Chicago Rock & Roll Half Marathon

by agoodnow

I had high hopes for this race.  I was ready.  The race did not go as planned….


Flew in the day before the race. Mistake.  Dehydration.

At both lunch and dinner at restaurants the day before the race. Mistake.  Too much sodium.

Went to the race expo and carb loaded on all the free sample.  Bad idea.  Introducing new foods to the body the day before a race. 

(what the fuck is wrong with me?)

I also picked up some ultra- NASA engineered anti-chafing cream (Oh, you think that’s too much info?  Too bad. )

Went to the MGD 64 Half Marathon Expo tent????  Huh?  really?   So they had stupidly hot girls carding people so that you could get a  wrist band for free beer after the race.   The fake, plastic young ladies were also giving out free samples.  Yeah, great idea.  Let’s get loaded  the day before a half marathon on tasteless beer.  I’ll pass.

The Cliff Bar brand makes some of the best products out there.

After I fueled up at the race expo I met up with someone who has become quite a good friend.  I met her at an airport bar (Where else would I have met someone?) and we have kept in touch.   We grabbed lunch and caught up on life.

Had dinner with work people who were also running the race.  (took this time to eye up my competition and insisted that everyone at the table drink lots of wine and eat lots of desert.)

“No, no, no……you need those sugars for fuel tomorrow…”

I fell asleep very early.  Before 11 pm AND it was not chemically induced. 

I finished an entire James Patterson book on Saturday.  I thought it would last for at least 2 flights, but I guess not.   At that rate, I’m not sure it was worth the $9.99.

Woke up for the 6:30 am race at 4:45. 

Coffee. check

Shower. check

Naked stretching. check

Some 40 year old woman watching naked stretching from hotel room across the street. check

Putting on clothes to resume stretching. check

Cliff Bar and banana eaten while clothed. check

Anti-friction cream applied. check

Pep talk in mirror after flexing. check

Broken toilet. check.

All in all, it was a decent start to the day. 

My hotel was literally across the street from the start/finish line which made the morning easier than anticipated.  The next thing I knew  I was in the starting coral and the starters horn went off.

Now I was with the “fast pack” for this race.  Coral 5 out of 27. 

I got into a race pace.  I felt good.  The weather was humid, but cool at 6:30.  My legs felt a little heavy at first, but after a couple of minutes that wore off.

Ok…………my watch now says 9:45 since I started my watch at the starting line and I do not see a mile marker.  This can’t be good.  Maybe I should pick it up a little….

Oh shit, 15:35 and I’m at mile 2.  Well….that is a bit aggressive.

Mile 5.  still at a 7:45 pace.

Mile 8. Still at a 7:45 pace.

“Andrew, you are killing this.  Step on it, you have a shot at breaking 1:42 today.”  I felt like pushing.  Hard.  I wanted a great time.  I wanted, at the very least, to break 1:45 and I knew it was completely within reach.

Mile 10. 7:55 pace.   Still running strong.  Knew I was slowing a bit, but I felt like I had enough to finish with a kick.

And here is where we had a problem.  I started to get what felt like a cramp in my upper back on the left side. At first it just hurt a little and shortly thereafter I could not breath.  I was wheezing and gasping for breathe.  It sucked.  

I got to a water break and decided to get some water and walk the length of the station to get some air in my lungs.  Nope.

Tried to keep going and it just didn’t woke.

And then………..oh look.  Andrew is on the ground and he can’t breath.  Yay.  Fun.  I love running!!!!!!!

After 30 seconds on the ground I had another pep talk with myself, only this time I was not flexing in a mirror.

“Andrew, you did not travel 1000 miles to quite.  You did not train for this to quit.  You did not run all this way to quit.  You are not quitting.  You are not walking.  You are going to run your fat ass across the finish line no matter how much this fucking hurts.  Stop being a bitch and let’s go.”

So I got up.  I began doing anything I could to limit the pain. 

I tried to go to a “happy place”. Nope

Focused on my breathing. Nope, due to the fact that I couldnt’ breath and that is what was causing me pain.

Thought about people who can not walk.  Nope, not this time.

Thought of how embarrassed I would be if I did not break my personal best time.  Yep.  Bingo.  Done.  Let’s get going.

I knew it was going to be tough to break my personal best of 1:47.17 after losing so much time at the water station and on the ground.  Not to mention I was running so slow that old people were elbowing me to get out of the way.

I kept looking at my watch and the time was going so fast.  The miles were so far apart.  Finally I had one minute until I hit my personal best.  And then it went…………..

I kicked it into high gear when I saw the finish line.  By high gear I mean that I ran in like a normal person would. 


I have never been more upset as the first 5 minutes after that race. I could not believe how badly I had blown the race.  I was there.  I had it!!!!  And then I stopped taking air into my lungs.  What is that all about?

And then………………

I collapsed at mile 11 and got up.  I ran through more pain than I could have ever wished on my second grade nemisis…..Allegro Edmunds. 

I still ran a respectable time.  8:17 minute miles is nothing to be ashamed of. True, it could have been better, but I showed myself that I was not going to quit.  No matter what. 

The other thing it has done…………I want to tear that fucking marathon on November 20th to pieces.  I want to dominate it.  

So I finally figured it out.  I had nothing to be angry about.  Nothing at all. 

But now I do have a reason to be more motivated.

I then proceeded to the beer tent where I enjoy my two complimentary  MGD 64’s.  Afterall, I earned them.