The Incredible Shrinking Krista

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon, Chicago

This past weekend, I took on a re-match with the Rock 'n Roll Chicago Half marathon.  You may remember that last year I Got pulled off the course at mile 8 for being very dehydrated.  This year, was a whole different situation, and I'm so proud to share it with you.

On Saturday, we (my running mom friends and I) headed out early for the 5k.  It is a pretty simple course, all on sidewalks, through parks, and along Lake Michigan.  It is beautiful, partly shaded, but somehow, the windy city hadn't even a breeze to offer us while running along the lake, and I thought for sure I might spontaneously combust.  I was imagining myself like a popcorn kernal just exploding at some random time.  Instead, I finished my 5k in just over my previous PR time.  My average pace for the race was 14:11, for a time of 44:03.

Probably the highlight of my day was when I finished and we headed to the finish line festival, in the hopes of meeting Meb.  Meb is the same age as I am, and won the 2014 Boston Marathon in just over 2 hours.  That means he ran 26.2 miles in about 2 hours and 9 minutes.  Considering that at 2 hours, I'm just over halfway done with a half, he's a flipping speed demon.  As you can see on my blog heading, I did indeed meet Meb, and he was SOOO nice!  He asked me my name, shook my hand, and genuinely smiled and congratulated me on my 5k.

After the race, we went to Giordano's for some amazing Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  It was delicious!!!  After I felt like I had run the 5k in a sauna, I knew that my plan of running in capris on Sunday was a horrible idea, so we headed off to TJ Maxx and I found what was labeled as a Tennis skirt, and a bit shorter than I would normally wear, but it would be cooler than the capris, so I took the risk.  We ate dinner at the hotel, and then off to an early bedtime to prepare for the half marathon yesterday.  Sitting at dinner, I almost started crying just because the forecast was brutal.  I had a panic attack at dinner just thinking about it.

When a group of moms get together, run away for a weekend, to go running, we can still clean up pretty well.

We were up at 5 yesterday morning to prepare for the race.  Because I get a nervous tummy on race days, I decided to take the pre-emptive strike and take some immodium on Saturday night before bed.  Probably one of the best decisions EVER to prevent dehydration.  Up, ready and out the door by around 6:00 for the 6:30 start.  I was starting in corral 34 out of 36, so the fact that as I walked up, the 3rd corral was starting didn't worry me at all.  My friend Rachael and I hung out in the corral, took a few pictures and tried to chat and relax.  The longer we stood, the hotter I got, the sweat started to run, and I got more and more scared that I wasn't going to make it.

I use an interval timer, and run for 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds.  I started out really comfortable.  I didn't even bring my GPS because in reality, the tunnels and underpasses screw it up so badly, its not reliable.  I just turned on my music, and my Gym Boss timer app, and headed out.  My friend Rachael and I agreed that we were going to start out together, but I didn't want to hold anyone back.  I passed Rachael fairly early on, knowing that wouldn't last all that long.  I had to stop at mile 4 to slather everything from my hoo-ha to my knees with vaseline to avoid chafing.  The last thing I needed was chafing.  Rachael caught up to me while I was bathing myself in vaseline to see how I was doing.  I grabbed us both some ice to chew on and we headed back out.

Last year at mile 4 was when I started to fall completely apart and my stomach started to revolt.  Every step beyond that that I didn't feel like I was dying was an improvement over my experience last year.  See, when you've been on a weight loss journey and trying to find yourself for as long as I have, you HAVE to acknowledge not just the successes, but also the improvements.  Life changes take time, and effort, and persistence, and it certainly is NOT a success only journey.  Facing my previous failures is one way for me to push myself beyond what I myself, and sometimes even everyone else, doubts I can do.

When you are on a race course, you look for entertainment, and encouragement, wherever you can find it...This was a good start, yesterday:

At mile 6, I trotted myself through a fire hydrant turned misting station, and LOVED every second that the cool water lasted on my body, even if I did have to hold my tutu up because it got too heavy with the water.  I was rapidly approaching mile 8, which I knew was where it all ended last year.  At mile 7, I hit a major wall.  I didn't feel like I was going to make it, AT ALL!  I was hot, I was tired, and I knew my pace was falling off.  (I had maintained a 15 minute mile through the first 10k, but that wasn't happening anymore).  I walked all of mile 7 I think.  At mile 8, I realized that last year when they were talking about taking me to the hospital, I was on the hospital grounds.  I told them I didn't have time, not realizing I was right there all along.  At mile 8 medical tent, I grabbed some salted Gatorade to try to prevent the dehydration from setting in.  I grabbed a few hand fulls of ice as well.  I shoved 1 handful in my cleavage, 1 down my back, and then put some in that nasty salted Gatorade.  Salted Gatorade isn't nearly as vile when it is cold.  I walked about half of mile 8 while I drank my Gatorade, then picked up my intervals again.  I was able to maintain the intervals fairly well until mile 10.

It got really, really hot at mile 10 and just couldn't keep running.  I kept putting my feet out and going as much as I could.  From mile 10-the finish line save for the tunnel through the parking garage, we were in the sun.  With the heat, that made it super brutal.  I walked the majority of what was left of the race.  At mile 11, There was someone handing out cold wet sponges, and a misting station immediately after that.

I just kept walking.  Somewhere around mile 10-1/2, my running play list kicked to "Just Keep Swimming" from Finding Nemo.  I did just that.  People were dropping like flies around me.  There was someone picked up in the tunnel under the parking deck, and another one within the site of the finish line.

At the mile 12 medical station, I jogged over, and the medic got nervous.  I told them, I just needed ice.  When they pointed me to a kiddie pool full of ice and water, I grabbed a wash cloth, threw it on top of my head.  I also grabbed a few handfuls of ice, again.  I put some in my bra, rubbed some one my lips and chewed on some a bit at a time.

With just over a mile to go, it started to get very hot, and very real.  We passed Soldier Field:

Which I had to take a picture of for my sister.  Then we went up and over an overpass.  The last person I saw down was laying on the finish line side of the overpass.  I felt so awful for her.  She clearly just couldn't go any further.  I kept pushing along, and was in sight of the finish line.  Every step hurt a bit more.  By this point, my interval time had quit working and shut down, and I couldn't hear my music because the water I kept dumping on my head had gotten into my earbuds.  I took them out, and did what I started my training doing, run to the next light pole, walk to the next light pole, using light poles, instead of a timing app.  I got into the finisher's chute, and I heard the announcer say, "And here's Krista Blackburn".....I wanted to jump up and down and scream, "That's me!  I MADE IT!!!", but I didn't have the energy, so I just kept trotting, then walking...

I finished my second half marathon finish line in 3:40:38.  This was about 13 minutes slower than the Savannah Publix Women's half in March.  That race was PERFECT race weather, about 62 degrees and flat.  Chicago was about 30 degrees warmer, and most-certainly was NOT flat.  For some reason that I don't quite understand, the streets we ran on that were parallel to Michigan Avenue there was a breeze, and they were a bit shaded.  Running up the streets perpendicular to Michigan Avenue, I felt like I was being baked in a Deep Dish Chicago Pizza Oven.  

My finisher's photo is pretty priceless, honestly.  You can see my tears, and I'm trying desperately to smile, but just couldn't quite do it.  After crossing, I just stopped to cry.  The medics kept telling me how awesome I was for having finished.  I had decided prior to finishing I was definitely going to stop and ask them to take my blood pressure to check me for dehydration.  When I reached the finish line and was able to cry; real, wet tears, I knew I wasn't dehydrated, so I skipped it.  I got my medal, and a wash cloth soaked in ice water.  Next was a thing of chocolate milk which I can only describe as tasting something akin to was SOOOO good.  I did stop at the 2nd med tent to get some ice for my sore knee and headed out to find my friends.  

We headed over to the finish line festival to pick up our remix medals (for having completed the 5k, and the half marathon I got an extra medal).  

I took a seat to listen to the after race concert by Andy Grammer, and got to hear this live!

I sat down to listen to Andy Grammer and the reality of what I had done and how I was feeling set in for sure.  I looked pretty horrible, but then reality set in.  This year was FAR worse than last year heat and humidity wise.  I was never in danger of being swept.  I only saw the sag wagon once, and that was when the course had a turn around, and they were about a mile behind me or so.  I am super proud of what I did.  It was brutal.  There were people dropping like flies, and I made it.  I didn't meed medical attention, other than for my knee, and stopping at the doctor today.....

Sitting in the park, listening to Andy Grammer and sporting 2 of my 3 medals

After we got back and showered, 5 of our group members headed out to get tattoos.  So as we piled into a cab (There would be no more walking as a means of transportation after the half marathon was over) I had my left foot in the cab and my right foot in the gutter.  Our not-so-observant cab driver started driving off.  The other ladies yelled at him, and as I felt the tire of the cab rub the back of my heel, I jumped out of the cab and back up onto the curb.  I jumped out of my shoes, dropped my purse, and almost busted my face on the scaffolding there.  Fortunately, the worst part was that I further injured my already painful foot, but didn't end up under the wheels of his cab.  The girls climbed out and we got ourselves another taxi.  We all piled in again, and headed back out to get our running tattoos.  

We had Cheesecake Factory for dinner and headed back to the hotel again.  It was an early night, and I got up to head out early this morning to head home.  

Upon my return home, I decided to get my foot checked out since I can't walk very well at all.  There was nothing on the x-rays, but the doctor is concerned about the fact that I have previously had a fracture that wasn't visible on an x-ray, and only diagnosed with an MRI.  He is concerned that maybe my Navicular fracture from 3-1/2 years ago never healed, or that I may have re-broken it or another bone.  I'm wearing a brace for the next 2 weeks, and then a follow-up, which may lead to an MRI, then who knows what.  

When I was on the race course yesterday, I swore that it was my last ever half.  I should have clarified that it was my last half in July, and until I knew what was wrong with my foot/ankle.  See, the thing is, I had my weight loss surgery to get healthy, not to break my body until I couldn't walk in the name of health and fitness.  I truly don't know how I feel about another half right now.  I'm so very proud of what I have accomplished.  I don't hurt at all today, with the exception of my right foot/ankle.  My legs aren't sore and I feel awesome.  I finished my half yesterday, and was able to continue doing the things I wanted to do, I didn't have to go lay in bed because I was so broken.  The biggest deciding factor for me is definitely the physical well-being of my foot and ankle.  Right now, it doesn't look or feel all that good:  

So, let's see what the appointment in 2 weeks holds, and how well the ankle heals.  I'd appreciate any thoughts and prayers you could send my way.  Rachael, Jennifer, Julie, Michelle and Stacey--you ladies made this weekend one of my favorite get-aways EVER!  You are all so much fun, and it was amazing.  I can't do Chicago again next year, but I just KNOW we'll meet up again soon at another race.  Rachael--I'll be cheering you on at MCM in October.  You all inspire me!  



  1. What an incredible experience! With every step we gain confidence! Congratulations on completing one of the most brutal races ever!

  2. What an incredible experience! With every step we gain confidence! Congratulations on completing one of the most brutal races ever!

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