Monday, September 14, 2009

Chicago *#&$*%*&*(#$ Half Marathon Race Report

Subtitle: least it's not like last year and all that rain.

I suppose I should do a race report. But that would imply that I “raced.” I can hardly call what I did yesterday “racing,” other than my racing heartbeat when I broke into a full run on occasion. Here are the gory details:

Pre-race: I felt good, in a “I’m going to break out of my funky race season” kinda good. Yes! This would be it! I watched the weather and decided to go with my favorite running capris because it was to be a high of 72°, so I’m thinking if that’s the high, it’s bound to be nice for the entire race. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Since the race was in my neighborhood (starting line less than a mile away!) Lou and Meg (and Lou’s new husband Joey-same name as my hubby, I might add) came to pick me up and we maneuvered around to find a good spot for the car. In case I haven’t mentioned it, Lou was running because she is wearing a BOOT.

Miles 1 through 4: And we’re off. Race starts, and some 15 minutes later or so, we’re on our way. I was glad that with a race this small (relatively speaking) they did not do that goofy corral start, complete with roping things off. That is super annoying and unnecessary, I think, for crowds under 30,000. But that’s just my opinion.

Running through some familiar streets, and I’m rather enjoying it. Trying to not start off too fast, trusting my Garmin and my lungs to tell me to slow down. All was well. But through the cover of the trees I noticed that it was a lot sunnier than what I’d expected. Crap. Meg and I were rolling along fine though. Despite the humidity, it was ok.

Shortly after Mile 2, I felt the pressure building. (Dangit, the careful balance of proper hydration had tipped in favor of the porto-potties!) This early on in the race, I knew a trip to the bathroom would be in order.  Nearing Mile 3, there were clouds overhead. Stay, stay! On 67th Street off to the right cheering us on was my friend Simeko. I waved and she waved and shouted! Kudos to her, for having completed a 21 miler the day before! You rock, Simeko!

Somewhere near 3.75 miles, there was another aid station (3rd one) accompanied by some porto-potties. We stopped. Isn’t Meg the greatest running partner? She stopped but didn’t even have to go, and I encouraged her to go on. (yet!) I could supply link and after link in my blog as to why she is a kick-@$$ running partner, I swear I could. So we stood in line. And stood. And waited. Finally I got my chance to view a fresh steaming pile-o-vile as I took care of business in a 90-degree box only slightly wider than myself. It was refreshing! And upon leaving I glanced at my watch. SIX MINUTES and some change. Nice.

Miles 4 through 9: So we start off again, and the sun is beating down on us. Shortly after we started up again, here came the first runners on the other side, running fast and maybe a ½ mile or mile from the finish. I will tell you this…usually this phenomenon is an exciting one to see, but I was thoroughly discouraged. We did cheer on the first place woman. We trudged on, and Meg started suggested that maybe she should have gone to the bathroom. So at some point (maybe around Mile 7?) we stopped again. But I was in SERIOUS need of a walking break. Everything hurt. Legs. Knees. Pride. So I suggested that since I needed this break, I would walk and she would sprint ahead to the bathrooms. If she was still in the bathroom, I would keep walking and wait for her before I started running. I didn’t look at my watch but kept on walking, like semi-speed walking. After awhile, I’m all like WTH? Where is Meg? I kept looking back and she just wasn’t there! I wondered if something happened. It seemed like forever. FINALLY off in the distance I saw her, she waved both arms at me. I shuffled into barely a run, knees groaning at what was probably a 14:00 pace until we were side-by-side, and off we went. (Apparently her line for the bathroom took even longer than mine!)

We admitted to each other that this was not our day for any PR. And that we both would likely require multiple walking breaks. We ran into a friend of mine from college…Rudy, who was riding a bike and escorting a wheelchair participant. We saw a man on the other side keel over into the median, looking pale and about to vomit, and people calling for water for him.

At the turnaround there was another aid station, and we walked through it, made the turn and headed back for what one spectator called “the home stretch.” I remember thinking that the home stretch is not 4+ miles out, IDIOT. (The difference between me, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams and Kanye West, however, is that I kept my big mouth shut and my grudges to myself.) Sorry, I was hot and tired and annoyed.

Miles 9 through 11: I was struggling to keep up. Worrying about the “sag wagon” coming to pick up a round of potential DNF’ers. (Did Not Finish.) Meg was getting ahead of me slightly. I told her to go on, I was going to walk for a few minutes. And she did. And I did. FOR A SOLID TWO MILES. Even walking was hurting, to be truthful. For those people who say “If I have to finish a race by walking it in,” dude, it TOTALLY SUCKED. I did chat up a nice woman by the name of Mary for those two miles. Mary is from Park Forest, seemed to be older (not sure how old), was run/walking her first half marathon…we chatted for awhile. Sirens were blaring, ambulances racing by headed both north and south quite a few times. I saw a girl’s knee blow out right in front of me. That concrete on the Drive is nothing nice on the knees, I tell ya.

Miles 11 through -----Finish: So I started running again, sick of being sick and tired of the race. Suddenly I saw a course official waving people off of the drive. “They’re opening up Lakeshore Drive, you have to get off!” Some runners ignored him and kept on going by. I went his way and found myself on a steep grassy embankment leading down to the lakefront path, underpass, and on the other side of the path to where I normally run on the weekdays. Maybe this was the encouragement I needed to finish! Familiarity! I ran some more, only to break into a walk again. Some girl up ahead was sobbing about how she was so disappointed in herself. I assumed it was her first race and tried to make her feel better. “This isn’t my first half marathon,” she loudly exclaimed. Whatever, chick! Whatever, be sad and cry, it won’t help you get to the finish line any quicker. Crybaby! (I said this to her in my head.)

I saw the Mile 12 marker over across the way on the other side of Lakeshore Drive, along with those renegade runners who refused to get off the street. The police were pointing at them to get over in the grass. And finally, the 63rd Street underpass to head back over to the course and finish line. I ran the entire way from there. It was the most ungratifying finish to a race ever. I almost didn’t even care if they’d packed up the medals and gone home, I just did not care. (I did take the medal though.)

Post-race report
Caught up with Meg and Lou. Lou saw two people pass out while nearing the finish line. She said Joey was like 10 minutes slower than his usual speedy self. Meg saw someone who was all bloodied on their head/face, possibly from falling. Sirens were still wailing all around. It was like a much scaled down version of the 2007 marathon.

And instead of a PR (personal record,) I managed to score a PW (personal worst.) i'm tired of all the excuses. There's really no excuse. I'm just not having a good year, not doing well, and it's my own fault. It's not negative self just IS what it IS.

Yep. And with that encouraging run, 20 miles is on tap for this coming Sunday.

p.s. and I swear to you it was way higher than 72 degrees out there.


walker said...

Hi: I know how your feel. I'm done race walking for 4 1/2 to 5 yrs and some times you feel grt & have a grt run, then other days just suck, along with the potty brks. At disney the trees get used alot.LOL. I did the half in virginia bch last wk and high 80's at mile 13 in front of the med tent a man passed out and died. That's sad to see on hear of that happening. I doing the race dec13,in north carolina, & training for the goofy this year. I say time to burn out not rust out. Take Care jeff

Roisin said...

Boo on that! Boo on that girl being rude to you after you were only trying to help her. Jeez.

We have all been there, and you still finished. The heat is like kryptonite for me, so I know the same thing would have happened to your truly. In theatre, we always say "Bad dress-rehearsal, good opening night", so maybe this was your dress rehearsal (badness) and Chicago will be your opening night (huzzah!). See ya on Saturday for 20!

Lindy said...

kryptonite. that is a good way to describe it. or even a step further, it's like when a vampire sees daylight. (Ahhh! Arms flailing in protective cover over my head.) that's how I am when the sun starts a-shining on a day i have to run more than 8 miles. Stupid sun. Stupid heat. Stupid humidity. Stupid summer.

Lou said...

Hey congrats on a finish in tough conditions. Seriously, being on the "other side" of that race was crazy. It was really shocking to see people passing out right in front of me. Better to finish with a time you're not thrilled about than to be carried off the course.