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We’ll guys. We did it.

Tim and I ran the Chicago Half Marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes on the nose.

I have to say, I’m pretty proud of our time and the fact that we ran the whole way.

* A special note to my husband: Thank you for being my cheerleader, best friend and rockstar hero. Thank you for carrying the water, offering kleenexes, mapping our routes and giving so many hi-fives, I’ve lost track. There is no way I would have gotten through the months of training, hours of running and the actual race without you. Especially the last 1/2 mile where you ran beside me, your hand on my back, cheering me to finish, yelling encouragement and crossing the finish line holding hands – I couldn’t imagine sharing one of my proudest accomplishments with anyone else. Thank you.

I’m excited to check this off my bucket list. It was a great experience and I hope just the beginning of a long love of running.

Here’s a little photo diary of our race experience.

We got in Saturday afternoon and picked up our race packet. After getting our gear we wondered around the huge expo and filled our race bags with free swag.

Before heading to catch up with friends, we stopped to grab a few pictures on the lake. It was a BEAUTIFUL summer day in Chicago.

We headed to meet up with our friends, Tracey and Tommy. They were wonderful hosts and put us up for the night. We grabbed lunch and relaxed the afternoon. It was pretty fantastic. For dinner Tracey made us a fantastic italian feast (recipe coming tomorrow). The best way to carbo load before a race.

We woke up early (5:00 a.m.) and were out the door in search of a cab at 5:30. It was an early race start, 6:30 and we were pleasantly surprised by how bright it was. We were so lucky and had great weather. Not too hot, not too humid and half the race was covered by buildings. The race started in Millenium Park. Tim and I got there early and stretched, hydrated and got excited.

I have no idea how many runners actually ran today. Let’s just say there were a lot! We started in Corral 12 (they went up past 24). You can see the mass group of people ahead of us.

We had a great course route. We got to see a lot of Chicago. They had awesome bands at every mile which made this 1/2 marathon a lot of fun. The first part of the race went really well. I felt great. There were wonderful supporters that did a fantastic job encouraging the runners. Some of my favorite signs included: “If you haven’t s*** your pants yet, you’ve already won,” and “Just keep going, and going, and going. (that’s what she said).”

It wasn’t until mile 9-10 that I mentally started hurting. My brain really wanted to quit and my hips started hurting. I’d say the last 30 minutes of the race were some of the hardest in my life – mentally that is. When your head says stop but your heart says go.

Mile 11 was pretty awesome when we ran through an underground parking garage and they turned it into a mini disco with DJ and lights. It encouraged enough energy to get to mile 12. Once we saw the finish line ahead and we had less than a mile to go, Tim became my personal hero. He put his hand lightly on my back and basically guided me to the finish line – the whole time yelling encouragement. We crossed the finish line holding hands (eww, PDA… gross… I don’t care, it was great!) – we even got a shout out from the DJ announcer dude.

As soon as we finished we collected our medal, snapped some photos and walked through a sea of snacks; water, milk, gatorade, bananas, pretzels, smoothies, popsicles — you name it, they had it.

We found a corner and stretched while waiting to meet up with friends. My sorority sister Michelle is a rock-star and ran the race as well.

We all celebrated with brunch and cinnamon roles from Ann Sather’s. All breakfasts came with a side, and these cinnamon roles were a side you could choose from. Each person gets two… I have no words. It was so good.

A big thank you to the organizers of the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon – it was well organized, highly staffed and a lot of fun. If you’re looking for your next half-marathon, I highly recommend this one.

Tim and I were talking about when we first started training. It was winter and I could barely run 2 miles outside. And today I ran 13.1 – the furthest I’ve ever ran. I hope I’ve been able to inspire you along my journey. If you’re thinking about taking up running, and you think you can’t do it. Let me just say, if I can do it, you can do it. With proper training and a positive attitude, your body can do just about anything.

Until the next big race, just keep running, just keep running, just keep running…

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