Sunday I ran. I ran 13. 1 miles. I ran 13.1 miles for the first time in my life. I also ran in a historic half marathon that occurred on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. To say it was a special race is an understatement. I’m so proud of my accomplishment, of participating in this race and overcoming various health related issues to complete this race.
I woke with anticipation—at 3 am—the morning of the race. I attempted another hour or so of sleep before gathering myself and hailing a cab to Jackson Park—the epicenter of this year’s race. After arriving to a 10k with 10 minutes to spare, I wanted to arrive at this race with an hour’s time in order to prepare. I had plenty of time to check gear, stretch, eat a little yogurt and go to the bathroom. (I have the smallest bladder in the world.) Start time was promptly at 7 am.
The anticipation built as time inched closer and closer to 7. I was anxious to get started, having only time to think of all the other things I should have done to prepare. All the runners lined up in corrals—the assignment of which was based on your estimated finish time. I was shooting for a solid 2:15 to 2:30 (hours:minutes) finish time, landing me in Corral L.
This year, 20,000 runners traveled the half marathon route that took us north on Cornell, west on 57th Street over to Stoney Island Avenue, south to Marquette Drive, south on Jeffrey Avenue to 67th Street, east back to Marquette and north on Lake Shore Drive. At this point the route took us all the way up to 31st Street before looping back around and heading south again to the 63rd Avenue finish.
Overall, I felt pretty strong throughout the race. I maintained a pace average of 10:41 (minutes:seconds). My fastest split was 9:30 for mile 8; my slowest mile was mile 1 at 10:31. I expect a lot of the crowd that happens at the start of a race influenced my pace. My second longest mile was mile 10. I remember feeling a little fatigued as I waited for my energy gu to kick in.
There was a point in the race where the sun started to get hotter, my energy waned and I was feeling the distance. The race bibs had every runner’s name on it, and as I got closer to the finish line, more and more people gathered to cheer. One such cheerleader called out: “Way to go, Kate!” I’m not sure if I looked worn out or as if I needed encouragement, but it definitely helped drive me closer to the finish.
I knew my mom and a handful of close friends were waiting for me near the finish line. This fact helped me stay motivated to finish. I didn’t want to stop running in the last mile and disappoint them. As I passed the quarter-mile-remaining marker, I began scanning the crowd, but it was so packed and difficult to find anyone, not to mention the difficulty of seeing when you’re that exhausted.
Luckily I ran right near my mom who yelled out and extended her arm. My friend Charlotte grabbed this action shot. Looks like I may have run 13 miles or so, huh? Not the best picture ever, but you know, I was running.
The only major issue I had was really sore knees, which I’ve experienced before, but the pain started a lot sooner in the race than I expected. It was frustrating and discouraging, but I just kept my knee bands tight and pushed through. Still a few days later, they are sore. So I want to make a big effort in strengthening my leg muscles in anticipation of the Chicago Marathon next year.
I was grateful my mom and friends came out to support me. Here I am with my mom right after the race. She made a sign.
Charlotte also came out. It was great to see her and have her there at this great event in my life. She’s been a part of my life since … well, forever. I can’t remember when she wasn’t. She’s like a second mom.
Kym, Morgan and Melissa (not pictured) came to the finish line too, and held up signs. It was great they could make it.
After the race, we all headed to Eleven City Diner for brunch, because let’s face it, I was starved. Sue met us there (far left). After freshening up a bit, we got a group shot with my sign.
There haven’t been many races I have wanted to remember with various tokens, but for this race I have a plethora of symbols to remind me of this day. At the fitness expo (an event where you pick up your race packet), posters were handed out (top left). I am hoping to hang the poster somewhere in my apartment.
After completing the race, each runner received a medal (top right). I’ve received a medal before (probably from a 5k) but it seemed cheesy at the time. This one holds significance.
With each race I’ve completed since the spring of 2010 (after I started to heal my back and could run without pain), I have kept all of my race bibs; this race is no exception (bottom left). One day I might string them together to create a bib flag.
But most importantly, I love my sign (bottom right). Everyone who came to the race signed it and wrote messages of love and support. Honestly, without the support of family and friends, pushing myself athletically (or otherwise) would be a lot harder. I appreciate all of them for remaining compassionate and supportive with all of my endeavors (whether it’s running or something else).
I can’t wait to start my training for the Chicago Marathon 2012; and I know these people, among others, will help motivate me to meet my goal.
Overall, the race experience was a great one and I’m so proud to have completed it. Here’s to more running, more miles and more goal meeting.