Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chicago Half Marathon Giveaway (and how NOT to run your first half marathon)

There went another decade of my life expectancy last night after watching the Hawks' triple-overtime victory against the Bruins.  To quote Doc Emrick, "MY GOODNESS!"  What a series this is going to be!  I was so relieved when the Hawks finally scored that I didn't know if I should laugh, cry, or wind my watch.  (Yes, Penguins fans, that was a Mike Lange reference.  ;-) )

I continue to be so inspired by the Blackhawks and their incredible resiliency.  The level of athletic prowess that is required to play in games like this just blows my mind.  When I'm out running long races and I'm dying at mile whatever, at least I know exactly how long I have to go before I can head home.  Comparatively, in these overtime playoff games, the players literally have no idea how long they'll be out there gutting it out.  Can you imagine the physical and mental fatigue!?!?!?

Speaking of amazing races and physical/mental preparation.  I may or may not have ever shared the details behind the first half marathon that I ever ran: the Chicago Half Marathon (in 2002).

This is a photo from a more recent running of the Chicago Half Marathon. 
(Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from 2002 when I participated.)

Since I'm so smart and conservative about the way I train, surely I researched expert training plans well in advance, picked out a plan that worked best for my level of fitness and my schedule, and followed the plan to a T, right?  It's what intelligent runners do.

But I was not an intelligent runner back then.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.

At the time, I was younger, more risk-seeking, and much more likely to shoot from the hip, literally and figuratively.  (And yes... I'm still not the most intelligent runner now.  But I am much better now than I was back in 2002.  That is for sure.)

So what exactly happened?  I was hanging out with two friends who were also runners.  It was a Tuesday night and we were discussing how we all wanted to run a marathon someday but that it seemed so crazy.  One of my friends said, "I don't know if I could ever run 26.2 miles.  But I bet I could do a half marathon."  My other friend and I agreed that 13.1 seemed much more doable.

The next day, my friend called me and said, "Hey, the Chicago Half Marathon is this weekend.  You up for it?"

Me: (without even really thinking about it) "Yeah, sure.  What the heck."

That night, both of my friends and I signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon.  On a total whim.  Just three days before race day.  None of us had done any focused training, whatsoever.  At the time, the longest race I'd ever run was a 10K, and my personal distance record was probably only about 7 or 8 miles.

Then, three days later, all three of us went to the 2002 Chicago Half Marathon.  And all three of us just did it.

It wasn't pretty.  For me, it hurt to walk for a week afterwards.  I know my two friends were also hurting pretty badly, too.  But each of us finished in one piece, though just barely.  (And believe it or not, my time from that race back in 2002 stands as my all-time half marathon PR by far to this day.  Crazy, eh?)

Obviously after that experience I learned my lesson about training properly for half marathons: "Thou shalt not run a half marathon without adequate preparation." 

Until this past weekend, of course.  (But that's obviously another story.)

In all seriousness, though, last year I ran the Chicago Half Marathon again, this time with proper training, and had a blast.  The race closes Lake Shore Drive down entirely to runners - which is an incredible experience.  It also affords gorgeous views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago city skyline.

Scenes from a Chicago Half Marathon running on Lake Shore Drive.

Now on to the really good part!!!  This year will be the 17th running of the Chicago Half Marathon and Hyundai Hope On Wheels 5K, which takes place on Sunday, September 8, 2013.  The organizers are offering ONE FREE RACE REGISTRATION to anyone who would like to participate!

To enter, please leave me a comment of any sort.  (Comments about the amazing Blackhawks will make me happy, of course... but sadly they won't be given any preference over non-Blackhawks-related comments.  I know, I know.)

The giveaway is open until Wednesday, June 19 at 11:59 PM CST.  I will use to select a winner, which I will announce on Thursday, June 20. 

Good luck to all!!!


  1. Awesome post and great pics! This is such a great race to run, and often very challenging because of the heat. Thanks for the tips!

  2. That's a great story of how you entered the half marathon on a whim! I would like to see how fast I could have run a half marathon in 2002 on less training than I do now. It would probably be my PR as well. Anyway, Go Hawks and I'm looking forward to running the Chicago Half!

  3. I've never run this race but it's always been on my "to-do" list!

  4. Great post! My P.R. for half marathons is from the Michigan Ice Cube Half at the end of Feb, on dirt roads covered in snow and ice, without spikes on my shoes, and I fell a few times which I still find funny.

  5. I haven't run this but would like to! My PR was this spring with the assistance of a fabulous running buddy who paced me through it.

  6. I like pasta! And the blackhawks! :) Hope I win the entry! I've never run this race but always do the Rock N Roll in July (previously august. Previously called Chicago Distance Classic). I too went in to my first totally unprepared!

  7. I ran this race in 2008 in nonstop rain.

  8. Doo doodo doodooo doo doo dooooo (you know what I'm huumming!)

    That first half marathon attempt is crazy! Oh to be young and wrecklessly fast! Will you be doing the race?

  9. I don't need the number so please do not enter me. Just wanted to tell you that it took me almost 6 years to run faster than my 1st half. Ah youth! And it was better than 13.1 last weekend, too. Just marginally!

  10. I also have that song Declan is humming stuck in my head...and I didn't even watch the game! (I know, shame on me) I kind of love that the whole city seems to be humming it, though.

    ANYWAY, I really want to run this race again (the 2011 Chicago Half Marathon is still my PR) but I'm also cheap so if I could win the entry that would make me super duper happy.

  11. Great post. I didn't exactly train properly for my first half a couple of months ago either. I'm determined to do this one and follow the schedule this time!

  12. oh gosh I watched the game last night too - out at a bar in my neighborhood. We were all DYING, I almost had 50 different heart attacks! I can't even imagine how they played for so long!

  13. It's always great to have an interesting story to go along with your first half marathon! This definitely is on my list of races to think about this year. Which would mean I would go in under prepared myself!

  14. I'm not entering the giveaway - this half sounds really great, but my charity 10k is the day before, and that's the most important race I'll run this year. I know I've done double race weekends before, but this would be a bit much!

    But I did want to say that I always love a Wile E. Coyote reference, and that last night's Hawks game was CRAZY! Ahh! And it's really interesting to read about your first half experience. I know you told me some of that before, but wow. When I was younger my impulsive, risky decisions definitely had nothing to do with running. So waiting until you're over 30 to start running has it's perks!

  15. I felt the same you did about the Hawks win.

  16. I'd love to make this my first half!

  17. What a cool story! I ran this race in 2007 and 2010. Would love to again!
    I went to bed after the first OT ended. I had complete faith the Hawks would pull it out and they did not disappoint!

  18. This half is on my radar, and a free entry would make it that much sweeter!

  19. My favorite place to run is in Chicago. I grew up in the area and had to move because of work. But I try to get back a couple of times a year to run. Have run the Chicago Marathon but opted not to this year. Going to stick to half. Would so love to get an entry to this half!

  20. I love that you were so willing to just jump in and go for it. Yeah, not the smartest way to run a race, but there's something to be said for your adventurous spirit! Plus, I think the distance is scarier when you know more what you are getting in to. (Like non-runners are sometimes less intimidated by a marathon than half marathoners are. Because if you've run a half marathon, you know how hardcore a full is!)