Chicago Rock & Roll Half-Marathon – THIS was the race I committed myself to. I spent 7 full months committed to running and training. Nothing got in the way of my run.
My mom always comes up to visit for the entire month of July. She decided to stay a few extra days so she could support me at the race. The race was on August 1, 2010 – a Sunday.
Friday after work my mom picked up me and my co-worker/friend to go pick-up our race packets at the expo. This was my first expo experience and I was overwhelmed. I was glad that my friend was there because she knew what to do. We both picked up our race packets and some Rock & Roll gear and then wandered around the booths. It was a lot of fun getting free samples and looking at all of the running gear. My friend knew a lot more about distance races than me and bought some body glide for us to share. She told me that we would need it… I trusted her. We agreed on a race morning plan. My mom and I would catch a cab and go to her place to pick her up and then head to the race.
Race Morning… I was sort of freaking out. Correction… I was REALLY Freaking out. Got up early and got dressed and started to sip water. My mom and I left my apt and went outside to grab a cab… Ummm where are all of the cabs? We walked to Fullerton and saw cabs but they were all full. Its very early on a Sunday Morning – Why are all of the cabs full? I am starting to panic now. I see lots of other runners on sidewalks all trying to get cabs. No Luck for any of us. There was one nice runner who pulled over and offered to give my mom and me a ride but I turned it down because we had to pick up my friend (let’s call her HMB for Half Marathon Buddy). I text HMB that we cannot get a cab and I haven’t even seen any buses and that I am freaking out. She text back that it might be difficult and asked what we should do. We agreed to meet at the race. Then I saw it – a BUS and it was going south! I yelled at my mom that we need to get on it.
The bus is 95% full of runners. I am still sipping my water and looking at the time… It’s getting VERY close to the start time. I am still freaking out. We get over the river and suddenly we are being re-routed and the bus driver has no idea what is going on. That is when I realized that all of the roads are shut down for the race already. The bus driver gets us as close as possible to the normal route and we all get off the bus. I am really freaking out now – The first wave is going to start running in about 15 minutes and I am still pretty far away from the race. I am walking as fast as I can but my mom is struggling to keep up with me and I didn’t want to just ditch her. I spot a Starbucks and I know that it is approximately the 5 mile mark on the course. “Mom – Starbucks – Stay! It’s the 5 Mile Mark.” is what I shout at her as I toss her the stuff I am not running with and start to run/sprint to the start line. I am pretty sure everything I tossed to her ended up on the ground which she then had to pick up… Ooops! I am not a pleasant daughter when freaking out…
I get to the race area… OH MY GOSH… It is a sea of runners and spectators. I text HMB that I am there and find her quickly near the port-a-potties where she gives me the body glide and tells me to throw it out once I am done with it. I tell her I have got to pee (sorry if that is TMI) because I had two bottles of water already… There is no way I can start the race like this. I get in line and I see the waves moving up… The race has started. I am freaking out (notice a theme here?) and I notice that everyone in line in front of me is a spectator. In my mind I am livid. Don’t they see there are runners trying to use the restrooms before the race? I keep my mouth shut and wait my turn though.
HMB and I are texting – She is at the very front of our corral. I somehow get into the corral but I still can’t even see the beginning of the corral. I start to weave my way forward and then I spot her! I am so relieved – Talk about cutting it close! We are the next corral to start running and right as we are crossing the start line, I turn to her and say “why the hell did I sign up for this?” But we are running now – Too late to turn back.
Knowing how easily I get dehydrated, I decided to run with a water bottle in case I need water between the water stations. I am the one to set the pace for us and I am feeling good. We take water at the first and second water stations. I love the route going through downtown (Similar to Shamrock). We approach the Starbucks where I ditched my mother (yes – that is the appropriate term). I hear her before I see her… she is jumping up and down, waving her arms, camera in hand and screaming for both of us. I love my mom!
We get to the big hill on the course… Those who have ever run the Shamrock shuffle or the Chicago marathon know the hill I am talking about. We choose to walk up it. Not only is it a horrendous hill but there is also a water station along the hill making it very slippery with all the liquid and cups on it. We get near McCormick place and HMB’s knee is bothering her. She stops and I stop with her. She tells me to keep going but I tell her that we agreed to do the race together and that is what we are going to do – You stop and I stop. We start running again but she has to stop about 3/4 a mile later. Her knee is really bothering her. She turns to me and says “I would be so pissed if I was you” – I told her that we are in this together. My goal for the race was to finish not get a time. We continue on in run/walk intervals.
Finally we are at the turn around point for the last leg of the race. From here we are just inching closer to the finish line. This is approximately the 9.50ish mile point. I start to notice that is it now VERY hot. We are completely exposed to sun on our backs. I am sipping from my water more often now. The path is more narrow and we are forced to be closer together. I finish my bottle of water and take water at the last water station which is around the 11 mile mark. About a half mile later I start to notice the first signs of dehydration. This is not good… I ask HMB if there are any more water stations and she says no. I see a water fountain up ahead and stop for water. I am not ok.
I start walking and HMB tells me that it’s only about a mile left… Just 10 more minutes of running. I tell her no. I am seeing spots and I know that I am in trouble. But this is my race – This is what I spent 7 months of my life focusing on. I am going to finish this race DAMNIT! And it will not be on a stretcher.
She keeps pushing me to run. I keep telling her no and that I am not ok. I know my only choice right now is to walk and finish the race or run and risk being carted off the course on a stretcher. I do not tell her how severe the problem is, partially because I do not want to freak out and I don’t want her to freak out either. I am seeing spots and I am light-headed. I desperately need and want water.
We get to within a block of the finish line and I stop dead in my tracks and bend over. I felt like I was about to blackout. HMB is yelling at me “Are you F*cking kidding me! The Finish line is right there!” Yea… Still didn’t tell her how bad things were.
More than anything I want to RUN across that finish line. After a few more seconds I am ok. And we both take off running to the finish line. As soon as we cross I spot my mom and tell her to just walk in the same direction as us. I grab water and HMB and I take our finisher picture again (Surprisingly, I do not look as $hitty as I feel). I spot my mom near the side and yell out to her. A friend of HMBs is there too. I get to the side of the gate and immediately get sick. My mom asks me if I am ok. But I am getting sick again… and again… HMB tells her that I am not. A race official/volunteer… I am 99% sure it was a guy noticed me getting sick. He asks if I am ok and I shake my head no and get sick again. He assists me to the medical tent. I know I am severely dehydrated.
Then a very scary thing happened. I start to feel sort of paralyzed. I am trying to answer questions that the medical person attending me is asking but it is becoming more and more difficult to talk. All of the muscles in my arms are contracting and I feel like I cannot move. I cannot talk because all of the muscles in my face are also contracting as well. I am really freaking out now because I have no idea what is happening. I cannot talk and I cannot make a fist with either of my hands. I start to take deep breaths trying to calm myself down. I know my mom is watching me and I don’t want her to freak out more than necessary (she is freaking out anyway). The medical person tells me that what I am experiencing is normal because I have severe dehydration and that my muscles are contracting because I have no liquid in them. This calms me down significantly. He hands me a sports drink and tells me to sip it and if I am not starting to rehydrate in 15 minutes they are sending me to the ER to get an IV. I struggle to sit up as my muscles are so starved for water they are not cooperating. I cannot even unscrew the lid to the bottle and the only way I can hold it is with two hands.
Luckily I start to feel better quickly. I can talk again and my hands loosen up and I can hold the bottle like a normal person. I give up the stretcher I am laying on for a chair. There is probably someone else who needs it more and I am still struggling to hold myself up… I want something with a back to lean against.
After sitting in the chair sipping for several minutes, I turn to my mom and say “Still want to drive to St. Louis today?” She starts to laugh and says “ummm – no!”
Every year, when my mom visits for the month of July she drives up from DFW and then drives back down. I had agreed to drive down with her this time and spend a few days in TX. That Friday before the expo she had mentioned leaving Sunday after the race and breaking the drive to TX up into two days instead of one 15 hour straight drive. I argued with her that it wasn’t going to happen. I would be in too much pain, it would be painful, you don’t put someone who just ran a half-marathon in a car for 5 hours… so on. We agreed to disagree for the time being.
I asked her what changed her mind and she said “well… no one looked good at the 5 mile mark… I figured you all would like $hit after another 8 miles.” Haha – Yep – Thanks mom
I am given the ok to leave on my own – I do not need to go to the ER. We stick around a for a little while… I am in no hurry and I was still a bit freaked out. About an hour after I arrive in the medical tent, my mom and I leave with another bottle of sports drink. We slowly make our way to Michigan Ave and get into a cab. We get into my apt and I immediately go to take a shower. As soon as I am done with my shower I get sick again. Yea – Ok – I am done. I get into my bed and fall asleep for several hours.
When I wake up my mom asks how I am feeling. I tell her I feel better so she suggests we walk somewhere and get food. I look at her and say “I ran 13 miles, have had nothing to eat all day, have gotten sick about 5 times and have not had anything to drink in several hours. I am not going anywhere – You are ordering a pizza and it is being delivered.” She orders the pizza and gets me a can of coke. I feel MUCH better after eating and drinking something. HMB text me to see how I was doing and that she felt bad for pushing me. I never did care that she was pushing me because she was just trying to help me reach my goal. Plus… I never told her how bad things were during the race. My mom and I watch TV for the rest of the evening, We both know that we have a LONG Drive the next day. I remember telling my mom that I am never running a Half Marathon again…
The Next morning when I woke up my mom asked how I was feeling. My response… “Honestly… Hung over”
My Official Time – 2:46:45 at 12:45 Pace