Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Recap

So . . . I once again missed my goal time. Yes, I was extremely disappointed to fall short - and will now have to work my tail off to make up for it - but there were other things that happened that made it a great experience, including watching my mom finish her first half marathon!

We took the train to Chicago early Saturday morning. After checking into our hotel, we went to the race expo to pick up our bib numbers and race packets as well as check out all the vendors. It was quite fun seeing all the merchandise, learn about other races and just soak up all the excitement and anticipation that was in the air.

Race day
My alarm went off at 3am. After getting dressed, packing our race bags, eating a bit and drinking plenty of water, it was time to head over to the race. It was completely dark outside when we arrived and there were only a handful of other racers. I think it made Mom nervous, but I thought it was kind of nice to have a moment to collect our thoughts before the start of the race madness.

Soon enough, it was time to line up and what an experience - there were thousands of racers trying to get in the corrals. To give you an idea of how big the race was, I was in Corral 3 out of 30. Mom was in Corral 29 because this was her first half marathon and we weren't sure what type of pace she could maintain.

And then we were off! Because of the crowd, the first mile was very slow. The next few miles picked up a bit and while I didn't think I could drop the pace like I wanted, I thought I could at least maintain an 8 minute mile pace. Soon after though, things got tough and I found myself repeating a manta over and over. "The tides will turn. You will get this done. You will finish strong."

 A finish line never looked so good

Unfortunately, it just wasn't my day. I ended up getting a side stitch somewhere along Michigan Avenue and had to pull off to the side of the road. After massaging the area for about a minute, I started up again . . . only to have it return about a block later. Had to pull off to the side again. It was incredibly embarrassing, as this is where a bunch of spectators were lined up to cheer on the racers. I tried running through it, but the pain just got worse.

The sun, heat and humidity were just too much for me. I sprinted in through the finish and was pretty much in a daze after that.

After crossing the finish line
I walked through the finish area and went to collect my bag from gear check. I was so out of it that I even went to the wrong table to get my stuff! After, I sat on a curb for awhile, drinking as much as I could and trying to work up the energy to walk back to the finish area to wait for Mom.

I was pretty disappointed in myself for not being able to hit my goal time and giving into the heat and side stitch. It kind of made me question why I train as hard as I do if I can't perform on race day. I was completely spent both physically and mentally.

Mom was quite a bit behind me so I had awhile to wait at the finish line area. I watched other racers as they finished and it kind of made me tear up a bit. Just watching how much fun everyone was having made me realize that it didn't really matter that I missed my goal time that day. In fact, the time that I considered so terrible was probably a goal time for some people! I finished in the top 6 percent of all the women in the race and that isn't too shabby!

It was all the motivation I needed to run back on the course, find Mom, and help her get to the finish area. I was so proud of her when she finished. I mean really - how many other 60-something women are out there running half marathons? I think she's such an inspiration for getting started, sticking with it and accomplishing a huge goal.

Mom having fun while racing

So in the end, it wasn't such a bad race after all. It might not have been the race I wanted, but I still enjoyed the course, loved running the streets of downtown Chicago and soaked up all the energy and excitement that comes with a big racing event. It was a great experience and one I definitely recommend.

And after the race, we indulged in delicious cupcakes from Sprinkles!

The salted caramel (left) was my favorite

Up next
You may be wondering what's next. In just a few weeks, I'm racing the Lake Country Half Marathon. Since I didn't hit my goal time in Chicago, I will be working hard to get it at this race. It will also serve as an important time trial to help me determine how I will run Lakefront Marathon in October.

The rest of this week, I'm taking it easy and will do the Racing Sausages 5k on Saturday. Next week, it's back to normal training with a 50-55 mile week. Within the next month, I plan on increasing to 55-60 miles per week.

It's going to be busy. It's going to be tough. And I wouldn't have it any other way :)

How do you deal with race disappointments?

- ST 


  1. Your mom looks so happy! Good for her. And you did great too! As long as you gave it 100% you can't really be disappointed.

    1. Thanks Alysha! It was so much fun watching my Mom complete the race. I'm already trying to get her to sign up for another one this year :)

  2. Great job regardless! Also, your mom is adorable, congrats to her!

    1. Thanks Laurie! I'm so proud of my mom for finishing her first half. Definitely the highlight of the race.