Chicago Monster Dash: My First Half-Marathon!

Chicago Monster Dash 2011We did it! Tarah and I ran our half-marathon! 10 weeks in the making, we both crossed the finish line!


In September, before school started getting hectic, Tarah and I both had the crazy thought that we should run a half-marathon this fall! We had both started running further distances and we’re both pretty competitive. After doing some research, we decided we absolutely had to run the Chicago Monster Dash half-marathon. It’s in Chicago, on Halloween, and as part of your registration you got really awesome medals and fleeces. It was just too compelling not to!

For this race I trained for 10 weeks. My furthest run before the program started was one seven mile run that I almost died on, but finished! I used a combination of Hal Higdon’s novice half-marathon training guide and a Runner’s World plan. I ended up going up to 12 miles on the run, just to prove to myself that I would be able to finish all 13 miles!

Driving 500 miles to run 13.1The Night Before:

Tarah and I were staying with some of her family in La Grange, IL and decided to take the train into Chicago to have a carb feast downtown. That was one hell of an experience. On the train in we met some Iowa college student and we ended up having a handful of mutual friends! Not something you’d expect from a stranger on a train into Chicago!

We decided to try Maggianos, which ended up being a terrific/really bad decision. The food was OUT OF SITE. There was a dinner-for-two that had two salads, two entrees, and dessert. Everything was just delicious, but huge! Not only were the entrees enormous, but they also send you home with an additional entree! The meatball on my spaghetti was literally the size of a softball! We ended up giving our extras to some homeless on our way home. I went for the chocolate cake, which was worth it, but was way too much! Talk about stuffed!

The valet gave us the wrong directions back to Union Station though and we ended up missing our train by 8 minutes! Shoot! Tarah and I always have a good time though, so that extra hour wasn’t too bad. We didn’t get home until midnight though. Whoops! Not so good when you have to be up to run 13.1 miles at 6:30 a.m.!

The Race:

This race was an absolute blast! The course went from Grant Park to Lincoln Park and back. They also had great parking at Soldier Field.

Before the race, while we were in our pace groups, I chatted up one woman who had an Ironman shirt on. I couldn’t resist. One of my goals is to complete a half Ironman by the time I’m 25 (maybe even a full Ironman, but we’ll see…) so I had to chat her up about that. Talk about inspiring. She’s done not one, but THREE, full length Ironmans. She recommended I check out The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel and The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training by Jim Taylor. Talking to her really got me pumped up for the race!

Of course, before the race even began, as we slowly started moving toward the start, I walked into a massive puddle! It’s funny how those things happen!

The race was pretty well organized. We started a little late, which left some people disgruntled, which I didn’t really get. Is 15 minutes really that big of a deal? Just run faster. Haha. My only complaint was that there weren’t mile markers set up at every mile. While that would have been nice, it was also a pleasant surprise when I got to the 8-mile mark and I thought I was at 7!

As if there wasn’t enough to look at between all of the costumes, the gorgeous Chicago skyline, and the beautiful lakefront, there was a lot of activity along the race course, including: great live music, a princess juggling while standing on an exercise ball, and a grim reaper yelling “run for your lives”. The day was absolutely spectacular so that was a bonus!

School was just too hectic the week leading up to the race, so I didn’t have time to put together a costume. That’s one thing I wish I had done. I know, I know – that’s the whole point of a Halloween race! A lot of people were cheering and yelling words of encouragement like “Go Batman!” and I wish I could have gotten in on that action!

Sister of the yearI did have my sister and my fiance’s family cheering me on along the way! My sister was stationed at mile 2 and then also at mile 12. Talk about perfect locations! Her first sign said “Run faster – I’m cold!” and the second one said “Chafe Now, Brag Later”.

Overall, the race went awesome. When I got to mile 11 I knew I was golden. I amped up my speed on those last two miles because I knew there was no stopping me now. I had been keeping a relatively conservative pace to make sure I would be able to finish – so the last two miles I really tried to empty the tank. I think that last mile, no matter how fast or slow you go, is always the best and the worst. You know you’re almost there, but it does seem like it takes forever to get there!


But I made it! I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 2:04:36! I was THRILLED! I mean, absolutely floored that I went as fast as I did. I had the secret aspirational goal of under 2:00, but that was something I never even expected to come close to. I was expecting more in the 2:09-2:15 range! I could not be more proud of that time!!


6 thoughts on “Chicago Monster Dash: My First Half-Marathon!

  1. I knew that SOMEONE on here had to have run the same half-marathon as me!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!! Great time!! I was hoping to be that fast…but i got sick the day before and so i ended up with a time of 2:11. There’s always next year!!!!!

    • Wow! I JUST made this blog like 2 hours! How did you find me? 2:11 is a great time! Was this your first one? When I got the 2:04 I was shocked, but then it got me inspired. I’m actually running the Tulsa, OK Route 66 Marathon on November 20th!

      • I found you cause I have a tab that shows me all the half-marathon posts and your came up! :) yep, this half-marathon was my first ever! :) But not my last hopefully! that’s cool! I am not planning on running any more half marathons this year. :( I wishthat i had more time for training and all that… But i will be back for more half-marathons next year!!! :) good luck at the OK Route 66 Marathon

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