Yesterday I completed my first half marathon- the Chicago 13.1!
It was a really really hot day. When I woke up at 4:30am it was already 75 degrees out. As the day got started, the temp quickly rose and by the time I was standing at the start line, it was mid 80’s.
The race started off fairly normal though the heat was getting to me from the start. To be honest, I didn’t train as much as I should’ve in the weeks leading up to this race and by mile 1 I was already doing a walk/run combo. The trail wound along the shore of Lake Michigan and there was very little wind or shade. The race had a ton of well stocked Aid Stations including these fantastic damp lemon-scented washcloths which were a God-send. Unfortunately, shortly after getting this (and finally hitting my stride at mile 6) I was given the news they had pulled a black flag which meant the race had stopped because of the extreme heat and everyone needed to head back to the finish line. I ran to the next Aid Station and weighed my options.
1. I could jump on the shuttle and get back to the finish line with all of the others in my running group.
2. I could walk the remainder of the race.
3. I could finish doing my run/walk combo.
I debated what to do while walking with another participant towards the shuttles. For some reason, I decided to text Ryan and let him know the race had ended. He called me immediately and surprised me with the news he was waiting for me at the finish line! I decided right then and there I wanted to complete what I started out to do a few hours before. I am so thankful I trained with my Camelback so I was able to carry my inhaler, goo packs, iPhone, sunscreen and peanut butter, plus electrolyte water in the bladder because I had quite an adventure ahead of me.
With my Camelback still half full, I set out and started running. In my long distance training, I know for me, the first 5 miles are the hardest. Once I hit mile 6, I can pretty much run forever. It’s important to know what your body is capable of because lots of people will hit the first few miles hard and then fizzle out, unable to complete the race. Pacing yourself is the most important thing when setting out to complete a distance above a 5K.
Today I wasn’t able to run 100% of the time, but after taking a moment to walk and cool off, I kept pushing. Aid stations were still set up on the trail so I knew where I was going… except when they took down the cones and the mile markers. I buddied up with a 60 year old black man I’ll call Reggie and we decided we were going to cross the finish line together. We got a little lost around mile 9 and added an extra two miles to the race, but once we got back on track, we knew we had to finish strong. We ran and stopped to walk whenever the other needed a break. Ryan met up with us at the last mile and we walked until the finish line corrall. I turned to Reggie and asked if he wanted to run it in. He said he was going to walk so I began to run. Sure enough, within a few minutes, Reggie was at my side. I tried to walk for a second and he said, “Missy- let’s go! We can do it!” That was all the motivation I needed and about four hours after I started, I completed my first half marathon! Reggie’s wife was there and snapped a picture of us. Before I left to go find Ryan I told Reggie it was a pleasure running with him. I really don’t think I could’ve done it without him.
My one regret is not timing myself because I seriously have no clue how long the race took me. I know I got started around 7:30am but with the added 2 miles while we were lost and the time I took deciding whether or not to get on the shuttle, I don’t know how much run time I actually logged. I do know that I probably burned about 3,000 calories and it was REALLY FRIGGIN’ HOT.
I do feel really great that I was one of very few in my race group to actually finish. I know that plenty of people in the earlier waves were able to complete the course, but 99% of the people before and after me chose to listen to the race volunteers and take the shuttle back to the finish line party. To be honest, I’m really proud of myself for doing it. I was only halfway done and very easily could’ve hopped on a bus but I know for a fact I wouldn’t feel as proud about my medal. I started off the day bound and determined to complete the 13.1 miles and I did!
And apparently I now have an official “race outfit” because I unknowingly wore the same thing to my 12 mile trail run back in March (only addition is my awesome Sweaty Bands and Camelback, oh and new shoes and socks! And I’ve lost more weight.)
After Ryan surprised me, we got on the shuttle back to my car and picked up the boys at the hotel. We stopped by Whole Foods for some yummy steak (yes, I am vegetarian but after that much running, I felt I needed some good red meat to help my muscles repair). Last night we grilled and I had a delicious Green’s Gluten Free beer.
We hung out with our crazy neighbors and I was feeling pretty good even as I went to bed. However, today is another story. My entire body screams out whenever I move. I can barely walk and I’ve been sitting on our couch since about 9:30. And I’m fairly certain my big toe nails are going to fall off in a week or so. It was worth the effort though. I’m proud of my battle scars!
70 days til my next race- The Chicago Rock & Roll Half Marathon!