Chicago half marathon

I did my first half marathon yesterday and it was a ball. I had more fun that I thought I would while running 13 miles.

I was staying at an old room-mates house and he slept on the couch while allowing me to sleep on his bed. I was shocked by the sacrifice and Kaustava – if you ever get to read this, thank you buddy. I was more than willing to sleep on the couch but he felt I might be disturbed.

The day started out with me feeling so nervous that I was up by 4:00. I stayed in bed till 4:50 and got ready by 5:40. I had called for a cab the previous day and he was on time. I got to the University of Chicago campus by 6:15. In my nervousness (or hurry), I tipped the cab driver 22 dollars instead of the original 2 I had planned :). Realized that withing a few minutes – that also meant I needed a ride back home. I was kind of hoping my roomie was going to show up – he told me he would come and cheer me.

I was surprised by the number of runners. I heard 15000 people participated. The majority were women. I got my first shock at seeing how prepared some runners were – a female runner had brought along toilet paper just in case. Some had brought pins from home in case they needed it to fasten their numbers. Here I was without even a bottle of water – made me feel pretty bad. My breakfast had been just cereals (no milk) in the cab. I had a tiny carton of Wheaties that I had gotten as part of my race package. Hopefully I learned my lesson. Luckily there was plenty of water at the race.

I met more people who were doing their first race – a girl from UIC and I got talking for sometime. We lined up for the race – she joined that 12 min mile pace group while I thought I should be able to finish in 2:20. I did not meet her afterwards but if you read this, I hope you finished the race strong :). Anyway I joined the pace group for 2:20. Here I think I underestimated my abilities – I should have gone with a slightly faster group.

The race went really well. It started slow and gave me time to warm-up. I had a tough time running around people because I was going a little faster than the people around me. People had various things written on their shirts – most their names but some had interesting messages. One female had “pardon my dust” on her shorts. Come on – if you are running slightly faster than the 2:20 group, you should not be talking trash. It was a motley group – I saw people of all ages and abilities running. There were a group of Indian girls who had something like “Indians running” written on their shirts. A group of 5 girls went about shouting to everyone who cheered them. It was awesome. When the first guy and girl were running back, we cheered them on. I had my Ipod on but towards the end, I just removed it so I could hear people cheering and egging all of us on. It was cool. I had read about the atmosphere in the race being good but this was definitely something to be experienced.

The food after the race was really good – banana, muffin, cereal, milk etc. The organization of the event was truly amazing. I would definitely like to do it again.

My roomie did not show up, so I called Peter who came and picked me up.

I went with the express aim of not finishing last and I managed to complete in 2:04:28. I even managed to run continuously. It was definitely more than I had anticipated. Had lots of gatorade. I was strong enough to finish in a sprint the final 200 meters. Some random marathon – here I come.

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