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I got in 8 miles, a 35 minute strength session, and a 30 minute bike ride the week leading up to the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon. I took Friday and Saturday as rest days. I ate a delicious pasta dish the night before the race and completed the Half in 2:03:17! This is my fastest half marathon yet!


This was the most emotional race I have ever run. My nerves were insane! As I stood in the corral with the thousands of other runners I started to feel a sense of confidence and comradery. I even managed to give my fellow runners a few smiles before we were released. I was in corral 8 and as we moved up to begin our start I felt incredible. I was actually able to "toe the line". The adrenaline that is released when the horn goes off is indescribable!


I was blaring "Pump It" by the Blackeyed Peas and then everyone became a blur. I glanced down at my watch and my pace was a very fast 7:36 so I backed it off a little. My first mile split was 8:25 and I was feeling great! The next couple of miles seemed to whiz past and my 5k time was right at a 9 minute pace. So far so good to break 2 hours!


At 3 miles I saw Gerry, Zach and Tami. I gave them a wave and a smile as I whizzed past them. I was feeling great and hoping to maintain this pace. As I rounded the corner on mile 5 and started ascending the hill I started to feel a little out of breath and the sweat was pouring off me. As I ran through the water station I grabbed a cup and poured it over my head to cool my body down a bit.


Now we were heading down the long southbound stretch on Lake Shore drive. The miles continued to whiz past. I took a GU at mile 9 hoping that would give me an extra boost for the next 4.1 miles. I grabbed an ice cold sponge right before mile 10 and squeezed it over my head. At mile 10, just as I crossed the mat that would send a text message to my Dad, Tami, and Zach I felt the dreaded fatigue starting to set in. And then I did the worst thing I could do...I thought to myself "Only 3 miles to go". Ugh! I can't believe I did that!


So I could feel my legs slowing down and getting heavier. I knew that I had to run 9 minute miles or less to break my 2 hour goal. Mile 11 came upon me and I got a second wind of sorts and sped up. I was looking for my family but they were no where in site. Mile 12: the second wind was gone. I was pushing through what people call "The Wall" at this point. In my mind I was saying, "Shoulders down, don't lean forward, head up...." The crowd was back and I was turning the corner to go up the final hill. At this point I am cursing the race directors at how unfair it is to put a hill at the end of the race. Damn them!


I turn the last corner and the crowd is going crazy. I see the finish line and at that point I know I am not going to break 2 hours but I push my legs as fast as they can go and start chanting..."Do it Dana, Do it". There it is, and just like that I'm done. I have so many emotions going through my head. My legs are completely dead. I grab a water and start weaving through the masses. I get my medal, grab an ice towel, pose for my post race picture and slowly start walking out of the runner's area.


It is at this point I realize I did not make a plan as to where to meet the family. I am so tired, I figure that they will find me....eventually. Luckily I spot Zach and he gives me the news that I ran a 2:03:17. I drop my head. Just as I am about to wallow in my own self pity he points out that I ran a faster half marathon in higher humidity and higher temperature and more hills than I did in Huntington Beach. It takes me a minute to understand what he is saying but then I realize that I just ran the fastest and most challenging race of my life.


I immediately call my dad and got a congratulations from him. I spent the rest of the day reveling in my accomplishment.


What a great day!


Now, it's back to training for the Chicago Marathon. I can't believe it is only 9 weeks away!


Happy Running!

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D Wagner

D Wagner

Member since: Nov 20, 2009

My blog will follow my running journey up to and through my 1st Marathon... Chicago 2010! You will read about my inspirations, PRs (hopefully!), and of course my struggles. So feel free to share your stories as well!

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