Over the weekend, my friend Anna ran in the Chicago Half Marathon, which takes place about a month before the full marathon. I had never attended a race before, so this was a whole new experience for me. I wanted to get a feel for how marathons work – the setup, the energy on race day, how participants prepared, etc. I ended up having a lot of fun, and now I’m really excited to run the Chicago Marathon . . . especially since I ran 22 miles on Saturday morning!
The night before the race, I got to spend time with Anna and her stepmother, Patty, who also ran the half marathon. Patty has run about 15 half marathons in her lifetime, so she shared a lot of tips with me about preparing. She recommended that I load up on carbohydrates for energy on Tuesday-Friday before the race, and to eat a little less the day before. She also recommended getting up really early (about three hours) before the race to eat so that the food has time to digest before running. Patty also cautioned me against getting too nervous on race day, because nerves can lead to an upset stomach and wasting energy on stress. I think that since I have already completed a 22-mile run, and it went well, I should be confident that I can finish the marathon, which should ease my nerves.
The energy at the start of the half marathon was infectious. All of the runners were lined up according to their pace, and since there were about 20,000 runners, it took about half an hour for the final runner to pass the starting line. There should be about that many runners or more at the full marathon. Luckily, the runners’ times only started when the crossed the start line, so they weren’t adding to their overall race time. There were a lot of spectators at the event and music playing to psych up the runners, which added to the excitement of the event. One of the most surprising things about the race was the wheel chair racers, who got a special start before the runners. The wheel chair participants are incredible athletes, with the fastest person finishing in just over an hour. The fastest runner was not far behind, finishing in about 1:07:11. I was really impressed with the first female athlete to cross the finish line, who finished in 1:13:15. I wish I could run that fast!
My friend Anna finished in about 2:19, and she was happy with her time. I stood at the finish line and cheered her on so that she sprinted at the end of the race. The whole event was a great experience, and if I hadn’t run 22 miles the day before, I would have been dying to participate. I guess I’ll just have to wait until the full marathon in just under a month!