Note: Before I share my Chicago Half Marathon story, I want to advise against running a race without training. It is never a good idea. Even if you think you are in great shape, you put yourself at risk for injury. As always, you should consult a physician about what exercise/event is safe for you to do.
On Sunday, I awoke at 4:15 a.m. to get ready to run 13.1 miles in south Chicago during the Chicago Half Marathon. Some backstory: I had signed up for the spring Chicago Half Marathon in 2017. With V having recently joined our family, I was not in a routine and had no childcare lined up for the day of the race, so I deferred to 2018. I then didn’t run the fall half-marathon in 2017 because I was newly pregnant and had a fainting episode that week. I obviously didn’t run the spring half marathon again this year because I had just given birth. I contacted the registration team and asked if there was any way I could run the fall race instead this year, and they said that they normally don’t allow this but they made an exception for me. I was so grateful and thought surely I would be able to train at least a little during maternity leave. I even blogged about my postpartum fitness goals and said I would recap my training on the blog.
That did not happen.
Postpartum life was harder than I expected. I am fairly certain I was in a sort of depression for much of it and I didn’t feel like myself until A was at least 3 months old. I can count on one hand the number of times I ran outdoors. I went to about as many Soul Cycle classes, too. That obviously is not adequate training, especially after taking months off running during pregnancy.
But I wanted to run the half-marathon anyway. I wanted to do it for myself. I miss running. I used to do it several times a week, and it was a major focus of this blog. I would share weekly recaps of my training along with tips I learned along the way. The time I spent on the Chicago Lakefront path was like my therapy as I am an introvert who needs this time for herself. I miss that so much! Not having any time for myself postbaby is likely what caused my postbaby blues to last longer than many people say they typically last. So even though I wasn’t really ready, I didn’t want to skip this race yet again.
The day before the race, I was 50 percent sure I would do it. I debated changing to the 5K at the last minute. But then Graham told me he took the day off and I picked up my packet with the girls. V kept saying that I was going to “win” the race and get a medal. I didn’t want to disappoint her.
When I went to bed that night, I was still unsure. I decided that if the baby woke up multiple times at night (like she did the night before), I would not run. Lucky for me, she went to sleep at 7:30 p.m. I went to bed at 9 sharp. She woke me up once around midnight and then not again until 5:15 a.m. when we left for the race. I couldn’t use lack of sleep as an excuse.
The Chicago Half Marathon
As I stepped into the corral, I was proud to have at least made it. I figured that if it was absolutely horrible I could call Graham and then leave the course, though I could never imagine myself doing that. I knew I wanted to jog as slowly as possible and that I would probably walk some of the race. I maintained about a 12 and a half minute mile pace throughout much of the course. By comparison, I ran this same course in 2016 at a 9:30ish pace for most of the race. I felt fine, so I didn’t even try to go faster. I only walked while crossing over two bridges, because they were on a little bit of a hill. (I listened to this playlist.) It was quite something to listen to Chance the Rapper while running through the streets of Chicago, I have to say.
And I did it! I completed the Chicago Half Marathon in my slowest time ever for 13.1 miles, which is to be expected. But it wasn’t about the time for me. It was about following through with a commitment I made to myself to get back to running. It was about showing 4-year-old V, who kept saying she was proud of me, that you can do what you put your mind to. It was also about not letting all my excuses win. And trust me, I have a lot of excuses.
I’m glad I did it. Sure, my legs are still super sore, but it felt so good to be out there. I would do it again (in the same unique situation) in a heartbeat.
- The expo was held at the Roosevelt Collection center this year. I liked this location vs. Soldier Field because it was easier for me to get to from where I now live. Plus, parking was free for two hours with validation, which was offered at Fleet Feet. I was going to purchase energy gels there anyway, so that worked out. (In the past, I had to pay to park at the Soldier Field garage just to pick up my packet.)
- The medal was as awesome as ever. The Chicago Half Marathon is known for large, well-designed medals.
- The volunteers were amazing!
- Your bib comes with a ticket for a beer and pizza.
- I love the view when you turn to go north on the course around Mile 3 or so.