Thursday, August 17, 2006

13.1 miles of fun!

The times are in, the blisters are scabbing nicely and Sunday’s Chicago Distance Classic half marathon is but a memory. All that’s left is the posting of the pictures on the blogs. And fortunately, Fearless Leader Matthew carried his camera with him last weekend to record our fun.

First of all, here’s what our view looked like before the race. See that tiny little START banner off in the distance? It proved to be six minutes and 34 seconds away from us. We were so far away, in fact, that we didn’t hear the Star Spangled Banner or the starting gun. We just waited for the sea of people in front of us to start slowly oozing their way forward, and we slowly joined them on what ended up being a beautiful run on a beautiful day:

Running with a camera doesn’t always produce the best pictures. Just ask the producers of What Women Want. But it can produce some interesting effects:

We all took turns posing under the different mile signs because we were the annoying, perky runners who refused to act like a half marathon actually kind of hurts. Mine turned out pretty OK. For a dork.

Sometimes I was so busy talking with other runners and taking in the scenery and lagging behind my team that I totally missed our team photo ops:

Sometimes we needed makeup and lighting people for our team photos:

There is a huge camaraderie in a crowd of runners. Thirteen miles that would suck if you were all alone are really quite enjoyable when you use that sucking action to pull energy off other runners. Just don’t grab their boobs when you do it, though; that sort of camaraderie is often frowned on. At least when there are homosexuals present.

Speaking of the scenery (three captions up), how beautiful is Chicago? And how awesome is it that the entire lakefront is public property so everyone can enjoy views like this:

Traditionally, when you run a race you get a bib with your number on it in huge black letters on a white background. On longer runs, the race organizers hire a photography company that takes billions of pictures of the runners at various places along the race route, matches each picture to the runners in it via the bib numbers, and makes it easy for the runners to order pictures of themselves online.

For this race, though, our bibs featured relatively small numbers on a two-tone green background. So the few pictures that were taken along the race route were impossible to identify, and when I searched for my number online, I got a page of pictures of random people crossing the finish line within a few minutes of my finish time.

There were only about six pictures of me in the bunch. And those were only parts of me; I somehow managed to keep another runner between me and every camera at the finish line, which is probably a defense mechanism I’ve built up from years of dodging the paparazzi.

In any case, here’s my triumphant finish. Remember those six minutes and 34 seconds from the start photo? That means the 2:15:15 you see here is not my finish time. My official time was 2:08:51, an important distinction that could mean the difference between a table by the window and a table by the kitchen at the Evanston Chili’s.

Here are some other interesting stats right off the Internet:
I finished 4,065th of 7,415 runners and 2,448th of 3,557 male runners. (Two! Four! Six! Eight! 4,065th is really … um … not terribly embarrassing!) And the average finish time was 2:09:26, which means I’m a whopping 35 seconds above average! In some circles, that makes me some sort of running GENIUS.

After each of our runs this summer, New Running Buddy, who is a hardcore yoga practitioner, has led us all in a lovely stretch. Here I am, pink as an Easter ham and alarmingly bloated for someone who just ran 13.1 miles, trying not to make whimpering sounds as I realign my IT bands and force dead grass in my crevices. Which is the way many ancient cultures punished the village idiots who spent two hours and nine-ish minutes running and running and running and never getting anywhere. Just like What Women Want.

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