Fuzzy, Andrea, Shaun and me, post race.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, Bear down.
So the morning of the race, all I could talk about was Bearing Down, and our car full of people being the "pride of joy of Illinois." Then all we talked about was our "T Formation."
Andrea's T Formation.
I was excited for the race--not really nervous, but maybe a little. I got a nice night's sleep and was just ready to get started. Sadly, the weather did what I was afraid it was going to do, which was dip down to the low 50s, so I had to bundle up. The most I had run up to that point was 8 miles, so I figured that 10 would be hard, but doable. Knowing myself, I estimated my time to be 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Andrea, Claire, Fuzzy and Shaun "Thrilling the nation." (Though the guys argued that this was a time out and not a T Formation.)
When it is cold out, I am NOT a cute runner. In fact, I think I look a teenage boy refugee. So here is proof:
2 pretty ladies, and some poor young man who is very fortunate to be in this photograph. Or Yakoff Smirnoff.
"What a country!!"
(But seriously, special thanks to Andrea and Claire for being the BEST RUNNING FRIENDS EVER!!! I am a lucky gal.)
At the start of the race, we met up with some other friends, which was awesome for pre-race bits and jokes, which are always welcome.
These ladies and some guy's finger are ready to run run run!
Once we started, it felt great! Right at the start, Andrea took off! Claire was awesome and ran with me for the first 5 miles. We chatted and it took my mind off the fact that I was freezing cold. At about mile 5.5. we split up and listened to our running tunes for the rest of the run. For most of the run, I felt really good, but things got hard towards the end of the run. Because of my hyperhidrosis, my body temperature is almost always off, so I was drenched with sweat, which just made me colder. My feet were so sweaty, they just pruned and blistered from top to bottom. Plus, my shoes are kinda old now, and I've been running a lot (for me), so I think all the cushion is shot. Whenever I would start to run again after a walk break, my feet just HURT. At mile 5, my knee started to hurt, but I pushed through. At mile 7, my ankle started to hurt. At one water station, I was feeling a little grim, but the volunteers called me by name (our names were on our bibs) and that gave me SUCH a boost. At mile 9, I ran out of energy and became STARVING. Like, stomach growlingly hungry. I ate the rest of my chews, and had to walk a good portion of that last mile. As I approached the stadium, I got lots of encouragement from spectators telling me I was almost there. My goal was to run the final mile, but it was impossible, so I walked a lot of it and started running again when I entered the field. As I stepped onto it, "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" was playing, and I totally just started crying. I ripped off my hat, raised my arms in victory, and looked for myself on the jumbo tron.
That's me! Crossing the Finish Line! Bear Down!
After I stopped running (which took a second), I found Fuzzy, Andrea and Shaun in the stands cheering me on.
I did it!
And check this out!
1529 11888 ERICA GERDES 14272 34 F3034 CHICAGO IL 2:14:33 13:28 1:05:01 3:08:28
I finished less than half a minute from my projected timing! WOO!
The reality is that I was completely delirious. I was in so much pain, and I was freezing, and I was starving. I really wish that I had taken an extra moment to soak in that I was standing on the field. And that I had done it. Normally, after a 3 mile race, there are bagels and bananas right away, but sadly, there was not after this race. So I stumbled my way through the chute, got some gatorade, got my medal, looked for food, and found Fuzzy. I wanted to have an emotional and proud reunion with him, but all I could think was "where's the food?" We hugged and kissed and he gave me a bag of chips, thank goodness. There was still a long way to go before we got to the food bags, and I don't know if I would have made it if he hadn't had those chips. We were all entitled to a free post-race beer and a concert with Soul Asylum*, but Andrea was cold, and I was in a different place mentally and physically, and the guys didn't care, so we decided to just leave.
When we got home, I was really losing it--I started shaking and could barely move. Fuzzy got me chocolate milk and food. We went for a walk later in the day, but things got ugly--my left knee swelled and I could barely walk or even change positions. I was in so much pain.
Yesterday, things were better, and it was an active day. Two days later, I am doing a lot better. I just have some tightness in my calves. I am SO proud of myself. I remember thinking that I could never be a runner, and now I've run TEN MILES! That's huge! Now I have to figure out what's next. Another triathlon? Focus on dance again? I was wondering if I could do a half marathon after this race, but now I think I know that anything over 10 for me is just too dangerous. I want to keep my knees for the rest of my life if I can.
But man. I did it.
*Soul Asylum? Really? For a triumphant finishers party? I get it, they were big in the 90s, but talk about serious and depressing topics--runaways, war for oil, does anyone know a third song by them? As I was nearing the stadium, they were playing Black Gold, so I guess I got a mini concert. So there's that.