The Chicago Rock n Roll Marathon series was a ton "o" fun Sunday, mostly because it was not 100 degrees with high humidity and secondly because this Greek was prepared to run the distance of 13.1 miles.
Lovers of vitality, I am still flying high from Sunday's events that took place in the heart of downtown Chicago beginning and ending at beautiful Buckingham Fountain. Note: the experience of running with 30,000 people is enormously more energizing that training double digit miles all alone as I did for the past couple of months. All sizes, colors, shapes and age people ran this half marathon. There were teens all the way up to people in their 80's, there were elites, there were veteran runners, there were newbies like me, there were a few people in wheel chairs, some runners had handicaps in their legs, and there were people that were merely running for a loved one that has or had cancer. Of course, I ran for Theofanis! My purpose for the run intensified the satisfaction of crossing the finish line becasue I think as human beings we inheritantly do not want our loved ones to suffer.
I ran the way Lisa trained me, which was to start slow, increase momentum as I felt it and to keep an even effort throughout the event. There was a woman pacer for the runners that wanted to finish in 2:45, and she told me as we were running that her formula was to run 3 and walk one and repeat that to the end. I did not want to walk at all because my goal was to run the half, although I did jog-run I did like seeing her sign which indicated I was keeping in the 2:45 time table. Keep in mind though, not every one starts at the same time. Because of the amount of runners we were all categorized into corrals and while the really fast runners went first and the rest of us waited to begin, our chip did not begin timing us until we reached the start line.
During the race I did wear my Garmin, which keeps your splits and shows your time upon finishing each mile. However, Garmin started pausing and resuming and my mojo was off, but that kind of worked to my advantage becasue I couldn't focus on the miles left which freed my mind up to just run and enjoy. That is what Lisa told me to do---Relax and have fun. So much of running is perspective and mental attitude.
Miles 1-4 were pretty easy and enjoyable, miles 5-8 were more work of course and miles 9-12 got more challenging so I started repeating my positive mantras like...Never, never, never will you think about giving up and walking, I am running for Theo, I have done this milage before, I can do anything I put my mind to, and on and on with the positivity. Rain and wind kicked in at about mile 8, and honestly I did not mind becasue rain is so much easier to run in than high heat. Mind you as I conditioned for my half I did run in just about every weather condition from 20 degrees to 91 degrees, rain and snow and even mild weather a couple of times. Acclimating my body to all conditions prepared me for whatever the weather would be on August 14, but believe you me, I'm very grateful for the cool and rainy day.
During The Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon the bands along the way were so energizing and added a real diversion to the distance we were running. Bands were scatterd and placed at every 2 or 3 miles. I did enjoy listening to my playlist too which reminded me of preparation and the familiarity of the songs pumped me up and somehow comforted me. Some songs that I ran to include: I Smile-Kirk Franklin, Thriller-Michael Jackson, She Ain't You-Chris Brown, I'll Stand By You-The Pretenders and Only The Young-Journey, which happens to be my all time favorite band and the cover band at the event finale. The cover band sounded so identical to Journey that post race I was running to see Steve Perry on stage only to find it was not him. Even so, the music and meaningful lyrics took me back to special and youthful place that I loved re-visiting.
The energy of the runners, the music and the course we ran all worked to my favor to beat my intial 13.1 run during training. The new 2011 course featured downtown city streets where we were able to take a scenic tour of Chicago on the world-class course designed by Olympian Alan Culpepper. I ran through the Loop and saw 11 diverse neighborhoods including Greek Town, River North and the Gold Coast. Flat and fast this course is as festive as they come. It was so fun!!!!
As previously mentioned here at this blog, this half marathon was my first ever long distnace event. Certainly, my finsih was not the fastest but I am so excited to report that my time was 15 minutes faster than the 13.1 I did in training. I completed the half in 2 hours and 45 minutes, this time makes me very happy because I did not walk at all and my pace was even and strong for how I trained. Most importantly, I learned alot about myself during the journey of preparing for this event and that is that I am capable of whatever I put my mind and heart to. Preparation, consistency and proper coaching will get you to the finish line.
Soon I will share my next running goal with you so I hope that you will come back and read this blog again as I continue to evolve mentally and physically.
In the meantime, I thank you for your support, your well-wishes and your phenomenal donations. I appreciate you so much.
See you soon,