first half, I worked my ass off to BE three minutes slower. Huh? Let me explain. While part of the three minutes contained a very small handful of breaks to briefly stretch and take iPhone photos...
a majority of it was me falling apart in the last three miles. In fact I was ahead of schedule up until then and by a lot! See, at the Expo the day before, I grabbed this free 2:15 pace tattoo. They had them for all 15min increments between like 1:30 and 3:00 or so. Pretty freaking sweet. And you KNOW I looked hardcore with a ginormous pace tatt on my forearm!! Anyway, so up until miles 9 and 10 I was AHEAD of my pace by upwards of, wait for it...three freaking minutes. For example, mile 4? I hit it around 38 minutes. My 2:15 pace tatt screamed 41 minutes at me. And while I cockily pumped my fist to the sky mouthing the lyrics to "Empire State of Mind," I should've been SLOWING THE EFF DOWN. Well, as I said, I learned my lesson in the final three miles when I literally wanted to die. In fact I passed people who looked dead on the side of the street or on stretchers and I thought: Hm yeah, that's about right.
My friends, the sun was hot that day. The temp was crisp and, indeed, hinted at autumn. But the sun, my God the sun. I didn't wear sunglasses thinking for some reason that I'd be fine. But I probably poured like seven cups of water over my head throughout the second half which was entirely facing south into that giant white ball of horror. HOW was it so hot??? A friend just wrote me that he was at the race rooting for his wife's sisters and spotted me at mile 12. He said I was smiling. Squinting in burning agony is more like it.
Aside from my too-quick start and the sun, two additional debilitating things were 1. being nauseous the entire race--like the ENTIRE race--and 2. my feet.
Not sure why I was nauseous?? Perhaps it was eating a half of a PB sandwich at 5am. They say never change what you eat before a race, so therefore I guess I should've eaten nothing. But that was TWO HOURS before I actually ran, so should've been fine. I only ate one gel at the 3-4 mile mark as I couldn't stomach another one. That might've killed me in the end too.
And my feet....HURT. As I said some other time, I wore the shoes I trained in the first time around...my orangies. The orangies are far from broken in and were replaced for a reason, but preferable to the pinks ones that I've given up on. So ALL pieces of my feet felt shattered by the end of the race from my arches to my heels to my ankles and Achilles to the toe part where bunions typically form (that area was the worst). Sighhhh shoes. Sidebar, you know what didn't and still doesn't hurt? My KNEES! The one part of my body that gave me the most trouble for the past year and a half. I think I might have to thank the 2-3 flights of Kohl's stairs 4x a day. Go go gadget quads!!
Now maybe I should stop pointing a finger at all this stuff and see those other three fingers pointing right back at me! As I started this post...Yeah I was unprepared. Even with my jump start and being ahead-of-the-game for the majority of the race, the second half was horrible because I didn't train as hard. Sure, I didn't fall apart so badly I had to pull a DNF. But I felt like I was scraping at an old frying pan for the last bits of caked on food particles, ANYTHING to fuel those final minutes. I don't regret not training as hard. But now I know better. Now I know how it feels to be unprepared.
MEANWHILE. I had fun.
WHAT?? Haha! No really, this race--this entire WEEKEND--was an absolute freaking BLAST. I said I was going to do this for enjoyment and I totally did. I mentioned the Jay Z fist-pumping right? That was a huge highlight. I felt amazing at that mile 4 moment, like nothing could stop me.
Another highlight? The weather. (But you just said??) Ah whatever, the sun sucked, but the perfect blue sky looked gorgeous behind the Chicago skyline and refreshing breeze felt absolutely wonderful.
Best highlight? The crowd...having spectators lined up along THE ENTIRETY of the race route, cheering us on. And because we had our first names on our bibs, people would find them and yell them out! I mean seriously!! But the cherry on the top was when I felt like absolute crap and I passed a teenage girl who said, "...Aw, I want to start running." My eyes well up just thinking about that. I mean I couldn't have asked for anything better at that point.
And finally...the moment. The finish line. The medal.
I will admit that the phrase "I want to quit" crept up in my mind a healthy portion of times...I saw people stop and just leave the course in the middle of the race. Buuuut I heard my inner whiny child-voice say, "no, but your medal!" Haha! Man it's like a dog without a bone! So I passed the finish line, perfectly satisfied when I stopped my watch at 2:18, and stumbled (literally stumbled) through the crowd with my sweaty mitts on my medal (SERIOUSLY Katie, you did not WIN the Chicago Half Marathon). Then I was handed a bottle of water, a banana, a granola bar, and...oh my sweet Lord, a delicious chocolate chip cookie. It was like manna from the Gods. I shoved it directly into my cookie hole, chocolate smeared everywhere. Oh it was glorious!
And with that I took note of the fact that this is why I race. I mean in addition to the ability to shove cookies into my mouth, I think I race to undergo that incredible transition from feeling the worst ever, to feeling the best ever. And this is the recipe for life. We don't know ups unless we know downs. The sweet ain't as sweet without the sour. Despite being probably the toughest and most painful of the handful of races I've done in the past 14 months, this particular race will probably go down as my favorite: From the conversation-packed ride to/from Milwaukee with my friend Mark, to the absolute hilarity and scrumptiousness at carb-loading dinner with Mark, Monica, Tim (plus Crystal's tiramisu cot and my lemon pounding).
From my silly stupid pre-Half dreams ("you can race it, but you're not getting a medal"), to the feeling of pure happiness post-Half, as I vegged on the couch, Miller Lite in one hand, a piece of Lou Malnati's pizza in the other, watching the Bears sort-of win....ahh it was perfect, absolutely perfect.
Where is she now?
My legs are like twisted pieces of rubber, doused with Sriracha cock sauce, and lined with barbed wire that has been coated in hawk talons and anacondas that are squeezing every muscle fiber till they all pop. I think it took me 20 minutes to walk downstairs yesterday and at work I've resorted to the elevator. I put off going to the bathroom as long as I can so I can avoid getting out of my chair. And this is ALL after immediately replacing my glycogen (see: chocolate chip cookie), replenishing my fluids (bottles of water and Poweraid PRE AND POST-Miller Lite), and stretching lots and lots and lots. Clearly I must've worked hard because I didn't even feel a fraction of this aftermath when I ran that 16 miler. Sigh. I look forward to being able to walk without looking like a 90 year old who rode a horse for twenty-five straight days.
And when I can RUN again, what's my plan? I have a 5K in two weeks, an 8K in four weeks, a 10K in six weeks, and a 15K in seven weeks. So that's all sounds doable hey? Yikos. Better heal up quick!! And invest in SOME sort of footwear while I'm also barefoot training. Ah barefoot training...that should be interesting.
Anyway, thanks Chicago Half Marathon for some seriously awesomely good memories!! See you next year, questionmark??? ;)