>9.3! Hollllaaaa!

>Regina, Karen and I ran the 15K for the Hot Chocolate race today in downtown Chicago. I cannot get over how awesome of an experience the whole weekend was!

We arrived by train around 12:15 yesterday and picked up our packets at Union Station. We took a cab to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency on Wacker, just a few blocks from the starting line in Grant Park. We did some shopping, had Giordano’s for dinner and did a little more shopping. We went back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby with water and tea and talked. We got to sleep around 11 pm, with the alarm set for 6 am.

We woke up around 6 and the temperature was 26*. Yes, you read that right… twenty-six! You knew that we just had to be crazy… us and 30,000 other runners!

After the 5K people took off, we lined up by pace. I stood close to the 11 min/mile sign. The clock started but I didn’t get to the start line until about 12 minutes in because there was that much congestion.

The first three miles I held back. After passing the 5K marker, I took off and ran strong until the sixth mile when I had to pee so badly. But there was no way I was stopping to pee! I had worked too hard to ruin my time by doing that. Mile seven seemed really really long, and by mile eight I was so excited that it was almost done. As soon as the finish sign came into view, I sprinted. My heart rate jumped up to 205, only one of a handful of times it’s been that high. On a normal maintenance run, my HR is around 160-165. My average today according to my HR monitor was 177! I pushed myself hard.

The views didn’t hurt either: sunrise, Soldier Field, Shedd, the Field Museum (I think), the lake, and the skyline.

Crossing the finish line was, as always, euphoric. We all met up and got chocolate fondue from the tent. Then we went back to the hotel and took showers.

We had a late check-out and headed to Cheesecake Factory for a late and leisurely lunch. We waited for an hour, but it definitely didn’t seem like that long! Karen and I made a Starbucks run. It was the biggest Starbucks I’d seen, with a fireplace and a sitting area three times the size of the stores here.

Cheesecake Factory was fabulous. I’d never been there. I got the Thai Chicken Pasta… so yummy with the peanut sauce. I also got a piece of the Tiramisu cheesecake. I’m sure I ate all the calories I burned (1375!) with that one piece… I’m afraid to look at the nutrition facts, lol.

We walked around a little more and then it was time to head to Union Station. We chatted with some nice people in the train station and then we were on our way home, fighting sleep the whole ride. At least I was.

My grandparents, being as awesome as they are, picked me up at the station and I drove home from their house. My grandpa filled up my gas tank for me. 🙂

Now I’m blogging about the best race I’ve done so far, and about an awesome weekend! I still have one more day off before working five in a row. (I worked seven in a row before Friday.)

Considering the circumstances of working almost full-time, obligations outside of work, and a weird sleep schedule, I did my best. I did my best this morning too. If I’d been running the half marathon in three weeks, I wouldn’t have been able to race today, just do a long run. But since I’m just doing the 5K (the half was full!) I figured I’d just go for it.

I have to say that I’m becoming the athlete, or the less-encompassing term of “runner”, I never thought I’d be. My official race time was 1:36:43, beating my goal pace of 10:30 by seven seconds!!

Gabriela and I are running the Illinois Marathon.. our first training run will be next weekend, as long as my schedule pans out. Crazy!

Other than running, I need to do strength training. Back to the gym I go for yoga, weight machines and group fitness classes!

Have a great rest of the weekend, and thanks for celebrating with me. I am blessed and give glory to God for success in my life.

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