Monday, August 4, 2014

Chicago Zooma Half Marathon! {Race recap}

I tried to come up with an adjective or phrase to describe my first half, but there is no simple combination of words that truly captures the event. The entire weekend was an experience to remember, but for now I will just focus on my race day:

I met my Dad in the lobby (I'm still so elated that he flew in to surprise me) and we headed off to the venue. The lakefront view from the start was amazing..
(I don't know that lady...I hope she doesn't mind that I have her picture plastered on my blog...)

We were one of the first few people there (you know me...have to get to places early), but slowly people started to arrive...

The event started on time (I LOVE when that happens!) and (as I posted on Saturday) I tried to keep up with my pacing group as much as I could (i.e. up to mile 2) and then just stuck to my routine and tried not to pass out after that. 

Here is a reminder of the route...

Here are pics of different views during the first half of the race (on the lakefront trail heading north to Solider Field and then back down to the 10K mark)...

Partial view of the city...

I saw my dad on the course after the 3 mile mark. My knee felt like it was on fire (yes, I had my brace on and no, I didn't listen to the "don't try anything new on race day" advice and tried a new topical pain relief cream that morning before the race...not a good idea).

Partial view of Solider Field...

This monument says "Sept 25, 1993. To all the men and women who have risked or lost their lives in the line of duty. They are the guardians of our city". It is dedicated to the heroes of the Chicago Fire Dept. and Chicago Police Dept. 

When I passed the 10K point I questioned my ability to make rational informed decisions (like doing a half marathon after a bad hamstring tendon injury, without having covered the race distance in training after I was cleared to run). 

I got a lot of encouraging messages from my family to keep me going. Sanya, who ran the San Francisco marathon last year, told me to "dig deep" and I figured she would know better than anyone how I was feeling (especially having to battle with running injuries of her own). 

At mile 7 my phone battery was running low so I turned off my interval timer and kept my tracking app going (hoping that it would last for the remainder of the event). It's hard to maintain a 2:1 run:walk interval without a timer, but I tried my best to "watch the clock" on the running app.

After I passed mile 10 I saw my dad again (he ran:power walked much of the course so that he could cheer me on and get pictures and videos along the way...He deserved a medal on Saturday as much as I did). My phone died about 2 minutes after that and sadly I lost all my tracking information from my app (I have been putting off investing in a Gramin Forerunner 220 - the purple one obviously -  because it's so pricey, but I am going to start saving so I don't have these issues with losing my info in the future)

Shortly before mile 11 I think my body went into shock. I was in a daze. By the time I reached the mile 11 marker I really thought I was going to die. I felt like my throat was closing up, I was gasping for air, crying. I sounded and felt like I was having an asthma attack (no, I don't have asthma). So I walked from mile 11 to mile 12 and tried to steady my breathing and refocus.

When I got to mile 12 I started running again. Since I didn't have my interval timer I just focused on an object in the distance and tried to run towards it. And when I finally saw the mile 13 marker in the distance I started running non-stop. My entire body was in pain, but I just wanted to finish so badly. 

My goal was to finish the half in sub-3 hours...

This is me at the finish (after the event) in my "recovery slippers" courtesy of Damian (to help my blistered toes feel better)...
Isn't the view in the background amazing?

Here is a much better picture of my medal (it's all about the bling)...
The pendant at the bottom detaches for those inclined to wear it on a necklace or bracelet etc.

After a quick snack and more picture taking, my dad and I walked 3 miles back to the hotel (yes...3 miles).  And then we got ready and headed out to....BANDERA for the best post-race lunch ever!!!!

Despite my mile 11-12 "near death" experience I had an amazing time! The race was well organized with clear mile markers and turn-around points. I saw a few people "create their own turn-around points" but that will be on their own conscience. They had enough water stations with both water and Cytomax and one station also had Gatorade (and they didn't run out of water for us slow runners!). The post race events included a snack, yoga and a few other activities (but my dad and I didn't stick around too long since we had to head out for the 3 mile trek back to the hotel).

Overall, it was a great day and I had a great time hanging out with my dad. I wasn't as physically prepared for the half as I wanted to be but hey, I did it, and that's all that matters!

What was your first half or full marathon like? Is there anything you would've done differently?


  1. Congrats! I knew you could do it. I’m so glad you enjoyed your experience. That minor hiccup you experienced was nothing. Did you have them put the medal on you? I’m such a dork that I ask them to do it. After training hard for so many months, you deserve to get ‘crowned’ like royalty!

    Since I was crazy and decided to train for a full marathon before doing a half, my first half marathon race was a ‘training run’. My running group ran the Boca Raton Half and the course was OK. We did a bunch of loops in residential neighborhoods and the end had us running through a parking lot where I almost got hit by a car. The weather was cool and I remember finishing strong.

  2. Thanks Jeanette! I didn't have them "crown" me but I love that idea! The neighborhood runs can be a nightmare (especially when you have to dodge cars!), but I'm glad you finished strong and in one piece ;)
    How is your training going so far? How much mileage have you built up?


Thanks for your comment!