Friday, October 26, 2012

Fitness Friday: Crossing the Half Marathon Finish Line for the Second Time

Happy Happy Fitness Friday Friends!!!

I am SO HAPPY to be back this week because it means I survived my SECOND half marathon!!! WOOHOO!!!

Although this time I don't if I should use the word "survived." Survived is what I did the first time. I dragged my tired, defeated ass over the finish line and accepted my medal with tears in my eyes. That race I survived.

This race I ROCKED!!

But don't let that word fool you. It's not like I rocked out any 5 minute miles or took a place in my age group. Far from it. But I did rock this race for myself. I set a goal to do 2 things this time:

1. Keep up with Dana and run the ENTIRE 13.1 miles. No walking.

2. Stay in the 10s for pace. I didn't care if I kept a 10:59 long as we were out of the 11s.

On the day of the race, I woke up feeling pretty confident about these goals. I was excited. I was trained {Like a Mother}. I was rested. I was hydrated. There was nothing left to do but throw on my tutu and head out the door.

As you all know from my post earlier this week, my Dad TOTALLY shocked me when he showed up for the race with his 5K bib. 

I actually forgot for a while that I was about to go run a race because I was so caught up in the excitement of him running!! But reality set in quick when I saw the starting line.

But this starting line was SO different from the Rock & Roll Chicago. For one thing, it was a fraction of the size. There were no corrals or elite groups. It was just a bunch of people dressed in costume laughing and taking pictures. It was a very laid back atmosphere and maybe that's what kept me calm in the beginning. That...and seeing my girls. Aren't we cute in our costumes? 

By the time we actually lined up to start, all of my nerves were calmed. I felt more excited than anything else and when the gun finally went off...I was ready to go. Dana and my friend Aimee and I gave each other some fist bumps, we waved to our friend Carol (who was running the 10K shortly afar us) and we all yelled good luck to my Dad. And then we were off!!

The first 4 miles were one big costume parade. All we did was look around at each other and laugh at some of the creative costumes people came up with. At one point, Dana and I were passed by some guys dressed like Hooters waitresses and I laughed so hard I thought I was going to get a cramp. Everyone seemed to be feeling great in this race. The weather in Chicago was GORGEOUS and we were running right along the lake. The conditions were perfect. I mean...just look at this view!!

Photo: Monster view of Chicago Monster

By mile 5 it hit me that my Dad was probably at the starting line for his 5K and for some reason, I really started to worry about him. Was he ready to do this? What if he over does it? I was so focused on thinking about my Dad, I didn't even realize that we had hit the half way point until the chick on my Nike app alerted me. I looked at Dana with big eyes and yelled "HALF WAY BABY!!" and we both held up 6 fingers. 

We only had 6.5 miles to go.

At the halfway point, my head was still in a pretty good place. I was feeling good, my legs were moving and we were keeping a great pace. I saw the 7 Mile marker and then the 8 Mile marker. Dana and I looked at each other and held up 5 fingers. We were down to one hand :-)

I made it to mile 10 feeling pretty great...but then I could start to see that wall again. It was the distance. My legs were getting tired. There weren't any crowds cheering us on. No one was laughing at costumes anymore. People were dropping off to the sides walking, stretching, hurting, crying. Those last 3 miles were SO intense. For everyone.

It was at the 11 Mile marker that I thought about walking. How good it would feel to stop and stretch my legs. I saw two women sitting on a bench near the lake drinking Starbucks watching the race. They were wearing cute scarves and boots and laughing hysterically about something. I was in a damn tutu, sweating my ass off. I was so jealous of those bitches. Ha!

But I pressed on. Dana kept looking at me to make sure I was moving and I just kept giving her the thumbs up. But I was hurting pretty good at 12 miles. I knew that with only a mile to go, I could NOT stop now. If I walked I would be toast. It would be over and I would be so mad at myself for giving up. I knew I was strong enough to finish this...I just had to get my head right.

But friends let me tell's REALLY hard to get your head right at the end when you are so close...yet so far away. But as soon as the crowds started picking up and I could hear the band in the distance...I knew we were going to make it. I saw my friend Carol first and waved like a crazy person! And then I saw Eric, Kevin and Joe...snapping pictures and clapping for us. And then I saw my Dad...he made it too!!! I was so happy.

Dana and I were in perfect step with each other as we crossed that finish line.

And then at the end we hugged. And cried...just a little. Happy tears, of course, because we MADE IT!!! We set out to run that entire race and we did it!!! With a 10:42 overall pace no less :-) We finished in 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is almost exactly 23 MINUTES FASTER than our first half marathon!! We could not have been more proud.

After we slipped on our medals, we set out to find our group. Our friend Aimee, who had a baby only 10 months ago, finished her half in 2 hours and 11 minutes. AMAZING!!! We were all so proud of her. 

And my girl Carol finished her first 10K and did an amazing job! 

Here we all are with our beautiful medals...

And then of course there's Waldo, who finished his 5K with flying colors!! Here he is in the home stretch...

And crossing the finish line!

This picture is just priceless to me :-)

We all had the BEST day and even though I felt like puking for a good hour after the race, I was happy. And proud. And above all else, I felt satisfied. Item #5 on my bucket list...CHECK!!!!!

So now what?

People keep asking me if I want to commit to a full marathon next year since I have already tackled the half and the answer is NO WAY!!! But...I do think we will all do another half together next year because even though the training is hard and time consuming, the feeling at the end when you accomplish something SO HUGE is worth it. Plus, running as a team with your best buddies is an amazing experience. I really enjoyed sharing this with Dana, Aimee, Carol and my Dad and I can't wait to do it again!

So before I end this VERY long post, I just want to say thanks again to everyone who has offered me advice, encouragement and support this year. Training for two half marathons back-to-back was a LOT of work and I know you are all probably sick to death of me talk about running. But accomplishing this goal was very important to me. It was a personal goal that had nothing to do with being a mommy, or a wife, or a was just something I needed to do for myself. But I can honestly say that I couldn't have reached this goal without my amazing friends and family so thank you...from the bottom of my heart :-) 

Happy Fitness Friday guys! I promise to be back with some new workouts and recipes next week :-)


  1. Congratulations, Jen! What an awesome time! The outfits were adorable, and I'm so glad your dad surprised you!

  2. So proud of you Jen! You totally nailed this one! And how cute is your dad?! I'm so happy you are so much happier this time! I agree 100% that running is something I do for myself. It is something I can be selfish about. John is going to do a half at the end of February for Gasparilla. Gasparilla weekend is huge here in Tampa and what got us into running this year. For now I'm perfectly content with my 5ks. I may however train for the 8k they have the same day as the half. I know I sound like a broken record but you really are an inspiration!!

  3. Yay! Congrats on finishing!!!!

  4. Im so proud of you!!!! Your are a wonderful role model to Addie


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