For convenience and companionship, I stayed with my mom at the Congress Hotel the night before the half (after chowing down at pizza and cookies at Stella Barra.......nom nom nom). The Congress Hotel is across the street from Grant Park, where a lot of the big Chicago races start. It was a short walk to the gear check (at the PAWS tent) and the starting line, and I was grateful that my short commute allowed me to sleep in later. It was a beautiful sunrise, too!
I found my favorite pace group (see previous post) and was overjoyed to find one of the same pace leaders from the North Shore Half. I was thrilled that he remembered me, too. Once I got through the excitement, I waited out in the corral for 20+ minutes (while slowly moving up towards the start of the race).
I also didn't enjoy the experience of running in a pace group as much as I did in my last race. Overall, I thought that my group members wanted to be in close proximity to the group leaders and were aggressive about it. Somebody pushed me one time when I got in their way. It took away from the fun. However, when I didn't have energy gels or Gu (I'll talk about that another time) and started to feel tired around Mile 6, my group pace leader handed me one of his extra energy gels. I took his and then took another one that was handed out during the course a few miles later. (I didn't have any nutrition with me the last time, and I think that contributed to why I was so tired at the end.) These gels gave me a big boost of energy, and I broke away from the group for the last two miles.
I finished in 2:08:55. It was my first personal record!
As soon as I finished and was stumbling around the finisher's area looking for my medal, water, Gatorade, bananas, and chocolate milk (I only found the medal, water, and Gatorade), I felt a few drops of rain. Then, more drops. Then, one of the staff members yelled that everybody needed to find shelter ASAP because a storm was coming. I called my brother, who had already finished and was with my sister-in-law in the beer tent, to let him know that I was running back to the hotel. I made it back to the front of the hotel just in time before the downpour came. Luckily, my mom finished the race before that. We all met and congratulated each other outside of the front of the hotel, but I was pretty disappointed that the storm killed the mood at the end of the race. I was looking forward to greeting some of the people that I ran with after the race, but that wasn't a possibility since the crowd dispersed so quickly. Oh well!
I have many more half marathons to run over the next several weeks (not real races, just training runs), because marathon training is in full swing. I haven't talked about the training yet, so I'll write another post about that in the next few weeks.
'Till next time, friends!