Mantra Devolution: The Chicago Spring Half Marathon

Let’s just say, things didn’t start out the way I expected.

I spent the entire day before the race feeling like I had mild E. coli. While I like to be nice and empty come race morning, this level of voiding was a bit extreme for my tastes.

By the time we got to the race, I felt ok. I was kind of apathetic about the whole thing at that point. This was not how I imagined my first race back going, so I was just kind of meh.



More meh.

The race director kept announcing that the storms were going to stay south of us. The race director was a liar.

My race strategy was to just run however I was feeling, and to not panic too much about pace.

That’s actually a complete lie. I sounded really sane and realistic there for a moment though, didn’t I? I secretly wanted to run somewhere around 8:30’s and I was going to throw myself in the lake if I dropped below 8:50. And we’re right back to the crazy…

The first mile was rough. My stomach hurt, my hip felt creaky, I wanted my bed and perhaps a ginger ale.

Mile 1-8:36

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of racing, it’s that a shitty attitude will eat you alive. You hate your life at mile one? Just wait for mile 12. You’ll want to kick puppies. So I dropped the ‘tude and the first mantra was born.

Mantra 1 (miles 1.5-8): “I’m thankful to be out here.”

It’s true. I was. Back in November, I had no idea how long it would take me to recover. I had no idea if running would ever be the same. Yet here I was, and I was thankful.

Mile 2-7:37 (a touch short)

Mile 3-7:30 (even shorter)

Mile 4-8:20

Cue the lightning, and my fear that, now that I was excited to run this race, it was going to be black-flagged.

Mile 5-8:27

Mile 6-8:24

I made the turnaround and so did the weather. Rain, wind, and a cold front, to be exact. I had ditched my long sleeve at mile one, so I was all short sleeves and capris, this girl is ready for spring! 

Mile 7-10:20 (Garmin clocked this at 1.22 miles. I agree, it took forever).

Mile 8-8:36

Was I running a half marathon? Training for a career as a commercial fisherman? Filming a scene for the new release of The Perfect Storm? I wasn’t really sure. All I knew was that I was totally weather-beaten and that, “I’m thankful to be out here,” no longer applied. Mantra numero dos, anyone?

Mantra 2 (miles 9-11): “Get out of your fuckin’ head.”

I got lost in there for a hot second, and it was ugly. This actually happens to me a lot just past the mid-point of a race. I can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel and my life becomes so sad; so miserable.

Mile 9-8:43

I gave up wasting energy on avoiding puddles. Everything was going to be soaked. Very soaked.

Mile 10-8:34

Look! A midfoot strike! (Thanks, Brightroom!)

Totally kidding! HSFL (heel-strikers for life)!

Mile 11-8:47

The rain stopped for the most post, but the wind really picked up. Miles 11-12.5 were right along the lake, which didn’t help. Every time I would bear down to fight against the wind, it would stand me straight up. It was really just laughable. Also, I had been running in driving rain and 40-ish degrees for over an hour. I was uncomfortably cold, which prompted my final race mantra.

Mantra 3 (Miles 11-13.1): “I THINK I HAVE HYPOTHERMIA!!”

I actually shouted this to John and superfan/best friend Erin when I passed them at mile 11.5 (my sense of humor really takes a nosedive during endurance sports). The woman trotting along in front of me whipped around and looked at me like I was insane. Sorry, lady wearing shorts and a tank top, I’m sure you were much closer to hypothermia than I was.

Mile 12-9:07

Mile 13.1-9:31 

I finished in 1:52:38, an average pace of 8:35, and only 1:30 slower than my half marathon PR. Despite my lofty goals, I had expected my first race back to be much slower-during a brief moment of sanity, I told myself that I would be happy with anything sub-2 hours-so obviously I was thrilled. You know what was even more thrilling? Changing out of my soaking wet capris and underwear in the parking garage and putting on my fluffy sweatpants.

I’m back and I’m ready to race, so bring on the next one. Preferably with more sunshine.


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