I really should be sleeping now, after the exhausting day I had. But I wanted to go ahead and put my thoughts down before I wake up tomorrow.
First off - I have to thank my incredible friend Michelle for encouraging me to actually sign up for the Allstate 13.1 Chicago Half Marathon. I was disappointed I wasn't ready to run the Great Western Half Marathon in May, and I missed the cut-off for the Schaumburg Half a few weeks ago. I knew with having to leave for a wedding in Iowa around 1:00 it was going to require some extra planning, but I say "what the heck - sign me up!".
I was feeling okay with the training I had under my belt, although I hadn't run in well over a week before today's Half. But really my goal was just to finish - and hopefully in less than 3 hours.
I was up before dawn (3:50, to be exact) to eat a little something, get my gear on, and wait for Michelle so I could drive us down there. We had to be at the Museum of Science and Industry by 5:45 so we could make the 6:00 shuttle. Luckily we made it with a little time to spare, and got to enjoy the beautiful sunrise over Lake Michigan and Chicago.
Unfortunately Michelle and I had to split up at the corrals, but we gave each other big hugs and I wished her good luck, as she did to me. I actually wasn't too nervous. It was a hot day, so I kept my expectations fairly minimal (basically - finish and don't die).
I finally started about 34 minutes after the first runners took off. There was a great crowd of spectators to send us off, and we were on our way. I kept a pretty steady pace for the first 6 or 7 miles, and that's when the heat started to kick my butt. At least at that point I was about halfway there, so I just kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other, and sucking down Gatorade and water at the stations set up every mile.
Once I hit mile 10 I was pretty much toast, but the beautiful views and knowing that I was nearly there kept me going. And I knew that Michelle had already completed her race (and did AMAZING!!), so she would be waiting for me at the finish.
Around mile 11, my right calf was NOT happy with me, and so I would run a bit and then it would just sort of die on me. I'm sure I was an interesting sight ;). But I was nearly there, so I just kept plugging along.
FINALLY I could see the South Shore Cultural Center where the race started and finished. I nearly cried, knowing I was almost there. I ran/walked/limped until I hit the 13 mile sign, and then I just took off. Luckily my calf cooperated, and as I crossed the finish line I heard them announce my name. I admit - I did get a little choked up. If someone had told me a year or so ago that I would complete a Half marathon, I would have never believed it.
It was so wonderful seeing Michelle at the finish line!! She got a great picture (which I'm totally going to have to steal so I can put it up here) as I crossed the finish line, and then we hugged once she could get through to where I was grabbing all the food and drink I could manage. We flew back home right away, and I managed to make myself look halfway decent in about 20 minutes for Lauren's wedding - no small feat, I tell you!
All in all, today was an incredible day. Exhausting, exhilarating and painful at time, but it was incredible. And with that last note, I'm going to go collapsed into bed!