I wasn’t expecting miracles out of my Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon experience, but I did think I would finish in about two hours and 15 minutes. Just before the race, the announcer said something like, “This is not the race for a PR. It’s a race to have fun.”
We had been hearing about the heat index in Chicago all weekend, so I tempered my expectations a bit. My plan was to stick to the 2:10 pace team for as long as I felt comfortable. That didn’t last long.
I felt sticky from the moment I crossed the start line. We ran over a bridge, immediately dispelling my belief that there are no hills to run in Chicago. We crossed many of them.
I heeded the advice to enjoy the run, stopping to take a photo in front of the Chicago Theater and giving high-fives to children along the route.
I took every cup of water, ran through every hose, grabbed ice at every opportunity and looked for the cooling stations. I stayed in the shade as much as possible. At Mile 5, I was passed by the 2:20 pace team. I was drenched in sweat and battling negative thoughts, so I decided then to just have as much fun as possible, forgetting about time.
Around Mile 9, I seriously considered crossing to the other side of the cones to skip part of the course. I didn’t, of course. We soon turned east, running toward the sun. It was impossible to stay cool. I grabbed my first Gu and walked a bit.
I was extremely relieved to turn north toward Grant Park. The DJ pointed toward the finish as he danced. I enjoyed myself for a bit. I Periscoped for 3 minutes as I took one of many walking breaks. As I moseyed along, I noticed several people in need of medical attention. A woman was passed out on the course. A group of runners surrounded her. Another man looked like his legs were severely cramping. Yet another runner approached the medical team, who gave her a cold bottle of water. The cold, sponges around Mile 10 were a much-needed treat. On one of the final hills, I saw a runner being pulled by her friend.
I finally started jogging again a half-mile from the finish line. As soon as I crossed, I saw a guy who appeared to have blurred vision being helped by a friend. I rushed to get water, a sports drink, Popsicles, a wet towel and a bagel. The Popsicles were exactly what I needed.
My time was 2:37, the longest it has ever taken me to finish a half-marathon. Despite the heat, the views along the course made it a memorable experience. What’s most important is I listened to my body, something yoga has taught me. In that regard the race was a success.