half marathon: done and done.

OK. I did it. I ran 13.1 miles in Chicago. Mind you, I had never run more than 6 miles before the first week in July (of this year!)… so the idea of a half-marathon was both exciting and frightening. I signed up for the race to sort of kick my butt into gear, since I am running a FULL marathon this fall (26.2 miles).

First off, Chicago is an incredible city – food was awesome, very walkable, people are a bit strange – got that Midwestern thing (oooh yeh, you betchya!) going on’ … but the views along Lake Michigan are breathtaking and there’s plenty to do… aside from running 13.1 miles, of course. Favorite spot: Tavern on Rush. amazing salads.

Second and most importantly – the race. I was happy I went to the expo beforehand and listened to some speakers and really took everyone’s advice (and got lots of free bars/Gu/etc!). For instance, I adjusted my playlist and started off the race to some relaxing, calm music that I love to listen to (ie Foster the People, Maroon 5, etc). Third mile in and I was jammin’ to DeadMau5 and all that good hip hop I love.

The course was flat and fast – absolutely perfect for my first race. The views along the way were great – definitely lots to look at. The fans were the best part – reading their motivating signs and high-fiving people along the way kept me going – I didn’t want to stop, because I felt like I was letting down not only myself but the fans, who are inspired by runners (OK- I’m hardly a runner, but soon!).

I woke up at 4:40am. Ate Greek yogurt, whole grain bran flakes, and berries (my everyday usual, didn’t want to change anything). 6:30am the race started and I was AMPED in my corral, waiting to get to the start line. Immediately when the race started, I was filled with so much adrenaline I almost started crying, I was so excited and happy that I made it there and that I was about to run a half-marathon, it’s extremely empowering.

Around mile 6, I saw my mother – she was so cute, she was banging together these blow up things and tried to run alongside me for a little bit. I was so happy she was there, supporting me. I couldn’t have done it without her.

I ran straight through (no stops) to mile 9 and then I had Gatorade (which I never do!)…. That was a BAD idea. My body wasn’t used to it and I got a bad cramp and had to walk for about two minutes. But I powered through it… around mile 11, my toe (which formed a REAL bad blister around mile 9) was KILLING me, so I walked a few minutes after stopping at another water station.

Around mile 12, I didn’t think I could finish, but I told myself “just wait until the last water station and recharge, you can do this!”) and that’s what I did: I grabbed an ice water sponge and ran while I squeezed the cold water everywhere – and I was rejuvenated. I finished the last 1.1 miles strong, at a fast pace.

When I crossed that finish line, I was ELATED. I grabbed my medal, a bottle of water, an ice rag, got a banana and Chobani, took some pictures, and met my mother. I was so proud of myself and happy I finished strong: 2:25:26. My goal was 2:30, so I was SO pumped!

Thanks to everyone for their kind texts/e-mails/calls/Facebook messages. It meant the world to me to have everyone supporting me, and it helped me train and run the race! It’s amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it, it really is.

My flight ended up being delayed about 4 hours, so I didn’t get home until 3:30am…. But no pain, no gain, right?

Next stop: Nike Women’s Marathon on October 14th (the largest running event for women in the world). Here I come, San Francisco! Get your hills ready!!

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