Anyway, got to Chicago, chilled with Lauren and Kyle Thursday night and Friday. During the day Friday, Kyle and I went into the city for lunch and to wander around. I was struck by how tall the buildings are. DC is a nice city, but it's so short. All the tall buildings are weird to me, but very cool. Also, I had a moment where I felt like I was in the Matrix -- remember the scene from the first movie where Morpheus is leading Neo through the Agent Training simulation (the girl in the red dress scene)? They're walking upstream against a huge crowd of people. We crossed a street at a stoplight and people just swarmed around me for a second and it reminded me distinctly of that.
Saturday Lauren and I went to what was clearly the best race expo I have ever been to and met up with her cousin. The shirts they gave us were nice, but mine is about 4 sizes too large (it's a large, but I was wearing two shirts when I tried it on last night and it was still big enough for two of me). The expo's awesomeness can be explained by these examples of things we saw:
- A giant liver (approx 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide, walking around with a sign that said "Go Liver!" scaring little kids and posing for pictures with runners)
- An approx 60 year old woman with a mohawk, and both sides of her head totally shaved. The mohawk was about 8" tall, and highlighter pink. She had tons of tattoos, including a full necklace tattoo.
- A goth clown (if you aren't sure what I mean by this, imagine a clown stepping straight out of a Panic At the Disco music video and going to work in the Little Rock Marathon booth -- it was awesome, but apparently Lauren's cousin is afraid of clowns, so when we showed her this, she almost jumped out of her skin).
- Antarctica Marathon booth
- Big soft squishy pretzels and fresh lemonade, which was a great lunch.
We got down to the race, met up with Lauren's cousin, and got into the corral. There were so many people. Holy crap. It took us about 25 minutes to reach the starting line from our place in the corral. Once we got to the front, we were off. Right before the race, I got a text message from Meg telling me she'd be at mile 4 and 11 with a big neon green sign. So as we were about 1/4 mile from mile 4, I looked up, saw a big neon green sign, and said to Lauren, "I bet that's Meg." We ran over to that side of the course, and as we got closer, sure enough, it was. That's when it got funny. When Meg spotted me, she literally screamed, jumped up and down, threw her sign down, jumped down from the wall she was on and ran up and gave me a hug, while still jumping up and down. It was awesome. Then, she realized I stopped to give her the hug, so she starts yelling, "Wait, keep going! Go! Go!" So off I ran. Four people down the wall from where she was all laughed hysterically and gave me high fives as I ran by. They didn't do it for anyone in front of me, and Lauren confirmed they only did this for me, not anyone else behind me. Then the guy running next to me turns to me and says, "Geez. I hope you knew her." This greeting from Meg was absolutely the highlight of the running part of the race.
I ran the first five miles with Lauren and her cousin. At that point, my knee started to remind me it was there, so I started to do a run-9-min-walk-1-min thing. That got me through until mile ten, at which point my knee started to hurt pretty bad. I got into a run-walk routine with longer walks, and that got me through until about mile 18. During this phase of the race, I found that the pain receptors in my knee will completely overload after about 30 seconds of serious pain, and then spend the next 30 seconds slowly dulling until it's mostly numb, at which point i can go until i stop what i'm doing (i.e. stop running to walk), then the pain starts again next time I try to run.
Around mile 18, my calves started cramping pretty badly, and after a few tries and failures, I realized that I was going to have to walk the rest of the race, because anytime I tried to run, I cramped up within 15-20 seconds. I walked 18-22 at approx 15 min/mi pace, and was then able to pick my walking pace up, finishing 22-26 at approx 13 min/mi pace. My sister caught up with me at mile 25 and came out to try to walk with me for a bit, but had to run because she couldn't keep up with my pace. She decided to stop and hang back to wait for Lauren, who was about 3 minutes behind me at this point, while Kyle was waiting at the finish line.
Here are a few of the amusing signs or shirts we saw on the course during the run yesterday:
- Sign: "What a dumb way to celebrate your 30th birthday!"
- Sign: "Chuck Norris hasn't run a marathon, but you have!"
- A girl running the race with a giant ass and booty shorts with the word "ANCHOR" written across them (this was my favorite clothing/costume thing of the entire race)
- A girl who wrote on the back of her shirt, "I don't run to compete with anyone, I run to silence the voice inside me that wants to quit." This was especially poignant because I saw it around mile 17, when my knee was absolutely on fire, hurt to touch, and my calves were starting to cramp. I knew I could walk, but I was so mad I couldn't really run, this shirt really came right at the right time.
- It was so hot, this guy just painted his shirt on:
- Kyle didn't run, but he still kicked assphalt!