An unnatural-born runner, a pretty regular yoga doer and a lover of cookies and other sweet treats, Times digital producer Laura Lane writes about her fitness journey. Questions, training tips or race suggestions? Throw her a line on email or Twitter.

I've officially completed my fifth ever half marathon, and I'm pretty darn pleased with myself.

For the record, it was my slowest half marathon to date. I finished it in 2:43:31. That's a whole three seconds slower than my slowest half marathon time to date. So, really, it's not that big of a deal. It was a little bit of a bummer considering I ran the same half marathon last year in record time for myself, finishing in 2:37.50. But the important thing is I finished.

I started the race strong, keeping a steady pace for the first 10 miles. Now if you remember back to my previous half marathon recap blogs, I usually start to fall apart around mile seven. This is in part because I'd tend to take off too fast, letting the adrenaline get the best of me. This time, though, I kept felt strong. My pace was less than 12 minutes per mile, aside from mile six when I had to stop for a quick potty break. I caught myself starting to think around mile nine that I just may be able to run the entire thing, and I was excited.

But then, around the 10.5 mile mark, my stomach started to churn. I have no idea why, but I was forced to slow to a walk and spent the next half mile trying to motivate myself to start running again. It worked. Kind of. I ran the next mile, then ran/walked to the finish.

So it wasn't me easiest race. Who cares? I said it already, but what matters is I finished. More positives are that I finished without my legs feeling like they were going to fall off. And I ran an entire 10 miles before slowing to a walk. And I managed to spot every photographer along the course, meaning there wasn't one bad photo taken of me during this entire race. And the weather was perfect. And there was a kid holding a sign that read, "Tap here for super speed powers." And my boyfriend was at the finish line cheering me on. And the medal has a Ferris wheel on it that actually spins. Those things also matter to me. Some of them were major things, others smaller. But all important.

A few other takeaways 

-I thought I'd be starting in one of the last corrals, per usual. I was shocked to see I was in corral E, which was ahead of the 2:30 finish time pace group. Woah. I giggled to myself, wondering how I managed to make it this far up. When I finally started running, all the runners whizzed on by leaving this proud turtles in their dust. 

-I think I'll start my next half marathon training program a week earlier. That will give me a full week of recovery between my final long run and the half marathon. My legs should be aching to get out there at that point.

-The Ferris wheel on my medal really does spin. I played with it the entirety of the walk back to my car following the race, and then for the entire drive home.

-I should've spent some time roaming Maggie Daley Park and playing on the super sweet jungle gym after the race. Noted for next year's Chicago Spring Half Marathon.

Other happenings

-I don't want to jinx myself or anything, but I think I'm getting better at bowling and I've only been a member of this league for two weeks. My hilariously awful handicap of 153 is going to plummet after bowling an 86, 91 and 96. I'm debating quitting my day job to become a professional bowler. 

-I signed up for a month of yoga at a local yoga studio. I went to my first class Wednesday, and I loved every minute of it.

-I'm not running the Soldier Field 10 Mile this weekend. It's going to be weird, especially since I'll actually be there as I cheer on my boyfriend who is running it.