I won't mince words about this race. Physically and emotionally it was
one of the hardest race I've ever done.
Everytime I sit down to write this post I'm also at a loss for what to say, because the circumstances that drove the emotion behind this race are still very real to me. I'm still dealing with them every day (and yeah I'm gonna be vague about all of that). The truth is, this race was only the beginning of what are turning out to be the most taxing months of my life. Eventually the dust will settle, but I'm still so far from that "finish" that I can't even comprehend how to explain what I was going through emotionally during this race.
But I guess let me try?
I spent all summer thinking I would cruise through that finish line (due to the hard work and training all summer!) with a smile on my face and get a great picture ringing the PR bell, knocking 10 minutes off last year's time.
Spoiler alert: It did not go that way. I did PR...but it was a fight at the end. It was a fight to knock 5 minutes off. Hell. It was a fight to show up for the race. So read on to find out about that.
I'm going to skip my normal full-race-experience recap and just get into it. If you want logistic details, see my CL Aquathon post, because most of that stuff is the same.
Getting to the Start Line
On Saturday morning (September 4th), after a tumultuous night, I somehow managed to get my 2 mile "shakeout" run in. At this point, I realized I had hit probably the lowest of lows in my personal life. I was - to put it mildly - a massive fucking wreck. But after 12 weeks of training hard for this race - the early mornings and speed workouts and long runs and everything - I decided that I couldn't not show up. With everything going on, I felt I deserved to do this one thing for myself.
So I left my house, drove to packet pickup, and then went to my mom's and...did nothing. Which I suppose is exactly what I needed to do before I race. Do nothing, interspersed with lots of crying.
As the night wound down, I got ready for bed and did my pre-race prep. I laid out my outfit, packed my gear check bag, and ran through my plan for the next day. In the end, I knew the accomplishment would be just showing up, but I spent all summer chasing a goal and I couldn't let that go. I knew it would be a struggle - I was coming off more than a week of poor sleep, poor eating, poor mental state...etc etc etc...but I owed it a shot regardless.
|Flat Christina, ready for the race.|
|Coach Megan picked the absolute perfect design for this tank.|
I laid down and tried to sleep (I was exhausted), but my alarm still went off at too-early-o'clock the next morning.
I got ready, but I felt physically sick the whole time. I grabbed one of the kids' granola bars to eat before the start and barely choked it down. I got in my pre-race coffee, and packed up my pre workout to drink 30 minutes before the start. I hydrated like I knew I had to, praying I wouldn't have gut issues from stress.
I love that this race starts at Main Beach, because there's nostalgia all over for me. This is where I went to summer camp as a kid, and even though it's changed it's somehow exactly the same. Here are some pre-race pics, to give you an idea:
|Race morning at Main Beach!|
|Right before my warmup and shakeout run. I know there's sadness in those eyes, and I embraced it. Making it to the start became the goal, and I met it.|
|Smith's beach chair!|
|One of the racers was a firefighter who geared up for all 13.1.|
|Beautiful morning at the beach.|
|Hanging out before the start, talking with the other Performance Training Runners (I'm all the way on the right!).|
FYI: I'm so grateful for this training program and the group of people who came with it. Seeing and training with them every Wednesday was a fun addition to summer, and they made me feel 100% less alone on race day ❤
|The Half Marathon Performance Training group! It was a fun 12 weeks getting to the start line! (Left to Right: Bill, Coach Megan, Cori, Me, Sue, Kristi).|
|Pre race gear check, trying to shove my pack and sweatshirt into a tiny purple bag. I'm a chronic over-packer 😬|
|I saw these two women SO MANY TIMES out on the course!!|
|Race Director Trudy Wakeman out by the start!|
|Walking to the starting line.|
|I love this race-day atmosphere!|
|Shout out to Cori (all the way on the left - blue tank, orange shoes), who was subjected to one of my race morning breakdowns and gave me a little pep talk before we went out.|
|They were EVERYWHERE.|
|I'll let you Where's Waldo? this one.|
|I really need to work on landing over my foot more consistently...|
My 2016 Chicago Marathon mantra: You can. You will. You already are.
A text from my coach after my hellish week: Your run fitness is solid.
And a line from Luca for whenever I needed to shut up the voice in my head: Silenzio, Bruno!
|I forgot to take a picture until after I had already showered :(|
|Making faces at Dana|
|Still feeling strong and - as always - happy to be racing.|
I ran through Mile 6 in 9:28 and was still feeling good, but this is where the course starts to get a little less exciting, and I admittedly usually feel good through this point. I was keeping a very good pace though, and was consistently passing people so I tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other - at that good pace.
|Not the smile I had at Mile 5. This was pure determination.|
|Do you even run if you don't have a race picture starting or stopping your Garmin?|
There it was in front of me. After 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 33 seconds, the PR bell I'd been chasing for a year.
And I rang it. While I cried.