Friday, July 25, 2014

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Race Recap: Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago would be my second Chicago half marathon, but my first half marathon as a newly transplanted resident. What really had me excited about this race, however, was that it was going to be my close friend's first half marathon. I have known this particular friend since college and, to this day, we call ourselves Lilo and Stitch. When I mentioned running this race to my friend, she immediately agreed to run it and then suggested we dress up as Lilo and Stitch. This was going to be my first race dressing up as anything so I was excited. My "costume" shows how far I have come in my journey of self-love and acceptance as I ran 13.1 miles in a red Calavera swim top.

One of my favorite parts about bigger races is expo. Expo is like Disney to a runner with a huge room filled with anything and everything running related and lots of freebies. We spent around three hours at expo and I came home feeling like I won the runner's lottery.

There were jitters the day before the race, but the morning of the race I was surprisingly calm. I usually get anxious before a half marathon, but maybe, I knew that I had to be the calm one to help center and calm my friend.

We started the race in the 17th corral but didn't have to wait long as we started running about 20 minutes after the race started at 6:30am. The first third of the race took us through the parts of the city I was familiar with, the second third of the race took us through a part of the city I had yet to explore, and the third part of the race took us through a part of the city and the lakefront I never thought I would run because of how far south the part of the race was.
With Fireman Rob
Between miles 9 and 10 my friend began to struggle as the mind games and the "you can't do this" and "it hurts too much to move forward" started to kick in. She did what she had to do and kept moving. I kept talking and we took breaks for stretching and fueling. She didn't say much but you could see the determination on her face to fight for her finish. Right before mile 13 she had a sharp pain in her left leg. More stretching and then an all-out sprint to the finish line. Her face at the finish line has to be my favorite part of this race as she looked like she was going to cry in pain and out of happiness at the same time. I felt like I was looking at myself last year after finishing my first half marathon. To go from not thinking you can do it to doing it, is one of the best feelings ever. I was so proud of my friend and honored to be the person that got to run 13.1 miles with her and celebrate her conquering her mental bullies.

The races with the PRs are great, but the ones that touch your heart are my favorites. I was a part of my friend's story, that part where she set out to accomplish something she never thought possible.

What I liked:
  • Great expo and easy packet pickup. 
  • Finishing half #12 and helping my friend finish half #1. 
  • Running through downtown Chicago. 
  • Running through unexplored parts of Chicago.  
  • Nice race shirts. 
  • All the GU (I was that girl picking up unopened GUs from the floor). 
  • Water and Gatorade on the course. 
  • Music festival and free beer. 
  • Nice medal (I like the 5K one better though). 
  • Meeting Instagram friends in person.
  • Perfect start time for the weather. 
  • Free beer!
  • Great crowds in the beginning half and end of the race. 
  • Earning my Remix medal for completing the 5K Saturday and the half Sunday.
  • Project Onward Moving Art Museum.

 What I didn't like:
  • I was expecting more entertainment on the course. 
  • Mile 11-ish entertainment: they had talent but the music was so slow. 
  • My Garmin freaked out during the race and says I finished with 14.5 miles done. 
There are a few half marathons I would like to do and, of course, Spartan in September, but for now I am training for Chicago and signing up for things that Alex's schedule allows. 

You can see all my pictures from my Rock 'n' Roll weekend in my Instagram @thecookierunner

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