Hey kids. it's been a loooong time but i thought i would get this in writing. Lat weekend (Aug. 1 and 2, 2009) Elizabeth and i got hopped on the South Shore train and headed up to the windy city of Chicago, IL. the intention was to try to run the inaugural Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon. A good friend of mine and main running buddy Jon had entered himself into this half marathon and after getting entered found out that he would be out of town that weekend on a family trip / work trip in PA. so offered me the spot to run it. i said "heck yeah" and i would pay the transfer fee and just go in his spot. well as i was browsing the website i find on the homepage NO TRANSFERS / NO REFUNDS. well that doesn't look good now does it?!! the plan was Elizabeth and i would go up Saturday, try to register, if it worked great, if not we still got to hang out in Chicago, kid free for a night. so again, we hopped on the South Shore and made it to the McCormick Place stop and found the expo hall for packet pickup. i had with me his email confirmation that had his bib number and a bunch of other papers including a last ditch effort of ours. He had sent me a photo copy of his drivers license with a hand written portion saying that he was at a family event and that if i could go in his place that would be great. so i walk up to the area to get the packets and see the first 3 tables on my right all the people are showing ID. there is no way this is happening. but i figure i might as well try. i was hoping that the tables would be so busy that they would just be trying to get people out of there but my table that i had to go to, not a soul. so i go up and just as politely as possible start asking this lady how her day is and everything nice i can think of (going for the "kill her with kindness" routine) so i hand her my paper and she turns around to get the packet and then stalls and turns back. she asks "do you have any ID?" and i say so disappointingly, "noooo" and she says "well, i trust you". WHAT!?! YOU DO!?! WHY!?! WHO COMES FROM INDIANA AND DOESN'T HAVE ID!?!? ARE YOU NUTS!?!?! okay, thanks. all i have to do is sign the back of the confirmation page (medical release) i could barely hold the pen i was so nervous. you would have thought i was stealing gold out of Fort Knox. i got the "J" and then forgot his name, my name, my children's names and just wiggled my pen around until i had writers block. i grabbed my packet, got a shirt and headed for the expo quick.
About 3 minutes after all this i had 2 realizations. (1.) i need to get in the mindset that tomorrow i have to run 13.1 miles and (2.) all the excitement is over. i was more nervous about that than anything in a long time
so we strolled through McCormick back and forth for a while with bad directions from a slue of people until we finally ran into the Hyatt regency McCormick Place. Since we were taking Jon's room and this was to be a family vacation, we got up to our room to look at our 2 double beds. hmm. i tried calling but the customer service line was busy and i was kind of glad because to get the room price we had to be in the race so Jon's name was still on the bill and i would have had to request that a room for Jon and I be switched from 2 doubles to a queen..... and i would have had a tough time doing that.
We went down and signed up for the free drive to Watertower place at 3 and went and ate at the hotel restaurant, Shor. it was not bad but the waiter, Arnold, wasn't very good and it was pricey for a cob salad and a English Club Sandwich. we went back to the room and waited. it was 2. it seemed dumb to be in Chicago sitting in a room waiting so we went down, scratched or name off the list and grabbed a cab. once we got downtown we headed for the boat tours. it was 2:15 and the next and only tour open for the rest of the day was 2:30 so we got our tickets and went for a ride.
we might not have gotten the best boat, seats, weather (it had been raining while we were eating but had since just been an overcast) but it was still a good time. it was a 90 minute tour that went out into Lake Michigan and then back into the Chicago river and returned us back. we headed for watertower to find some jeans for Elizabeth. we also went up to the 7th floor to get some pretzels to snack on.
After roaming the city for a good couple hours and picking up some Garrett's popcorn....okay, a lot of Garrett's popcorn, we headed to maggiano's for dinner. we were informed it was a 2 hour wait for the main room or an hour wait for the first available. we took them up on first available and 15 minutes later, we had a table. then it was a HOUR before we got our food. Elizabeth had the pesto and i had the lasagna. the wait knew something wasn't right and appologized and offered free dessert but we were both stuffed so as we were leaving he still brought us some free cookies to take with us home. yeah they were good.
Sunday morning i woke at 5, got on my gear and headed out the door. i managed to catch a cab with another couple down to Grant Park for the start of the 13.1 miler. they paid. i offered to split it but the guy said he didn't have pockets and didn't want any change.
this was 100 more organized and enjoyable than the Indy Mini in May. first off, with Jon's entry i was in the 2:00 coral (#7) rather than the 2:30 corral at Indy (N). at Indy there was construction so when your group finally got to go construction took you down to a land and a half and Chicago you started on 4 lanes that opened to 6.
At Indy i wanted to run a 2:11:00 which would translate into a 10:00 mile. i ended up getting in traffic and comfortable going slow and did a 2:18 (10:30/mile) i ran every step and i think in my head that was my biggest goal. at Chicago i noticed after my first mile i was an 8:48 mile and knew i may be in trouble. i had 12.1 to go. i got in a rhythm and you are busy watching out for other people and the bands (some rather good ones) and pot holes. you really never pay attention to the tall buildings, you are normally watching your step so they are in the wrong direction. the only thing that was odd at one point a guy FLEW buy me and had a bib on his back saying 2:00 PACER. i knew i would never get a good time if 2:00 was already passing me but i never took the time to figure out how that related to me. so i kept running. miles 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 all showed up. then nothing. no 11, 12, 13 or the count down to the finish. at Indy you had the last mile broken down by 1/4 mile to the finish. so knowing that the race was closing i saw another person with a 2:00 bib on her back and i asked her how we were doing. she said we were 30 seconds under our goal. i passed her and never saw her again. the last (guessing) .7 miles to go i was absolutely dying. at Indy i never pushed myself and had plenty of gas in teh tank to sprint the last mile. i was ready to cry. literally. i wanted to walk so bad. when you can see the line it makes it no better. when you want to push and can't it kinda sucks. i crossed the line and checked my watch. 2:01:51. i NEVER would have guessed. i knew i could beat 2:18 but i figured 2:08 maybe, but never 2:01. needless to say i got a good P.R. now and a new P.R. to beat.